By Kyle Partin
I heard many people over the years claim they were ready for marriage. They had the house, the ring, the job and, best of all, they were financially secure. I, for one, was not among them.
I just started my senior year of college using a ring that was passed down from my parents, and was about to graduate with thousands of dollars in school loans with no job on the horizon. So why, on a fateful May evening, did I propose to my girlfriend? Hormones, hope and the thought of living without her. The latter was the greatest catalyst of all.
Everyone knows what I mean when I say hormones: sex. Inside the confines of marriage, it is beautiful and intimate. However, marriage is more than just physical intimacy. Was I ready open up emotionally and be vulnerable?
Hope was on the horizon because as Andy Stanley, a well-known senior pastor, once said to a group of leaders, “You’re sharp. Figure it out.” I knew my spouse and I would attack life together holding nothing back. We were sharp, we could figure out how to get past any hurdle life threw at us…right?
But how did I know she was The One? How did I know I was ready for this? Marriage is such a huge commitment. I am giving all that I am to another and expecting her to do the same. I will be completely vulnerable with her and she will do the same with me. Should I really make a pledge before God and our close family/friends to love my wife with every ounce of my being, in sickness, in health, rich or poor, and all that other stuff the pastor will say as we stand on stage? Nope. But I did it anyway, and here’s why: I didn’t want to live without her.
There were other girls in the past. Even a couple serious ones over the years. I had those late-night conversations on the phone: “No, you hang up. No, YOU hang up.” Ugh. Some of those ex-girlfriends could have been a great spouse for me. We connected, laughed and had fun together. Although every time, when it came down to it, I could see myself living without them perfectly fine. We would break up and my life would just go on unaffected.
So, how did I know this girl now was The One? What made her special or different from all the rest? Simple: Living without her would affect my life. She was the person I wanted to enjoy life with. She was the person I wanted to make laugh every day. She was the one I never wanted to see cry. (Sorry, world—you could have cried me a river, for all I cared, but if she cried, it hurt me, too. Going on seven years now, it still does.)
Sure, I can make breakfast, hang with friends, go to the beach and travel the world without her. I can function as a human being without her. I can honestly say to this day, I can absolutely live without my wife. But I DON’T WANT TO!
Do I need her to survive? Do I even need a wife to survive? No. But I don’t want to live without THIS woman in my life. I don’t want to get up and just make breakfast for myself. I don’t want to travel the world without HER. She is the most beautiful, fun, smart and caring woman I have ever known and I cannot bear the thought of continuing through this life without her being a part of it.
Was this the woman God wanted me to marry? Did I have His blessing with this proposal? I prayed so much about this, night and day; read scripture; and asked my mentors, parents and friends: “Is this what God wants?” I knew I wanted to journey through life with this girl and God hadn’t slammed any doors in my face thus far. In Proverbs 31, where Solomon describes exactly what a godly woman would look like—I knew I was looking at a mirror image in the woman I was about to propose to, but then there was something else. She made me want to be the best version of myself. I never wanted to let her down or hurt her in any way. I wanted her to be proud of me, I wanted her to be satisfied with the man she was choosing to marry.
Seven years ago, on that May evening, I proposed in board shorts with a hand-me-down ring, no job and a future of school loan debt. Best decision I ever made.