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).
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.
But 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!