Thursday, June 9, 2011

What we look for in a spouse

How have men and women's requirements for a spouse changed over the last 70 years? Well, a 2010 study of this recently came to my attention, and its results are fascinating AND helpful for those seeking a mate.

The study of 3 generations of college-age singles was conducted by Dr. Christine B. Whelan at the University of Pittsburgh and Christie Boxer at the University of Iowa. Here are some highlights:
o Men rank a woman's intelligence #4 out of 10 top qualities they look for in a potential wife, above looks (#8). Women rank intelligence at #5.
o Both men and women highly value maturity and dependability, ranking it #3 on the list of desirable traits.
o Both sexes list sociability as #6 on their lists (showing that we all want a partner who'll actively participate in our social lives).
o Men seek women who are accomplished, interesting, supportive, and loving.
o Women seek men who are good partners, meaning they aspire to have a home and family and an egalitarian relationship with shared responsibilities.
o While men rank "a pleasing disposition" as #5 on their list, women rank it #7, indicating that women are more willing to deal with a spouse whose personality can be challenging at times (maybe they really DO love "bad boys"?)
o Both men and women agree that the most important reason to marry is for love.

I find this all very intriguing...certainly helpful information to pass onto singles in the dating world. would YOU rank these traits on YOUR list for a potential mate? Here are some of the traits the study participants ranked:
- Desire to have a home & raise children
- True love
- Emotional maturity/dependability
- Sociability
- Good looks/strong attraction
- Good health
- Good financial provider
- Ambition/industriousness
- Pleasing disposition
- Intelligence

If you're looking for love the 2nd time around, I'd love to hear how the traits you desire in a mate have changed in 20 or 30 years.

Another interesting point made in the article I read about this study: Though both men and women say they desire deep, passionate love, they're not sure how to make love last over the long term. The article's authors who teach a "Marriage Prep 101" workshop, say "We teach people that love is not just a feeling; it's also an action. Staying in love requires both partners to be intentional and proactive within their relationship."

This is definitely what I've experienced in my marriage. Occasionally, those passionate loving feelings are not as strong, and at those times I need to CHOOSE to love my husband. I need to DO things that will keep our connection strong and our feelings alive (such as "Mystery Dates", a focus on our commonalities, special words, loving cards, a backrub, or time carved out just for him). We need to take actions that make the other person feel loved, appreciated, and treasured each day. And we need to be totally present with each other...not just "two ships passing in the night" in the midst of our busy lives.

Most of all, we need to choose each other first, make special times together a priority, and not take our relationship for granted. Yes, it's a conscious effort every single day. But, because our marriage is the central, anchoring relationship in our lives, we think it's worth it. :-)