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By: Jacob Myers, Contributor
Why did I pop the question? My story is a bit unique, but yours will be too. This is my journey to “I do” and what I learned along the way.
Allow yourself to be caught off guard. If you are ready for a serious relationship, be ready for anything. I thought that I had all the answers and knew exactly what I was looking for until I went up for a weekend trip to New York City and was blown away by a woman.
Find someone who will keep you on your toes. There are certain conversations you will remember forever. Some regarding your health, some from loved ones wishing you luck before heading off to college, and, of course, the first conversation that you had with a very interesting person. My future fiancé captured my attention immediately, and I knew at that moment that she was different. I think that it’s safe to say it all started for me at that moment when we had the opportunity to talk at a bar in Mid-Town. Her intellect was unmatched to anyone I had ever known; I since then have referenced myself as doggy paddling when talking with her as I tried to stay afloat while we continued our conversation on whatever the tide seemed to bring in. Better yet, she loved to learn and was genuinely interested in every topic at hand. Her charm left a lasting impression, and her class was incredible. She beamed with confidence, and to be honest, that left me stunned. This woman was different, and I knew I had to see her again.
No Game Playing: you want an adult? Act like it. I am a firm believer that if you are interested in someone, let her know. Speaking for myself, I hate games, like the “3 day rule” before calling someone. We are adults! If you have a connection with someone, pursue her. Be straightforward and let her know that you had a great time. So what if you let her know 5 minutes after you left the bar, at least there is no doubt of interest! (I totally did that by the way…)
Support and Respect: Give it, get it, sustain it. I came to realize quickly that not only was she supportive of my career in the armed forces, but she began to read about it, learn about it, and quiz me on topics that were foreign to me. She wanted the absolute best for me without any strings attached. She would emit pure joy when she saw that I was happy. This unconditional love we all hear about… it really exists. Not found at your local convenience store or bought off the internet, but a learned practice that you must commit yourself to. She had this trait, and together, we worked harmoniously. I supported her with what she wanted to do, and she did the same for me. This mutual respect and rooting for each other made for an incredible relationship. To find someone who wants the very best for you is a treasured gift. The respect we have for each other makes for an effective union and an awesome friendship. Respect yourself and respect the one who you want to be with. This is one of our secrets and made me want to be her husband.
Healthy Fear: if you find yourself outside of your comfort zone, embrace it! As the weeks and months continued, our relationship flourished. This was clearly something that was meant to be, and even though I knew she was special and different, for me, there was one moment that really solidified my decision that she was “The One”. Like most couples do, we found ourselves experiencing a moment of friction through the long distance. After a serious miscommunication and inability to speak about it face-to-face, I felt as if she was about to be absent from my life. In an instant, everything changed for me when I came faced with this reality. The fear of losing her immediately put it in perspective that I was ready to commit myself to her forever. I know what you are thinking: she scared you so you wanted to get married? If that were the case, every guy would be going out to 5th Avenue and buying rings off the shelf. But, this feeling was not a feeling of fear; it was a feeling of determination. In my mind, if someone who wasn’t family was able to shake me so resolutely that her absence meant a permanent change in my life, then obviously this woman was different.
Embrace Conversation: Communication is key. In our relationship, we have a lot of communication. In fact, the entire existence of what we had in the beginnings of our relationship depended on talking regularly. She moved to Italy earlier in the fall to pursue a Master’s Degree, and the first two semesters were abroad. So while I was in the Mid-West, she was 7 hours ahead of me in the Mediterranean. Some may say that long-distance kills a relationship, but I beg to differ. Looking back, I feel that we were fortunate to have this test in the beginning of our relationship. Most couples have the luxury of seeing one another on a regular basis. While I am not saying that being together in one place ruins a couple, I am confident that in our case we had to rely on heavy discussions and open dialog to further our commitment to one another while some couples are never bound by this “limitation”. The situation forced us to find new ways of connecting, talking, and being open that I believe has set us up for success in the future. Being honest, open, and willing to talk will always provide a foundation for a strong relationship in the future.
The Joy of Commitment: Be prepared for this excitement. By Christmas, I knew that I was ready to pop the question. The support that we had exhibited for each other those many months never wavered, and the constant communication made the long months more manageable. Everything that we had been through had only strengthened our feelings for each other. While we walked the streets of Paris and with an engagement ring in my pocket, I began to replay our entire relationship from New York City to this point. One of the most important decisions of my life was committing to this woman, and yet there was not an ounce of doubt in my mind. I respected her and all her aspirations. Her successes were mine. Our relationship had spanned over 4,000 miles, and not once did we lose the feelings for one another. This translated into an absolute trust. We trusted each other to speak about what bothered us, what made us sad, joyful, concerned, and everything in between. I took a breath and went down on one knee…
A Long and Unpredictable Journey: Have trust in yourself and your choice of a partner; you will make the right decision. Since then my friends have asked me what I did to prepare myself for marriage. There is not one all-inclusive answer, but there are some truths that must be confronted before going ahead with this decision. First, are you ready to commit yourself? Whether you are on the receiving end of the proposal or down on the knee, your commitment to this other person must be absolute. Second, if you are not necessarily a person who speaks about his feelings, can you change these habits? Communication has to go both ways, and whatever bridges need to be built in your relationship to develop that path is a valued investment. Finally, do you respect this person? This does not have to mean their career path, financial investments, or what education level they have achieved. Do you respect them as a person, and do they exhibit these qualities in return?
There is no magic wand when it comes to the ultimate preparation, but there is one constant among all relationships; they are matters of the heart, and they deal with people. People want to know that they are respected, believed in, loved, and met with commitment. Regardless of what exterior qualities you may be searching for, these characteristics hold true. I was fortunate to find the woman of my dreams who shares these values and deems them just as important to a successful union as I do. Regardless of what you do, be it in the military, matchmaking, dance, or teaching, life is an unpredictable journey. Choose someone who can make that journey with you.
By the way… she said yes.
Jake Myers is a service member in the United States Military. Since 2006, he has traveled all over the country and many foreign corners of the world. Still in his 20s, Jake loves to be on the run, and can be found spending his down time back in the East Coast. An advocate of adventure and travel, he loves to be in new places and try new experiences, especially if they bring him to Italy. Jake also enjoys the All-American pastime of watching the Steelers while enjoying a nice Rum and Coke.