How I Knew I Wanted to Marry Her

She Could Pull Off a Surprise
"When Sarah and I first got together, I mentioned how I had always wanted a first edition of my favorite book, The Great Gatsby. Two years later, on our anniversary, we were out for a nice dinner, and she surprised me with a copy of the novel from when it was first published. She had found one, saved up money, and bought it. I was blown away. I honestly hadn't even remembered telling her about my wish. But she had listened, tucked away that information, and years later, tracked down a copy for me. A few months after that, I bought an amazing ring — with help from her sister — and proposed." —Steven, 31

She Never Guilt-Tripped Me
"I took a boys' trip with a bunch of friends from college. We went to Miami to hit the beach and go clubbing. Past girlfriends would have been worried about me being with my rowdy guy friends in another city without supervision, but this girl told me to have a great time and didn't get jealous at all.

"The first night there, I had a blast. But by the second day, I started missing my girlfriend really badly. Being with my sloppy guy friends made me think about how if my girlfriend were there, our hotel room would be much neater and cleaner. Later, we went to a Thai fusion restaurant, and all I could think about was how much she would have loved it. The fact that she gave me the freedom to go without guilt-tripping me — and then missing her so much — solidified my belief that she was the one I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life." —Eric, 26

She Played Nurse
"I had been dating Jill for about a year when my mom had a pretty serious surgery that made it difficult for her to get around. One day, my mom called and asked me to thank Jill for her. Without mentioning it to me, Jill had taken the morning off work to go over to Mom's and help her with stuff around the house. Jill did my mom's laundry, made her breakfast, and cleaned the entire place. She didn't do it because someone had asked her to and didn't even feel the need to let me know she had gone out of her way to help. When I hung up with my mom, I had this overwhelming feeling, and all I could think was 'I've gotta marry this girl.'" —Tim, 29

She Let Loose
"Six months into dating my girlfriend, I took her out to a karaoke bar with some of my friends. They can be jokers, and one of them secretly signed her up to sing 'Cowboy,' by Kid Rock. I think they were trying to test her and see how fun she was.

"When the announcer called her name and what song she'd be singing, I thought she would hide behind me or refuse to go onstage, since she's kind of shy. Instead, she jumped up there and gave it her all. She was awesome and really rocked out. My friends were impressed...and so was I. Even though we hadn't been dating very long, at that moment, I knew I wanted to marry her. Marriage is permanent, so being with someone who would make it fun is what really sealed the deal." —Andre, 33

She Never Lost Her Cool
"I hate to travel and get really agitated having to deal with all the crap that goes on in airports. Last year, Amy and I took a trip to Hawaii. We had saved up and were really looking forward to it. After we landed, we went to get our bags...but they weren't there. I immediately started flipping out and worrying that we would be without clothes for our expensive vacation. Admittedly, I was less than nice to the airline employee who was trying to help us. Seeing that, Amy walked me over to a nearby bench, told me to take a breather, and said she would do her best to handle it.

"I watched her as she went back and calmly dealt with the situation. She took care of everything, then came over to tell me that the airline would locate our bags and deliver them to our hotel. She had even finagled airline-ticket vouchers out of them. Watching her step in to handle the crisis with such grace and ease was a complete turn-on, and something just clicked. On the last day of the vacation, I proposed." —Nick, 28

She Lit Up the Room
"Alyssa and I had been dating for just under a year when I took her to an office party. While I was with a group of my coworkers, she went to the bar to get a glass of wine for herself. At one point, I looked over, and she was surrounded by a huge group of people and animatedly telling a story — waving her hands and throwing back her head and laughing. Looking at the people around her, I could see how enraptured with her they were. The way she lit up the room was amazing. Witnessing how her lively personality drew other people in made me realize she was the girl I couldn't let get away." —Chase, 26

She Thought to Pick Up Takeout
"When I met Cassie, I had been in love twice before and never thought of marriage with either of the previous girls. I actually had believed I would never get married and maybe would end up like George Clooney.

"One night, I went out with my brother, and he asked me what I liked about Cassie. As I started giving him examples of the things that had made me fall for her, I realized there was a common thread: She went out of her way to do nice things for me and the other people she cared about. In the past, I had always catered to my girlfriends and been the one to take care of them. But with Cassie, it felt more mutual. Every story I told my brother had to do with Cassie's little acts of affection — from writing me love notes and sticking them in my jacket pocket to showing up at my place with takeout from my favorite restaurant after I'd had a really bad day." —Jacob, 35

She Wowed a Crowd
"I'm not much of a fashion-type guy: I don't know what's trendy or what you should and shouldn't wear. But I do always notice when a woman looks good in her clothes. When I took my girlfriend, Jessica, to her 10-year high-school reunion, she looked stunning. The moment I knew I wanted to marry her was when I looked at the dance floor and saw her shaking her thing dressed in a bright pink dress with really funky, big jewelry. Every other woman was wearing a boring black dress and heels. But my girl was dressed to impress and really stood out in the crowd. I knew then that she wasn't just the average girl. I knew someone that bold was going to be a blast to be with as we grow old." —Devon, 29

She Knew How to Fight
"Normally, I hate arguing, but I never back down when I believe in something. It was right after my first major fight with Grace that I knew she was marriage material. We started getting heated and yelling at each other. Neither of us could see the other's side, and we were both really losing it.

"Suddenly, she just stopped. She calmly explained that fighting wouldn't solve the problem and that we should really sit down and discuss what was going on. First, she had me tell her exactly what was bothering me, and then she did the same. She handled the situation so maturely that it made me realize there are better ways to handle problems than screaming. In the past, girls I've fought with have stalked off and sulked, but Grace genuinely wanted to find a solution." —Daniel, 27

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