Several years ago I found the notes I'd written. Sadly I cannot remember where I found them or what I did with them afterwards. But I do remember how surprised I was as I read through my answers.
Surprised that the pre-teen/teen version of me was more interested in character than looks or money (back then didn't we all want to marry someone tall, dark and handsome who was also conveniently rich?) and surprised that God had given me my heart's desires.
I shouldn't have been. But I was.
I can't remember everything that I put down (although one is very clear in my mind even today because I had no idea how to word it at that age but I had an understanding that faithfulness in a spouse was a very desirable characteristic) but I think I can confidently say that I asked for:
A spouse who loves God and strives to follow Him. Tick.
A spouse who is kind and understanding. Tick.
A spouse who loves his wife and children (and add to that now, grandchildren and daughters-in-law). Tick.
A spouse who honours his marriage vows and especially the one to remain faithful for life. Tick.
A spouse who would never intentionally hurt me or harm me. Tick.
Before you get the wrong idea, he is not perfect. But then neither am I. Several of his granddaughters will tell you what a terrible tease he is and they'd be telling the truth. At times his teasing has driven me crazy (or to tears). Sometimes he takes longer to finish a job than I would like, or is too patient with tradespeople, or works too long, or has some annoying habit that he refuses to change, or doesn't feel the cold (believe me, when ones does feel the cold, living in the same house as one who doesn't, particularly a house without central heating, this is a defective trait), or stays up too late watching movies on his device, but as my list from pre-marriage days proves, he has the things that matter. And just as importantly, has passed those character traits onto his sons.
Just yesterday we looked at a property that was for sale. It has long been a dream of ours to live on a few acres out of town and one had become available that appeared to tick all our boxes on paper. However, as it turned out, it didn't tick the boxes in real life. Within minutes we both knew it wasn't for us. But what was interesting was how we reached the same conclusion.
We both looked at different things. I noticed that the bathroom smelt damp and he noticed that outside the house appeared to be sitting in water. I noticed that the rooms that faced north didn't receive any sunlight even though it was still only early afternoon while he noticed the dip in the flooring that suggested the foundations were sinking.
But we also looked at the house from the perspective of the other. I noticed the evidence of borer because I knew he would be looking for it. And he noticed that the kitchen didn't flow into the living areas because he knows that's important to me.
He noticed things about the land that I paid little attention to and I noticed the noise of traffic which he didn't even notice until I pointed it out. (And then neither of us could ignore it.)
And so we came away, both acknowledging that it was good to have looked at the property but that we're happy to stay where we are. As Dorothy said, there is no place like home.
And as I enjoy the warmth of a fire, aware that he collected, chopped and carted the firewood to ensure my comfort, I know what really matters.