A few years ago, my cousin and I were hanging out at my place. I was straightening her hair, she was watching tv, we were chatting about life, and doing all the normal things cousins who double as friends tend to do. We talked about our careers (or lack thereof), our goals, our dreams, and our boyfriends. J and I had been dating for less than a year at this point, but she asked me a question that many others would ask soon after: is he the one?

At that time, I was unsure. Things were still fairly fresh, and although he and I were very much in love and had discussed a future together, we had not taken any steps toward said future. So, I shrugged it off, proceeded to finish her hair while talking it out, and ultimately came to the conclusion that maybe he *was* the one, but time would tell. I find it funny how those small, fleeting moments in life can sometimes be the ones that stick out most in our brain, even years down the road. I thought nothing of it at the time, but now that we are married, people often ask how did you know he was the one? and I am instantly transported back to that moment with my cousin years ago.

For the record, that question still throws me for a loop. There was no exact moment when the lightbulb in my heart went off and I just knew. There was no overtly grand gesture. There was no sign from God. Nope, none of that. Instead, there were choices and decisions. At times we made them together; at times they were one-sided. We chose to see each other more and more. I decided to introduce him to Mom. We chose to forgive and work through arguments. He decided to persevere through my aggressively feisty façade during the aforementioned arguments so we could get to a resolution. We chose to accept each other, as-is, flaws and all, warranty not included. We chose to keep choosing each other, over and over again, until he decided he was ready to commit to choosing me forever, and by saying yes to his proposal, I made the same decision in return.

I do not believe in finding your soulmate. I believe compatibility is a great starting point, but the person you chose, over and over again, mates with your soul over time. I believe consistently choosing each other, year after year, strengthens that bond, and the less you choose each other, the weaker that bond becomes, which is likely how couples "drift apart" and is often how "irreconcilable differences" arise. It is a choice for him to call me every morning before work and pray over our day. It is a choice for me to pack his lunch for the next day. We must consciously decide to call or text each other just to say I love you, or I miss you, or wyd, instead of just to ask did you pay the phone bill? or to say I might be home late... or please take chicken out of the freezer for dinner, or something else that may be important but is also wholly unromantic. Passion rarely lives within the confines of our routines, so we choose to accept the mundane moments while also pushing past them in favor of nurturing the part of our soul that needs a mate.

Back when I was treading water in the dating pool, I had a type. Physical characteristics were never the lure for me, because a good-looking man was/is a good-looking man, but certain personality traits were always the draw: men who worked with their hands (on cars, landscaping, home maintenance, etc. definitely nothing corporate-y), men who instinctively took the lead, men who believed in opening my door even though I was clearly capable of opening it for myself, men who were very close with their family, and men who enjoyed their own company (lone wolves). J came along and checked all my boxes, but he was different - not necessarily because he was the one, but because we found ourselves factoring each other into all our decision making, both big and small. We chose each other (past), we choose each other (present), and we will choose each other (indefinite future).

Today is our three-year wedding anniversary, and I wanted to write something on the subject without getting all mushy-gushy because 1) it is not my style and 2) marriage is hard. There have been so many times when I thought about how much easier my life was when I was single, but not once have I ever wished I was not married to this man of mine. We are a team, and we are just getting started, so there are countless more choices and decisions on the road ahead.

Good thing I love road trips.

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