The Most Important Trait to Find in a Spouse

They're maddening mind games until you walk into that perfect house and just know. It's the same in relationships. There is no one thing. It's a set of looks and personality and compatibility that simply feels right. He may not be what you're looking for. But he'll be the one. And his single most important characteristic won't be what he has alone but what you share together.

"This is as close as you can get to a guarantee."
Dr. Sarah Stedman

The trait that instantly comes to mind embodies what is, for me, at the core of all goodness in human nature: integrity. Having that quality means that a person's outward behavior is a reflection of inner personal values. It means he will honor those values above all else, even when it would be easier to make other choices. A person with integrity also exemplifies qualities of faithfulness, loyalty, honesty and devotion — all essential to building a successful partnered relationship.

It has been my observation as a Celebrant that couples who embrace these fundamental characteristics in each other also manifest a deep level of trust and spirituality — about as close as you can get to a guarantee where marriage is concerned!

"Fasten your seat belts; it isn't pretty."
Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW

Okay, you romantics out there. Fasten your seat belts, 'cause it isn't pretty. Want to know what to look for in a man who'll be around for the long haul? It's his ability to deal constructively with the conflicts that will inevitably arise in your relationship. "Too mundane," you say? Well, here are the facts.

Research tells us that spouses in long-term, happy marriages are not soul mates; they have no more in common than those who divorce. However, veteran marrieds know how to effectively deal with their differences. Managing conflict over parenting styles, sex, money or household chores isn't easy. But the good news is it's a skill that can be learned. That's why couples are now taking relationship-skill-building classes in droves. So, if your hubby prospect is willing to learn what it takes to lovingly work through the hard times? Take heart. He's a keeper.

"Know which bones are worth picking."
Deb Perelman, aka Smitten

As a newlywed of 10 months who spends the majority of her time on cloud nine, I cannot believe these words are escaping my fingertips. And yet I'd be remiss if I didn't share with you this hair-pulling truth: You shouldn't settle for anything less than a man you can get in a good occasional scrap with. Why so negative, you ask? Have you seen those couples who don't fight? They're a scary lot, all clench-toothed and eyes narrowed when the other one leaves a dish out... again. And then there are those couples who battle all the time. They're miserable, and so is everyone around them.

A healthy, happy couple knows which bones are worth picking and when to pick them, and they always have an exit strategy. They take turns being the peacekeeper. They itch for the argument to pass. So forget tall, dark or handsome. A good temperament is what's really hard to find.


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