What Makes a Man Marriage Material

In Advice and Encouragement, Dating, For the Guys, For the Ladies, Marriage by Debra Fileta22 Comments

A few days ago, my husband wrote a post about the qualities that make a woman marriage material, and I wanted to write a follow up post from my female perspective.

When you talk about what makes a man “marriage material”, for most women, a whole host of traits come to mind. I remember making a list of 16 traits I was looking for in my future husband-to-be, and tucking them away in my journal. The list highlighted things I hoped about his faith, his prayer life, his ministry, his community, etc. But let’s be honest ladies, sometimes we’re FAR more superficial than that!

But as I reflect on my relationship with my husband John, there are a few things that I really want to share with all the women out there looking for a man, and all the men out here trying to become all that God has called them to be. Out of all the things I was on the lookout for, these are the things that absolutely nailed it when it came to recognizing “marriage material”:

Humility: There’s probably no bigger turn-off to a woman than a man who is full of himself. I remember going on a date with a guy who could talk about nothing other than himself (and seriously, I tried everything to change the subject). But the opposite of that, is a man who is humble. To say that the bible mentions humility as an important quality is quite an understatement. It’s mentioned constantly throughout scripture as a trait that is so close to Christ’s heart (Philippians 2).

When I met John, that was the first thing I noticed about him (that and the fact that he chose to wear long sleeves with shorts…but, whatever). Watching him interact with people, hearing him ask so many thoughtful questions, and seeing that he was more interested in getting to know people than simply talking about himself was the first sign that he was a humble guy. And it’s not because he didn’t have anything to be proud of. The truth of the matter is, at the time we met he was applying for med school and working at Harvard (a fact I didn’t even know until 2 months into our friendship) yet he never gloated about his life or accomplishments. He didn’t need to. True humility is when a person realizes they don’t need to talk up their life, because they’re actually living it.

There’s absolutely no room in marriage for pride, and that humble spirit is something that strengthens our marriage even today because he’s quick to listen, apologize, confess, and forgive. He’s quick to choose to put me first, and that quality in a husband is more priceless than I could have ever known.

Gentleness: Our society tends to wrongly stereotype this into being a “woman’s” trait. But believe it or not, gentleness is a key component for all believers in Christ, and is found all over Scripture. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, one thing I hear far too often from women is that they’re feeling burdened by the weight of their husband’s temper or anger issues. There is nothing more terrifying than feeling like you have to walk on eggshells because you don’t want your husband to blow up or you’re afraid to cause a scene. And sadly, this isn’t an uncommon problem even within the church.

To me, a gentle man is synonymous with strength, not weakness, because it’s a sign that he is in charge of his emotions and not the other way around. John was one of the most gentle guys I had ever met. In fact, his friends had even nicknamed him the “gentle giant”, and he truly lived up to that reputation.

Ladies, don’t make excuses for a man who yells, rages, or calls you names and lacks control of his emotions. This kind of man will only bring you down and snuff your spirit. Look for a man who will build you up, and shower you with love with his sweet and gentle heart.

Integrity: To me, a man of integrity boils down to someone in whom what you see is what you get. It’s a man who is honest and who is living the life he claims to be living even when no one is looking. We’ve all met guys who talk the talk, but when it comes down to it, there walk is a whole lot different.

I could tell that John was a man of integrity because his words always matched his actions. Whether dealing with me, or dealing with others, there was a consistency in how he lived his life and it was evidenced by the reputation he had with his family, his friends, and the people closest to him.

As I got to know him, I began to see traits of honesty, purity, and simply a desire to pursue righteousness in his life. He treated me with respect, and honored me in our interactions both physically and emotionally (which is definitely something I wasn’t used to seeing in a guy). And my favorite thing about this integrity, was that it had nothing to do with “winning” me, but everything to do with what God was doing in his life.

Now that we’ve been together for more than a decade, it’s that heart of integrity that I can call my home. Like I’ve said before, a man who has nothing to hide, becomes a safe place in which a woman can hide her heart. Because I can TRUST the work that God is doing in his life: John has been, and always will be, my safe place.

