05 March 2012

Q & A: Is What You Have Real?

Is Love real?

We recently received an email from a reader, Jacy, and we heard a story that is unlike any we've heard before.  Despite what she's been faced with, she is making triumphant strides in carrying on with her life in a beautiful way.  Also, she is currently in a relationship.  Here was a question Jacy had for us........

Q:  ... [Regarding] the story of all the emails, the immediate connection that was felt, the "I'm so glad we FINALLY found each other" thing... is it real?  I mean... is it really real?  I know you're not making it up, but is it as sweetly sickening (and I mean this in a very nice and even envious way) as it is portrayed online?  Is your love story and your marriage really this wonderful?

A:  Here is Danny's response to her.  (I'll admit, this about did me in.) :


First off, we just wanted you to know that we love you :)   Our own experiences have made us much more compassionate in general, and we feel a certain bond with those who carry some heavy burdens.  It sounds like based on your email and recent comments on our blog, and the comments I've seen on the other blogs, that you are doing quite well despite all the craziness you've been exposed to.  I love it!  I love anyone that has the guts to continue living a good life after being exposed to even a tenth of what you've seen.  Thank you for your courage.

Reading the last half of your email...I totally understand where you're coming from.  Before I met Mara (who was the only person I dated post divorce), I had a year while going through my separation and divorce to decide what was really important to me, and what would be the conditions upon which I would date and marry someone.  I was constantly weighing the value of different characteristics, I was creating lists of things that were absolute musts, and things that would simply be nice.  Musts centered around the core of a person - 1) Character, 2) Shared spiritual convictions and commitment level and a desire to make charity the center of our lives (including someone who would be supportive when I felt called upon to spend time serving others), 3) Family (I wanted to my spouse to be in a healthy relationship with her family), and very importantly - 4) I needed someone to understand the concept of real Happiness (that it comes from them and not from me.  I may add to it, but I'm not responsible for it, neither is a perfect set of circumstances).  Other stuff like:  do we like the same music?  Are they a good kisser?  Do I laugh endlessly around them?  Are they "fun", beautiful, etc.?...all that would be nice, but was not going to be what decided it for me.

So imagine my surprise when the first person I meet/date...not only has all of my core things figured out, but shares all the other fun things as well.  And on top of that, has characteristics that, had I thought it possible to ask for I would have, but it just seemed too unrealistic. 

That being said....I know that Mara and I have something truly special and unique to us and our background.  I don't think every relationship needs to be like ours...nor do I think that in 40 years we'll be talking about the "fun stuff" as much as we'll be realizing that it was the core of the person we are with that made life truly wonderful.  In all honesty, I didn't care about all the "fun" stuff...I wanted someone who knew how to live life, to deal with trials, how to treat me and others, how to serve...cause I knew that more than anything else, those were the reasons I would respect, love, and honor that person.  I wanted someone who knew how to cast aside fear, doubt, and anger in all it's forms, and knew how important it was to do that.

So, when I look at what I got with Mara, I'm amazed.  It was certainly more than I was expecting or asking for.  And to your question...What we have IS very real!  And like I said, in someway unique to us.  Don't spend time comparing your story to ours.  Much of what we share as a couple does not, in my mind, need to be present in a truly great relationship.  I look at the best relationships I know, and most of them are based primarily on core principles, and not on some spectacular story of romance. 

I hope I haven't convinced you of one way or another with regards to your boyfriend.  That's the last thing I want to do...since technically I know nothing of you or of him, and would hate to think that my advice pushed you one way when you could/should have gone another.  The decision is truly yours and yours alone.  My biggest suggestion is to think hard about what truly matters to you.  Know it, deep down in your soul.  Understand what things would be nice, but may be unnecessary.  The better you know what is most important to you, the easier to make a decision, and feel confident about the decision made. 

I think one of the reasons Mara and I connected so deeply, is we had both done that kind of soul searching and knew at our core what was most important to us.  And when we met, we tested each other.  Our first emails back and forth (see 'Love Story' on side bar) were ones in which we tried to see if the other person really understood choice, faith, love, service, happiness, peace.  Only after those core principles were recognized and understood did everything else became very exciting.  But at the heart of it...what is it that makes our relationship truly work?  It's that when something rough comes up, I know how she'll respond and she knows how I'll respond.  It is that core conviction that deepens my love and respect for her, and she for me.  And when we aren't on the same page (if for a minute one of us is offended or stressed about someone or something), the other doesn't get all worked up and think it's about them...they just wait patiently and help the other come to a better place. 

