How many of you actually have a concrete set of criteria for a marriage prospect? I’m talking about criteria that are so specific that you could write them on paper like bullet points. And, then . . . how many of you actually think about those criteria when you are considering a dating prospect?
Of course, not everyone is dating to find a future spouse, but that is the ultimate goal of many – maybe most - people who are dating. Especially for guys, it is not cool to admit that you want to get married and have kids eventually, but that really is what you want . . . isn’t it?
Without having any set of defined criteria, people date whoever comes along and is available and willing. They invest significant amounts of time - sometimes years - in a relationship which has no real potential for resulting in a good marriage; it is doomed to failure and that is obvious to everyone except the two people who are actually in the relationship.
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, if you are ready to settle down, 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. And then, some sort of magic will happen and she will be transformed into a great prospect for the future Mrs. Or the girl thinks that once they start having sex, he is going to become more responsible and stop getting high every day.
If that is how you are operating, 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 biological attraction to this prospect? I know that it is PC to say that you shouldn’t judge someone by their physical appearance. If you are hiring a secretary or a route driver, that may be true. But a marriage is more than a friendship. It is a sexual union and the idea of pretending to be attracted to someone is stupid.
Of course, physical attraction alone is not enough to make a marriage work, but it is an absolutely essential requirement in a successful marriage. After 20 years of a good marriage, your spouse should still have the ability to get you aroused and excited in anticipation of getting in bed for up close time.
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. 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 necessary to maintain a relationship. A relationship simply does not survive without love.
3. Do you trust the prospect? If they arrive late for a planned rendezvous and provide you with an excuse, do you automatically believe what they tell you or do you have doubts? When “courting,” people are on their best behavior. Really good people will remain on their best behavior for as long as they are with you but some will start backsliding as they become more comfortable 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!
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.
It may sound harsh to consider something about a potential spouse that is totally out of their control. Some might say that you are punishing the person for something that is not their fault. No, deciding to not consider someone as a potential spouse it is not a punishment. And, I can assure you, having a baby born with a genetic defect or a very strong disposition to a life threatening disease IS very harsh.
6. Does your potential spouse have enough earning potential to support a family? Will she be a good stay-at-home mom (if that is what you want.) 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.
Thinking about this does not make you a gold digger! 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.
Guys, have you seen her in action with infants and small children? Some women talk a good game but quickly get frustrated when a baby won't stop crying. Invite her to babysit your brother's kids one Friday night. You need to see what happens. Hopefully, what you see is wonderful and magical!
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 take care of 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. These things do happen and very few people ever plan for it, but 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. Your sister may be impressed with the car that he drives. However, your parents and grandparents will be looking at his or her character and morals. Which do you think is more important? (Hint: those big boobs will sag as she gets older, but her character probably won’t. And that car won’t be around forever.)
9. Do you have significant differences in cultural or religious backgrounds? If you are French and he is Saudi, you may think you have passed all the tests but what about those cultural differences? After marriage, he might want to return to Saudi Arabia. Or he may have certain expectations about how a wife is “supposed to behave,” based upon his experiences in Saudi Arabia. Maybe he wants his children raised in a strictly religious household and you do not.
Those are very important factors to consider.
10. Have you two weathered some storms together?
Have you had some arguments and gone through the process of resolving some conflicts together? Some people come unhinged when the stress begins. Does he get violent or make threats? Does she throw things, call you names, tell you that she doesn’t love you anymore?
All marriages experience conflict! The test of a marriage is not whether you ever have conflicts but, instead, how you handle them when they do arise. Do you have enough experience to with your partner to have those questions answered?
11. 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 will change over the years, especially if you are under age 25, but if you begin with some 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 your children and to your interests and your relationship will be stronger if you are spending that time together.
12. 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.
All of these questions are not equally important and only you can decide which issues are most important for your long term happiness. Remember that, once you are married, you are expected to not run to court to get divorced at the first sign if conflict but you are expected to stay and work on the problems you encounter. Is this someone with whom you will stand for better or for worse?
Finally, many of you may not be ready for marriage, but 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?"