A few months back I was on a podcast talking about my life and how I came to be the “Traveling Black Widow.” The host said it seemed like I’d had a truly great marriage. He asked, “So how do you have a truly great marriage?”
“Well,” I responded, without giving it much thought, “I guess it would be to marry a truly great person.”
My husband was truly a great person, and I married him that way. I didn’t marry him thinking I could turn him into a great person. He wasn’t an average person that I was hoping could deliver great things. He was already great. And over the course of our 31-year marriage, he went from great to even greater.
When I met my husband, we were at work. I noticed him from afar and was immediately attracted to him. He had a huge afro and was wearing a suit. He was tall, tan, and handsome! Sometimes I think this is where people stop. They are so attracted to a person that they fill in the blanks for themselves and think they can create the character and personality to match the outside. Somehow, we think we can change people, but that’s God’s job—not ours.
Back to my husband. When we met, he was a science teacher and coached the basketball team at the high school where we worked. His students and coworkers all spoke highly of him. Small things about him showed his big character. He also enjoyed fishing on the weekends—he had interests and passions.
Our first hang out was at our school’s Friday night football game. We agreed to meet at the game where we sat together and chatted. The first time I was over at his place, I quickly noticed he had an 8×10 picture of his mom on his mantle. Even way back then, upon seeing that picture, I thought he’s gotta be a good guy if he loves his mom enough to have a big picture of her. We chatted a little more that evening, and he asked me before he kissed me. He was respectful. I learned so much from him on our first date.
During our courtship he always proved to be not just a good guy, but a good human being. When one of his sisters was pregnant, if her husband wasn’t home to help her, she would call my husband (then-boyfriend, at the time) to come over and help her take groceries in from the car. He was, as my daughter says, “willing to get down in the trenches and help people.”
Is the person you’re dating a good human being? I’m not talking just “well he’s really nice.” Tell me, how is he nice? Does he go out of the way to help others? How can you expect him to go out of his way for you and your children if he won’t go out of his way for anyone else?
Marriage is hard and, as I like to say, “The first 20 years are the hardest.” But it’s so much easier if you go into it with someone who already has the foundation of a good personality and character. All people grow and mature, but the core of who we are stays the same. So, if you’re picking someone with an ‘okay’ (or even unhealthy) core, thinking they will change—I think you may be setting yourself up for a lot of heartache. I don’t want that for you.
I hear women and girls say often that times have changed. I hear many say that there are no good guys out there. As arrogant as it may sound, my husband was—and is—bae goals, but I refuse to believe that God just stopped giving good character to men. That’s not how He works. Here’s the thing: it may take a lot longer, a lot more patience, and a much more discerning eye to find the men of character—but I know they are out there.