That's the reason we are in love!  Because that is how we are committed to handling all of life, including each other. 

Sorry, I'm probably rambling now, and have gone off topic.  My final words would be...I'm confident in you to know what to do.  My words shouldn't be the reason you come to one conclusion or another.  It's about you realizing what is most important.  The success Mara and I enjoy and plan to enjoy is based primarily on the fact that we both know the most important basics are all there....and that makes everything else more fun, and fills life with confidence that it will be well-lived and loved.

With Love,

Danny & Mara
(Photo by the talented Saydi Eyre Shumway)

**************************
This dear reader wrote back later to tell us she'd done a lot of thinking after writing the email and had come to some of the same conclusions on her own (go reader!!!)  She then went through her own list of "Musts", confirming to herself that her man did, indeed, have everything she valued most.  Realizing the need to compare was gone, she committed to living her own unique love story, which only she can have. 

We want to have a few more posts in the future regarding this subject of knowing what love is & what it feels like going into a marriage.  I think it's easy to get overwhelmed & confused with wondering if what you are feeling is enough.  (Will it lead to a successful marriage?...will it last?)  It can sometimes feel like such a mystery.  I was a MESS in my twenties trying to figure this out, myself.  Yikes.  So this topic is very near and dear to my heart...and I want to share with you all that I can in case it might help anyone out there feeling a bit confused about it all.   -Mara

For now...

If you are married - - What characteristics of your relationship turned out to be the most important?  (Did you find that some characteristics you thought were important in your spouse turned out to be unimportant?) 

If you are single - - What are the characteristics you dream of having in a spouse?

31 comments:

  1. Please do post more on this! And thank you and the reader fror sharing this!!!

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  2. No way...I'm the second commenter!! :) Thanks for this beautiful and thought-provoking post and the way you interact with your readers. Its this kind of reciprocity along with all you are sharing that's really life-changing.

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  3. I felt like I had dated a lot before I married. This taught me a lot about myself, but was also confusing in some ways.

    What I saw in my husband was a good heart. He had a steady strength that drew me to him. He wasn't as outwardly desirable as my previous boyfriends, but his quiet commitment to following Christ won me over. He is kind and supportive.

    His family wasn't great, and that has been hard, but he had excelled despite their dysfunction. (Going anon to avoid bad feelings).

    I think for me, focusing on the good parts of our love story help me. When I fall into a habit of seeing his faults, I struggle. When I focus on his good heart and strengths, our love grows.

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  4. wow...great post. I'm married with four children. The oldest is 18 and in college. Life can be crazy and sometimes it can feel like we are just going through the motions. Oftentimes we focus so much on our children our marriages suffer. The last thing I want is to look at my husband when our youngest is out of the house and think who are you. Lately, I've been making a conscious effort to prioritize what is most important to us as a family. My husband is a wonderful supporter both emotionally and financially, he loves all of us to the moon and back and he does not sweat the small stuff. Your blog is helping me put everything in to perspective and in the process I'm falling in deeper love with my husband. Thank you.

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  5. For me kindness was number one. The day to day kindness that takes maturity and self-control and a good heart. He makes me want to be a kinder person.
    Since my career is really important to me, I wanted someone who would share "the second shift". I was willing to make adjustments to my work and ambitions for a family, but I didn't want to have to give them up, nor did I want to have to take on all the responsibility for home and children after a full day of work. I am glad to have a husband who is willing to make adjustments to his own career and meet partway me on the home front. I know that many readers of this blog might believe in separate roles for men and women, and of course we all have to live our lives in the way that seems best to us, but I am glad to have found someone with a similar view on sharing both financial and domestic responsibilities.
    I spent a lot of time in my twenties thinking there was a "right" way for a relationship to be or a "right" type of guy to marry. Since what I thought "right" meant didn't really fit what I wanted in life, I wasn't very interested in marriage. Then a much wiser person taught me that it really just has to suit the two people involved. Since friends and family can have opinions on stuff that shouldn't even matter to them -- my mother was upset to see me pay for both our meals at an expensive restaurant, because she feels the man should be the provider-- it sometimes takes self-confidence to stick to your own needs and values.

