How to Know if Your Boyfriend is Husband Material
Whether you’ve been on the asking, receiving, or the observing end of this question, almost everyone has heard it: “How did you know your spouse was the one?”
And by “the one” whoever was asking probably meant “the one who wouldn’t drive you insane after 3 years of marriage.”
It’s a scary thing- joining your life with someone, potentially taking their name, joining a bank account, beginning a family with that person. It takes a TON of trust! To some, saying “yes” or “I do” should be the easiest decision you should ever have to make. To others, it might be the scariest and most overwhelming choice ever.
I had a few boyfriends before I met Josh. Each relationship lasted relatively long as far as young relationships go. I’ve always been a fan of commitment. And when we were dating, I saw myself marrying each one of those guys. Or at least I tried to. (I realize not everyone is that way. My personality type tends to only form a few strong attachments instead of many, more casual ones. So I understand that everyone views and handles dating differently). My point is, almost each time I dated someone, I could potentially see myself marrying them. So what was different about the one I actually married?
Josh and I were practically babies when we started dating. We were both 18 and fresh out of high school and into college. But even at that age, I knew that Josh could take life seriously. Don’t get me wrong, to this day he’s a huge dork and we totally quote Parks and Rec at just about every opportunity we get; but he also loved (and loves) to talk about serious things too. Even at that point in his life, he already understood his principles and values which helped him determine where he stood on most issues. Because of that, he didn’t look to me to find any sort of identity, worth, or opinions. That is so important! He already knew what he believed and he wasn’t going to change that depending on who he dated. So, fortunate for us, many of our beliefs and principles matched up nicely and we found that we had a lot in common that way. This isn’t to say that flexibility and openness of mind isn’t important. We’ll get to that later. But before you marry someone, or even get too involved in any kind of serious-ish relationship, be sure to try to understand their worldview. Although you may not agree on all topics, if you and your mate have similar worldviews, most of the time you’ll be able to agree, or at least understand where the other person is coming from, which is essential to the healthy, cohesive relationship that we all want.
At first, when I was outlining this post, this point was going to be titled “Direction.” But then I realized that Josh had almost no specific “direction” when we met- and a lot of guys who are at the age of considering marriage are still trying to find and/or establish themselves in a career. So instead of “direction,” I chose to title this point “drive.” And then I thought, “No… that’s not right, either!” Don’t get me wrong. Drive is really really important. But a man can feel extremely driven in his career and also feel purposeless and depressed. Which will inevitably affect his entire life. We don’t want that. So after nixing my first two ideas, this point is called “Purpose.”
I chose purpose because, as I said before, a man can have all the drive in the world, but if he feels like his job has no purpose, he will often be dissatisfied with it. But drive is extremely important also. Although many wives and moms choose to work, like I did even after our son was born, a man has a responsibility to work and provide for his family’s financial security. That doesn’t happen without drive. Even if a man doesn’t necessarily have himself established in a career yet, if he has a drive to provide, he will find a way to do that.
Purpose is so important because your husband will know why he gets up everyday and goes to work. It will be more than just bringing home a paycheck twice a month. He’ll love what he does and will be happier in the long run. Choosing a job that provides your husband with purpose will not always be the highest paying, but it will be the most satisfying to the both if you and beneficial to your future together.
While I think all the points on this list are important, this one is essential on so many different levels. Your significant other’s level of humility will affect how they act and react to SO MANY different situations. How does he treat the server at the restaurant where you’re eating? How does he respond if/when you bring up an issue to him- does he immediately become defensive, or does he listen? Is he always telling you it’s “your turn” to do something? If so, he may be struggling with selfishness and/or pride, which is an issue we all need to deal with, but if not dealt with, can be poisonous to a marriage. (I talk about selfishness much more in depth here, in one of my most popular posts!).
Like I said, this is something that every human being is going to struggle with, but the willingness to work on it and improve is what makes all the difference. This will be especially difficult these days when we are constantly told to love ourselves first and take care of ourselves first. I think accepting who you are, being confident, and taking care of yourself is important, but I completely disagree with the notion that you can’t take care of others before you take care of yourself. Love isn’t always convenient and it doesn’t always leave you full. It can be draining. And people these days are terrified of that for some reason. But pouring yourself out for someone else can sometimes be the most noble thing a person can do.
Sorry for that mini sermon there, but the “self love” movement can really get me going sometimes.
So you might be thinking, “Ok. Marry a guy who’s humble. Got it. But what does humble mean, exactly?” Well Merriam-Webster defines humble as, “not proud : not thinking of yourself as better than other people.” Usually, if we take that sort of mindset, it will allow us to give another the benefit of the doubt and consequently enable us to be kinder, gentler, and more understanding to others. If you want a man who does that for you, find yourself a humble one.
I have 3 younger sisters and 1 younger sister in law, all of whom are involved in different aspects of the dating scene. I’ve had sisters date great guys, and lame ones. But for the lame ones, I often hear the excuse, “He’s a really nice guy, though.”