Ladies, don’t give in to the lies of society. A man who is marriage material is not defined by the size of his biceps, the size of his wallet, or his ability to flirt and charm. Marriage is for life, and at the end of the day the most important quality in a man is nothing less than the size of his heart.

When you find someone like that…marry him.

Read our entire love story, and learn how to create your own, by picking up a copy of my book, True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life! It’s a book that’s changing hearts and lives, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that!

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. Her newest relationship book is set to be released in the Summer of 2018! You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, reaching over 4 million people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!

Comments

  1. Hello Debra!

    I suppose wanted to reply mostly in request for encouragement, as I don’t disagree with what you’ve written. I am, however, in a struggle with my heart. You end with, “When you find someone like that…marry him.” Well, it’s a cute thing to say but not helpful, simple or rooted in truth for a single woman. A relationship takes two.
    I liked this guy who has become a good friend and there is every reason he would be a great guy to pursue a relationship with. But, I told him I was interested (after TONS of prayer and waiting for God’s timing, my friends even prayed too) and a few days later he said basically gave me the friend speech with a bit more cryptic undertones which I’m sure have something to do with his past relationships (his last girlfriend asked him out first, several times…eek.mess.). I was mostly relieved not to feel like I was sitting on a fence anymore. It was my heart’s decision to be interested in the first place, I didn’t want to be. I prayed for wisdom in his reply and accepted that this what God’s will. I moved on.
    My frustration is I still don’t feel I’ve completely let go and moved on. My head has, for sure, but there’s my heart I can’t control. I’m making the wisest choices I know how to make, but do I just have to sit here and feel this way? I know the answer is Jesus. I talk to him all the time. I guess what I should really be asking is, would you pray for me? For trust in God’s good plans for my life. He has worked out incredible things in my heart through this situation, teaching me to trust Him more even in the midst of not getting what I ask for. I trust him more than ever. Holding onto Jeremiah 29:11. I know that God might let me sit in my discomfort, but he will work all of it together for my good. Still, it’s uncomfortable!!
    I’d like to hear you write about the reasons a man should be the one to pursue a woman. I always get stuck liking a guy who’s a good friend that’s a little interested but not enough to ask me out. It’s exhausting. I’m determined not to keep ending up in that place. It seems the marriages around me all started with a man’s pursuit. I’m finally healthy enough not to settle for anything less-even if I break my own heart. Despite my feelings, I’m determined not to make the mistakes I’ve made in the past and trust God with everything I’ve got. I’m waiting for His timing, His plans, His move. Do you have any encouragement for someone who’s heart and head disagree in the midst of waiting on God?
    That would be a great topic, what to do when your head and your heart disagree and God just says “trust.”

    1. Author

      Leah!

      First of all you are so sweet….I can hear your heart through your words. I know how frustrating that role can be because I’ve been there myself. Before I met my husband, every relationship seemed to be a flop. The godly ones I was interested in, weren’t interested back….and the ones I wasn’t interested in seemed to be the only ones trying to get my attention. It was a discouraging place to be, and trying to find the balance of showing my interest, and allowing the man to “take the lead” was so confusing.

      But looking back, now that I’m married, what didn’t make sense before makes so much sense today. The seemingly great relationships that never came to fruition were for a reason…God had different…BETTER plans for me than I even had for myself.

      It’s hard to see that in the moment, and I think that’s okay….but just realize that you are absolutely right- a relationship must always be two ways.

      If you ask me who “initiated” the relationship I ended up having with John, I think it was a mutual initiation….and I don’t even think it matters who starts the relationship, what matters is that there is give-and-take the whole way through.

      I will definitely pray that God gives you eyes to see that He is good, that He is for you, and that He can be trusted….

      1. Thank you Debra! I deeply appreciate you taking the time to respond and encourage. I am encouraged! I continue to ask God to speak truth daily and remind me of His promise again. He is good, and I believe He has awesome plans for me. This is faith isn’t it? Knowing, but now knowing. Trusting.

