Whether you’re single or dating, it’s always a good rule of thumb to set your standards high when on the hunt for a spouse. That skater boy that works at a coffee shop down the road might be cute and fun, but would he make a good husband? Or the high roller who tells you “I got that” on every date and showers you with gifts, might be nice to have in your back pocket, but what does that look like long term? We’ve compiled a concise list of the things that will be most important to you in the long run.
1. Does he have the same values?
The biggest no-no in a serious commitment is differences in worldview. Oftentimes, your religion or political preference shows the things that you truly value. If you are Catholic, and your boyfriend was Protestant, that can make things difficult. In order to get married in the Catholic church, your boyfriend will have to become a Catholic and commit to raising his kids Catholic. Both these religions have many of the same values, but it was still a huge change! Politics can be another big wedge in a marriage relationship. Your differences may be something you are willing to overlook in the moment, but years down the road, it can be frustrating when you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye on certain issues. Furthermore, your politics can sometimes reflect what you value: if you’re more conservative, you may be more of a “pull up your boot straps” kind of gal, and if you’re more progressive, you may have a deep passion to make changes for a better world. Lastly, the similarities or differences in the way you grow up can have an effect on your habits, finances, and lifestyle. If your family took vacations out of the country every year, you might feel it is important to set aside money for a yearly vacation. Even the kind of food you ate as a child can be a recipe for arguments down the road. Obviously, you are not going to see eye to eye on a lot of things. It’s important, however, to recognize those differences and figure out if it’s something you’re willing to work through or not.
2. Ability to Commit
You may have found the perfect guy… the guy who marks every box on your checklist; but, if he is unwilling to be in it for the long haul, then that should raise some red flags. We’ve all had that poor friend where it feels like they’ve dated forever with no ring in sight! Make sure you gauge whether or not the person you are dating is wanting to get married! This eventually can become draining as year after year you’re dating with no end in sight. You may even begin to feel that he does not truly love you and feel frustrated in your inability to fully plan for your future. It’s important going into it to know that your future goals are at least somewhat aligned. Typically, women desire commitment a little bit more than men: we like a sense of stability; and, usually we want kids earlier than men. If your love-interests seem impulsive and flirty, you might want to reconsider.
3. Emotional Stability
While this seems obvious, sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new relationship, that it’s easy not to take this seriously. As women, we intrinsically are more inclined to want to help, grow, and nurture others. While this is a good quality, it can easily transform into allowing needy people to become a life-sucking force in a relationship. Before that happens, think objectively about your significant other: if he’s not in a full time job now, is he taking steps to get one? Is he paying for at least most of his own bills? Does he know (or have the ability to learn) basic adult skills like changing a tire, budgeting his money, or doing his taxes? Is he struggling with depression, addictions, or bad habits? It can be a dangerous road to let someone who is struggling find their identity in you. Make sure that he is at the point emotionally in his life to sharpen you. You are not a mean person for removing yourself from a relationship where he is not ready. A relationship needs to be a give and take, and if you are only giving, then it will not be sustainable long-term.
4. Desire to Grow
One thing you begin to realize when you are involved in a series relationship is that there are always going to be things you do not like about your partner. He comes home and throws his work-clothes everywhere, he forgets to wash a dish, he chews (or swallows) too loud, etc. While those things can be frustrating, there may be bigger things about your significant other that are hard to get past: he struggles to admit he’s wrong, he spends too much money, or he doesn’t like hanging out your friends. Nobody’s perfect, and the longer you are with someone, the more you start to realize it. Big or small, however, one important characteristic you want to look for is his desire for growth. If he is self-motivated in always taking (even small) steps in the right direction, then he will recognize negative habits or patterns and put an end to them himself.
This one seems obvious, but in a relationship, it can be easy to overlook the importance of this. Honesty is what builds a foundation of trust, and as a life partner, you want to make sure both people are completely on the same team. Make sure that he is someone who can be open with you, sharing his temptations and struggles. Everyone has them, but if your partner can’t be honest with you or even himself about where is downfalls are, then those little white lies and hidden truths can destroy a marriage.
We would encourage you to make your own list of traits that are non-negotiables, but these are a good place to start! Have more advice? Leave it in the comments below!