Dwonna Know What I Think?”
A social/lifestyle advice and commentary column by guest contributor Dr. Dwonna Naomi Goldstone. Dr. Goldstone is a Professor of English and Coordinator of the African American Studies Minor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.
I’m a 23-year-year old man who has been dating my 22-year-old girlfriend for almost a year, and I think I love her. How do I know if she’s the one?
Your question seems so simple, yet it is really quite difficult to succinctly answer. Many people believe that there is that one person in the universe with whom we are meant to be—for some, this person is our “soul mate.” One of the biggest problems with thinking that someone is “the one” is that if the relationship doesn’t work out, where do you go from there? Do you abandon hope because “the one” got away? Do you pine away until you find someone who is just like that “one”? Moreover, if you are convinced that this one person is “the one” you’re supposed to spend forever with but yet this person treats you badly, do you stay in the relationship because you think this is the only “one” for you? There are more than seven billion people in the world, so it is hard for me to believe that there is only one person in the universe for each of us.
Now that I’ve gotten my philosophical views out of the way, let me answer a slightly different question than the one you posed—how do you know that the woman you’re with is the one you should marry? Finding a wife is perhaps the most important decision you can make, so do always keep your eyes and you mind wide open. A year is still too soon to know if you two are a good match because many of us can still hide our flaws; you should take another 6-12 months to objectively see if you two connect emotionally, spiritually, and physically (not necessarily in that order). You two are also very young to be thinking about making such an important decision as a marital partner.
Although my parents married at 17 and have been married for 48 years, today these teenage marriages often do not last, mostly because too many young people focus on the wedding (aka “party”) and not on what happens afterwards.
Make sure you meet each other’s families because marriage not only joins two people; it also joins two families. Watch how she treats your family, and do listen to any concerns about your relationship that they may have. Observe how she deals with stress because marriage—and life in general—can be very stressful.
At the end of the day, I hope you are with someone who is kind to you and who treats you well, and I hope you are this way to her, too. I also hope you awaken each morning and think about how you can make her life better so that she will be glad she married you, and if you’re with the right person, she will have this same attitude.
Radio personality Dr. Laura has a simple formula for a happy marriage: “Choose wisely; treat kindly.” This would be my advice, too, because there are lots of people in the world from whom to choose a wife, and when you find a woman you love AND you can get along with, you might be in for a very happy life.
*Dr. Goldstone lives in Nashville with her four unruly dogs—Satchel Paige, Butterfly McQueen, Charlie Parker, and Lena Horne. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.