Cost-benefit analysis is a basic tool for decision-making and one of the first lessons in Economics and even in Finance. Most of us know of this and probably use it to make rational choices. This concept came to my mind when a friend of mine approached me saying sadly how she made another mistake for the nth guy she’s been dating turned out to be so far from what she has always imagined him to be. So I thought to myself, what makes this news so depressing? Why are we, women, so obsessed with the idea of finding THE right guy anyway? Why is it so important to find THE ONE?
Perhaps the perceived benefit we have of finding Mr. Right is so great that we think it is all worth the cost. The heartaches and disappointments we experience when we go out there, with our hearts out in the open, are brought about by the risky nature of the most common method of arriving at the desired benefit—the trial-and-error method. This method is so old-fashioned and tricky but for the benefit, we are willing to take the risk. Trial-and-error means there are no calculations, no specific rational ways and no guarantee of how long the process is going to take or if we’ll even get there—to that eureka moment of finally finding THE ONE. Thus, I’m not making much discussion on the benefits side of finding the right person to live the rest of one’s life with. It appears it is much well-known and no one needs more convincing.
Rather, I would like to highlight the fact that on top of this inherent risk of the trial-and-error method, there are other hidden costs that each of us uniquely discovers on our own before we reap the benefits. Though I am in no way an expert in love and relationships, my personal experience should be reliable enough for one who is looking for a resource for estimating the total cost of finding his or her happily ever after. For someone who, in real economic terms, was able to make a “successful purchase” of a life-long partner, a recommendation to other prospective “buyers” is not at all a bad idea.
So here’s a list of 8 things in life I think I did right which brought me to Mr Right (a.k.a the costs I personally had to incur)
- I accepted that I was broken. I was lonely and that, though I didn’t really need someone, I wanted someone. I wanted to have a partner to walk through this life.
One of the guys I dated suddenly decided to stop seeing me for no apparent reason at all. When asked why, he said he thinks I am too independent and that I don’t really need anybody. There was no room for a significant other to be part of my then independent life. While that may just be an excuse from a guy who just realized he didn’t really like me, there is some truth to it. While we don’t need anyone to make us complete, more so depend on, from the bottom of our hearts we long for belongingness, someone completely for us and would stick with us through life’s twists and turns. Otherwise, you won’t be reading this post. Admitting this fact and embracing it with neither shame nor guilt is a crucial first step.
- I stopped underselling myself. I set the standards right at the level actually fit for the role I wished to be filled.
If we are hiring for job openings, we can be very picky. I realized late that I was not this critical when I was seeking for my perfect pair. I was largely reliant on the trial phase—the ride, the feel, the spark, the compatibility which I hoped I will discover through the course of the relationship. I have never been so wrong! Coming from a devastating break-up, someone gave me the most useful of all the pieces of advice I got then, “you should set your non-negotiables before you even think of dating.” The non-negotiables are values or qualities you are definitely sure your partner should have. Other good qualities you wish he has but can also accept him without all fall into the negotiables category. Enumerating the non-negotiables will be easy if you narrow down the list to a few. In my case I named three: (1) FAITH: He is a godly man, far more matured in the faith as I am and can lead me closer to God. (2) FAMILY: He is a loving man who values family and real connection with friends. He will love and accept my family as his own and will never lose respect for them in any and every circumstance, no matter what comes out of our own relationship. (3) DIRECTION: He dreams and he is right on the path of achieving his dreams. Wherever he is at the moment, he should have achieved a level relatively higher than where I am. I was specific on this one because I know I am the type of woman who can only follow a man who has gained my respect, and a significant factor affecting that is how he’s fared in whatever endeavor he chose in his life.
- I prayed and prayed a lot.
Having experienced failure so many times and a heavy blow from the last time I did my own trial-and-error, I learned to give up and surrender the quest to God. I urge you to do this as early as you realize #1 is good for you and not commit the same mistakes I did experimenting and trusting my own guts. While I learned a lot and grew wiser through every failed attempt, I later realized in life that I actually didn’t have to. And you don’t have to either. So if only for one thing (though you would probably be better off if you do this for all things in your life), leave this matter up to God. After coming up with the list as in #2, let God guide you through the list: Is this the right criteria? Are you being superficial in any of the items? Let God change your heart and lead you toward coming up with a firmer list with his approval. Then patiently wait on him until he gets that guy right at your doorstep.
- I opened my heart to God’s answers.
