There's that saying, "you know when you know" and many people who finally meet their Forever Love know what that means, but it can be difficult to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it yet. So, how did I know that I knew Stephen was my Forever Love?
When you know something, you know it. There are 3 stages in a relationship that help us to sift through the people we are not interested in until we finally strike gold.
STAGE 1: SCRATCHING THE SURFACE
This stage is most like a job interview, because those first few dates consist of a lot of small talk, light humor, and minimal vulnerability. In reality, it's research. As we date, we collect information about personality types, world views, interests, family culture, and more. This stage is where we scratch the surface, and see what aligns with our heart's desires.
Usually there is some sort of spark, something that makes each person want to know more, and that desire to know more is what gives us that puppy-love-glaze when we think or talk about the person we're interested in, as if we've discovered a truth that makes sense of our world.
After the first few dates I had with Stephen, he spoke about his goals and aspirations, and they completely aligned to mine. It became easy to imagine my life with him by my side, and I started to feel hopeful that our relationship was taking root; there was a deeper connection that we were cultivating with each and every conversation we shared.
STAGE 2: REVEALING YOUR HEART
Once I began to feel that Stephen was "safe" in the sense that I could trust him, and that I admired his character from the way he treated himself, me, and others around him, I opened up. He was so easy to talk to, and I felt he truly understood me, so I began to share more private goals, dreams, fears, and mistakes. Rather than making me feel foolish, or teasing, or completely glossing over what I said like the previous guys I had dated, he heard me; heard me in a way that made me feel respected, loved, special, and important.
And that was the beginning of the end. That was when I knew. I knew he was my Forever Love because his support, tenderness, humor, and delivery matched the hopes I held in my heart all my for the way the man of my dreams would honor me. We had a fluidity that I had never experienced with another person; a natural rhythm that silently hummed every minute we spent together.
STAGE 3: FOREVER DOESN'T SEEM LONG ENOUGH
Falling in love is like hearing truth spoken to you for the first time. Like a cold wave, it hits you, and at once your intuition goes into full alert mode. After 3 months of courtship (intentional are-we-meant-to-be dating), we knew it was love and told each other so.
After that insecure feeling of does-this-person-love-me-how-I-love-them was lifted, our relationship hit the ground running and we felt unstoppable. We were ready for marriage, and we were ready to start our lives together in a committed relationship. We were engaged after 8 months of dating, and married 5 months after that. Once we knew we were meant for each other, there was no time to lose! And we've never looked back.
Our life as a married couple has been filled with richness and a deeper level of love that we couldn't experience while dating. The beauty of creating a home, living side by side, and cultivating a family culture has given us both so much hope, peace, and fulfillment. And though our marriage is not perfect, it requires work to make it better and better (just like anything else). I have never been more sure of anything in my life, than the day I knew I would marry Stephen, which was long before he proposed. There is a fearlessness that comes with knowing, and no matter how many hurdles we have faced together, we remain fearless as a team, stable and forever in love.