How Did You KNOW?

I just got back from taking a week off from unpacking to fly back west to spend time with my younger sister and get ready for her wedding.

My parents raised my siblings and me with the expectation that we would get married and have a family, and as the oldest, I guess I’ve paved the way. Because of that, as we participated my sister’s wedding-related events, it was natural for my college-aged brothers and me to have a few “marriage” conversations. My adorable clean-cut, blond-hair, blue-eyed brothers are fresh in the dating scene, and while they’re not in a hurry to marry, it’s definitely in their minds as their ultimate goal of dating, which has guided them to keep their standards high.

One night at dinner we were sitting around the restaurant table, and someone teased that it would be a great place to bring a date. “Yeah, so I can spend money on someone else’s wife,” Sam bitterly grumbled. He’s fresh in the dating scene, but also fresh from being heartbreakingly dumped, hence the attitude.

“How did you KNOW, Pam?” he asked.

“Know what?”

“Know that you were ready to get married. Know that Jared was THE ONE?”

I took a deep breath. Because while I don’t regret marrying Jared, I’ve said many, many times to my siblings that I think 18 was too young to get married and I wish I would have waited a bit longer. And so those “how did you know?” conversations are somewhat awkward for me since I’m not sure I’m a good role model for determining marriage readiness.

“Well, I’ll tell you, but I don’t think you’ll like my answer.”

He eagerly waited, almost on the edge of his seat and I guessed he was imagining some magical from-the-movies scene where fairies and gods sang our love story and declared Jared to be my soul mate. I looked down, fidgeting with my fingernails, before I finally answered.

“For me, I knew when I realized one day that I was completely comfortable with Jared. That I felt like I could be myself, that I could trust him, and that I was safe with him. When I was with him, I felt like I was home.”

Glancing over, his face was wrinkled in confusion. “What?”

“I know, it’s not like the movies. No twitterpated, heartpounding hallelujah. Just a feeling of peace. And that’s when I knew Jared was my one.”

A couple of days later I was sitting with my sister Chelsea, minutes before her wedding ceremony. I realized we’d never had the conversation before. She was 13 when I got married. And although she’d been dating Scott for two years, she’d never told me how she “knew” either.

So, I asked.

“Well,” she hesitated, almost like she was anticipating my disappointment. “There wasn’t really a shining moment when the heavens opened and I had a revelation. I just realized one day that when I was with him, I felt completely safe. Like I was. . . home.”

She looked up, and both of our eyes were filled with tears. I was shocked to hear her use the same words I had used just days before when describing my decision to my brother.

“Do you know what I mean?”

“Yeah,” I nodded, still in unbelief. But I knew.

{My cute sister and her new husband}

Are you married? What was it like for you? Did you have a visionary confirmation, or was it more subtle, like our experiences? I’d love to know :).


  1. libbywilko says:

    I was similar to you guys, when we first met it was just so easy, we could talk to each other for hours, had similar interests as well as enough differences :) I think as our relationship grew that ease and friendship was what we needed as well as romance… The romantic side quietens especially when you have some young kids but it’s that comfort you get from each other that lasts.


  2. Ditto. :) Even though I had been seriously dating someone else, when I first went out with John I knew it was different. I couldn’t believe how comfortable I felt. We could be silent together and it wasn’t awkward. I could say what I really felt. I could be myself, which I had never been able to be with anyone other than my two best girlfriends. It was scary and wonderful and exciting all at once. Like you, I felt like I was home. And after 10 years, I still do. :)


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