It’s wonderful when someone can say to another: “You are the love of my life.” There’s a real sense of fulfillment at having found your life’s partner, who loves you and whom you will love forever. This is a dream come true – one that promises to bring happiness on earth to those who have a vocation to holy matrimony, which is the vast majority of us.
Even as young children, we’ve been searching for “everlasting” love: from the platonic “puppy love” as grade-school children through the youthful “first love” that seemed to undo us as adolescents. Of course, “puppy love” doesn’t last forever, and we move on.
Eventually, older and wiser, we find a promising love interest and think, “This time it’s for real.” What do we see in him or her? Likely, several of the following things are going on in the relationship:
You are physically attracted to each other. You like them and they like you. You want to be together. They say they love you and actually show it through their deeds and actions. They strive to become better every day. You hold certain values in common. They have virtue that shows an ability to put their values into practice. They talk about building a future together, and you see proof of that happening: They are saving money, looking for a job that will be suitable to family life, and have begun to limit their social interactions in a manner consistent with nurturing an exclusive dating relationship with you. The question is …
Is this the love of your life? Perhaps you have checked off every box above, as you are experiencing all of those positive signs. (Keep in mind that infatuation and love can create blind spots that lead us to ignore red flags; try to be objective.) Yet a serious doubt still bugs you: Is this the woman or the man for me?
There are so many failed relationships out there, so many divorces, that it’s no wonder you question whether this promising relationship will be merely another chapter in the book of your life. Are you doomed to live with continuous doubts?
The answer is …
Many people do live the days in a certain state of suspension, unsure how the love story will end, and they think, “We love each other — for now.” The idea that you’ll be together “while it lasts” is a very unsatisfying answer. In fact, it’s not a good idea to leave our love towards another person up in the air.
How do you discern, then, if this is indeed the right person to call the love of your life? No angel is going to come down from heaven and tattoo the person’s name on your chest. Though there are apps and websites that use software and algorithms, questionnaires and personnel to help people meet good candidates, there is no fool-proof app for romantic relationships that can unmistakably guarantee that a suitable partner will give us everlasting love. Neither can a psychologist, minister, or other professional with whom you meet certify beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are made for one another and will, in fact, spend the rest of your lives together.
The real answer to the question, “How do I know if this person is or will become the love of my life?” is that … it depends on both of you!
Work on love every day
Once you’ve found the “ideal” person and have begun to walk down that path, one thing you must avoid is thinking that you’ve done all you need to do. Instead, you must realize that love matures over time and needs to be renewed and nurtured daily. That is why, even if you have found the love of your life, you must
work on that love to avoid getting into a rut, and to be better equipped to face any and all difficulties that might arise, be they economic problems, external threats, disease, old age …
Given that none of us is perfect, count on the fact that there will indeed be tough moments and steep climbs that will require you to pedal hard and tirelessly to reach the summit. Be patient with your partner when it seems that you are not going at the same pace and even when the other appears not to be giving one hundred percent of themselves. Your love will only last “until death do you part” if you both work actively on the relationship, even (especially!) when one or the other needs extra love and support, and seems less lovable.
Wu Jianxiong/Unsplash | CC0 If you are a believer, you have an ace in the hole
The extra “ace in the hole” that you can count on is God’s help. That is why marrying in the Church and receiving the sacrament of Holy Matrimony is not merely a matter of preference, or of pleasing your parents, or of simply following tradition. Through this sacrament, baptized Christians receive special graces from God that truly joins the spouses and makes their bond stronger and more solid. God helps us continually!
Don’t wait for the perfect man or woman to present him or herself before you. The right person will become perfect at your side and needs your help to do so – and vice versa. If they were already perfect they would not need you in their life here on earth – not to mention that living with a perfect person might actually be quite unbearable for imperfect people like us.
Working hard at growing your relationship with the person you have chosen to love, and trusting in heavenly help, are among the most important ingredients to help you succeed at love.
Read more: 4 Rituals you should incorporate into your married life Read more: What C.S. Lewis can teach us about true love