“Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate
dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense
of balance and your choice of partner.”
- Amy Bloom
So, you and your sweetheart have been together for some time and you are beginning to wonder whether he may be “the one”. But you know that a lifetime commitment should not be taken lightly. The question is, is he real husband material?
Ever since I was a little girl, I used to imagine what my husband would be like. I made a list: handsome, smart, tall, blue-eyed, brunette, built… The list went on and on. The truth is, I didn’t know what was important in a husband. I dated several guys that satisfied all of my requirements. Yet, I did not want to marry them. Gradually, I started cluing in to what really matters.
Anyone who has been in a long term relationship knows that relationships are complicated. Virtually all couples go through rough patches, even those who are very compatible. It is not possible to find someone with whom you will never run into problems. What you want is a guy with whom the good times are wonderful, and who will work with you through the bad times.
I have been married for almost five years, and last year my husband and I went through a rough patch. But, since I married a man who is “real husband material,” we were able to work through our difficulties and come out the other end a stronger couple than ever before.
Even in our most difficult moments, David was still a better husband than some other men are at the best of times. He still cooked, and cleaned, and looked after our child. He spent hour upon hour carefully listening to everything I had to say. He went to couple’s therapy with me, and read all the books I thought could help us.
Let me start by saying that I’m not here to give phony advice about how to find a prince and live happily ever after. I want to share something more realistic with you: how to find a husband who will be there for you through the good times, and the bad.
In the beginning of relationships, men tend to be very romantic. Some early signs that may look great, such as seemingly endless compliments and gifts, usually taper off with time. I’m going to focus on telling you about signs that should be there even after you have been together for years. I also chose concrete signs that are easy to notice.
Here are 10 signs that your guy is real husband material.
1. He believes in you
It makes a huge difference whether he believes in you. Since you will likely spend more time with your husband than any other person, how he views you is bound to rub off on you.
Whenever I go for a job interview or an audition, David is always sure that I will get it. Of course, it doesn’t always work out like this, but having a supportive spouse has really helped me believe in myself more. At the very least, such a partner will not hurt your self-image.
It is also great if he encourages you to pursue your dreams, or at the very least does not stand in your way. Too often, our spouse is the main person standing between us and our passion in life. Choose one who helps you become all that you can be by believing in you.
2. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff
Does he get frustrated if you leave the milk out of the fridge? Does he get very upset if you are 10 minutes late? Does he yell at you if misplace the remote?
At times, life can be difficult. There is no point in marrying someone who will make it more difficult. Plus, we all make mistakes. But, if your every move seems like a mistake, and he is constantly on your case, then he probably is not real husband material.
3. You can tell him anything
You should never have to worry about whether or not to say something. There is a fantastic expression that captures when you should end a relationship; it’s when you feel like “you are walking on eggshells.” If you have to watch everything that you say or do for fear of aggravating your partner, it won’t work out.
You have the right to be yourself and speak your mind freely. If he is the right guy for you, he will like you just the way you are. He will make you feel comfortable and safe to express your innermost thoughts and feelings. Such guys make for wonderful lifelong partners.
4. You love his scent
This one is a little different from all the other signs I list, but I think that it’s worth mentioning. Women pick up on a man’s pheromones by their scent. There is some evidence to suggest that you should not go for guys whose smell you do not find attractive. Studies show that women are typically not attracted to the scent of relatives. As you may already know, inbreeding often leads to genetic defects. This means that a woman might be able to tell whether a guy is good for her just by his scent, at least to some degree.
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that you should run to the altar with the first man whose scent you find attractive. But, as liking your man’s smell is a good thing in and of itself, it’s a nice bonus that there is some evidence suggesting that what our senses are telling us might have some deeper meaning behind it.
5. He does the dishes
Life is not a picnic, and women today need men who are real partners. The little things do matter – and they do add up, especially over a lifelong marriage!
Does he do his fair share? Does he do the dishes, cook, and clean about half the time? Just because you are a woman, it doesn’t mean that you should be doing more of the housework.
If you are living together and he doesn’t help around the house, then he almost certainly won’t start after you get married. If and when you have children, the amount of housework will only get worse. Then, you will really appreciate a husband who does his fair share. After our son was born, I was so grateful to have a husband that did.
6. He gives you space
This one may sound a little counter-intuitive, but I believe that it’s very important that he gives you space. You shouldn’t have to negotiate to get a night out with a girlfriend, or go to see your mom. At the end of the day, the rest of your life also matters, and regardless of how great your time is together, it’s important that he doesn’t make it difficult for you to enjoy other parts of your life.
7. He takes you seriously
If you are driving together on the highway and you ask for a coffee, he gets off at the next exit. He doesn’t assume that what you want is not important. He takes your needs, and you, seriously.
Whether the subject is what colour tablecloth to buy, or whether you should move to a different continent, a man who is husband material will take your views and opinions seriously.
8. He doesn’t notice other women
The last thing you want is a husband who is always looking in the other direction. Find a loyal man. Not all men seem to have the capacity to ignore other women. But these men do exist.
Now, this doesn’t mean that your guy needs to literally ignore women. It’s just that he shouldn’t relate to these women in a way that suggests attraction.
For example, when we walk down the street, I would sometimes notice that a pretty girl walks by and I might casually remark to David that I like the girl’s dress. Almost without fail, David looks a bit confused and asks, “what girl?”
9. He stands on his own two feet
There is a growing trend of women supporting their men. While it’s nice that women today are capable of taking care of not only themselves, but also their families, it is a lot easier if you both help out.
But even more importantly, couples where both partners are independent are happier. Being overly dependent on each other leads to resentment, and eventually drains the relationship of romantic love and passion. The best kind of husbands are men who are independent both financially and emotionally. They could be happy all by themselves if they had to. Such a man chooses to be with you freely; not because he needs to be with you, but because he wants to.
10. You set the pace
Nothing shows that a guy is real husband material like patience. Whether it is about waiting to move in together because you want some space, or waiting for marriage before getting intimate, the right guy for you will respect whatever pace you set. He won’t push you, manipulate you, or try to guilt you into changing your mind.
On the other hand, you should not find yourself trying to convince him to move things forward. Too many of us girls find ourselves just dying to marry men who don’t seem to be too excited about marrying us. If this is the case for you, then you might already know in your heart that this is not good idea. If he already has doubts, how can you be sure that he will be there for you for the rest of your life? And I definitely don’t recommend trying to force him into marriage!
Life is not a picnic. We need real partners who have the skills to preserve a marriage. Marry a man who makes it worth getting through the hard times, and makes most times good times. Marry a man who will make a really, really good husband. Then, when you are both old and grey, you can look deep into his eyes, and tell him from the bottom of your heart, “Marrying you was the best decision I ever made.”
Note (April 22, 2013): Due to the popularity of this article, I put together an e-book about how you can sustain a passionate, loving marriage and how to repair relationships when things aren’t going well. It has everything that I wish I would have known before I got married. Relationships: How To Fix Them & Keep The Love Alive gives you my best writing on relationships, showing you how to restore and sustain love, passion, and commitment in your relationship. Download this e-book and learn how to make a lasting loving marriage.