In decades past this quality was ranked much lower, indicating that we all want a spouse who’ll participate with us actively in our social lives.
Both genders value “good health” in a potential spouse.
Women used to rank “good financial prospect/provider” very highly when considering potential husbands; now it’s fallen to #10 on their list because they expect to co-provide for the household financially.
Women also used to rank “ambition and industriousness” very highly, but now those qualities have fallen to #8 on their list because, again, women these days have ambitions of their own and don’t need to rely so heavily on their husbands.
“Today’s couples want more egalitarian relationships,” says Gannon. “Since many women want to have their own education, a career, marriage and a family, choosing someone who is a good partner, in the truest sense of the word, has never been more important. It is wise for women to choose men who truly aspire to having a home and children, who are emotionally mature and dependable — because high-functioning marriages and families don’t just happen on their own.”
In the “not surprising” category of the study results:
Men currently place an even higher premium on attractiveness than they did during Don Draper’s heyday. In 1956, good looks ranked at #15 on their list of women’s desirable qualities. In 2010, looks have risen to the #8 position — perhaps because we’re bombarded daily with media images of beautiful women? For the ladies, a man’s physical attractiveness didn’t even make it into their top 10 list; “good looks” can be found in the #12 spot when ranking a man’s desirability.
Apparently, women really do love bad boys: Men rank having a “pleasing disposition” higher on their list (#5) than women do (#7), indicating that women are more willing to deal with a spouse whose personality can be somewhat challenging at times.
And now, for the best news gleaned from this survey: both men and women agree that the most important reason to marry someone now is for love. When reviewing their lists, both sexes put “mutual love and attraction” in the #1 spot. If you think this choice seems obvious, consider the same answers from 1939 — when women ranked “love” at #5 on their list of reasons to marry! Nowadays, women don’t need husbands to act as their providers; when they marry, it’s because they’ve found a soul mate. And until recent decades, men placed true love at #4 on their priority list — behind dependability, stability and generally being “nice” (all qualities that one might find in, say, a major appliance).
“In our Marriage Prep 101 workshops, we see that both men and women desire deep, passionate love,” says Gannon. “The trick with today’s marriages is making that love last long-term. 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 withi