Far too often, guys propose to the first girl who comes along who the guy thinks might actually agree to marry him. Certainly not every guy acts out of desperation but many get married without having much dating experience. Not every marriage that begins in that fashion is doomed; my brother married the third girl he ever dated and, after 41 years, they are still together and happy.
Conversely, girls date guys and they hear an internal clock ticking. They have a plan that they will be married by a certain age, start having babies at a certain age, etc. When they get near that self-imposed deadline, they become concerned and, I am convinced, start to lower their standards. Again, not every girl does this, but we all know girls who have gotten married under this or a very simiar scenario.
What does not happen very often is guys or girls having a concrete set of criteria for a marriage prospect. Of course, not everyone is dating to find a future spouse, but that is the ultimate goal of most people who are dating. Many will not admit it for fear of appearing to be desperate or uncool, but it is their goal.
Without any set of criteria, people date whoever comes onto the playing field and they invest significant amounts of time - sometimes years - in a relationship which has no real potential for resulting in a good marriage. If marriage is your goal, why shouldn't you have a set of criteria for evaluating every prospect? If a cute girl comes along and she appears to be fun, most guys will date her but why should you spend any time with her once you learn that she could never be your wife? Of course I know why that happens; the guy is hoping that he will have a sexual relationship with the girl that will satisfy his immediate needs. If that is what you want, there's nothing wrong wth that, but you are probably not ready for marriage. This set of rules is for guys and girls who are ready to find The One and settle down.
1. Do you have a strong physical attraction to this prospect? This alone would never be enough to make a marriage work, but it is an absolutely essential requirement in a successful mariage. After 20 years of a good marriage, your spouse should still have the ability to get you aroused and excited in anticipation of getting close between the sheets.
2. Do you love your partner? Being in love is not the same thing as being in heat or being in lust. Love is that feeling that makes you want to put your partner's needs and wants at the same priority level as your own. Marriage ceremonies frequenty talk about "the two become one." This concept means that, as a married person, you should not think of "my" needs and "his" or "her" needs; you should only think of "our" needs. If you have this - "real love" - it will give you the strength to do many things in a relationship. To keep your relationship strong, there are many things you will need to do that will require strength. A relationship does not survive without love.
3. Do you trust the prospect? If they arrive late for a planned activity and provide you with an excuse, do you automatically believe what they tell you or do you have doubts? When you are in the courting phase, people are on their best behavior. Really good people will remain on thir best behavior for as long as they are with you but some will start sliding into lower standrds of conduct as they become more familiar with you. The point is: when you are courting, this is as good as it gets; it may stay this good or it may get worse, but it will not get better! Girls marry guys for whom they need to make excuses, thinking to themselves that he will grow up after he is married. Simple answer and plain truth: no, he won't! If you don't trust him now, it will not get better. Do you want to be married to someone you don't trust for the rest of your life?
4. Do you respect your potential spouse? Respect is an essential ingredient in a successful relationship. Do you admire him or her? Would they be a good role model for your children? Respect means that, when you have an argument or disagreement with your spouse, you will not feel free to say derogatory things simply because you are angry at them.
5. Will this person be a good biological contributor to your children's heredity? Half of your children's DNA will come from your partner. You want your children to start life healthy and strong, right? Why give them a genetic predisposition to certain conditions that can compromise their health and life expectancy? The first four factors I discussed are absolute requirements. This factor is not an absolute and I am not suggesting that a spouse who has type II diabetes, for example, would not be a good parent. On the other hand, this is not a factor that you should simply ignore, either.
6. Does your potential spouse have enough earning potential to support a family? Money WILL NOT buy you happiness and I would never suggest that you sell yourself to the highest bidder, but . . . if you don't have enough money to pay the mortgage, utilities, etc., your life is going to be miserable. As long as they can support a family, you should not worry about their earning potential. If you are looking for someone who is going to give you a pampered lifestyle, you are not looking for a successful marriage but, instead, a business arrangement.
7. If you have children with this person and you then die, would you trust them to finish raising the children? Girls, would this guy assume the responsibility for an infant or toddler or would he ship them off to their grandparents? Is that what you would want for your kids? Don't assume that something like this couldn't happen to you. If you still cling to that childhood notion that you are invincible and you don't need to plan for worse case scenarios . . . you are not ready for parenthood.
8. Are you proud to introduce your potential mate to your family members, and especially the older family members? Your younger brother may be impressed because the new girl has really big boobs, but your parents and grandparents will be looking at her character and morals. Which do you think is more important?
9. Do you have a significant amount of common interests? It is okay to have some divergent interests but you should have quite a few interests in common. Your interests wll change over the years but, if you begin with common interests, you are more likely to change together. Married life is more than just opening wedding gifts and having sex. The rest of your life will be spent with time devoted to interests and your relationship will be stronger if you are spending that time together.
10. Do you know without a doubt, that you want to marry this person or do you find that you are convincing yourself that marriage is the right thing? If it's right, you won't need convincing. If you're not positive, ask yourself if others see warning signs that you may be overlooking.
Of course, all of these thoughts and feelings should be mutual so you should ask yourself whether your mate would view you favorably when considering these factors.
While many of you may not be read for marriage, that is probably your ultimate goal. Before you get to that point in life, now is the time to ask yourself, "Would my ideal mate see me as a good mate according to these guidelines and, if not, what do I need to do to become that person?"