3 Ways To Know If He Is Marriage Material - How To Win a Man's Heart

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August 9, 2014

3 Ways To Know If He Is Marriage Material

Chances are if you are wondering if the man you are with is marriage material, then you are in love.  What a beautiful state of being, love is.  It can sweep you off your feet, open your eyes to thoughts and feelings you never knew, invite you to experience a world of possibility that you didn’t know existed before.

Now you’ve been in love long enough that you’re thinking of taking it to another level of commitment.  It is time to think about marriage.  Congratulations.  It is not every day you meet someone you’re considering marrying.  It takes time to develop the relationship, get to know each other, and have enough love, respect, and faith in the other person to even consider taking that next step.

A List of Desirable & Undesirable Traits

You’ve probably already done this a few times.  For this sake of this exercise, do it one more time.  Make a list of desirable and undesirable traits you find in your partner.  You want to get a handle on what you value in him as a man, a potential husband, and the father of your children.

If your relationship has gotten this far, I am going to assume that there is plenty of good stuff happening that is keeping you in the relationship.  Only you know the quality of that which moves you in your relationship, and I am not going to doubt you.  The green flags are your department.  You know what you love about your man and your relationship.

Allowing yourself to see and evaluate the red flags is the focus of this article.  After all, building confidence in your next step is very much about embracing that which is good — and mindfully accessing that which is not so good.  These red flags are the areas in which we are much more likely to close our eyes, not want to see what is right before us, because we value our relationship so much.  And yet these red flags are critical to examine when you are deciding whether this is the man for you to marry.

There are three ways to know if he is marriage material.

  1. The first is to allow yourself to know what is in your head and heart, taking into account thoughts, feelings, and experiences with your partner and your relationship.
  2. The second is to reflect on and assess the history of your relationship and experiences together.
  3. The third is to focus on the future, discussing the more intimate details of what life together might look like for the two of you, synchronizing your values and behavior, and discovering any non-negotiables that may exist.

As with anything, take the information here as a guide.  It is an offering.  How it applies — and applying it — will vary according to you, your relationship, and individual circumstances.

Your Head & Heart

You have a lot of information in your own head and heart that will tell you if your man is the right man for you.  Let’s start with your level of comfort and confidence about the relationship and the man you’re thinking of marrying.  This may be uncomfortable to read.  Stay with it.  Allow yourself to see if there are any red flags here that are relevant to your relationship.  Remember, there is no right and wrong.  You are simply gathering information about how you really feel.

  • Have you been tempted to break up with him, but convinced yourself to stay in the relationship for some reason or another?   There are a whole host of reasons why people choose to stay in a relationship.  You have to decide what this means for you.  Suppose you had a single thought or set of thoughts that you mindfully worked through with yourself and your partner some time ago.  You decided to stick and out, and you haven’t regretted it for a moment.  That’s one thing and may be a mark of healthy growth rather than unhealthy commitment.

If you wonder if you should break up fairly routinely and recently, then something is telling you that you need more time, space, and growing before you make a commitment to marriage.  This is not about whether he is marriage material or whether he is marriage material for you.

  • Have you stayed with him because you are scared to break up?  Be honest with yourself.  A lot about knowing if he is marriage material is knowing — I mean really, truly knowing — that you want to be with him.  That you want to be with him; not because you’re afraid of anything else; afraid of being single again, afraid you’ll never find a partner, afraid you’ll disappoint your family, afraid of losing your best friend.
  • Can you say, “I love him and want to marry him,” without any squeamishness or self-consciousness.  If you can’t, it is time to take a good hard look at what you’re holding on to.   In my work, I find people may hold on to a relationship in order to avoid something else, which usually has to do with individual growth.  Take the time and get help to figure out what you may be avoiding and what is standing in the way.  I strongly encourage you to do this before you make a commitment to marriage.
  • Do you love him, but you’re just not 100% ready right to get married right now?  Fair enough.  So what is keeping you from saying so and sticking with it?

Your Relationship History

Your relationship has a history.  It is full of information about whether this man is marriage material.  Allow yourself to take a careful look and make an honest assessment.

  • Is he trustworthy?  If you answered anything but “Yes,” then you have an issue to take a look at, probably with the assistance of a therapist.  In my experience, lying is one of the hardest habits to break and one of the most damaging to a relationship.  It is not uncommon for someone to say to me, “You know what’s weird?  He lies about the small stuff that doesn’t even matter.”

If lying or lying by any other name (distorting, omitting, hiding) is in your relationship, be honest with yourself.  Is this a behavior you want to live with for the rest of your life?  A lasting relationship is built on a foundation of consistent honesty.  Anything less is headed for trouble.

  • Has there been infidelity in your relationship?  When there is betrayal, of any kind, there has to be swift, firm, and unequivocal steps on the part of the betrayer to make amends and to learn about himself so he will know how to address and remediate the situation so that it never happens again.  Anything short of that, you asking him to get help, begging him to change, sweeping it under the carpet because ‘it’s so good when it’s good,’ is less than what you deserve from a man who is marriage material.

If you have been unfaithful, that, too, is a sign that something is not right in your relationship.  It is not time to be thinking about getting married.  It is time for therapy, stepping back , evaluating what you have in this relationship and what you want.  The person you marry deserves honesty from you, too.

