How To Tell When It’s Right

Before you can start making serious plans for your wedding, there’s one thing it’s smart to do: decide on the other person who will stand at the altar with you. The trouble is sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re thinking about settling down, or just about settling. Are you reacting to your heart, or someone else’s expectations? Some people, sadly, don’t figure it out until the wedding is over.

Luckily, most of us have a moment when we know for certain. Something happens, and suddenly all the little questions fall away revealing what’s really important. For some it’s the realization that a guy who’s routinely rude to waiters or endlessly nitpicky about your appearance isn’t pleasant to be around. Why would you want to spend your life with someone that negative? For others, though, it’s the recognition that this is the one who always stands up for you or the one who displays real affection for your close-knit family. How can you not love a guy who always knows just what to say to your awkward teenage brother?

Sometimes it’s an unexpected moment when you just realize how completely this other person’s life has become intertwined with yours. Watching a marathon of a show called Weird Weddings on WE TV this week, I was particularly struck with a couple marrying in a pirate re-enactment retreat. The groom said that he knew he would marry his bride when he found himself wanting to build her a rocking chair. Somehow that just made my heart melt. It was so sweet and so genuine, and just so solid.

For me it was a daydreaming session early in our courtship. We started building castles in the air, and I suddenly realized that we had the same priorities for what our home would be like. It hit me that he was someone I could really share a home with. He didn’t even blink when I told him about details from the Addams Family mansion I wanted. I was enthusiastic about having a music room. He added whimsical details to my dream library that made me laugh with delight. I knew even if we never owned a home of our own – let alone our dream home – we would always share our space well.

I already knew he made me laugh. I already knew he was supportive. I knew he was loving and thoughtful and…well, a whole lot of wonderful things. It was just realizing how much I wanted to share all the little things like picking out what to hang on the walls and where to situate the cat’s dishes that made me realize this was the guy for me. I’d been serious with guys before, but I’d never once considered how to furnish our living room.

So come on, all you married ladies and brides-to-be, tell me what made you decide this was the one you would marry? What was that lightbulb moment for you?

18 Responses to “How To Tell When It’s Right”

  1. sara says:

    As a newlywed (today is 7 weeks!), I’d have to say that moment was our first date. I knew the first time our hands accidentally brushed, the first time we kissed….it was the first date of a lifetime. He treats me like a queen and inspires me to be a better person on a daily basis. And he can cook, too! 🙂

  2. Twistie says:

    Happy seven week anniversary, Sara!

    Sounds like you’ve got yourself a winner, there.

  3. Meg says:

    The moment for me was when we were talking about what we’d do if/when he had to move to LA (movie student) and I said “I’d follow you” and I knew right then that he was the one if I was willing to uproot and move for him, so I proposed that night 🙂

    We did move, to CO to be closer to his family, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  4. Toby Wollin says:

    I think a lot of the “moment when you know” is knowing what is really important to you. I knew that the evening when my now husband (but then I only knew him because we were in a couple of classes together and lived in separate wings of the same dorm in grad school) and I talked for about 3 hours in the dorm kitchen/eating area. I was studying for a statistics exam and was feeling fairly depressed and unenthusiastic about my chances of passing and he came down to cook himself a dinner of tuna fish and Cheez Whiz(tm) which he offered to share with me, settling himself down for a long and interesting talk. I knew two things immediately. First, this was an adventurous guy who would literally eat anything(I was not a good cook at that time) and second, from the discussion, I knew that he would not be one of those guys who was going to end up humiliating me in front of other people. I’d dated several guys who had done that to me and I had absolutely hated that.

  5. Twistie says:

    Meg, your story made me wibble.

    Toby Wollin, your Mr. may have made an…interesting food choice, but clearly it helped cement the deal. And having dated a couple guys who did wind up humiliating me in some way, I absolutely hear you. It’s important to have one’s life partner as a support rather than another battle.

  6. Dianasaur says:

    I knew pretty quickly, especially after I got horribly injured on our first date and he held my hand (the arm that wasn’t broken) and rubbed my back while they scrubbed out my road rash. He also changed my bandages for me without giving me even a hint that he can’t stand the sight of blood.

