The 4 Things You Need in a Husband

The 4 Things You Need in a Husband

When you were young, what were you looking for in a husband? My girls are both teens, and they’re constantly getting into conversations with friends about what they want in husbands. And some of the things the girls and their friends come up with are quite funny. They have to be good looking. They have to be musical. They have to have a sense of humour.

Thinking back to when I was 18 or 19, the things that I wanted in a husband ended up not really being that important. I wanted someone who could sing with me. I wanted someone very athletic.

And boy, did I realize I didn’t really care! My husband may not be overly athletic, but we do active things together, like bike ride, or canoe, or play squash, and that’s more important.

But really all this is beside the point, because after being married for almost twenty years, and after reading email upon email upon email from women really struggling in their marriages, I have decided that you really only need four things in a husband to make him husband material. Everything else is extra, and aren’t really the criteria for finding a good husband. And what are those four things?

1. He must love God and be totally and utterly committed to Him.

When someone loves God, they’ll love marriage. They’ll make the marriage a priority. And when you do have disagreements, you know that he’ll take those disagreements to God. Ironically, I believe it is more important to marry someone who loves God than to marry someone who loves you (though obviously you want both). If you marry someone who loves you, but doesn’t love God, then when fights happen or struggles come and that feeling of love goes, he may go, too. Marry someone who loves God, and the commitment to the marriage will be rock solid.

(For more on this concept, Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Search is excellent! It lays out how to figure out who to marry, dealing with both the spiritual and the practical side).

What Makes a Good Christian Husband?2. You must be able to talk about God with him and pray with him.

It isn’t enough to love God; that love has to evidence itself in your ability to talk about God as a couple and to pray as a couple. If you can bring God into conversation naturally, then God is an important part of both of your lives, and you’ll be okay. If he goes to church but never really talks to God or about God, then you have to wonder if that commitment to God is true.

3. You must bring out the best in each other.

Lots of people marry someone because they are in awe of them. It’s almost a case of idol worship. He is just so amazing. He is so talented. He is so smart.

I dated some men like that before I met my husband. I was so enthralled with them, and they loved the fact that I was enthralled with them. But it was never obvious whether they were enthralled with me back.

For a marriage to work, you both need to be able to encourage each other in the gifts that God has given them. You both need to be able to recognize each other’s strengths, and gifts, and dreams, and encourage the other to go for it! Marriage should not be about one person completely serving the other at the expense of him or herself. It should be about you both becoming who God made you to be.

Lots of girls fall into this trap of putting a guy up on a pedestal and marrying him because “I’m just so amazed that someone so wonderful could be interested in little ‘ole me!”. But that’s not a recipe for a good marriage.

That’s a recipe for a lonely marriage.

If he soaks up all your adoration, but doesn’t give much back; or if he appreciates you for what you can do for him, but never really listens to what you want or think; then you’re going to end up feeling alone. It’s not that the marriage won’t last; it’s that it won’t be fulfilling, and it will be hard for God to do what He wants to with you.

You need to be able to share what God is doing in your heart, and not just support what God is doing in his. It needs to be a marriage on equal footing.

And that applies the other way, too. You really don’t want to marry someone who is in awe of you, but doesn’t want to talk about what they want in life, or what they think about something. There has be a sense of camaraderie and equality for a marriage to work. It has to be a true uniting of two souls, not one person being dependent on the other.

God wants us to support each other and bring out the best in each other. If you have to hide your best when you’re with a guy, then he’s not for you.

4. He must be Motivated/Have Initiative

He doesn’t have to have a good job. He doesn’t have to have a good career. He doesn’t even have to be brilliant. Because in the end, what will matter far more than intelligence or educational credentials, is whether or not he is a motivated individual who takes intiative. If he is motivated, he will always find a job or look for a way to provide. If he is not, it doesn’t matter how much education he has, he could easily become lazy.

You don’t want to marry someone lazy. Someone who is lazy won’t get the promotions at work, and won’t look for a better job when the family needs him to. He won’t fix up the house. He won’t get involved with the kids. He’ll wait to be waited on. He won’t volunteer in church. He won’t have an active life.

Someone, on the other hand, who has always looked for a way to be involved, and who has pursued job opportunities, is someone who will be a good provider. If they were were helping out at summer camp or in Sunday School or on praise team when they were 17, instead of sitting around at home playing video games, that’s a good sign. If they helped their dad build a deck, or a shed, that’s a good sign. If they worked part-time in high school and got a promotion, that’s a good sign. If they worked really hard to learn some sort of skill when they didn’t need to (like music, or programming, or woodworking), that’s a good sign.

