Our second date was on a Tuesday, and we were sitting across from each other at a local coffee shop with the soft patter of rain against the window behind my head. I had a chai latte at hand and was feeling quite cozy in the pew-turned-bench, while Marshall ordered nothing but happily chatted with me about my work day, the weather, and his journey across town on public transit. We’d been matched through a dating app and chatted a few weeks before meeting for our first date. This afternoon, though, we connected more deeply about how fortunate we were to consider our siblings as friends and parents as great mentors.
As the conversation progressed, Marshall mentioned his younger brother’s upcoming college graduation and final organ recital taking place in two weeks in Chicago (about a six-hour drive from where we were in Cleveland). I perked up and mentioned how much I loved Chicago and how it was one of my favorite cities to visit. With barely a hesitation, Marshall said, “Well, you could come with me.”
I stared at him a moment while the wheels spun frantically in my mind. “Could I really go with him?” I thought. In that momentary pause, I considered not going and, to my surprise, felt sad. I know I should have been more taken aback at the idea since we had only known each other about a month, but, frankly, I was at ease with the notion of spending that amount of time with him and getting to meet the rest of his family.
With this invitation, Marshall was making room for me in his future plans. And, at that early stage of our dating, looking ahead even two weeks was significant. He was revealing key qualities I’d been seeking in a future spouse: commitment, priority, and communication. These qualities meant he pictured me in his life in the next few weeks (and hopefully beyond), I was important enough to incorporate into his family time, and he wanted to make me aware of his intentions. In previous relationships, I’d considered myself lucky if I could get a guy to commit to that weekend’s plans by Tuesday.
Over the next few days, I spoke with my parents, discussing logistics—they rightfully asked for the names of Marshall’s parents and their phone numbers, my hotel’s address, and locations around Chicago we’d be visiting—and the pros and cons for going. With assurance to my parents that I wouldn’t be traveling across state lines if I didn’t feel safe, I let Marshall know I’d be happy to accompany him. We had a fantastic time, and it was wonderful meeting his grandmother, siblings, aunts, uncles, and close family friends and feeling included.
Fast forward, and we’d now been dating about four months. Marshall is not a coffee drinker, but I can’t get enough. When I spent the day at his apartment, I’d be forced to make a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts run to satisfy my coffee craving since he didn’t own a coffee maker. After one such coffee run, he matter-of-factly stated, “I’m going to get a coffee maker so you can make your coffee here.”
With this small gesture, he was conveying, yet again, essential traits in a future husband. He was committed to future time together. He was also ensuring I felt welcomed and at ease in his home and didn’t hesitate to provide what I needed. Also, I realized something that would become important as we continued to uncover diverse interests—even though he had no taste for coffee, he was happy to indulge and support mine.
From our Chicago trip to him helping me pick out a Mr. Coffee 5-cup maker, I never wondered where he stood or whether he was willing to make a commitment to me. His words, but more importantly his actions spoke loudly—he wanted me around, and I didn’t want to be anywhere else.
As we enter our ninth month of marriage, Marshall’s capacity to include me in all aspects of his life has only increased. We enjoy planning together, whether for our weekend activities, a trip to the grocery store, or our next vacation. We spend time each evening checking in on the highs and lows of the day, and I know I’m the only one with whom he shares every detail. Those indicators early on in our relationship helped us build a relationship and marriage based on trust, caring, and commitment, and Marshall continues to prove each day that he has room for me in his heart and home.