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  6. This post is beautiful, thank you. I think the single greatest quality that I as a single never married (just turned 40 yrs young) think is important is if the other person has Love..if he is able to approach any situation and say 'What would Love do now?' If this can happen than anything else can be surmounted. I don't even look for a similar shared religious background because I have realized that titles and denominations mean nothing, it is the person and if he is able to have real true Love in his heart for me and others around him - it is enough.

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  7. I always knew I'd marry someone who made me laugh hard. It wasn't even an option not to. And I did! Now, 4 years later (4 years on THURSDAY!), looking back on this past year, which has been our hardest BY FAR, taking the non-crucial things lightly and laughing through the rest, has really helped us survive.
    But yeah, things like righteous priesthood holder, jumps into service, puts the seat down, those were all musts too, and they're all still there :)

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  8. i like what the above commenter said about marriage/relationships just needing to suit the two people in them and not bow to others' expectations. i completely agree!
    i wanted someone that viewed me as his equal, that was progressive in his way of viewing the world, a good communicator, a hard worker, had a good sense of humor, that would place our relationship as the #1 priority (above religion, career, family, etc). i found all that and more - 9 years later we are very happy. i think being able to communicate and keeping us as our top priority have been the most important.

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  9. Great post!

    My parents have a wonderful, loving, and fun marriage (44 years strong!). So I had a pretty high standard for what marriage "should" be. I dated quite a bit - but if I couldn't see myself in a long term relationship or even possibly married to the person I was (or thinking) of dating) - I wouldn't.

    I was, however, still waiting for that instant connection. I desired to find what my parents found in each other - and, thus, I put so much pressure on myself and my expectations!

    Finally, my father sat me down to tell me how he was at this point in his marriage is NOT how he was when they first got married. Marriage - like relationships grow and evolve and develop ... I needed to take my parents off their pedastal and realize that they, too, were just normal people. And Danny hit it on the head - their marriage is UNIQUE to them.

    So I wrote a list of the things I wanted: Christ-centered, desire to stay physically fit, ambitious, leader, affectionate, sense of humor, family oriented...and tucked that list in my bible at my favoriate verse( Song of Songs 6:3) to keep for future reference and prayer.

    When I met Husband - I pulled out my list b/c I just felt something oh-so special with him - he filled my entire wish list. Now being married almost 8 years - I would change the order of importance a bit. #1 is still Christ centered, #2 still a sense of humor but most importantly #3 would be kindness. Straight up kindness. He's got that in spades.

    I'm thankful my dad brought me down to earth - I might have missed out on Husband b/c I was still searching for my "perfect mate"

    ~Mara

    P.S. The first time my parents met Husband they knew he was The One before I did!

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  10. My husband is amazing. In fact, I knew he was amazing long before I knew I was amazing. :) I always knew I was worth it, but I was a work-in-progress. Aren't we all?

    The 1 characteristic that most sold me on my husband is Loyalty. His loyalty and stability are legendary. He would stand by me no matter what. This is not something I could promise to him back. I'm flaky and unstable and my heart flies in a million different directions. We started madly in love, which got me through my flaky years. And now, we're still madly in love, but with loyalty attached on my end (it's always been there on his end). I was able to learn from him what Loyalty was - and then incorporate it into my own life.

    So there you go. I married Rob so I could learn from him. He's a patient teacher. :)

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  11. Mara,
    I just started reading your blog and have now read through the whole thing. I love you and Danny's advise, wisdom and honesty. I made me more excited and committed to my marriage. So thank you and keep it coming!
    Jill

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  12. I've only been married 4 years, but I have come to learn that one of the most important things in the world is honesty. It seems so simple, and so easy, but it really isn't. Being vulnerable and really being honest takes great courage - and sometimes causes hurt feelings or disappointments. But when all is said and done, you date and marry REAL people. We all make mistakes, and will all make mistakes in the future. We all have our things. Being completely open and honest really shows dedication, to me, and that you're willing to give EVERYTHING.

    Of course, there are a few other things that are equally (and more) important, but this one stands out to me.

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  13. I like what Tamra said, that is really similar to how I feel about my relationship with my husband. He (and his family) have taught me things about patience, listening, honesty, loyalty, consistency, hard work and most importantly, about spirituality and the gospel that I feel lucky to have been a student too. It makes me wonder what on earth I've taught him! I'll have to ask :)

    I don't think I had a good list of "musts" when I was dating, i.e. I'm pretty sure they included something along the lines of "really loves Jurassic Park". I might feel differently when I'm older, but right now I feel lucky that I was in a time and place to have met my husband and also that he felt so good about marrying me. I was pretty regularly trying to break up with him because I didn't feel like I was good enough for him. That was a really hard time, now that I reminisce over it.