That’s it. Marry someone who loves God, that you can talk to about God. Marry someone who brings out the best in you, while you do the same for him. And marry someone who has initiative. Do that, and your marriage will likely be fine (as long as you put God first, too, and are motivated as well!).

All the rest doesn’t matter. Attraction isn’t even as important, because attraction grows out of friendship, and those who marry just for attraction don’t tend to last long. Being good looking isn’t as important. These are the things that ultimately last.

When I get emails from women who are distressed and distraught in their marriage, it’s usually because of one of these things. Their husbands are lazy and won’t provide. Their husbands are addicted to porn because they don’t really love God first. Their husbands won’t take interest in the kids because they’re lazy.

Now if you married someone who isn’t like this, I’m not saying you should divorce! Absolutely not. You just have some relationship problems. Work on your friendship first, because when there is goodwill, it is much easier to deal with a lot of your marital problems.

Good Girl's Guide to Great SexBut for those of you who aren’t married yet, that’s it. That’s what you want.

Now please, if you know girls in their late teens or early twenties, can you post this on Facebook and pass it around? Thanks!

Sheila is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, a great book to give to engaged women!


  1. I do agree although I think the same could be said for husbands and wives. And while you give some good examples of motivation, there are many others (and video games is not necessarily a sign of laziness, my husband enjoys gaming, and was the first in his family to go to college and had to earn his way through).

    • True, Nurse Bee. We can’t expect a great husband if we’re not also great! And it’s not that video games are all bad–but if they’re consistently letting opportunities to go to volunteer, or to work, or to go out with friends, then I do think it’s a problem!

    • Sheilla,
      Thanks for wonderful insight on what to look for in husband by potential wives. In my view, all these may be secondary. The first thing needed from the husband by any woman is sex. A woman does not marry another woman. A man must deliver to the wife. In fact Paul was mad about this in 1 Corinthian 7. We must be honest – at least girls must be honest to God and ask this from God!! In my 26+ years in marriage and counselling I have noted that many marriages are “surviving” on that cord!!!!Advise the young women and pastors alike to get this squarely in their prayer and counselling life.

  2. Sheila —

    I’m going to share this with ALL my students, guys and girls!

    As a teacher, I see SO many issues with #3 (because #1 and #2 aren’t in place.) Kids who were happy, engaged in life, contributing to the school community suddenly become withdrawn, isolated, and self-centered when they get into a bad relationship.

    As adults, we see this huge change and want to send out a search party to find them and bring them back. But they’re too busy convincing themselves that they are “nobody” without this one person…that their life will be ruined without him/her…when it’s really the relationship that is ruining both lives!

    Thanks for an important and well-articulated discussion of this life-altering topic!

    Cheri Gregory recently posted…A Gift of Grace: a Daughter’s ThanksMy Profile

  3. Good post, Sheila! I’m passing this along to my girls.

  4. Your Thanksgiving post is amazing!!! I’m sure you accidentally sent it before you wanted to since it’s not on your blog. I have done that several times. Now, before I even write a post, I set the date for sometime in the future so if I accidentally hit the post button, it won’t go out to all my readers! Just a little advice because I have done the same thing one too many times! 😉 Your writings are terrific and very much needed today.

    • Actually, I scheduled it for Thanksgiving, but when I looked on the calendar I chose the wrong Thursday :) But thanks for giving a great advertisement for next Thursday’s post! HEY EVERYBODY: MY THANKSGIVING POST ROCKS!!!!

  5. I am mentoring a college girl. I sure will give this to her.

    When I was young, I wanted my man to love me, adore me, and want me. I got SO much more than that!!

    God is soooo good!

    <3 Janet
    Janet recently posted…The Simple Woman’s DaybookMy Profile

  6. Someone who makes you laugh is just priceless. I am glad I found that.
    Millicent recently posted…To love and to cherishMy Profile

  7. when I was 18, I decided I really just wanted to be a wife and a mom. But, there was noone who I was interested in or who was interested in me, so I went on with life. I met my current husband when I was 27 (26?) and we got married when I was 28. I had 4 requirements:
    1. Love God
    2. Love people and desire to see them know God
    3. Significant overseas experience, China preferred
    4. 5’9″ or taller — I wanted him taller than me even if I wore high heels… is that totally shallow?

    Hubby is all this (and he’s 6’2!). Its amazing how God answers our prayers if we will only wait for him.
    Rachael recently posted…In a week…My Profile

    • That’s funny, Rachael! But I’m sure you would have married a shorter man. It’s just that God gave you your dreams instead…

  8. Having worked with teenagers for many years, I love how you have summed this up.

    And as a mum of four boys, you have put into words what we should and hopefully are raising them towards. I think boys and girls need to be so aware of this stuff.

