Photos by Asher Ong Photography
It’s been more than a year since my husband David and I officially became man and wife, after two years and three months of courtship. (Even today, it feels strange to think that I’m a wife, his wife! What a homely, archaic word . . .)
During our courtship, friends, family and colleagues would ask, out of curiosity and wonder and a certain shyness: How did you know he was the one? The one you chose to enter into a relationship with, the one you chose to commit to, the one you wanted to marry?
Who Is “The One”?
If I were still a single in my early twenties, I’d bristle at this phrasing. I didn’t believe there was such a person, the way I did when I was growing up and inundated with romantic notions of ‘the one’: a boy I’d lay eyes on from afar, with just one glance taking us into the depths of each other’s souls and back, our personalities clicking like a lock and key, our souls immediately intertwining in love.
As a teenager, I’d lie in bed and wonder what my future husband was doing at that very moment, wherever he was in this world. He was breathing, blinking, thinking, living, and I wondered: When would we meet? How would we react? Would I know that he was the one?
But as I tasted for myself the bitterness of a breakup, realized the youthful folly of acting on an infatuation, and witnessed the destructive consequences of toxic relationships around me, I thought I finally understood that love was a fairytale notion that didn’t exist.
Years later, when I actually did meet David as a freshman sitting in our first global studies tutorial class, I barely noticed him. All I remember of that shared class in our first semester of university was that he was a Christian, was very tall, and had a sweet and gentle disposition. My interactions with him were limited to a wave and casual “hi” in the classroom, but that was it.
The closest I’d even considered David as a potential partner was when a friend pointed out that his friend was cute. I laughed and told her that he wasn’t my type.
“I think David is more husband material,” I mused.
My friend side-eyed me, we burst out laughing and our conversation moved on, as did my time in university.
Those 4.5 years consisted of a flash of encounters with different people from different majors from different faculties, and David was one of the many faces that came and went.
And as I came to know The One, the idea of the one, a mere boy, began to lose its technicolor, dreamlike quality to me. It was as if I had been craving for that KitKat flashing on every other TV ad, and which everyone else around me was snacking on, when all of a sudden, a 99 per cent cocoa bar was placed in my hands.
Of course, that didn’t mean that I didn’t yearn for a partner. What I scorned was the soul-consuming search for an ever-elusive boyfriend, whom I believed could never meet all my needs like God could. More importantly, I began to understand what love really was all about according to God’s very own Word, and as perfectly embodied on the cross of Jesus.
Coming up with My “Non-Negotiables” List
“What do you look out for in a potential partner?” A girl in my prayer group asked, as we sat at our faculty canteen in between our classes.
As a third year, pragmatic university student, I didn’t believe in setting standards, because that’d mean setting myself up for disappointment, based on what I knew of romantic love.
I did have a secret set of boxes to tick off in a future partner: someone who liked to run or hit the gym, had a similar taste in music (think Bon Iver and the like), and a love for historical fiction as I did, amongst others . . . of course, I’d never admit that out loud.
As we shared our own experiences with relationships, my peer encouraged to come up with a list of ‘non-negotiables’, or qualities in our future partner that we wanted to see, so that we’d be clear on what we wanted and wouldn’t settle for anything less.
So that night I went home and journaled, and as I did so, I wrote and prayed over a list of qualities:
- Loves God authentically
- Able to communicate his feelings
- Sensitive to the needs of others
- Not rude, mean, or violent
I committed this to God, closed my journal and went to bed, with a tinge of nervousness and excitement—but mostly peace.
How God Answered My Prayer with David
In hindsight, I see how God was so good and gracious to answer this timid prayer of mine with David. Because he embodies every single quality I had prayed for—and more.
He’s not perfect and neither am I, but time and time again, I’ve experienced his commitment, love and forgiveness—even when I choose to slip out of his grasp, when I turn away from his affections, and when I act like a grumpy cat, as a popular meme perfectly encapsulates.
In all this, I’ve witnessed how his love for me is built on his love for Christ, faith in God, and obedience to the leading of the Spirit.
Looking back, it’s also interesting to see how God has a sense of humor, because He didn’t give me what I didn’t ask for: David doesn’t like to break a sweat, can’t quite appreciate Bon Iver, and has never read Harry Potter (gasp). But I’ve come to realize that these things are ultimately inconsequential in the bigger picture of life together in marriage.
Today, I’m proud to say that he chooses to take the stairs with me, we’ve found a music middle ground in Ed Sheeran and Christian instrumental, and I’ve picked up his hobby of reading and meditating on God’s Word for hours.
Since saying ‘yes’ to David over three years ago, my certainty and commitment to him grows ever stronger and deeper everyday. Not because he can anticipate all my needs, meet all my wants, or fulfill my deepest desires, but because he points me towards the One who can and does.
That is how I knew that he was, and is, the one.
Here is what love is. It is not that we loved God. It is that he loved us and sent his Son to give his life to pay for our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we should also love one another. No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us. His love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:10-12, NIRV)
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.