    But if I were to make a list of "musts" now, I would say ... He must be realistic. He must also be idealistic. He must be hopeful. He must be forgiving. He must be called Greg :)

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  14. I'm not married, but I have a boyfriend of 2.5 years, so I'm not really single either. Still, I want to answer this question! Without a doubt, my boyfriend's ability to make me feel loved when I'm feeling unlovable has been the best gift that I've received in this lifetime. I've gone through periods of moderately bad anxiety/depression, and as a result, have had to make countless "withdrawals from the bank of grace" as they say. But even when I'm at my very worst, he just keeps on loving me, encouraging me, believing in me, and almost as important, surprising me with almond lattes from my favorite cafe - with straws and everything, just the way I like them! Being truly loved (and not just loved, but LIKED) despite my flaws has been LIFE-CHANGING. Not only do I feel safer walking through this sometimes-scary world with such an amazing cheerleader on my side, I have also become way more accepting of other people's imperfections, because I've learned that IT'S TRULY OK TO HAVE FLAWS!

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  15. Just discovered your blog and I love it. I love reading positive and happy love stories! Before I got married I had "THE list" you know. And surprisingly my husband fit everything on it, but it was NOT apparent at first. Besides being incredibly attracted to him, the thing that most attracted me was this connection that we instantly had. Because of that connection (this feeling like I already knew him and instantly felt comfortable and safe with him) I got to know him a little more. There are things that I never expected to have in a spouse like the fact that he's such a nerd--insert wink-- or his political views...but those things are superficial and I've grown to love those things about him as we grow closer together. My husband has turned out to be more than I ever expected and certainly more than I deserve--he's patient, well mannered, easy going, kind, attentive, spiritual, supportive, and he makes time for me. I feel very lucky and blessed. Those things are things that always appear on the surface at first, but it's when you make a big mistake with a purchase, overspend the budget, or speak your mind at work and come home worried that you'll lose your job--that they really come out. I'd say those things are so important.

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  16. i never really dated in high school or college. i was always "one of the guys" and had really good guy friends. i came from a pretty complicated home and did not have a good example of real love in a marriage from my parents. for me number one on my list was to have a man who respected me. i also really wanted to feel that we were equals. i really needed someone with a great sense of humor. those have proven to be the most important to me five years later!

    as for the list of traits in a future spouse i wrote when i was 15... i really thought i'd die if my husband wasn't a good dancer - and, well, i've learned that that wasn't so important!

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  17. I love the distinction of core musts and fun musts! When I was dating and when I was making my "list" I had "has to be a good dancer" and "parents must speak Spanish" on it--thinking that those were part of who I am, and therefore a "must". Well, I've been married for almost five years and me and my husband have gone dancing a total of 8 times, maybe 10 in case I'm forgetting a couple of times. And our parents? Haven't spoken to each other since the wedding (I'm from Bolivia, he's from TX that's why I thought it would be great to have my husband's parents speak Spanish as well). Anyway... my point is that sometimes we can get lost in the fun musts and not think about the core ones, the ones that really matter. I realize now that if my husband didn't know how to dance or if his parents didn't speak Spanish we would still have a rocking relationship because of our foundation and because we have in common far greater things that fuel our daily relationship.

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  18. I would love more posts on the topics you mentioned. I think its a great way to reflect on how I'm contributing to my relationship's success. Looking forward to it!

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  19. I am not married and have not been in a serious relationship for a couple years. As I date though I tend to get crazy nit-picky on guys right off the bat. The two things that help me get my mind back on track are these:
    1) A sense of consistency in his life. Meaning, does he treat everyone the same and behave the same around anyone? Do I know his mood doesn't continually go from prince to monster and back again? Does he have a reasonable amount of commitments in his life which he holds to?
    2) A willing nature. Meaning, even if we don't like to do the same things for fun, will he give it a try or come with me when I need/want him there. Will he come visit my grandma with me for a couple hours one afternoon when he could be doing (insert whatever he loves)? Will he stay up until 2:00 am to help me decorate for a baby shower? I guess in a lot of ways willingness is service and selflessness.
    When I find a guy like that, I then have to remind myself to live and act the same way I hope and expect he will! All the dumb nitty-gritty things start to disappear in a way.
    On the other side, when I realize he doesn't have these qualities, I'm not living these qualities, and our relationship is only based on our interests with no deeper connection, it makes it an easy decision to move-on.