  9. I think two things mentioned can be very dangerous if not further explained.

    The first is “There has be a sense of camaraderie and equality for a marriage to work.” This statement can be easily viewed as somewhat typical feminist posturing. God said that the husband is the head of the wife, wives should submit to their husbands and be subject to them in everything and for young women to be taught to be obedient to their husbands. Now God also said to obey Him rather than men (if the husband is trying to lead the wife into sinful behavior). However, most objections over submission are not about sin. Christians need to be very careful about trying to bend God’s word around their feelings instead of bending their feelings around God’s word. If we disobey God’s design for marriage, we should not be surprised if the results are not too great.

    The other comment was “Attraction isn’t even as important, because attraction grows out of friendship”. The Bible may not say a lot about attraction, but you better be honest with your husband-to-be about this up front. Most men would not marry a woman who is not attracted to him. If he finds out his wife wasn’t very attracted to him when they married (and she likely told him that she loved him anyway), he will likely consider you a liar and manipulator and have trouble ever trusting you again. Also, attraction does not grow out of friendship as easily as some might believe. Otherwise, you wouldn’t hear about the dreaded “friendzone” from so many guys. I would say that men often lose their initiative when they feel like their wives don’t love them or are attracted to them. Attraction and marital love are inseparable to men, and a lack of love will likely shut him down for years (if he’s commited enough to God to not divorce). He will lose initiative. He will struggle to follow God and put Him first with such a heavy burden on his heart. He won’t be interested in bringing out the best in a woman who doesn’t love him, etc.

    Sheila, if you meant something different or more nuanced than what I addressed above, please elaborate. Thanks.

    • Let me try to explain then. I believe there definitely needs to be a sense of camaraderie and equality–meaning that we each feel free to share our feelings, we each feel as if we are free to explore what God wants for our lives, and we each feel like valued members of the relationship. If one is serving, and never sharing feelings or thoughts, and if one is not valued, that is not right. If a woman marries a man because she is in awe of him, that really doesn’t lead to a good marriage on either side. You have to be able to respect one another; someone who is in awe of someone, and totally neglects their own worth, is not going to be a good marriage partner.

      As for attraction not being a big issue, I really don’t think it is. Look, lots of women get married because they’re sexually attracted to their husbands. In the vast majority of cases, that attraction goes away. Why? Because they don’t work on their friendship and they don’t feel valued. Just because you’re attracted to someone when you’re dating has no bearing on whether or not you will be attracted to them after being married for five years. What matters is not whether you are sexually attracted to them tremendously; it’s whether you are good friends and you’re prepared to work at the relationship and love your husband. For most women, attraction grows out of love; it isn’t the other way around. And if you marry solely based on attraction, that attraction will fade anyway. Marry because of a rock solid friendship, though, and you’ll likely find attraction grows. Of course, this is a bit of a silly argument, because most women, if they are rock solid friends, are also attracted to their husbands, and I don’t think women would marry without feeling some attraction. But you don’t need to go weak kneed. You don’t need to melt at seeing them. That’s a romantic lie movies tell us. What you need is to love, commit, and work on your friendship. That’s what attraction grows out of, and that’s what will sustain attraction, not the other way around.

  10. Great post, it sums up exactly what I believe about relationships.
    I have a great desire for marriage, but have never even dated. One of the reasons is that I don’t want a boyfriend/husband who is just a Christian, I want one who is passionate about their faith and committed to doing God’s will. This is because my faith is so important to me and God is such a huge part of my life I know that if I got into a relationship with someone who isn’t as committed to God as I am it won’t ‘bring out the best in me’ which I believe marriage should be about.
    And while people do change and develop, I think that it’s important to see these qualities in a man you want to date because rather than hope he will change during your relationship and find yourself married to someone who has different priorities and values than you do.

  11. Ok, I really love most of what you post on your blog, but I’ve got two fairly significant qualifications (and one small one) I’d like to make here. Sheila, I’d love to hear what you think about these.

    1. Attraction is more important than that – at least in my life. While I don’t necessarily believe in love at first sight, with my husband it was definitely something at second sight because in many of our first conversations we jumped into the deep end and quickly started discussing significant issues. I think a lot of that was about us being attracted to each other and trying to figure out whether this was potentially a good thing. In a way we became friends after we figured out what to do with this whole attraction thing. So I think telling girls that attraction grows out of friendship can leave them unprepared for if/when they meet a guy at school and develop an instant crush. Heck, I still meet men I find attractive, but I just accept it as part of their social dynamic and move on. Ditto my husband. So guess there’s two points here – Attraction is something you should expect, and attraction isn’t something to make that big a deal out of either. The man you marry should be attractive to you, but finding another man attractive doesn’t mean you made a mistake. (Hope that point is somewhat clear.)