        Thank you for your words and wisdom. And thank you for your prayers! I’ll be praying that the Lord helps me continue to live with my hands open, ready for His will over mine. In moments when I don’t think there’s a point to all this waiting on God I remember that one day my struggle might bless others and that makes it worth it. Reading YOUR story when you write, knowing that you can relate to the topics you address, makes such an impact on us as readers. That’s worth going the long way around for.

    2. Your words struck a cord with me Leah so please know someone else is now praying for you too xxx

      1. Taonga- Thank you so much dear sister in Jesus! <3 It is such a good thing to encourage one another.

    3. Hi Leah,

      I can so relate to your story in many ways, and I know those feelings so very well. Thankyou for sharing, and being vulnerable. It encourages me just to know I’m not alone in these things too! I guess if faith came easy, the results would not be as precious. Keep looking up! He really is the best thing, and He will give us the answers in the perfect timing.

  2. Those three points are good, but women are also looking for independence and confidence. If, for whatever reason, those two things aren’t there, they’ll be looking elsewhere for it.

  3. Guys feel the same way i must of asked out this girl at my church like three times and i got denied for no real good reason.

  4. Hi Deb!

    I’m an avid reader of your site and have found your post and book refreshing as I’m in my mid 30s and survived that whole ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ era. I was wondering if you had thought of creating a forum of some sort for the singles to mingle online? The reason I ask is I’ve tried online dating on and off for more years than I care to count, even Christian ones to no avail. Based on the comments I’ve read since coming to your site, it seems that the type of Christians who read your blog and/or comment are different (in a good way), than the ones I’ve encountered in my circle of people and online. Just a thought. 🙂

  5. Hi Debra,
    That’s wonderful that you found such a wonderful husband. Unfortunately, it’s not every day that women are meeting these men, even so called “Christian men.” Most everyone I talk to says they believe in God, that doesn’t mean they exemplify this in their daily lives. I know myself from trying daily to stay in Gods will that it’s easier said than done. So I think many single women’s frustration comes when your not meeting the type of men who exemplify these qualities that all of the relationship bloggers often speak about.

  6. So happy to see Gentleness mentioned in this article . It’s been on my “list” for years, but I rarely talk to other women who have it on their’s. Meekness/gentleness in the Bible refers to strength that’s submitted to the will of God, and that’s exactly what I hope to find in a man, as well as develop in myself. Thanks for this post 🙂

  7. Leah, I don’t know that I have any room to say anything about dating to those who have had to wait for as long as you, but I was married for 21 years to a man who lacked part of these qualities when we married. Over those years, God worked on his heart and by the time he died and went to see Jesus face-to-face, he had become the closest example of Christ living in a person that I had ever seen.

    I definitely didn’t want to be single with 4 children to raise on my own, and suddenly found myself in that position. I got on Christian Mingle and tried to meet people through online dating, but found exactly what you described AND men acting like my kids were a huge burden and no guy would want to take them and me on for life. Just before I got off CM, my husband-to-be started on CM, and to my surprise, God had already called him to pray for exactly who we were! He had all the qualities Deb talked about in this article and we mutually pursued each other. He had been through so much in his life that he really needed to see my interest and needed to be encouraged. We married in 2014 and are seeing our 2nd anniversary close on the horizon.

    All this to say, there is hope and there ARE good men out there and one of them will be the right one for you! If it can happen for me…twice…. It can happen for anyone! Praying for you today!

  8. Thank you so much for this! It’s so easy to compare your life/clothes/looks/boyfriend to others in today’s facebook-glitzy era, but your timely post reminds me that what’s godly is often counter-cultural and not easily seen.

  9. Aside from knowing the qualities you desire in a man, is it Okay to have a list he really has to complete? Like, he has to be all that you listed?

  10. Thanks Debra and everyone! The comments and article are encouraging and helpful. But I also have a question – what if you find a man like this and you’re not physically attracted to him?

    I totally agree that the character of a person is crucial in a life partner (something I find daunting and challenging when thinking about myself!) but surely it’s also important to find each other attractive too?

