How do I know if a man is worth developing a relationship with? How do I know if he has the character to be a good husband? Well, here are my top six ways to know if a guy is worth it.
Note: I hesitated to post this, because of the fear that people would mistake it as a "This is my laundry list of qualifications for my future husband," which is not at all the intent. I wrote it--and now share it--because I think my thought processes here have some value for the young woman who seeks guidance in these matters and wants to set her standards responsibly.
#1. He loves God more than he loves me.
Only a man who is truly submitted to his True Leader knows how to lead his wife well. Only a man who is fully committed to God's love can give a divinely-empowered love to his wife. And only a man who is willing to fight and suffer for truth will be willing to fight and suffer for his wife.
Some guys seem really spiritual at the beginning, but the fruit of their actions will determine if they truly exemplify Christ-likeness. Does he make me want to commit more fully to God? Does his presence in my life encourage godly attitudes and edification? Does he spur me to deeper understandings of the Word of God and to more Christ-like interaction with others?
A man may be godly and love very deeply, but the moment that he places his relationship with me above his relationship with God, he has repeated Adam's fatal mistake, and it will go just as badly for he and I as it did for Adam and Eve. A man must lead his wife in truth, even if she tempts him to compromise.
#2. He takes responsibility in the relationship.
A good and godly man takes responsibility for the relationship, even during the courtship or dating phase. If he and I have agreed on certain physical boundaries, he should be the most vigilant of us to follow and enforce them, especially if he has a weakness in this area. If my parents have imposed a curfew for our chaperoned outings, he should be careful to respect the time.
This is not to say that I have no responsibilities--far from it! But God's order places man as the leader in his family, and if he does not lead in the areas of trustworthiness and responsibility, then he will not lead as he should in other areas as well, and that lays down an unstable foundation for a relationship in which his leadership sets the tone.
#3. He holds himself and me accountable.
A guy who cares about me is a man who will not let me get away with anything that would be detrimental to my relationships, my finances, my health, and my spiritual life. If he sees me making poor financial decisions, I expect him to point out better uses of my money. If he sees me running myself ragged, I expect him to help keep me to a schedule that is good for me. If he sees some spiritual holes in my life, I expect him to unpack the Scriptures and give me deeper understanding.
A guy who is afraid to offend me is not ready to lead courageously. On the other hand, a guy with the tact of Donald Trump will not be a servant leader. A Christ-like man cares enough to speak, and to speak in such a way as to strengthen me overall.
#4. He encourages me to have strong relationships.
There's something super insecure about a guy who wants me all to himself, and is jealous of my relationships with my family and close friends. Certainly, the husband/wife relationship must take priority, but my man should acknowledge that he isn't my everything. He is my spiritual leader, my protector, my provider, and the love of my life, but he cannot fill every square inch of my heart. My parents know me in a way he will never know me, and my siblings, up until now, have a much longer and more involved history with me than he does. My friends have been my supports and encouragement for my whole life. These are the people who have been there for me when my man did not yet know me.
One man can't replace all that. He should take priority position--I'm not arguing that--and, as my husband, he should know me in a way that no one else knows me. But he should also respect everything that my family and friends have been to me over the years, and everything they should continue to be to me in the years to come. Given that these are the people who will support this marriage, he should be active in helping me to maintain appropriate, mutually edifying relationships with them.
#5. He encourages our relationship to be other-centered.
To me, it's a sign of an insecure relationship when a couple frustrates everyone around them by behaving exclusively. Public displays of affection do not make others feel valued or included, and when the dating/courting couple's plans must take precedence and everyone else can just forget their own plans, that sets a precedent for selfishness that does not bode well for the marriage.
When I see a couple that deliberately takes time to visit an elderly person or help with a project or make themselves available for some ministry, I recognize true stability in them. If I ever get a phone call from my man that he's late to see me because he felt it was important to finish helping his father roof the house before winter, I would not be offended. (If it became a habit to put me off, I might be, but showing genuine concern for others is, to me, a sign of good things.) If he wanted to take my brother fishing with him, I would not lament the fact that he wasn't taking me out to a restaurant instead; I'd be so thrilled that he wanted to be part of my family life! If, every so often, our "dates" consisted of raking leaves in the yard of an elderly widow, I would be happy to help.
Good relationships do not frustrate those around them, but instead build up and encourage others who watch and interact with the couple. And, again, the man should take the lead in making the relationship others-based, instead of self-based.
#6. He has his own life and pursuits.
If I feel that I am a man's everything, I'll be concerned that he is placing his hope in the wrong place. I cannot possibly understand him all the time, join in his activities all the time, or fulfill his emotional needs all the time.
A man with a healthy outlook has friends and activities that he enjoys outside of my relationship with him. If he wants to go hiking with the boys, I'd be glad to let him go. (Though when it comes to hiking, I'd probably want to go too!) If he is going through a rough time, I won't feel displaced if he wanted to talk to a trusted buddy about his struggles too. If he finds it therapeutic to go for long runs by himself, I don't see the need to intrude.
A man with a mission in life is remarkable. I'm not close-minded enough to believe that a man must work three decades for the same company to be considered "a man with a mission," but I'm also not all that impressed with the sort of man who shows little gumption to pursue a course, to learn as much as he can, and to master some kind of skill or niche. A man's work ethic and drive in his every day life tells me something about the sort of work and drive he will put into a relationship with me.
What do you think? What would you add to this list?
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.