    2. (I really like and appreciate your larger point about camaraderie and not putting each other on a pedestal – I just have a quibble.) The key is bringing out the best in EACH OTHER. Erin above might know that, but it’s not what she said. Girls hear entitlement messages everywhere they go, so I think we need to be careful saying this one. Bringing out the best in each other doesn’t mean making you happy, agreeing with you, unreservedly supporting anything you want to do, etc. Sometimes bringing out the best in each other means holding each other accountable, challenging sin, and helping the other person set emotional/behavioral boundaries. Sometimes this is NOT FUN. Girls need to hear this. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t warm fuzzy ways of bringing out the best in another – sometimes we all need a little extra support, encouragement, and love. Sometimes we also need a swift kick in the rear. As our marriage counselor said, “Iron doesn’t sharpen iron without a few sparks flying.” Those sparks are normal, healthy, and not necessarily a sign that someone is doing it wrong.

    3. Guys and girls are (often) spiritual in different ways. Girls are often more emotional. Guys are often more logical. So a girl might raise her hands in worship, cry, and spend a lot of time talking about what God means to her. A guy, on the other hand, might read a book on Deuteronomy, mow his aunt’s yard, and ask the pastor about the sermon. I’m speaking in generalities, but the point is that girls should be careful not to judge a guy’s spirituality or Christian commitment by whether or not he acts in ways that come naturally to her. There are men (I married one) who don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about God but who are there every time the doors are open and are very interested in Christian issues and will discuss them by the hour. I lean that way myself, but I’m also more likely to talk about the relational import of a sermon and to try and make emotional sense of the Bible. Just saying, your way doesn’t have to be his way for them to both be valid.
    Natalie recently posted…Words matter – most of the timeMy Profile

  12. Sandy in Los Angeles says:

    I agree with these things, and have told them to my 21 and 18yo daughters. However one I have added, and think is very important, is someone who likes children.

    I came from a family who loves children. I have four brothers. All four and my father really like kids. So, when I married my highly motivated hubby, I was rather shocked at the lack of interest he had in ours especially when the were young.

    I found myself staying home a lot and not leaving them with him much. If I left them with someone, I wanted it to be someone who payed SOME attention to them.

    I homeschooled and my kids really have turned out GREAT! And, my hubby really likes spending time with my kids now. But, I think there was some damage done to their self esteem from when they were young.

  13. This is such a great article! I’m so thankful my parents taught me what to look for in a godly man. Couldn’t ask for a better husband, after thinking marriage was far off for me!
    Jen recently posted…the start.My Profile

  14. ButterflyWings says:

    The problem I had with my first husband is he conned me into believing he was these four things. I saw later (too late) that those four things are what he wanted to be, not what he actually was. And when he lost that desire, he stopped trying.

    But my post was actually to ask…. my second husband and I are really struggling with praying together. We are both introverts in real life (lol despite me starting to becoming more extroverted online, anything that doesn’t require actual speaking) and while we both passionately love God, praying together is something we really struggle with. We try but it’s getting more awkward not less.

    Any suggestions on what we can do?

  15. It’s really hard for me to read this and to not point out all of the things my husband is not. :( All of the things you listed here are what my husband isn’t. We’re both christians, but our marriage is more important to me most of the time. Our two year anniversary is tomorrow, and I wrote out all the things I DO love about him and I’m going to give it to him. It really helped me see why I married him, and I learned to pick out the positives in him, not the negatives.

    • Rachel, that’s a VERY good attitude, and a very good plan! This list is great if you’re single, but once you’re married–you already have the right guy. So it’s up to us to cherish him!

      Happy anniversary.

  16. I know from experience that attraction isn’t the most important thing. My mom told me this when I was young
    and I’ve experienced it myself: Respect is WAY more important than attraction. Actually her exact words were
    that I needed a man that was smarter than me. She is so right. I dated a guy that wasn’t, and it was a disaster.
    He was intimidated, and it lead to some borderline abusive behavior.
    I would also find it incredibly hard to respect a man who wasn’t smart, which would
    hinder the whole submission mandate significantly.

    I also found how respect can lead to attraction. I knew a guy in high school and had zero attraction to him. I thought of
    him as a brother.
    However, I found that the more time I spent with him in college, the more I got to know about him the more I respected him
    and the more attracted I was to him. We would probably have ended up together if I hadn’t moved to another country to grad school.