    Recently I have been swinging between beating myself up for being shallow for not starting a relationship because I don’t have those feelings, to telling myself it’s ok that something hasn’t worked out, that attraction is important and God wouldn’t want me to have anything less in a relationship.

    It’s hard to walk away from a potential relationship and also hard to try and manage a friendship – and to be wise!

    Any thoughts, Debra?

  11. Please pray over me, That i will truly find someone like that. God bless!

  12. I wholeheartedly agree with you on all those things. My dad and some of the other men in my family exemplify these qualities. I’m so blessed to have had men in my family with those very qualities you speak of. A big part of the root of the problem is that too often ladies (and men) seek, and look for, and end up falling for the wrong types of things and personality traits. Then people end up inevitably marrying the wrong types of people, because they got with them in the first place based on superficial reasons. The same qualities that Christ speaks of in the bible, are exactly the qualities we should seek in a mate.

  13. Well, there are probably a million things I could say on the topic but it is just never that simple. As humans we want someone who exhibit Christ-like traits and he/she must fit this idea of perfect that our vivid imaginations have created. Being a Christian is not enough because we do judge a book by its cover whether we want to admit it or not that’s why we say ‘I am just not attracted to her/him’. And if we are not attracted they can’t be right or some feel like they are ‘settling’. What does settle even mean? Settling for what? A scenario different to what you imagined? A godly man/woman but because of this or that he/she does not meet your criteria?
    The bottom line is we are so infected by society, media and what we think we want that we end up seeking a warped sense of perfection under the guise of ‘a godly man/woman’. …being godly is never enough (if we are being honest)!
    So, I implore you to remember that we don’t deserve a spouse or a happily ever after. We were not created to seek a spuse, ger married and birth children. This is all ‘a nice to have’ but we must be completed in Christ and be enough for ourselves without a spouse / boy- or girlfriend. If you can’t then you are seeking someone to complete you who can never. You want a fairytale because you think you derserve it or are entitled to it. May I ask why?
    Look at the high divorce rate (just among ‘christians’)…. just saying!
    Our main purpose for existing is to save souls/build God’s kingdom within our own respective areas of influence. God gave all of us gifts which we must use to rock our lives otherwise we will live in the shadow of our potential whilst being so fixated on a the pursuit of a spouse.
    Live your life, chase your dreams and dare impossible things.
    If you meet someone awsome then that’s awsome and if you don’t then that’s perfectly fine too! You are still a champion either way!

  14. Hi Debra, this is all so true. I can see all of these traits in the Christian men in my family and see these behaviours in their relationships with their wives. Seeing you mention gentleness as a desirable character trait reminds me of what my aunt and uncle have always said – “Men are always told that they need to let their prospective partner see their ‘feminine side’. Men don’t have feminine sides. Don’t think that doesn’t mean that you can’t be loving, gentle, caring, or sensitive.”

  15. Help me believe there is hope. I am the ” man version if Leah” I was picked on EHarmony, Bonded likely too quickly and evently given the ” let’s be friends scenario” Lord Jesus help us all

  16. There needs to be a distinction between necessary conditions and sufficient conditions for a man to be considered marriage material. Telling women not to consider looks, athleticism, money, power and status (LAMPS) and, instead, to consider humility, gentleness and integrity is confusing the necessary conditions with the sufficient and confusing the qualities of attraction and the qualities of long-term compatibility.

    Attraction is a necessary condition for women to desire marrying a man. Telling her to sacrifice LAMPS in favor of moral or spiritual qualities is futile. Most women would prefer to stay single and frustrated rather than marry a man they are not attracted to. There is a saying “you can’t negotiate desire.” It means that, no matter what you say, men and women like what they like. If a man has enough of the sexually attractive features a woman is looking for, the stuff you mention then becomes important for the long term.

    The reason is that marriage is not just a great friendship. It is a lifetime of having sex with one person. If a women isn’t getting the tingles at the outset, all the humility, gentleness and integrity isn’t going to matter.

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