  • Have there been any issues of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse?  People who perpetuate abuse on others will only change when they decide that they have a problem and they want to change.  In spite of the abuse, partners of people who abuse feel sorry for the abuser, feel fear and respect for the abuser, feel extreme doubt in their own abilities or that they can have or deserve better treatment.  This is one of those critical times to NOT make excuses for your partner’s behavior.  If you are being abused, marriage will NOT make it better.  It is time to GET OUT of that relationship.

If you are in an abusive relationship, I strongly encourage you to seek the help of a therapist immediately to help you through this situation

  • Does your partner (or you) have any addictions?  If there is an addiction, a person who is marriage material will have taken responsibility for their addiction and actively sought treatment for them.  Action, persistence, sobriety, and support are critical for the man who is marriage material.   A person who is actively and presently manifesting his addiction to anything:  porn, alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc., is not marriage material at this time.

If your partner says he will never look at porn again, but then does or promises to get help, but doesn’t, he is showing you that his behavior choices are out-of-synch with his stated values.   For a man to be marriage material, you should be confident that his behavior choices and his stated values match up.  When they don’t, he is not yet marriage material.

  • Do you feel proud or embarrassed by him when you are out in public?  Sometimes we put up with things in private that make us cringe when we’re in public.  If you feel self-conscious or embarrassed by him in public situations, have a talk with yourself.  What kind of person would you like by your side in public?  Who we choose to have by our side tells something about ourselves.  Consider the  kind of person you want to be and how does having him by your side impact who you present as yourself.
  • Is his public self integrated with his private self?  Would the people who know your man publicly believe who he is in private?  People who suffer abuse at home often reflect that their friends would never believe how he is at home.  If there is a discrepancy between his private and public persona, it is important to pay attention.
  • Does being with him bring out the best in you?  Do you find yourself being petulant, self-demeaning, critical, overly controlling, competitive, negative, or feeling very low in self-esteem when you are with your partner?  These are signs that your relationship could use some support.   It doesn’t mean that he isn’t marriage material, but it does mean your relationship is not ready for marriage.   It is a good idea to get some help for your relationship — or for you — before you venture into that decision.
  • Did he rescue you?  Or did you rescue him?  Falling in love with the person who loved you through a difficult time in your life is common, but it doesn’t always make for the foundation of a healthy relationship.  Remember that what brought you together was an imbalance in functioning, self-esteem, and healthy life balance.  Sometimes the relationship that begins in imbalance struggles when the rescued partner becomes healthy.  Again, this doesn’t mean that your man isn’t marriage material.  It just means that it is important to understand the dynamics of your relationship.  Are you still a good fit when both people are healthy and happy?
  • Do you have shared interests and interests apart from each other?  It is a good idea to have shared interests to pursue together and have unique interests you can pursue separately. Your interests will grow and evolve over time, and chances are you’ll have to adjust, but it is a good starting point.
  • Can you communicate through conflict to a better level of understanding, love, and respect?  This is critical.  When you are in conflict, can you communicate to a better understanding with love and respect?  If you can’t, it is doesn’t mean he isn’t marriage material.  It does mean, however, that this is an issue to thoroughly address before you commit to marriage.  Get help so that you have a healthy solid working model for resolving conflicts.   You will need it for a lifetime together.

Your Values & Non-Negotiables

It is important to address life values and non-negotiables in order to determine if your man is marriage material for you.  Critical discussions are ones having to do with how you want to live your life as a married couple, as a family, and into the future.  It also involves a deep look at your values and the choices you make to reflect your values.  There really isn’t any right or wrong here.  It is an opportunity for you two to see how you think alike, how you think differently, where the critical differences are, and if they are negotiable or not.

The red flags are the non-negotiables and situations in which the stated value is at odds with the actual behavior.  Again, it does not mean that he is not marriage material.  It does mean you have an issue to talk through.

Following are some questions to discuss with your partner.

  • What is your perspective on and how would you want to deal with finances, financial decisions, individual and shared finances, savings, and debt?
  • Who is your model for an ideal husband and father?
  • What do you see your role/responsibility as a husband/father?
  • What do you anticipate will be some problems you have in achieving your model of husband/father?
  • How will you get space for yourself?
  • What do you think we’d have to do to keep our marriage healthy through the years?
  • What role do you see spirituality or religion playing in our marriage?
  • What kind of role do you want the in-laws to have in our marriage and family?
  • How do you imagine we’d resolve conflicts that involve in-laws?
  • Do you want children?
  • In what religion, if any, do you want to raise your children?
  • What kind of parenting style do you believe in?
  • What kind of life-style do you want with and without children?
  • What kind of family traditions would you like to have?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • How do you want to handle if one of your jobs require travel?
  • What is your perspective on individual time and individual hobbies?
  • What kind of home/household do you want to have?
  • How do you foresee sharing household chores?
  • If there are past addictions, what are the expectations for a life together?
  • How do you see sex evolving as the relationship evolves?
  • If there is a conflict in our sex life, how would you want to resolve it?
  • What is your perspective on therapy and getting help for your marriage?
  • What values do you want your lifestyle to reflect about you?

As you go through these questions, determine which are important and negotiable and which are important and non-negotiable.  Through discussion, try to imagine life down the road and into the future.

Embrace this opportunity to get to know yourself and each other better.  Marriage is not a small decision.  Take the time you need to feel confident that you’re making the decision that is right for you.

About the author

Lauren Trecosta

Lauren Trecosta, LPC, is the Counselor on the Road who provides accessible and affordable counseling to couples who want a better relationship.  She offers courses, an advice column, on-line individual and couples counseling, and small group work.

To know more about Lauren, visit her website, www.CounselingBreakthrough.com.