    But the day all my doubts disappeared was the day I sat down with after a few weeks of dating and shared with him the hurts in my life that I had never told anyone else. He said he was so proud of me for doing something so hard, and he loved me and still wanted to marry me one day (that was the first time either of us mentioned love).

  7. Kristen says:

    We were in his apartment that he shared at that time with a couple of roommates, and I looked out the window and saw a little tree frog caught between the window and the screen. He tried opening the window, but couldn’t reach the frog, so he went outside and removed the screen to save the little frog’s life. His friends laughed and called him a pansy, but I fell totally in love that day. Since then, we’ve rescued more animals than we can count and couldn’t be happier together.

  8. Laura V says:

    Shortly after my husband and I started dating in our late teens, my father moved out. So, my husband’s introduction to my family involved walking into a torn-apart, messy home full of sobbing girls and women (the only other male present was my very young cousin), being handed a drink, and forced to watch Robert Mitchum movies and listen to my mother and aunts rant angrily about my father.

    Somehow, he still wanted to date me afterwards.

    We’ll’ve been married 7 years this coming summer.

  9. Divya says:

    The minute I saw his good looks! I wanted to go to movies with him, raise kids, romp in bed, bake him cakes, be a power couple, hold his hand and do whatever it takes to keep him. I was 17….we’ve been together 13 years and married for six. We have 2 kids, live in a dream home abroad, he has a superb job and helps around the house. All said and done, the one thing that I was hooked onto was his kindness….you are right about that.

  10. de says:

    Does it matter that we’re not married yet? 😛 I’ve been with my goofball for 6.5 years and we own a home together. (Hey, we do things in the order we wanna do things…) I knew he was the one when I made an obscure reference to something in my childhood and…..I didn’t have to explain myself. He knew *immediately* what I was talking about. I had thought I was the only one who remembered or thought that way, and here was this other person, so fun and full of awesome that thought/remembered too! This person who seemed like the other half of me that I didn’t know I’d been missing.

    (Of course, it didn’t hurt that he makes me laugh like no one else could, and that was pretty much #1 on my list of ‘things i need in a guy’…)

  11. 4th date, Disneyland, in line for Small World. He was taking pictures of us on his cell phone while hugging me from behind. I realized he had stopped taking pictures, so I looked over my shoulder at him and saw him making goofy faces. Then I looked down, and in front of us was a little girl in a pink jacket with white furry trim, giggling and giggling away at the big man making silly faces at her. In that moment, my entire dating life split into two categories – “Mr. Future Tiara Chick,” and “Everyone Who Was Not Mr. Future Tiara Chick.”

  12. swp says:

    My moment occured relatively early on as we were dating. I was driving to work on my birthday thinking how nice it would be if he sent me flowers. We’d only been dating a couple of months at that point so I thought it was unlikely. Alas, no flowers at the desk when I arrived at the office. Instead, he dropped by at noon, after a 12 hour shift, to personally deliver my beautiful flowers and wish me a happy birthday before rushing home to grab a couple of hours sleep before starting another 12 hour shift.

  13. Johanna says:

    The original lightbulb moment would probably be illegal to describe here, involving too much bare skin ;), so let’s just say it was when I realized we had actually spent every day and night together for almost a year without ever getting bored, awkward or frustrated with each other. It had come about so naturally that I hadn’t even noticed I’d found the missing half of my life.

  14. Glinda says:

    We had known each other for a while before we began dating, but we actually didn’t like each other at all for about a year and a half! Then one day, because we worked at the same place, somehow we actually sat down and really talked to each other. The way it was so natural, how we had a lot of the same viewpoints, and how we really listened to each other made us realize what we had been missing. Then, the hug at the end as he walked me out to my car sealed the deal!

    We were together for ten years, got married, and our next wedding anniversary will be our seventh.

  15. Svea says:

    He misses me before I even walk away….

  16. slosydney says:

    This may sound crazy, but I knew right away. The second we started talking I was infatuated. He was (and still is) so smart and we had so much in common. As I was walking away from him the first night we met, while in the middle of a busy street I thought to myself, “What if I’ve just met the man I’m going to marry?” That thought had never crossed my mind before and I still remember that moment very clearly. We’ve been together four years now and are getting married in December.