as for knowing if you love someone and then if you should marry him…
the longer i’ve been married, my view of this question has become less romantic. i think the question is more about deciding if you want to commit to a life-long relationship. this is a difficult and laborious commitment but one that, i think, has deeply sweet fruits. i haven’t been married for very long (in the wide scope of things) so i am far from a full understanding of my vow. so far i can say that it has been more difficult than it has been fun. but i do feel that i have a priceless friend that (given my character traits), i would not have outside of marriage. i think that this is of value and will continue to become more valuable the longer we commit to it.
deciding if this sort of arrangement aligns with your values and priorities is the first question (i think its okay if it doesn’t).
after this, the specific person you chose becomes less important. i say that because, whoever you marry will grow and change and not be the person you originally picked. and also because, no matter who you pick, you will learn their flaws and forget their beauty and be sometimes annoyed and sometimes you will loathe them (well, i do at least).
not to say that you shouldn’t be diligent and thoughtful in the choosing of a partner. but i guess, the most important thing to consider is if the person has the same commitment and expectations and values for marriage. and after that it just gets down to preferences. think about the things that are most important to you and make sure that those things are supported and valued by your partner and vice versa. i guess i’m saying that feelings of love don’t answer this question. feelings about/for a person are indicators of something going on inside of you and it is good to try and understand what they are pointing to. but they don’t know how to make decisions (especially life-long vows).
I've chewed on this because it's so dang good.
What some may find "less romantic," as Ashley put it, I find thrilling - the grit of marriage. The stuff that's going to require a mixture of head, heart, and help; the necessity of communication, commitment, and community.
The idea is almost too large for me to even put into words. All I can squeak out is a "thank you" to women like Ashley who attest to the fullness of marriage. Or to newly engaged Amelia, who through tears and smiles, has overflowed with love and fear since the day she said, "Yes!"
I'm right there with you, girlfriend.
It's healthy and formative for couples to realize marriage is going to be more than good looks and butterflies.
Some days are going to be gray and overcast. Others will require a lot more shoveling and pruning- we'll probably have to get down on our hands and knees in the dirt and grit. But in the end, there's this picture of a rich marriage to which I cling (Is.58:11-12):
we'll be like a watered garden...
our ruins shall be rebuilt;
we will raise up the foundations of many generations;
we will restore the streets to dwell in.