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Some of you may think this has already happened because of my harping on the number in my decision2012 posts, but today is a special day. Today marks my five year dating anniversary with Mr. Perfect. In the past five years, I have: graduated college, almost paid off two cars, found a great job after a few mifits, lived in three apartments, wrote countless blog posts, lost four people very close to me, survived at least three awkward Thanksgivings, and just about finished the first book I will publish…and Mr. P. has been along for the whole crazy ride.

The intent of Decision2012 was to bring the focus back to our relationship as we evaluate if we want to get married or move on. The crazy thing is, though, is that God had already provided the avenues by which we could critically evaluate this before I put my little hands on it. In December, my church had a big marriage and family workshop. They decided to continue to have these forums the fourth Wednesday of every month of this year. This started before devision2012. I don’t know the need at our church for such workshops or who the intended audience was, but it’s definitely helped me.

Along with this has been the more personalized approach of premarital counseling. We have had to think deeply about aspects of marriage as they relate to us. We get to examine and investigate ourselves just as much as each other. Instead of me looking at everyone else getting engaged, getting married, and having babies while our lives pottered along lost in questions of where to eat or do we want to go to the movies, I was able to take a good look at my relationship and decide if this relationship is the one I want to progress towards marriage. We had discussed marriage before, but very vaguely. “I think we could possibly be progressing toward seriously considering marriage” has been replaced with seriously considering marriage.

The last five years has not been without their ups and downs for us both individually and as a couple. I think that we have done the work necessary to make a decision. I was watching an episode of Dr. Phil where a couple was contemplating divorce. Dr. Phil told them that they hadn’t done the work to get a divorce. He said they had to really work on their marriage and relationship to get to a place where either they would continue to be married and moving in a positive direction together or to a place where they had some peace about the relationship and could move forward as an individual knowing that they weren’t making a rash decision. Either way, there was some emotional work to do to get them to a place of wholeness and peace as individuals so that they could make adult decisions. I feel like we’ve done that work.

Our relationship has been mostly good. We don’t argue very often. We have many of the same interests. We have the same values. We seem to want the same things out of life. We make each other laugh with our pop culture references and bouts of silliness. We encourage each other in our times of sadness. We make each other reach for the better. Through this relationship, I’ve learned to be a better communicator, to commit random acts of selflessness, to accept another person’s opinion, to put someone else’s needs first sometimes. I’ve been able to see the impact of my faithful, optimistic outlook on life on someone else, to see how my living testimony has inspired someone else. I’ve known what it was like to have a partner and a support to help with things I want to accomplish. We have grown in maturity and grace in the last five years.

There are still a few more weeks left in pre-marital counseling and this year. We still have one more trip left in us (to New Orleans next Thursday). One more holiday season before decisions have to be made. It’s at times like this you may wonder if I’m regretting things–either the past five years of my relationship or my decision to either get engaged or go our separate ways at the end of this year. The only answer I can give to both of those is “no.” For whatever else it turns out to be, our relationship has been a learning and growing experience for me that is invaluable to my life going forward, in whatever form “forward” takes. Perhaps if God hadn’t allowed there to be so many convenient ways for us to focus on marriage and what His word says about it; if we hadn’t had the opportunity to explore what marriage would look like for us without the commitment of being engaged; if we hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to so many people with so many different marriages; maybe then I would be hesitant over Decison2012. But the essentials to make the decision have been graciously provided to us. I have been in prayer my attitude towards marriage, asking for clarity and wisdom to make the right decisions. I’ve prayed for Mr. Perfect and his process of deciding what he wants to do, that it will be in line with God’s will for him with or without me. I’ve done the work.

Being the romantic that I am, I have always wanted getting engaged to be…effortless. I wanted flowers and sweet words. Somehow I, who never seems to have her nails done, would have perfectly manicured nails with which to take “look at my ring!” pictures. There would be a photographer hidden away capturing the moment for posterity. I’ve written proposals Shakespeare would be proud of in my head to mark the occasion. I would love to be taken by surprise and swept off my feet, but I’ve honestly enjoyed our process. I have felt relieved to look at rings and gently guide him towards something more my style. I like having discussed many of the possible hiccups after the honeymoon stage. I like feeling sure that this could work apart from all the warm fuzzies of a proposal. Perhaps it will leave me free to feel only happy bubbly emotion at the time of a proposal. Hopefully, I will still get to be surprised in some way.

This post is not the post I intended to write, but it’s the one I felt needed to be written. Later on, I will write my usual “Happy Anniversary” post, filled with the highlights of our year together. But for now, I am just being a bit introspective (and long-winded). Don’t let me get maudlin; tell me some happy relationship stories!