And then I say, “So?” As if that’s any kind of reason to date and possibly consider marrying someone. I know there are a lot of icky guys out there, but there are also a whole lot of “nice” guys. So what? Because this guy isn’t disgusting and mean, that means he’s good to date and have a serious relationship with? Not to me, it isn’t.
I dated a “nice guy” once. And he was- he was super nice. But that’s about it. There was absolutely no depth to our relationship. We got along well, he was a gentleman, we had fun. But I honestly found myself bored with him. But for that, I felt so awful! Here was this perfectly good guy, who would be a great boyfriend to anyone, he treats me like a princess, but the whole relationship is just kinda… eh. There was nothing about our relationship that inspired me, challenged me, or complimented me. He was nice, I was nice. And that was it.
All this to say…
If you’re dating someone and wondering if they could be the one for you, ask yourself, “What makes him different from anyone else?” Does he have any qualities that I couldn’t live without if I dated another person?
I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but my husband and I are very similar in some ways and extremely different in other ways. Oddly enough, we are both major introverts. But I am a much more of a feeling kind of person and he is- as he likes to say- more rational; which can some days cause arguments, but overall we are extremely helpful and complementary to each other’s personalities. At times, I need to remind him that not every problem can be solved with logic, and he reminds me that going with my gut isn’t always the best.
Finding a person who is unique from you and other “nice guys” out there is essential to a vibrant and constructive relationship. People say, “Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you need to buy it,” but I’ll say this: “Just because a guy is nice, doesn’t mean you should date him.”
I’m going to talk about openness in 2 forms: 1. Communication, and 2. Openness of mind and flexibility.
I’ve had friends who had found themselves in long-time committed relationships where, when they would try to talk about something serious, all their significant other could do was joke, or shut down. A huge part of maturity (and an essential part of a healthy relationship) is being ok to talk seriously about things. They don’t always have to be extremely deep or philosophical or difficult, but being able to take matters seriously is important. If you end up marrying a man who is not able to do that, you will end up feeling extremely emotionally lonely and never understood, and you will also feel extremely alone when hard times come around, because you won’t be able to talk about it with the one who should be closest to you. If you don’t know if your significant other open to serious communication, try asking meaningful, open-ended questions. Listen to how he responds. Does he shrug the question off? Or is he intrigued and give a meaningful answer? Does he care that you’re even asking? These are important things to pay attention to.
2. Openness of mind and flexibility.
Earlier I mentioned that your significant other having an understanding of his principles and values (his worldview) is really important. And if you want to mesh well in a marriage, it’s important that your worldviews are pretty similar. But, just having a similar worldview is not going to make you agree on everything. Although Josh and I are both believers and love Jesus and have similar worldviews, we argue! We disagree on things! That’s because we are still pretty different. This is where openness of mind and flexibility comes into play. Sometimes, I may initially disagree with Josh on something, but because I respect him and I know I didn’t marry an idiot, I’ll listen to him. Sometimes he makes good points. Same goes for him. He knows that he needs my differing personality type to help balance him out and he will be open to my ideas and even criticism when he needs to hear it.
Now it’s not always that easy. Like anybody, we’re prone to thinking we’re right and getting defensive when we’re told we’re not. It takes time to grow together. But if you keep the goal of working together and valuing each other, you’ll be quicker to be flexible and open with one another.
Now, this doesn’t always end up super peachy. Sometimes compromise looks like one of you just giving in and trying again next time. That’s going to happen and that’s ok. Not every decision is going to be a 50/50 compromise or win/win situation. But that’s where humility and respect come in. More on those in a sec.
Yes, yes- you knew this would be in here somewhere. But I’ve spoken with many girls and women who, when the respect is gone, have a hard time actually noticing. What I mean by this is, when their partner doesn’t value their opinion, for example, they assume the behavior is normal or deserved. Many times, when a woman finds herself in a relationship where she isn’t respected, the respect will have diminished gradually and often she will have been convinced that it is normal and/or her fault.
One thing that helps, if you’re afraid of this happening to you, is to- not compare- but observe others’ relationships. Look at the relationships that you perceive as healthy. How do they talk to each other? How do they handle disagreements? If necessary, sit down with a trusted friend and ask her what she perceives as “normal” ways to handle conflict in a relationship. Many relationships don’t become unhealthy or abusive overnight. They become that way by actions that gradually go unnoticed or unaddressed. That’s not to say that every word of your partner needs to be analyzed and addressed, (choosing when to let things go is also important), but if there is a moment that happens and you feel disrespected, let your partner know how you feel and how they could handle the situation in a more positive and constructive way. If they truly respect you, they will be open to hearing your suggestion and hopefully changing their behavior.
This is all if respect is actually an issue. Sometimes a boy’s parents raised him right and he knows from the get-go how to treat a woman. If you’ve found a guy like that- good for you! But even the goodies will need help at times. Take note if a guy asks you, “What do you think?” or “How do you feel about that?” I know, it seems too simple, but a man who values your thoughts and opinions will value you!
Now it’s your turn! What are things that YOU think are essential when deciding if the guy you’re dating is marriage material?
Leave your ideas in the comments below and share with a friend!