Many people wonder about what makes a good spouse. They seek some sort of checklist with all the qualities and ingredients that combine to make a happy marriage. You can imagine people ask for advice from me and other experts about this quite often.
It isn’t easy to give a definite list of qualities you want in a woman in order to consider marrying her. That’s because so much of attraction and falling in love is out of our control.
Why do you think the most popular metaphors for love and attracting are all about loss of control? We “fall” in love rather than “decide” to be in love. We are “swept away” rather than “growing” into love.
So the idea that I’m going to give you some sort of list with boxes to check and you’re going to find a woman who meets all those requirements, propose to her, and get married is a little far fetched.
Conversely, if you’re passionately involved with a woman, if you think about her all the time, if you desperately want to marry her and start a family together, you’re not going to dump her just because she didn’t have a couple of the qualities on your list.
Having said all that, let me give you some things to look out for in a woman you’re serious about.
1. You’re Attracted to Her
Attraction is the basis of love and marriage, and if the spark isn’t there, it’s something that’s really hard to fake. Be honest with yourself here – why do you want to marry this woman? Is it just because you feel you need to be married? Feel like nobody else will have you? That’s not healthy thinking.
Make your marriage decision based on a positive feeling, not a negative one. Your future wife should be someone you are attracted to, someone you find sexy and desirable.
2. She Takes Care of Herself
By this I don’t just mean she takes care of her appearance, though that’s part of it. She should take care of her health, which means eating relatively well, not overeating, going to the doctor, and so on.
It also means she takes care of her appearance in a healthy way. She buys and wears clothes that flatter her, she doesn’t deprive herself of things she deserves. If she’s hungry, she eats. If she’s tired, she rests. You may think this is silly and obvious, but I know plenty of people who ended up tearing out their hair because their husband or wife overworked, over stressed, and sacrificed their health. You want a wife who will do her best to be healthy and happy for years to come.
3. She Is Happy and Fun to be With
I don’t mean happy every minute of every day. I mean generally happy and optimistic. A “glass half full” person is far more fun to be married to than a “glass half empty” one. I suppose if both of you are “glass half empty” people who like to sit around all day and complain together, you could have a successful marriage. But most people prefer to be married to a partner who is pleasant, positive and happy overall.
4. She Likes You and Treats You Well
Another no-brainer. How do you want to be treated as a spouse? She should treat you that way – with respect. And you, of course, should treat her the same way, as an adult worthy of respect.
There will always be disagreements and arguments and heated discussions in any relationship, but you don’t want to be married to someone who nags or belittles or abuses you. The two of you should come to the relationship as equals, and treat each other as such.
5. She Will be a Good Mother
If both of you are already sure you don’t want to ever have children, then you can skip this one. But most marriages involve children in some way, and if you want to have kids, then you should look for a woman who also wants to have children, and who is willing to make all the sacrifices children entail.
Many of the qualities that make a person a good spouse are the very same ones that make them a good parent – honesty, patience, optimism, ability to laugh.
You want a wife who is honest, who tells it like it is. Few people appreciate how important this is. She should be willing to talk about her emotions, about what’s going on in her life, and she should be able to do it, by which I mean she should have the necessary emotional vocabulary to say how she’s feeling and doing.
Too many people out there seem to only be able to express two emotions – happy and angry. Life with them is like a painting with only two colours. Your wife should be able to say when she’s overjoyed, jealous, guilty, ecstatic, furious, shy, scared, irritated, bemused, and so on.
She should also be respectfully honest about you, about how she feels about you, about whether she is happy or frustrated with something you’ve done. True intimacy comes from partners who know how the other person is feeling, about what’s going on in their lives.
7. She Has Dreams
It is good to be married to someone who has some ambitions, whether she dreams of corporate success, of traveling the world, of writing a novel, or of being a wonderful mother. Remember that a dream can’t ever come true unless you dream it first.
Not all your dreams as a married couple will come true. But some will, unless you don’t have any. Your future wife should have some dreams, large and small, and be excited about pursuing them, whatever they are.
8. A Good Sense of Humour
This may be the most important one of all, and I’ve saved it for last. Nearly every situation in life is better handled with some kind of a sense of humor.
Your wife needn’t be a stand-up comic, but she should be able to laugh at all of life’s little adventures, setbacks and ironies. Lots of serious disagreements and arguments couples have can be defused even before they start by a little humor. Look for a woman who doesn’t take herself, or life, too seriously.
As a final note – these are all good qualities to consider developing in yourself, too.