How a numbered list helped me find my husband…

Having a clear vision of what you want in your life helps make it happen. We know that.

In this video, Dr. Melissa Gratias shares a personal story of how she met her future husband after making a three-page list of qualities she wanted in her spouse.

Don’t want to watch the video?  The transcript is below.




Hi, this is Dr. Melissa Gratias, and I’m going to tell you a very personal story today, but it’s got a point. The title of this video is “How a numbered list helped me find my husband,” so with that thought in mind I’ll tell you the story about how I met my Eric…

I was a junior in college, home for Easter, and had gone out to lunch at some really gnarly buffet with a bunch of people from my church. It was choir members and other people in the church.  As I was looking around the table, there were probably about 25 people. We got one of those really big long tables.

I looked at several women who were in really good (what I perceived were really good) marriages. They married great guys.  They were happy.  They’d been married a long time.

I was on the eve of my college time, and I looked at these women and struck up a conversation and said…

“Okay ladies, how did you find your husbands? I’m just curious. How did you how did you find these men? How did you find these wonderful people that you’re just enjoying life with?”


I am from the southeastern US, and so I’m going to do the accent because it’s important to the story. These women all essentially looked at me and said something similar like,

“Well honey, have you made your list? Where’s your list? Have you made your list?”

 “What list? What list are you talking about?”


What they were saying was, when they were young women, they made a list of the things they were looking for in their future partner.  All three said, independently of each other, they had made this list.

“Well alrighty then.”


At the time, I wasn’t the productivity expert that I am now. I was managing college by grit and effort, rather than systems and organization, but I decided I would make a list.

I remember opening up my Mac.  I started making this list and it was three pages single-spaced. It wasn’t that it had 400 different items on it, but when I wrote something that was important to me I felt like I should explain it. So, I would put a trait or a quality or an aspect of my future spouse that I was looking for, and I would write what that meant to me, what that looked like.

It was kind of a fun exercise. I was getting out of a relationship at that time, so I’d learned a few things about what I did want and what I didn’t want in a in a partner.  I wasn’t necessarily looking to get married right then.  I was I was still in college. I actually envisioned not getting married until I was in my mid-30s, but I made the list.


So that was Easter of my junior year. Fast forward through the summer of my junior year, and senior year of college starts. I went to one of the local college bars near Wake Forest University, my alma mater, and ran into a friend of mine who was in med school at Wake.  He introduced me to some of his friends, one of which was my Eric.

I liked him. I had this good feeling about him. I thought Eric seemed really nice.  I gave him my phone number, and three days later Eric called.

About thirty minutes in the conversation with Eric I got this kind of weird feeling like some kismet.  I don’t know. Something was happening here. So, I’m in my dorm room, on the phone with Eric, and my roommate is watching TV over next to me. I boot up the Apple, pull up the list, and start subtly directing the conversation to the items on my list.

Three hours later, when I hung up the phone, and had cauliflower ear (because you know phones caused that at that time. If you don’t know what that is you’re under forty), but it’s okay. I hung up the phone and I looked at my roommate and I said,

“Well… that’s the man I’m going to marry.”

She thought I was insane. It was three days after we met…


That was in 1995 and we are still married.


Here’s the thing. Eric did not meet every single item on the list. It wasn’t like check off, check off, check off, check off, everything’s great! I had prioritized the list, and he definitely met the most important ones.

So, there was the list. There was this intangible feeling, and it just seemed like it was the right thing. So, we did get married.  We waited a whole year and a half to get married after I hung up the phone with him on that Sunday.

We took a little bit of time to get to know each other better, but it was a very fast courtship and a very fast decision for both of us. We both decided quickly that we wanted to get married.


Let’s go back to the list.


Am I telling you make a list you’ll find your partner? No, because there are lots of reasons why this might have worked for me. Number one is it may have helped me with my very flighty thinking schemes. I’m not very systematic in my thinking. I’m a squirrel. I follow shiny objects

That’s why productivity systems are so critical for someone like me, but I think making the list helped me clarify what it was I was looking for, so I would know what I was seeing when I saw it.

There’s also the attraction theory out there that says that if you think about something you attract it to you. Manifestation theories, all that stuff…


I don’t really know, but here’s the thing:

There’s no aspect of your life about which you should not have a clear vision.


Whether it’s your partner. Whether it’s a business venture. Whatever it is, it’s really helpful to know what you’re looking for, so that you recognize it when it appears in front of you in a really nasty college bar in 1995.


This is Dr. Melissa Gratias. If you want more stories visit me online at my website, and check out the productivity tips there. Fill out the contact form, and let’s see if one-on-one coaching may be right for you. I can’t coach you to find a spouse, but I can coach you to be more organized, effective, and productive at work.


Have a great day everybody.


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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.

1 Comment

  1. Julie Bestry

    Great guidance as always, Doc. If you take the time to figure out what you want, you’ll recognize it when you see it. Of course, we don’t always know what we want, which is all the more reason to keep trying to drill down.


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