Oftentimes I think about advice that people should ask me for, but never do. These pleas for advisement, the ones they should ask me, I’ve always got really wise and life-changing answers for. The other advice questions, the ones they do ask me, I never really know how to answer. I just stand there dumb, feeling the gears grinding to a halt in my brain, wishing I had something smart to say.
So here’s a question that I would have a great answer for, should anyone ever choose to ask. How do I know whether this person I’m currently dating is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with? Here’s how I would answer that question as someone who’s been married for almost eight years (to one woman).
Here are the things you should factor in to this decision – in order of importance:
Character. Do you respect this person for their beliefs and values? Do you respect the way they live those beliefs and values out in their day to day lives? Do they have the same integrity no matter who they are with, or whether anyone is watching? Do they do what’s right, even when it’s difficult? Do they take moral shortcuts to make life easier? Do they treat people with respect? Their friends? Their family? Their neighbors? The checkout lady? Do they learn from their mistakes? Do they put themselves in the other person’s shoes? Do they have a good attitude most of the time?
Future. Do they want the same things you want out of life? Sometimes you know specifically what you want, and sometimes it’s just a general idea. Sometimes you just know where you don’t want to end up in life. Doesn’t matter, just so long as you are both basically on the same page. Sometimes it’s worth it to give up the future you thought you wanted for someone you didn’t expect. That’s cool, but you better know that going in and you better not let that become resentment later on. All in or get out quick.
Fun. This is where the chemistry kicks in, and once the potential spouse gets through the character test and the future test, this is definitely the next most important thing. I don’t care what anyone says. If you can have fun together most of the time, you’ve got a decent chance of making this thing work, no matter how hard it gets. If you’re ignoring this aspect of the relationship because the other parts work so well for you, there is a very miserable time in your future, ending in either divorce or death. Period.
Hotness. Okay, they’ve got such great character you would think they were the love child of Mother Teresa and Abraham Lincoln. They want to go build houses for poor people in Siberia just like you’ve always wanted to do. And you can’t be apart for more than six hours because life only comes in in black and white when you’re not together. Now, and only now, you can focus on attraction. And even then, if the first three things on this list are solid, and this person who you’re so into doesn’t repulse you to the point of dry heaving, I’d say you’re all set. We like to put physical attraction on a pedestal in our society, but the truth is, it’s just icing on the cake. And real beauty shows through from the inside. Every. Single. Time. I promise you.
There. For what it’s worth, there’s your checklist for an as-good-a-chance-as-you-are-going-to-have lifelong romance. It’s worked for me.