“It is not good for man to be alone.” These words, spoken by God, initiated the first marriage. Adam and Eve never had to question whether they had found “the one.” There were no other options!
If you hope to be married some day, you’ve probably asked the question our first parents didn’t. So how can you know when you’ve met the person you should marry? Do you need to share all the same interests? What about physical attraction? Is it okay to have theological differences? Is it normal to get cold feet, or should that be a red flag?
In this discussion, Jackie Hill Perry, Jen Wilkin, and Jen Pollock Michel discuss the relationships that led to their own marriages, and how and when they met the men they would marry.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Jen Wilkin: I would imagine this is a question you guys have gotten before. I know it’s one that I receive fairly regularly, a lot of younger women interested in knowing this, single women. How do you know when you’ve met “the one?”
Jackie Hill Perry: For me personally, when I met my husband we were friends for maybe three or four years. And so when we became friends that was never my thought, I didn’t think that we would end up how we did, but I remember when my heart had started to shift towards him where I started to have an affection for him, I knew something was different because I was willing to follow him.
We had gifts that were very similar. He pushed me in a…not pushed. That sounds terrible, but he stretched me in a way that was welcomed, and I felt willing to trust him with my heart, and I didn’t feel that for anybody. And so that was one of the ways I saw like, “Man, I think. Maybe, I don’t know. He might be.”
You know? Yeah.
Jen Pollock Michel: I have a lot of unmarried women in my church congregation. And so this question comes up a lot, and I always laugh that they have these really kind of crazy ideas of like, “Okay, like I’m a firstborn so I could never marry somebody who’s a middle child because like that’s never going to work.”
I’m like, “What book did you read that in?” You know, you know, I kind of feel like, you know, whether or not you think he’s the…he becomes the one after you say yes to him. He becomes the one. That’s the person you promise yourself to and of course you want to make like the wisest decision possible. So you should be in community with people, you know, you should be…do other people say, “This seems really good for you,” you know, are you the kind of relationship where you sort of isolate yourself from your community and all of a sudden you’re just you know, this pair that you know, you’ve lost connection with your friends.
What do your friends say about this….about this guy? Like does he have really good guy friends? and for me when I…similar to you, Jackie, when I met Ryan at Wheaton College, the thing that was really different is that it wasn’t that I just liked him or was attracted to him. I actually admired him. He was the first man I really admired where I said, “I have so much to learn from him. I really want to be like him. I think I want him to teach me things that he obviously knows.”
And that for me was so different.
Wilkin: I had…with Jeff we were friends for a solid year before we ever went out, and I had a huge distrust of romance anyway, and so I know the Lord knew that was what I needed, and I grew up with four brothers. And so I was accustomed to friendships with guys and the romance part felt just almost disingenuous to me, I think because I had enjoyed such good friendships with guys, not just my brothers, but other guys as well, and I think I always saw marriage as when you give up your male friendships, you know and marrying someone who I was really good friends with has been just a delight, and it has been, I look at the hard marriage stories that we hear in our church and I’m sure you guys hear them too. And I think, “Gosh, I can tell you guys love each other. I just don’t know if you like each other.” And I wish that more women were thinking about marriage in terms of, do I feel a genuine just affection for this person as another human being? Because for the long haul, you’re probably going to be more willing to lay down your preferences for someone who you just genuinely like.
Romance is only going to carry you so far, and we’ve really encouraged our kids as well, “Hey, why don’t you form good friendships with people of the opposite sex? Because if you can identify what mutual respect and friendship look like and then you can have that be part of the marriage relationship.” At least in my experience, it has saved us a world of heartache and that, but then like you said Jen, not everyone did that before they got married, and they find themselves on the other side of it.
It’s like now what and you’re exactly right. It’s well now, how do I show preferential love to this person even though there are going to be difficulties, and you do, you have to look for the things that you can celebrate about them and for the ways that they make you better and focus on those things and nurture those things. And also there’s no reason that on the far side of a marriage that wasn’t founded on friendship that you can’t look for ways to develop that around shared interests and all of that.
Pollock Michel: I mean, I think it’s a constant growth after you get married, you know, it’s not as just you’re constantly investing in the relationship and the friendship and the various other kinds of ways of intimacy that you experience in a marriage, like it’s not just that you know, you marry and it’s all perfect and it just stays, you know, it’s not static, right? You’re constantly changing, your lives are changing as you grow and mature and I think you know, I got married at 22.
What did we even know about each other?
Wilkin: Nobody knows anything. Why are we getting married?
Pollock Michel: Right? And so that’s why I feel like one thing, too, that I really appreciate about Ryan that I saw in him in when he was 21 and 22, and I continue to see in him is that he’s a learner and a grower and someone who’s just committed to first of all growing in Christ. I mean for sure if you can marry somebody whose whole life is given to Christ, who loves the Lord, you know, that goes a long way, right?
I mean it’s kind of that very cliché thing like, you know, two people growing toward the Lord are also growing toward each other. And so if you can marry somebody who’s committed to growing in Christ and just growing as a person.
Hill Perry: Because you’re going to be with them forever.
Pollock Michel: Yeah.
Hill Perry: God willing.
Pollock Michel: That’s right.
God willing. Exactly.