April – 20 years ago – I started reading Barbara De Angelis’ book, “Are You The One For Me?”. August of this year I’ll be celebrating meeting my now wife, Jane, and the relationship and life we’ve created together. ”Are You The One For Me?” played a big part in helping me to see that she was ‘the one’ even when I wasn’t sure myself. Here’s what happened:
When I finally decided to end my first marriage after 16 years, I felt both a sense of excitement around possibility and sadness around not being with my 3 daughters day in and day out. I did however come to the realization that if I was ever going to have the chance of experiencing the kind of love I desired, and of modelling a high functioning relationship to my children, now was the time. Much to my former mother-in-law’s disbelief, I wasn’t seeing anyone else; I was simply tired of feeling dead every night I came home from work.
Now, on my own, I started creating time for me to simply wonder what I wanted for my life. As part of my process I came across the book “Are You The One For Me?”, by Barbara De Angelis, PH.D. Knowing that I wanted to get clear about what I did want, rather than what I didn’t want, this book seemed very relevant at the time. I don’t recall too much about the book other than at the end there was a section that encouraged the creation of a wide-ranging list of attributes I was looking for in a new partner. Based on this suggestion and the great examples that were provided I created my list of 72 things I was looking for in my future, unknown, partner. Being an accountant, I even created a spreadsheet to assist me.
I remember having my list printed out and tucked inside my bedside table. Whenever I would go out on a coffee date I would come home, pull out my list and see how many characteristics I could check off as being a part of this new person I had just met. Most often I would get less than half way down my list and I’d have more no’s then yeses. So I could stop and know that I had a “no” for this one. I’m smiling as I remember this – did I really need a list tell me they were no’s? Probably not, but it was certainly a huge help as I learned to trust my instincts and my choices.
Then on an auspicious late afternoon in August 1994 it happened. I had invited a friend and her family over for a barbecue to thank her for being a reference for my new job. Unfortunately her husband was away hiking with friends and she was reluctant to come on her own with her 2 kids. After finally accepting my invite she called back moments later to ask if she could invite a friend of hers to come along. Her friend also had 2 kids. I recognized her discomfort and immediately said yes although I realized that some of the women I had turned down lately were all friends of hers and how would this new friend be any different. Shortly after this phone call I received another call from her telling me that her friend was looking after 2 kids of friends that were out of town so could she bring them along as well? By this time I was doing quick math in my head. My 3 girls, my friends 2 kids, her friends 2 kids and 2 more kids she was looking after for the weekend. Nine kids aged between 3 and 12. After saying yes and having the shock wear off I immediately started planning activities, games, food and movies all to make sure the kids had fun and the adults would have a bit of time to ourselves.
The day went off fabulously. We started with a water fight. Each person had their own water gun and the hose was off to the side for refills. All 12 of us laughed and soaked each other for almost an hour. I was delighted to note that this new woman jumped right in and played big. I was having so much fun that it took me a moment to see how she was helping me tick off my list with yeses. Loves kids, tick, likes to play, tick, loves to laugh, tick, looks great in a wet t-shirt, tick. You get the picture. Afterwards the kids did some crafts, munched on kid friendly food and were easily talked into watching a movie. Now it was time for our adult dinner. The three adults ate, talked, laughed and generally had fun getting to share stories and past lives. I found out that this new woman liked to play squash, tick, and enjoyed all kinds of food, one more tick.
While, initially, I wasn’t exactly sure about whether she was the one for me, over time I was able to give a positive tick mark to 71 out of 72 attributes I was looking for. The one “no”? Loves to golf”! I actually pondered this for awhile and came to the conclusion that I could live with that ‘no’ with a hidden hope that maybe she would come around on that one. She never has.
Now, almost 20 years later, I can still recall that first encounter with great detail and delight. And my life and my relationship have flourished every day since. Just last year when I told someone that I had been married for over 17 years, they told me that they thought we were actually still newlyweds given the way we carry on and how much love they see between us. Who says the honeymoon has to die after a couple of years?
My relationship and marriage to Jane has been the best choice I’ve ever made and I have a ton of appreciation for the woman and her book that helped me create a list of 72 attributes. Thank you Barbara De Angelis! Your book contributed massively to me seeing what it was that I was looking for. And I was smart enough to use this tool to manifest that amazing relationship I have today.
Now this isn’t the only reason why I have an amazing relationship that sparkles after almost 20 years. There are many other factors that I’ve learned over the years. For anyone who wants to learn more come visit us at VibrantCouples.com where we’re willing to share all we can to guide you toward creating the relationship you’ve always wanted.