If you're thinking about spending your life with someone, there are a few qualities your husband or partner should have. Unfortunately, a six pack and cool tattoos are not some of them. (I've tested this, and it doesn't necessarily make for a successful relationship.)
A long-term commitment requires work. There are joint bank accounts to think of. Potentially crazy in-laws. Within a lifetime, someone might get sick. Maybe you'll have kids.
While relationships should be fun and flirty, they're also serious and require major work.
Dr. Gary Brown, a licensed marriage and family therapist, offers his thoughts about these six qualities your forever person needs to have that you probably never thought of.
He should operate well under pressure.
I'm not saying you should put your prospective partner through a series of tests to see how he handles tough situations. (Although, hmm... that's not a bad idea.) But you do need a guy who doesn't buckle under pressure.
Everyone deals with a little bit of anxiety, but when you're looking for a life partner, you want someone who can help solve problems, not create them.
"One of the things you always want to know is that you have a partner who, no matter how good your relationship is now, there are going to be certain storms in life. And you want to be able to be with somebody who works well under pressure," Dr. Brown says.
So see how your guy reacts to different situations: traffic jams, delayed flights, wrong orders at restaurants. It's a good indicator of how he might act for life's bigger problems.
He loves himself.
My spiritual guru RuPaul always says, "If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
A healthy relationship involves two complete, whole people coming together. In order to have a good relationship, your partner has to be emotionally secure and love himself.
"You don't want to wind up with somebody who is what we call an 'emotional black hole' who sucks the life out of you," Dr. Brown says.
But you also don't want a narcissist.
You also want to be with somebody who really is comfortable with their own emotional vulnerability so that you can have a connection with them. I think you want somebody who is comfortable enough with themselves overall, but also is open and vulnerable, which is good for you and it's good for them, because it enhances communication.
He is busy, and he wants you to be busy.
The most important part of any relationship is that you both feel free. If you feel controlled or suffocated, you'll just end up being resentful of your partner, and often, the lust and attraction you once shared for one another will disappear.
Dr. Brown notes, "You don't really want to marry your clone. You really want to have somebody who has interests other than yourself, in addition to interests that you share. And the reason for that is, that way, you each bring in something new to the relationship."
While a partner with a busy, full schedule might seem intimidating, it's actually a sign of a fully developed, healthy person who knows good boundaries and lives a balanced life. They're able to hang out with their friends and have their own hobbies because they are confident in your relationship and know you're not going anywhere.
He clips coupons.
Or he at least knows his way around Groupon.
"[Being responsible about money] is really important because it really will tell you a lot about the person's maturity. Are they driven by impulsive spending? Are they shopaholics? Or do they tend to be a little bit more conservative?" Dr. Brown says.
Going to have kids in the future? Things like braces, summer camp, extracurricular activities, and schooling add up. Rent can get expensive, and let's not even talk about buying a home.
While being "cheap" during the dating stage can sometimes be seen as a turn-off, being thrifty in the long run is actually an asset to any relationship.
"That may have a lot to do with your financial future later on in life. You want to have a partner who really is responsible with money because that way, it'll help you both take care of your own future security needs," he adds.
So instead of being pissed that your guy doesn't want to go to that pricey restaurant or go on luxurious vacations, realize you might've found good husband material instead.
He'll hold your hair back when you're sick.
You know when you're nine months pregnant, farting everywhere, and throwing up every few mornings? Marry a guy who will find that sexy and who will bring you your favorite foods when you just can't get out of bed.
Life has a lot of ups and downs that we can't account for. You want someone who will stick by your side in sickness and in health.
Dr. Brown explains,
If somebody can hang with you while you're hurling, that's probably a pretty good sign. If you're on a first date, and all of a sudden, you spike a 103-degree fever, if they say, 'Oh, it's OK, you'll be over it in the morning' — NO. If they say, 'You have a fever of 103 degrees. We're going to urgent care. I want to make sure you're taken care of,' that's what I would be looking for.
He is on your team.
In a relationship, you're going to grow and change. It's important that you and your partner are on the same team, so that you grow and change together.
In addition to being on the same team, values also matter. Dr. Brown says,
Whether it's that we value marriage, we value family, we value service to the community, we value the arts — whatever those things are that you value in terms of ways to live in the world — it's important to have common values like that ... You need to at least share the basic common goals.
Fights happen, and disagreements occur. You're going to want different things. You'll want to go left when your husband insists on going right. But it's important that you both have a common goal in mind — your relationship — so that you remain on the same team.
So while you might initially get into a relationship because of surface things, like looks, lust, or his profession, it's important to see past those things when you're thinking long term. Brown poses some questions:
Do you both value emotional connection? Do you both value doing whatever you can to expand your love? Do you both value the fact that you want your relationship to grow, not just to be a static entity?
So that coupon-clipping guy who still likes you when you're sick with the flu might be Mr. Right instead.