    I now found a man that I believe conforms to all of these. We do find it a bit hard to pray together though. We do
    go to church together and we do talk about God and spiritual things, but I think we both find it hard to pray out loud and
    be open about our spiritual lives. I think we should join a small group fellowship this semester and he has agreed to this.

    Any advice on other things we could do to increasing spiritual intimacy as we move to engagement/ marriage?

  17. This is great! I remember in high school writing out a list of things I wanted in a husband. Seeing it written down put things into perspective for me and helped me realize the things that were most important. I then prayed for my future husband. I’m now celebrating 5 years of marriage and have two beautiful children with him. God has truly blessed us! I’ll be sharing this post with others!

  18. Linda Samosir says:

    Thanks, Sheila. This article is exactly the answer to my prayer. Now I know the reason why I always fell empty in the relationship I have now. I usually think that I am the one who have too much to ask to my spouse. The 4 things is honestly what I really need in a husband. God bless you, Sheila.

  19. Angela Ferrara says:

    Thanks for sharing. Just an fyi for the doubters…..I had no attraction for my husband, before I really got to know him. Now I think he’s really cute.

  20. dan Mielke says:

    Thank you for this article. i am currently writing a curriculum for teens on becoming marriageable material and how to find marriageable material, and appreciated so much your first point on a committed love for God. My wife and I have also appreciated your insight into relationships through your book, “The Good Girls Guide to Great Sex.” Thank you for your God honoring work.

  21. For those of you who have trouble praying with your husband- it can help significantly if you pray aloud while you are alone…doing this for a while can allow you to get used to hearing yourself pray…without the feeling of being anelized by another person. Also remember…you are still talking to God when you pray with your husband…He is there to support you…and you him…no one should be critical of another’s prayer.
    As a 17 year old i prayed for a spouse who would love God and love me…forever. That was it. I married a man at 20, whom I was attracted to and with whom I could talk to about anything-including spiritual matters. We were very young spiritually but we have grown together and are about to celebrate 9 years of marriage that gets better every day! We talk a lot and try every day to be better people…in all aspects of life. I am very blessed!
    I have learned so much over the years and my husband is my best friend. I never talk bad about him to anyone…ever. I try and tell he when he does something that makes me happy…I say thank you for little things…I brag about him in public (tastefully)…and he is such a wonderful husband!!!
    Thank you for the article. It is well rounded…however…you shouldn’t settle for anyone. Some girls will find these qualities in a man and he will be willing to propose marriage but they will not feel…like he is the one. If your spiritual life is good and you have a personal walk with the Lord and you just don’t feel right about it…don’t do it. Not everything is logical and sometimes God wants us to trust that when the time and person are right, he will let us know. Don’t marry anyone, even if they seem perfect…unless you can look at them everyday and say ” This is the wonderful person God blessed me with!”
    Love and Prayers to all

  22. Thanks for the post!

    I think it’s so important to pray and read the Bible together! Unfortunately that is a huge struggle in our marriage. My husband is a youth pastor but still refuses to pray with me. We have tried reading the Bible together but usually end up disagreeing and/or arguing, which obviously leaves us more drained than filled up. We have been married 3 years and are still pretty young, I see this as a really important practice and would love to learn how to change it. Any thoughts or suggestions?

  23. Yes, I agree having God first in each other’s life is top most important criterion. In addition, I reckon that the spiritual maturity of husband & wife must not to be too far apart. We may be both committed to God, able to pray together and talk about God, but if one party is lacking way behind in terms of spiritual growth in the Lord, it’s just not very satisfying in relating to one another. This wide gap in maturity will also translate into much disagreements in their day to day decision making.

  24. This is a very good article; thanks for the reminders :) But hey, this isn’t just for girls in their late teens or early twenties! My special lady is a bit older than that, and I certainly hope she’s well-considering all of these 😉

  25. Finding someone with #1 and #2 is directly related to being someone with #1 and #2. I get mystified when I hear about relationships in which the other person is just perfect–except that they’re not a Christian, or except that they’re just sort of a nominal Christian. If you can’t share the most important thing in your life with someone, why are you pursuing a lifelong relationship with them? Unless, perhaps, it isn’t really the most important thing in your life.

    I think, among women, this most often relates to the fantasy of being the woman who changed the bad boy for the better. Too many women with unsaved husbands are paying dearly for that fantasy.
    Keith Schooley recently posted…The Archie Bunker Effect; or, The Main Mistake Christians Make when Engaging with the WorldMy Profile

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