If there is one thing I want people to know about me, it's that I'm a Christian. My faith is a huge part of who I am, and it always will be.
It's something I want to continue with my future family. I want to be married in a church and hold God at the center of my marriage.
I want to go to church every Sunday with my husband. I want my children to know what it's like to be surrounded by a loving church family.
I want to say grace before every dinner. I want to have mission experiences, read the Bible and talk about faith as a family. No matter how much my vision of my future has changed over the years, faith has always been a part of it.
That's why I could never marry a man who's not a Christian.
I'm not saying I think non-Christians aren't marriage material and I'm not saying Christians should only marry other Christians.
All I'm saying is that it's a deal breaker for me because I know I wouldn't be completely happy in a lifelong relationship with a man who doesn't share my faith.
Furthermore, my stance is not uncommon; every person has things that are personal relationship deal breakers.
These deal breakers aren't petty little things. A relationship won't break if one partner is obsessed with Harry Potter and the other one isn't.
A relationship won't break if one is a sports fanatic and the other isn't. A relationship won't break if one partner is a Coke person and the other likes Pepsi better.
Those things won't affect the happiness of either partner. You can learn to appreciate Harry Potter, sports or Pepsi, and your partner will be grateful for the effort.
The real deal breakers are big things — the type of thing that would affect the happiness of either person in the relationship.
Everyone's big things are different because everyone has different routes to happiness. But, ultimately, we all have things we know would make us unhappy if our partner did not share our views.
There are times when we're pressured to feel like our deal breakers aren't as important as they should be.
We're told to lower our standards so we can broaden our options. We're told that if we love our partners and they love us, we can compromise.
We're even told that eventually, with a little work, we can change and they can change, too. We discard the fact that we know what we need in a relationship in order to be happy.
Our ideals are thrown out the window and carried off by the wind until we question ourselves and our reasons for having such standards.
We get in trouble when we feel able to be in a lifelong relationship with someone who possesses one of our deal breakers.
We can say true love means compromise. We can tell ourselves the relationship will work. We can tell ourselves we can truly be happy for a lifetime despite the deal breaker.
But, we're lying to ourselves. On some level, we know we're not as content as we could be. We know it's just a matter of time before that dissatisfaction surfaces in some way or another.
No one should ever have to feel like his or her values and convictions need to be compromised for a relationship, especially when it comes to marriage.
We know how we have always viewed our futures. We know what we believe in. We know what things will make us happy.
We should not be asked to sacrifice those things and settle for less than what we want in order to maintain a relationships because doing so would be unfair to ourselves and to the person we're with.
And, I know that we're all sick of hearing this, but when it comes to marriage and lifelong commitment, it's best to have patience rather than to settle.
Eventually, we'll meet a person who shares our views, and for whom we don't have to sacrifice a part of our happiness or values. It may happen one month or 10 years from now, but we will meet that person.
When I think of my own future, I know it doesn't matter if my husband doesn't like Harry Potter and I know it's not a big deal if he's a sports fanatic. But, I also know that I want children. I want pets. I want my family to be a part of the church. And, I could never marry a guy who didn't want those same things.