When I was a girl, my beliefs about love were pretty uncomplicated. I daydreamed of a big white wedding in a big cathedral and a husband who was the epitome of a knight in shining armor that would sweep me away to a beautiful life away from all the hardship and sorrow I felt had been such a huge part of my life. He was going to be kind, have a great sense of humor, be tall and strong; because I needed his strength to hold me when I was sad or weak.

As I grew into my young adulthood, I started thinking about what a true partner in love should be. I did not care so much about the big white wedding or having babies anymore. Babies would be a bonus but not a requirement. I wanted someone who would enhance my life and together we could grow and accomplish anything we set our minds to. I thought I knew what love was not. To me, love was not lies or manipulation. It surely wasn’t being disrespectful or disloyal. Love was not fickle. It was unwavering and if it was really great, it lifted you up and brought more peace and joy into your life. I lost this mindset in my mid thirties and realized love can be a choice (albeit a good or bad one). That “free will” thing can truly mess things up for us. 

Now I know, love is God. No one can love me more than He can. No one knows me better than He does. No one knows what my needs are more than He does. If I start with Him first, how can I go wrong? I have spent the last few months rekindling this beautiful relationship I had let fall by the wayside and it has brought me peace, healing, and even hope. I talk to Him daily and He responds in kind with signs and messages throughout my journey. Love is also about healing and recognizing that I am worthy and deserving of love.

Someone recently asked me, “What is my definition of an ideal man?” No one has asked me that in a long while but I was quickly surprised by the words that flowed out so easily and not one had to do with looks or wealth! Instead, they include:

A man who is confident in his faith will be a spiritual leader in the home so we can pray together and share our faith. If we do not have God at the center of our relationship, it leaves room for deception, irrational expectations of one another, and a relationship filled with letting one another down.

A man who has a provider mentality will take care of his loved ones and family. He does this willingly and as a form of self respect and not begrudgingly. This has nothing to do with wealth and more to do with responsibility. This leaves the gates open for me to flourish in my role as a lover and nurturer of our relationship, family, and home. This does not mean I refuse to work to make our dreams come true. It means, I do not have to worry because my work, although it is part of our success, is not so much that it takes away from my role as a nurturer in our marriage and home.

A man who has a growth mindset and loves learning will always be willing to grow and change for the better. I do not mean he needs to work on his doctorate but he needs to have a desire to explore, learn, and grow. Minimum effort equals minimum results. I am mature enough to know that life is about ups and downs and a true partnership is about balance and encouraging one another through the ups and downs. It should not be the job of one person in the relationship to do all the growing and learning. It ends up creating a chasm between you and leaves room for someone to be left behind. 

A man who is a good communicator and does not walk away or ignore problems is a force to be reckoned with. I need someone who is open and honest about his vulnerabilities, pain, and fears. It is not for me to criticize or condemn him for them, but to share them and help him through them. 

A man who is consistent in his efforts to show love, affection, and work on his relationship is a man who values what he has. He doesn’t have to bring me flowers every week but he needs to remember that nothing works if it is neglected for too long. My love language is acts of service. Love is reciprocal and a woman gives more when she feels appreciated and courted. If he is constantly distracted with his hobbies; it is a reflection of his priorities and I need to be number two (after God). 

Lastly, who doesn’t want a partner with a sense of humor. You need to be able to laugh and be comfortable in sharing who you are even if it’s a little crazy sometimes.