When I realized I wasn't going to marry Justin Timberlake

When I was a little girl, I hated boys. Boys were gross and I was not about that gushy stuff until the year before middle school hit. Coincidentally right around the release of the N*SYNC Home for Christmas album came out. What a time to be a tween!

My growing love for boy bands and chick flicks gave me an unreal depiction of what makes someone marriage material.

I had a long list of what I wanted in a husband that was so specific and incredibly superficial. As I got older and met more and more guys (who were not at all like Justin Timberlake or Matthew McConaughey), I realized that it was an unachievable list of expectations. It was entirely based off looks and abilities. If I ever wanted to get married, I would have to cross things off of that list (but "rich" and "extremely good looking" had to stay).

Then, I met my husband. A year of friendship and a lot of denial (on my part) led me to tear up that list. I realized I had no idea what I NEEDED when I wrote it. It was formed solely on what I wanted...what I thought I wanted.

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He was everything I needed and didn’t know I wanted in a spouse. Things like: patient, hard-working, a great father, unbelievably good at getting deals and discounts, and a great cook!! 14 year-old-me didn't realize how much I would want a guy to cook for me.

14 year-old-me also didn't have the attachment to social media that current teenagers do. Social media for me started with AOL Instant Messenger, which basically just let me talk to my friends without getting charged PER text message...because, yeah, that used to be a thing, too. Sure, I jumped on the MySpace and Facebook bandwagon, but you know who else jumped on them with me? My mom. Goodbye secret crushes.

Today, crushes are formed with complete strangers on the internet, who may or may not be who they claim to be. It's not just confusing people about what they want in a spouse, but what they want for themselves. I know grown adults that are still captured by celebrities on social media. They watch them with glorified disbelief in their "perfection." Even following your own family and friends can be deceiving. We are all aware that social media displays your best photos and moments in life. Marriages seem pleasant when couples are beaming on vacation, but you don't witness the argument they had on the way there. Other husbands are more thoughtful than yours because they buy flowers and jewelry every other week. You don't know the debt they are in and how they struggle because of it.

That's not to say every good example of marriage on your newsfeed is a lie. I want to remind the future-spouse-list-makers that one day you'll have to take your list and compare it to another person's. What works for me and my husband may not work for another couple. What worked for your parents may not work for you and your future spouse.

Someday, you may grow up to realize that you are, indeed, not going to marry Justin Timberlake and you need to find you a good guy who can love you "until the end of time" like Justin said he would.

I don't have a daughter to pass this lesson on to, but I have sons that will hopefully make someone rewrite their list. My husband has continued to make the “husband checklist” look simple, adding to it year by year, and is setting a great standard for his sons. He was made just for me and I can sing all the JT love songs about him instead.

Ariel Raquel Photography

Ariel Raquel Photography