1. The ability to be on your own
It seems counter-intuitive to have to master the art of being on your own before you can master the art of loving someone — but it’s necessary in order to enter a relationship from a place of wanting to give love instead of needing to receive it. A mistake way too many people make is choosing the wrong person and they choose them because they don’t have the luxury of being picky, they need someone and so they convince themselves it’s this person in front of them, because they’re there.
As Osho says, “Only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of the other person without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other.”
2. A man who is generous
You know how your parents always told you communication was the most important thing in a relationship? Generosity is the drilled down version of that. You can be as communicative as you want to but unless you approach the conversation with generosity of spirit — the willingness and ability to listen to the other person, admit when they are right, and compromise — it doesn’t mean anything. A man who can be charitable when you are wrong and when he is wrong is worth much more than a 6’3, dark-haired prince charming.
This is the number one predictor of your future happiness, you can’t afford to be without it.
3. The ability to figure out how to be happy
No one is happy all the time, and no one’s life is good all the time. However, you choose what your attitude is and how you deal with the ups and downs. When you get stressed out, are you unpleasant to be around?
How you act every day is more important than how you act some of the time. If you’re going to have a marriage that works you need to be the kind of person someone wants on their team day in and day out — a good ship in a storm. Choose your partner wisely but also make sure you are working on yourself and being the kind of person who can be happy with an imperfect ever after.
4. A man who is strong
This isn’t about gender roles or preferring a “manly” man or a metrosexual or anything like that. Men should be strong. Women should be strong. People should be strong.
What this means for your relationship is that he will do the hard thing of fixing things that need to be fixed instead of avoiding them out of weakness or fear about what will happen when the situation is confronted. If he is unhappy with something, he figures out how to improve what is wrong instead of stewing. He doesn’t blame, he fixes. He views you as a teammate instead of an opponent.
5. The ability to take responsibility for your actions
Similarly, you need to be the kind of person who does not blame others. A marriage is a terrible thing to be in if you have a habit of blaming other people for whatever is wrong. Neither of you will be happy, neither of you will thrive.
Spend some time playing close attention to any conversation you have internally or with another person in which you are the victim of the story. Do you have a big, bad, boss who won’t give you the chance you deserve? Are you always at the mercy of your partner’s [fill-in-the-blank]? It’s okay, it’s an easy trap to fall into but one you need to fight off if you want to be in a happy marriage.
6. A man who shares your values
Do you agree on the big stuff or does he think you’re an idiot because you go to church on Christmas and Easter? Or does he think you’re going to hell but it’s “none of his business”?
There are more values than religion, for instance I wouldn’t want to date someone that puts a lot of stock in social media and what people think of him because I think it’s unhealthy and gross and something I don’t want to care about in my own life. I also need someones who loves or at least tolerates dogs because the love of pets is something that’s very, very important to me. They’re part of the family. Or maybe politics are important to you, or your financial philosophy, or being the kind of person who travels (or the kind who nests).
There are plenty of things it’s fine to disagree about, you shouldn’t date your clone. But whatever your big values are in life, you need to find someone who shares them of you’ll never feel like you respect them and you’re on the same page.
7. Your head on straight about the purpose of a wedding
No one gets married because they want to have a big fancy party and pass a life milestone at an age when passing life milestones seems really important — at least consciously. But it does make the whole thing attractive and we can get carried away. Don’t marry someone because we crave endings and a marriage is one big way to feel settled in life. Don’t get married to “beat” your friends to adulthood. Promise yourself you will be the kind of person who doesn’t get married for any external reason, just for the kind of love that won’t let you consider life without it.