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  20. I never really articulated a list, but I had this image, I don't know where it came from really, of my faceless future husband and I sitting in a sunroom, eating bagels and drinking oj and reading the paper together while a dog slept under the table. Somehow the image represented that he would be intelligent and interested in the world, kind and compassionate (represented by the dog I guess?) and that we would share a quiet, easy connectedness.

    When I'd be at a crossroads with some boyfriend, trying to decide if things were worth hanging onto, that image would pop into my mind and I would try to place them in it. They never fit. They would be great in lots of ways maybe, but I never could imagine myself feeling completely at peace with them, just reading the paper together.

    Then I started dating my husband, and one morning he make Johnny cakes and eggs and we sat on a screened-in porch eating and drinking orange juice, and he just smiled at me in this calm and wonderful way and I was like, this is him, this is man I am going to marry.

    What I'm trying to say of course is not about the breakfast food, but about that feeling of peace and contentedness, and just knowing you connect with someone so deeply that you almost don't have to say anything. Though you do say something of course, you say it every day, because declaring it only makes it stronger, I think.

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  21. I love what Danny wrote in regards to not being the source of the other person's happiness. I was a child bride (yup, a whole nineteen years old!)and in my immaturity I thought the best kind of marriage was one in which you looked in to each other's eyes and said "you're my everything" and meant it like your life depended on it. A few short months after our wedding, my husband (surely feeling completely exhausted by my neediness) said to me, "I can't be your everything and you can't be mine." It was a crushing blow in the moment, but in the eight years since I've learned he was so right! My happiness is my responsibility. Not his! Not my children! Not my friends! Just me. I may choose to be happy or not, but the point is at the end of the day it's all on me, nobody or nothing else. I thank my lucky stars my husband had the courage to say those words to me in those early days. It literally changed my life.

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  22. Well I'm probably weird because even though there was an instant connection and attraction between the hubby and I, The commitment Of marriage scared me to death. I knew we made each other laugh had the same vales and that he was wonderful with kids but fear had certainly taken over my body. So the only thing that helped me to KNOW my hubby was the one for me was prayer. Seriously, I can't tell you how many times I freaked out and even prayed for an answer to whether this guy was right for me or not. But an answer did not come until I finally decided to truly humble myself and give Heavenly Father all of my heart. Then the heavens were opened and I felt such an overwhelming peace that I simply can not ever deny that Danny and I are meant o be. I needed a powerful answer and the powerful answer I received was through prayer.

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  23. please, please, please post more about this. I'm twenty four, attend BYU, and sometimes dating is THE most confusing thing I've ever experienced. I'm reading over this post, and the comments on it--and they aren't going to tell me what to think, but it IS reminding me of what matters most to me, and it's giving me perspective.

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  24. I've been loving your blog for a few weeks now but this is my first comment. Thanks for all of your posts. They have really touched me and made me strive for more happiness and love in my life.

    I also didn't necessarily have a list of things that I wanted in a husband. The only thing I remember thinking when I was young is that I wanted to marry someone who worked in an office so they didn't have to shower when they came home from work. I married a military man which I never imagined in a million years but it has been great.

    Anyway, the traits that he has that I loved him for then are the same things I love him for now, plus many, many more things. He is a hard worker and knows how to do so many things. I honestly know he would go out and dig ditches or do whatever it takes to provide for me and my family. And he can fix anything which I love. I also love that these are things he can teach to our boys.

    One thing that sold me on him while we were dating was going with him to rescue his little sister who had run out of gas on the freeway. The fact that his sister called him for help and he dropped everything to help her meant a lot to me and showed me a lot about the kind of person he was.

    As I have read back through our journals from the time we were dating it has surprised me that he knew me better than I knew myself. He would write something in his journal about how I was feeling and it would take me a few days longer to write it in mine. He figured me out before I did.

    And some of the things that bothered me while we were dating, his quirkiness, I absolutely adore now. It's what makes him him.

