Calling in “The One” by Katherine Woodward Thomas

I read this book in July 2013. I can’t really recall what it says in the book, but my copy has so many annotations and exclamation marks in the margins that the words must have left some impression on me somehow and got me thinking.

Now, 5 and a half years later, I am happily married and we have three kids. I don’t think that reading this particular book has helped me find ‘the one’; or that reading any book, no matter which one, can tell you how to identify or single out the right partner, but I do believe that reading and thus broadening your horizon and getting to know yourself can have a tremendously positive impact on taking the right decisions – the choices that are right for you – at the right time (and walking away from those people and situations that make you feel less than) .

Reflecting about relationships makes me think back to a movie I once watched. I can’t remember its title or what it was about really, but this one scene has remained present until now: there is this young girl and she asks her granddad how or when he knew that her grandma was the right one for him. Back then, as a teenager watching this film I found his answer very profound: He replied that potentially every one could have been the right one for him. It all just depends on how you live your life and on how much you invest (yourself) in your relationship. Every small act of kindness and appreciation towards your partner; every little positive contribution in the dull routine of everyday life makes you fall in love with your partner a little bit more and is a building block in this construct called (lifelong) relationship. Maybe that’s what love is all about – deeply caring and changing diapers for the tenth time that day, because you know that your partner is tired too; taking one for the team instead of whining. It’s not always a given, I know, but it might be well worth it at the end of the day.

In that respect, I recall looking at my granddad’s hands when he was lying in that hospital bed those last days of his life. I remember thinking how those hands build parts of the house I grew up in, how he held my hand walking me to the bus stop in the morning on icy winter mornings when I was five years old, how those hands taught me to trim hedges when I was barely strong enough to hold the pair of shears… It’s all those tiny, but wonderful memories that make my granddad special to me and the same principle holds true for any relationship: it’s those tiny, often mundane interactions, that render people special and that eternalize them as an important figure in the story of your life.

“My heart broken, I cried myself to sleep that night. That’s how so many of us are. We pine with all our hearts for love to be ours, but we’re too scared to take the risk of doing whatever it takes to be in the game. Still, we continue to hope and pray that someone, somewhere, will know how desperately we want to be loved. Regardless of our refusal to put ourselves out there, we fantasize that someone, somehow will come along and rescue us from our longing.”

Katherine Woodward Thomas

This quote taken from the book is not just about love, but it encompasses all of life really: in order to achieve anything we desire to accomplish we need to put ourselves ‘out there’, ready to face the challenges that might lie ahead of us: the disappointments, the sleepless nights, the potential ridicule, and setbacks, and tears. In the end, there is the risk that all of our efforts and our striving might have been in vain, but there is also at least the real possibility that our desires might materialize at some point in time if we are willing to openly express and go after what it is we intend to make part of our lives.

“It is only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.”

Joseph Conrad

“Sometimes the value of a relationship (even a miserable one) is that it provides an opportunity for you to grow and mature in ways that you might not have done otherwise.”

Katherine Woodward Thomas

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