It is a good thing that a marriage success isn’t based on the ideas of an eleven-year-old. When I was about that age I wrote a list of all the characteristics I wanted my future spouse to possess. It was a nice introspective activity but my well thought out, rather extensive list of requirements was neither realistic or attainable. Holding any real person (especially a teenage boy who I watched grow up) to a list of standards that I myself was far from, would have been a sure-fire way to end up alone.
I have known my husband for over half of my life and I’m only 27. Our love story is a bit unusual for being a real story but it definitely isn’t unheard of. We met, and I use the term loosely, on the first day of seventh grade. We were in band class together, I know romantic. I noticed him from across the room because he was being an obnoxious 12-year-old boy.
Anyhow, I was acquainted with him for a year. Casual friends with him for the next four. Seriously dating him for the following two. Not dating him at all for the two after that (he was on a mission, I didn’t wait). Then married to him.
Later this year (2017), we will have our sixth anniversary. So lately, I have been thinking about all the of the reasons that I chose him, even though he did not fit the cookie cutter dream boy I came up with as an eleven-year-old. I dated other people, but there were things about him that I just didn’t find in other men. . .
After some thought, I have decided that people are just not perfect and we all come with our own issues. Therefore, I don’t think a comprehensive list of standards is the answer to finding lasting love. However, I think there are many variables that can make all of the difference in a relationship and in both partners individual lives. I’m no expert, but I am very happily married.
That being said, the following items are my retrospective list of “green lights” to look for in both a potential spouse and yourself. Find someone who . . .
Makes You A Priority in Their Life
Even when we were dating, I always knew I was number one. My husband went out of his way to help me, and spend time with me, and talk to me. He used to ride the train to my dorm to help me carry my laundry home. I knew I was important.
You want someone who makes you feel loved and significant. Not someone who will make time for you if their favorite tv show gets canceled or if their best pal is busy. Conversely, you want to feel the same way about them. If you still prefer someone or something else to your significant other, there might be a problem.
Shows You Respect
In my experience, marriage works best if it is a partnership. My husband has always listened to what I have to say. He is willing to discuss anything with me and make compromises. Neither of us is always right, we listen, consider, and take turns.
You want to be with someone who respects you as a thinking individual and who values your input, not someone who wants to control every aspect of the relationship. If you find that either you or your partner is “in charge”, then something is probably off. Neither person should have all the power or hold all of the cards. Marriage is a two-way street and each person should have a healthy respect for the other.
Makes Trust Easy
One of the things I have always loved about my husband is that I have never had to worry about him. I know he is with me and he wouldn’t do anything to mess that up. We have a very open communication system. We both know where and how our money is used, we know each other’s daily schedules, we know who we spend our time with. We don’t keep secrets. We don’t do drama. This makes trusting each other easy and natural. It also makes jealousy a non-issue in our marriage.
Find someone you can openly communicate with and who makes you feel secure in the relationship. As a side-note, jealousy should not be used as a tool within healthy relationships. I would say if you or your significant other are using jealousy to manipulate then you have some things that need to be better discussed.
Makes You A Better Person
This one is tricky. I don’t think it is safe or fair to go into a relationship with the intent to change the other person. However, if you find yourself with someone who makes you want to be better I think that is a win.
For example, my husband is always encouraging me to try new things or follow my dreams or meet my goals. He supports me when I try to better myself or health, he helps me learn new skills, he studies the scriptures with me and tries to help me find time to develop my interests and talents. He does not tell me what to do or how to do it. He does not try to micromanage my schedule or the people I see. He just helps me by constantly encouraging my best habits and I try to do the same for him.
Is Secure Enough to Allow You To Be Yourself
This kind of goes with the last one. My husband has never asked me to give up friends or hobbies or family members. He has always let me be who I am. There are some bad habits I have given up but that is because he has been a good influence on me not because he insisted I do it. (I don’t think habits are what make you who you are anyway.)
If you find yourself in a relationship where you are constantly changing and making personality sacrifices and giving up things that you love while your partner remains unchanged . . . then there is clearly some unbalance. You want to find someone who is secure enough with himself and his relationship with you to let you be you.
I’m not saying that people don’t or shouldn’t change after they are married. Change is healthy and expected. I’m saying that if you are with someone who expects you to change everything about yourself to fit their agenda then he or she may not be the person you want to end up with. Relationships require balance and give and take and complimentary personalities. Relationships should not be two people who think and act identically because one person wills it to be that way and the other has given up everything that made them who they were.
Happiness requires balance and give and take and complimentary personalities. Relationships should not be two people who think and act identically because one person wills it to be that way and the other has given up everything that made them who they were.
Puts Your Happiness and Well-Being Before Their Own
In a “me first” selfish world this one sounds novel and a little revolutionary. However, if each person puts the needs of his/her partner before his/her own then both partners needs get met and they develop a stronger love for each other because it’s easy to love those who you serve.
This is a hard, if not impossible, thing to do in a one-sided relationship. If you are giving and giving and meeting someone else’s needs without having your own needs met, burnout is imminent unless you are a saint.
Has Similar Priorities
There a lot of things on my eleven-year-old list that didn’t really matter. I didn’t really need someone who was 6′ 2” or who had big muscles or who could play the piano or speak Italian. However, there were a few things that mattered a lot. As a unit, I think it is important to have similar if not identical overall priorities. What those are, depend on the couple.
In my marriage, we both agree that church, family, education, and financial stability are high priorities. This makes it easy for us to make choices, spend money, and communicate. If my priorities were church, family, and financial stability and his were video games, friends, and going to the gym we would have a difficult time making big family decisions.
I am not saying there is anything wrong with video games, friends, and going to the gym I am just saying that it is important to be on the same page with when it comes to the big stuff.
I am not a marriage expert. I have only been married for six years. This is not a comprehensive list of things to search for in a spouse. This is just the list I have come up with that details some of the big things that allow me to enjoy a happy, successful marriage. So, if you are wondering if you have found the one, go through the list and see how he stacks up. Then, and this is the important part, see how you stack up.
What have I missed? What are some other “green lights” to look for when neck deep in the dating pool?