When my husband confessed his love for me, I was surprised but I was not as happy as a child would be when opening a gift on Christmas morning that is exactly what he wished for. But right at that moment, I knew that it was God sending him to me. I felt in my heart how he was the answer to my prayers because he met all my non-negotiables. No questions asked—he’s the one. However, he didn’t fit my picture of an ideal man. He is not the type I imagined. He is only an inch taller than I am, he doesn’t play basketball or football, I can argue I am a better driver than he is, and most of all he is not an architect or an engineer. His profession was not the masculine type I always imagined my husband would have. He’s an accountant which is a profession that requires much organization and control-freakishness very well-suited for women. He is also not very outgoing and is very much an introvert. But I just let things unfold; I let God direct me through the events about to unfold. How on earth I would end up falling for this guy was not very straight-forward but just the same, I opened my heart to what was about to come clearer.
- I listened to my heart and learned to be true to myself.
While it is tempting to be thinking of what other people will say about the new guy I’ll be dating, I learned to silence the noise from outside and focus on the voice within me. My own soul would recognize the cause of its own joy. In my case, I was lucky because I was surrounded by matured friends at the time I started dating my husband. They see well beyond the surface so found a gem in him. Though my family was at first disappointed by the fact that he refuses to even drink a bottle of beer on social gatherings, I stood by what my heart is telling me. And that is, this guy is being sent to me by God because he meets all the criteria I set, the very list which I prayed about and got God’s approval for. Though the sparks and sparkles did not come immediately at the start, the conviction I had in my heart was solid. God is telling me a big “something” with this guy. And I, myself, knew what it was.
- I let go and let God write my love story.
I turned down my husband’s offer of love for quite a few times but each of those times, I felt like I did something that’s not really right. There was this friend of mine (let’s call her she), which I knew especially because a close guy friend of mine ( let’s call him he) courted her for a long time but consistently turned him down. He is a really good guy and a rare find so I once asked she whether she ever regretted not giving him a chance to be with her. I was expecting she would give me a testimony that will encourage my decision to totally refuse my husband’s offer of love. To my surprise, she didn’t. She actually advised me to keep him and give him a chance for she, herself, regrets the fact the she turned down he for the sheer reason she feels for him like she would for a brother. With him, there were no sparks and felt no butterflies in her stomach. It was a brotherly affection without the exciting feeling of guilt and scary risk of getting hurt. It was boring love so she thought it couldn’t be the one. Dating another guy afterwards made her realize that at the end of the day, her heart is still longing for he, for that good guy. When we are young we look for sparks, but as we mature we realize that love is not all about that, but about the comfort and security only a trustworthy affection can provide. THE ONE will make you feel right at home, where you have always belonged. She‘s confession was God’s way of talking to me and asking me not to let go of my husband’s love. I’d like to think that it was also God’s way of bridging the broken relationship She and He had because after that conversation I had with She (the rest of the story is worthy of a different article but to cut the long story short), they eventually got another chance at love and are now engaged to be married. (You may conclude that yes, I didn’t keep my mouth shut and told He everything She said.)
- I allowed and continue to allow myself to be loved.
Only recently a friend opened my eyes to the fact that it is far more difficult for a person to receive love than to give love. If we think more deeply about it, it requires someone to surrender his notions of how he or she should be loved and humbly bow down in an act to receive what the other person gives and how he chooses to give it. I read that there are five different love languages to express one’s love and our own language is embedded into our own character so it isn’t at all hard to practice. But learning to appreciate what another person has to offer, take it for what it is and abandon our own critical self-absorbed notion of how it should be is a crucial requirement of love.
- I forgave myself and continuously forgive.
The inherent risks of getting hurt and making mistakes can take its toll on a person and tire him of hoping and looking forward to the right thing that is yet to come. The same was true for me. It can be easy to be cynical or worse lose faith in love especially after years of waiting, trying and failing over and over again. I found my way back by forgiving myself and accepting the many times I was wrong. I gave up on self-reliance and trusting my own judgement when choosing the right “purchase” and instead took the service of a reliable “product advisor”—God. This is when I found the courage to continue to have faith in the benefits I will reap upon the coming of love into my life.
Even today in my marriage, forgiveness is a consistent element in love—for my own shortfalls and for my partner’s. This is a part of the benefits, however, more than the cost. It is forgiving and trusting that your shortcomings will be forgiven that make for a beautiful relationship; one that continuously aspires to change, grow and push us towards maturity, both as an individual and as part of the relationship.
So for me, was it a wise purchase? Do the benefits outweigh all these costs?
I’d say marriage is underrated. And that’s just a resounding “Yes!”