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  25. danny & mara,

    i was recently introduced to your blog, and let me just say, you had me at hello! everything you say is SPOT ON. i am going to be sending an email your way soon, but in the meantime i wanted to answer your question. i am currently single (divorced) and in addition to the qualities that danny mentioned above, i want to add something that pres. hinckley once said that sums up what i am looking for in my eternal companion.

    he said:

    “Aim high, but do not aim so high that you totally miss the target. What really matters is that he will love you, that he will respect you, that he will honor you, that he will be absolutely true to you, that he will give you the freedom of expression and let you fly in the development of your own talents. He is not going to be perfect, but if he is kind and thoughtful, if he knows how to work and earn a living, if he is honest and full of faith, the chances are you will not go wrong, that you will be immensely happy.”

    so there you have it.
    i couldn't have said it better myself.

    thanks so much for all you guys do!

    love, hailey.

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  26. Love, love, love your response, Danny. Thanks for sharing! You talk about this ALL the time but being happy on your own and not *because* of someone or some other outside influence is so crucial. My happiness is up to me. I really needed to have that reminder today. Thank you for such an uplifting, fun blog!

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  27. All of these comments are great! So, I had the biggest list ever of what i wanted in a husband. I wrote it when i was around 16 and revised it a number of times. I think the last revision had about 100 things! Some important and some just fun. Well, our 19th Wedding Anniversary is next month and here is what is most important. Dedication (to family, God, and work) Kindness ( to everyone) Patience (this comes in handy with 7 children). Seriously, there are so many things my husband is awesome at and i love him dearly. The "list" items that don't seem so important? Handy with tools and around the house ( i know, this is a plus, but hey i have a dad who can fix things, and 6 boys, 2 of whom i have paid wood shop fees in school for them to learn how to be my handymen) also i was big on outdoor sports like skiing and camping, two things that aren't on my husband's list of "a good time". Luckily we do those things with my family, and when it comes down to it, having a caring, loving, and thoughtful partner who shares the same core values as you and wants more than anything to create a happy home and life with you is the best kind of companion you can have. Here's to great marriages!!!!

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  28. I actually found your blog via Pintrest. I thought you would like to know. Your poster and Danny's reply I agree are spot on. But I would like to give a different perspecive if I may. In January I turned 39. I have been married now for coming up on 23 years. I will let you and your readers do the math. My husband and I made a few wrong choices in the beginning that turned us into insta-family teenage parents. To tell you we chose the hard road is an understatement. But before we got married we decided that divorce was not an option. While I fully understand that that kind commitment doesn't work for everyone. We have chosen to make it work for us. We grew up together and continue to grow up together. Now how this relates to your post. I think in some ways Disney really does us a dis-service. For all happily ever afters come with a cost. Nothing is ever free and more importantly it usually isn't worth having (and cherishing) if it is. Some things you think are important now will be a whisper in the wind later. So in choosing wisley who you choose make sure you look for things that last. Here are a few things I have found. Bodies never stay the same no matter how hard the work, but someone who can make you laugh through tears, and can make hurts a little smaller, beats a fairy godmother any day of the week. The way a person treats their family despite their family's behavior speaks volumes. Someone who can tell you that you look beautiful when changing a dirty diaper and mean it, will find some good in the world if they have to slay a dragon to find it. Someone who (and this is a tough one sometimes but is critical!!) loves God more than he/she loves you, will never stear you wrong. Fairy tales are called tales for a reason. Find someone who if reality is all you get 24-7 forever trumps ball gowns and castles, and you will be grateful for the work it takes just so you can hold hands as you fall asleep togther each night. You have found your keeper. Someone once told me "Life is hard, get a helmet", I thought I don't need one, because I have him.

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  29. This is lovely, and such great advice. I can totally relate to the lady that wrote in to you, sometimes I look around and wonder if my relationship is lacking because compared to others, it doesn't seem as romantic/fun/whatever I decide that other couple has that we don't, but at the end of the day, I'm with a great guy who loves and respects me, indulges in my passions and dreams and pushes me to continue pursuing my dream career, even on days when I just feel like giving up.

    each love story is unique, and I want to thank you, and the lady that wrote into you, for sharing this e-mail, and letting me and many others know that it is normal to worry about these things, but that as long as what you have is what you want, you're in the right place!

    xx

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  30. this is a perfect, lovely response. I LOVE it that you emphasize each story is different and we shouldn't compare. I was just comparing my courtship to your love story emails and it wasn't making me happy. Thanks for this wise response and reminding us that the core is what really matters. SO true. My husband is so different from the man I imagined, yet he is the true love God sent me, and he is just what I truly needed.

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  31. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being so open with the world about love and the love you have. It gives me the courage to keep on trying to be more loving ... vulnerable ...yet loving.

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