Like many young women sitting in Sunday School, I felt a sense of giddiness when we were instructed to think of the qualities we wanted most in a future spouse. You likely remember the lesson. We giggled and planned and made commitments to dating within our standards and finding a spouse that would help lead us to God. I was oblivious in so many innocent ways. For years, I kept that list. It went through a few revisions over the years, but largely remained the same.
However, as I’ve gotten older, I realized how superfluous much of my list was. Over time, I found it growing shorter and shorter. Looking back, I don’t think the things on that list were bad or misguided. I just know more now; as I continue my search for an eternal companion I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the amendments I’ve made to the list with the help of the Spirit and experience.
So if you’re a woman in the same spot as I am, wondering what may really matter in the end, or if you’re a man wanting a peek inside the mind of an average Mormon girl, this is for you.
He’ll be as committed to the gospel journey as I am.
In the Church, we sometimes use vague qualifiers to determine faithfulness. For example, it is easy to write down “returned missionary” or “temple recommend holder” when thinking of a future spouse. However, there are returned missionaries who don’t live gospel standards and temple recommend holders that don’t ever make the time to go.
No matter his past, a faithful man is presently committed to living the gospel with fervor. He recognizes the road to eternal joy is a long one and is prepared to walk it in faith, notwithstanding both our weaknesses and trials. Our shared faith will be measured by the changing of our hearts, not in constantly shifting external validators.
He’ll be without guile.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said that he is “far more impressed by those wonderful and blessed souls who are truly good and without guile.” We should all be impressed by this as well.
Guile is defined as having a cunning intelligence or being sly. In the scriptures, it is often used to described someone who isn’t genuine and seeks to get gain through duplicity. A man without guile has no ulterior motives. He doesn’t feel the need to put others down or change his personality around different groups of people. He doesn’t seek to manipulate others or try to be something he isn’t to gain attention. He expresses love and interest purely and simply.
He’ll be slow to anger.
In society at large we often find romanticized examples of extreme masculinity, which promotes aggressive, dominant behavior. At first, a bit of protectiveness can be appreciated. On the other end of the scale, however, are some scary statistics.
Staggeringly, one in three women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Domestic violence is also the leading cause of injury for women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States. For any man, the idea of his wife or child being abused should make him sick.
Christ didn’t tell us to be meaner, tougher, stronger. He told us to be meek and as a little child. A righteous husband isn’t easily angered or offended. He strives to convey when he is upset in a way that opens up effective communication. While troubles will need to be worked through, contention will be avoided.
He’ll provide emotional safety.
Avoiding contention is just one piece of the puzzle. Emotional safety is paramount for building trust and vulnerability in a relationship. You should feel completely safe sharing your thoughts, dreams, feelings, and fears with your significant other without facing reprisal or judgement. You won’t fear he’ll leave if you share something that makes you feel ashamed or “difficult.”
He will respect you and treat you with dignity. He won’t speak unkindly about you to others and will avoid insulting you in public, even in jest.
He’ll be interested.
A lot of people think that in order to be compatible, you need to share similar interests. While finding mutual activities can be a great way to strengthen a relationship, it is more important to be interested.
Being interested doesn’t mean he’ll try to love everything you love or enjoy everything you enjoy. It does mean he’ll be open to new experiences. He’ll be willing to learn more about what is important to you. Most of all, he’ll simply be interested because he is interested in you. You won’t have to compete for his attention when you’re with him or fight to have him spend time with you.
He won’t be a battle I have to win.
Maybe it is a mix of our strong desires and recent studies that show Mormons are in a modern dating crisis, but many single LDS women feel they have to fight five other girls for someone they are interested in.
Sure, it is important to make your interests known and strive to build relationships with others. We need to put our best foot forwards and make an effort. However, if I sense a lengthy battle looming for your heart, it tells me you’re not really that interested. This is especially true if I notice I start to question my standards, my looks, my self-worth.
You’ll want to get to know me. You’ll be confident in letting me know. You won’t string me along and you’ll make your intentions clear. We’ll be excited to express our shared interest in one another and explore a deeper, more fulfilling relationship.
What things have you realized are most essential when looking for a spouse?