the real list + lessons about love

i love, love, loved your comments and guesses about my husband list. there were some pretty funny ones in there, and some pretty profound ones that really made me think. thank you for sharing!

i'm really grateful for the things i've learned about romance, love and commitment over the last decade or so of dating. these varied experiences have helped me to winnow down my list and discover what truly creates and sustains a deep and strong relationship, and makes that bond powerful and miraculous. from all those hundreds of enumerated characteristics, here's the list of three i came up with a few years ago:
1. huge earning power
2. huge muscles
3. a last name that sounds good with charity

okay, not really. here's that true list of three:
1. good, good, good to the core/golden sparkly hearted/a gooooooood man
{this includes a lot of things, so maybe it's cheating a little listing it as only one, but do you know what i mean? someone who is really, truly, purely, earnestly good}
2. wants the same kind of life that i want
{also encompasses a variety of characteristics, but essentially meaning we have the same core life goals and philosophy for achieving them}
3. i am physically attracted to him
{this wasn't always on the narrowed list, but i've realized it's necessary... and i've learned that this attraction doesn't always come instantly but can gradually and miraculously develop}

over the past year, i've learned that while the presence of those three things is indeed what makes me fall in real love, i actually maybe only have one requirement for a husband:
i believe that no matter the differences or weaknesses that exist between two people who have found real love in each other, fierce commitment rooted in charity can resolve, put right and conquer all.

i suppose i still have some more things to discover and understand before i can give my husband book entirely away. yes, i am saddened that it still has a place on my shelf, but i am also genuinely grateful for the things i have learned and the time i have left as a single woman to keep learning.

here's some lessons learned...(i feel like these could each be fleshed out into an entire blog post, but these are just my summarized thoughts for now)...

-the miracle of true love transforms my desires and qualifications from a list into a human being. true love has made a specific boy, with all his imperfections and quirks and differences, completely embody my husband book - he defines what i want and need and seek, he becomes my bucket list. it's amazing - hundreds of listed qualities completely trumped by a living, breathing, so imperfect person. and true love is loving someone just how they are, believing that they can become better and challenging them to do so, but completely loving them raw and flawed in the present.

-"when someone else's happiness is your happiness, that is love." -lana del ray
indeed! true love is all about selflessness, service and sharing. when i have been in deep love, i've wanted nothing more - truly! - than serving that person, and i get such a high from thinking about and doing things big and small to make his life happier, and i just want to share everything everything with him. it's astonishing how love can sap selfishness when we are humble. {remember that article that went viral a few months ago about marriage is not for me? - i am in totally in that camp. rebuttals to that article were interesting, but i believe that if both people in the relationship truly believe and act that marriage is not for them - that is the truest love.}

-expectations in a relationship are the worst. appreciation in relationships is the best. i've learned that happiness and increased love come from essentially expecting nothing, and appreciating everything. i've made the mistake in the past of expecting things to be a specific way, and i missed appreciating the spectacular unexpected.

-there is great power in needed lightheartedness, focusing on the good and expecting the best, gentleness and tenderness in intense situations, prayer, pinpointing and banishing pride (checking for a beam in my eye when worrying about a mote in his), empathy, giddiness and twitterpation, and a lack of demands.

-marriage is, fundamentally and unequivocally, a leap of faith. no matter what, the bottom line is that we have to choose, having only a glimpse of what's ahead. and isn't that beautiful?
to give ourselves totally to another person, as we do in marriage, is the most trusting step we take in any human relationship. it is a real act of faith—faith all of us must be willing to exercise. if we do it right, we end up sharing everything—all our hopes, all our fears, all our dreams, all our weaknesses, and all our joys—with another person. -jeffrey r. holland

-like i've shared before (and touched on above), true love is leaning together. notwithstanding any difference or hardships that exist between two people who love each other with fierce loyalty and pure charity, they can lean together and as a unit they can be gloriously beautiful, despite it all and because of it all.

-love can get deeper and richer and more dimensional over time, even and especially when you cannot imagine having the capacity to love someone more than you already do. it's a miracle that i've experienced over months of dating and that i can envision remarkably - so remarkably! - continuing over years of marriage.

-truly, truly, truly, like the scriptures teach us, true love suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. i adore this talk that expands on this truth.

thank goodness i've learned that love is about more than being starry-eyed and cuddling and cutsieness (with dimples as a plus)!

{artwork - as usual! - by caitlin connolly. obviously i love her work so so so. and since she's so legit i just feel pretty cool to be able to say that i've called her a dear friend since seventh grade!}


  1. This is pretty incredible Charity. Love your thoughts and what you've learned. "All things will work together for your good!"

    Fits right in with a book we're working on right now. Thanks for the help!

    Love Caitlin's art. Astonishing!

  2. Clicked over here from your sister's site. Great list. It's so hard to wait and wait and wait for something you want so badly (esp when you would obviously be so good at marriage :) What I have found to be so true is that my husband has become even more attractive to me because he's such a good father. When you have children, it's so clear how important it is. Anyway, you are quite amazing and the artwork was perfect. Thanks for sharing and letting me read such personal thoughts.

  3. Hey, Charity, I got two of them right! I had guessed
    Good Heart and
    Good Looks!

    So I win, right?

  4. We will be married 18 years in August. My husband has never been better. He has about 40 lbs more than when we married (so do I), he has many gray hairs, has some crows feet and smile lines, but oh man he is the most handsome man in the world to me. He is so selfless and giving and is always searching for what he can do to make my life easier and happier. He has taught me much about charity and true love as it comes so naturally to him, not so naturally to me. Our marriage is far from perfect, we disagree passionately sometimes, but it is so so good the majority of the time and has become sweeter with time. It isn't easy, but a good marriage is one of the sweetest things in life and definitely worth waiting for (a bad marriage would be one of the hardest things in life and I'd rather be single than have an unhealthy.marriage)

    1. Thank you for introducing me to Caitlyn connelly's work by the way, I love it!

  5. Ever think about how men will feel when they are interested in you, google your name, and find all of this? Maybe a little overwrought for the average "good, good, good" guy.

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