When I was 13 I made a list of all of the traits I wanted in my husband. He had to play guitar, be smart, love my family and love Jesus. As I've gotten older my list has evolved. He doesn't really need to play the guitar or do yoga. Those were negotiable. However, some of the others stuck. He has to love my family and care about me and be intelligent. And, the biggest one of all: he's gotta love Jesus.
A lot of my friends have similar non-negotiables - whether they are Christians or not, they have the things that they know they can't live without. For me, faith is a huge part of my life and the way I operate - both in big moments and in the day-to-day. I can't imagine building a family on anything but the foundation of Christ and I know I want to do that alongside my husband.
Sometimes, though, I think we get so caught up in checking the boxes that we forget there is more to it.
Just because a guy loves Jesus doesn't mean he's my husband. And the same goes for if he is Jewish or a Democrat or wants to travel to Africa, just like you.
Love and relationships are not about a series of checking the boxes and just because someone meets my minimum criteria doesn't mean he is meant to be my life partner.
What I've learned is that the negotiable items - the things that I didn't really know I wanted or needed - are important, too. They are the pleasant surprises. Love isn't about meeting a baseline. It's not about maintaining control. It's about finding someone you want to have as your partner and grow alongside.
Someone might meet your checklist at first glance, but that doesn't mean you should marry him.
For about a year in my 20s, I dated a guy who met all the criteria I wanted on paper. But as we got to know each other better, it became clear he wasn't the one for me. Why? He was pretty guarded and rigid and those are traits that come very naturally to me, but I've worked really hard to break free from. So dating him was like dating myself a few years prior. He may have met my criteria on paper, but emotionally, we weren't aligned.
Melissa and I were talking about that relationship this week and she said:
It was like you could never relax with him.
And she's exactly right. I wasn't the fullest, most vibrant version of myself around him.
Checklists don't tell you that. You have to learn by trial and be willing to set the list aside. Even though I know I need to marry a God-fearing man who loves my family and ice cream, too, I hope the man I marry is more than these three things. I hope he is someone who brings out the best in me and helps me to be the fullest version of myself. I hope he is more than a checklist; I hope he is my partner in all I do.