A college degree and financial stability win over romance.
Adult men and women rest on both sides of the fence when it comes to marrying for love or money. But as parents, what should we teach our kids are the right reasons?
I happen to think the phrase "marrying for money" is a bit simplistic and dismissive. Let’s be clear. There's a big difference between a "gold digger" and someone seeking out a partner whose priorities and finances in order.
When it comes to marriage, love isn’t always enough.
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that they're going to have good fatherly qualities, that they will treat you the way they should, or that they can provide for a family. I want my girls to beat the odds — but most importantly, if they choose to marry, I want them to have a happy marriage.
In the end, I can’t choose my daughters' future spouses. But what I can do is talk to them while they are under my roof about characteristics they should look for.
So what are the four characteristics that make up a good husband?
Essentially, the four attributes are: feelings, parenting, career/education and longevity. If my daughters can’t answer yes to all four questions, then I want them to know they're settling.
I know, I know. You’re thinking “Love shouldn’t be this complicated.” But it is. If it wasn’t, people would stay married and the divorce rate wouldn't be hanging around 40-50% for so long.
And in case some of you might have your weapons drawn after my statement about settling? I acknowledge that millions of people have different pie percentages from the one above, and that their marriages are flourishing. Relationships aren’t doomed to fail just because they don’t fit into my colorful and organized pie graph.
But as a general rule, statistics prove that marriages that fit into my pie graph have the best chance of working. And I want my daughters to have the best chance possible. So this graph is embedded in lining of the delicate tissues of their brain.
Here are five more questions I've drilled into them, to ask themselves regarding a potential life partner:
1. How does he make you feel?
Does he make you feel safe, respected, valued, needed and appreciated? Does he compliment you? Does he give you butterflies and daydreams? Do you feel smitten when you’re with him and smitten when you’re without him? Does he make you feel like you’re his best friend? If you answered yes to these questions, then your prospect is 25% of the way there. If you answered no, then they're settling.
2. Does he have daddy genes?
Whether or not my girls end up becoming moms is up to them, but since statistically most people have kids, I’m preparing them for these qualities in a man. Nature takes care of part of this: as mammals we look for partners we want to share our offspring with. But I’m not leaving it to nature alone. I talk to my daughters about characteristics that make good dads. I teach them to look for signs of patience and a moral compass. Most importantly, I teach them to look for a man who can put the needs of his family in front of himself.
3. Does he have a college degree and a strong work ethic?
Fact: College graduates have a 10 percent less chance of divorcing than non-college graduates. There are multiple factors that contribute to this statistic, but one is that if you have a degree, there are no guarantees, but you'll be less likely to suffer financial hardship. But a degree does nothing for a person who's lazy. I want my daughters to know that if they're with a person who doesn’t want to work, then they're settling.
4. Can you envision growing old together?
If you can see your partner standing by your side until death, then likely your partner has qualities such as responsibility, faith, good communication skills, maturity and honesty. It also means my daughters acknowledge and accept the flaws of their partner and that they're walking into the marriage knowing those flaws likely won’t change. Remember, it’s all about those statistics.
5. Is he looking for these qualities in a spouse, too?
Subsequently, the same men I think are good husband material for my daughters are looking for women with the same four qualities. I would hope men are asking the same four questions about their potential wife. Because of this, I am teaching my girls that men are just as picky. If they want the type of husband that I have taught them to, then they need to strive to meet all four requirements themselves.
I’m not sure my approach is perfect, but what parenting approach is? Parenting doesn’t always work out the way we think or hope it will, but we must still lay the groundwork and try. I don’t ever want to think, dear Lord, how could I have better prepared them?
This article was originally published at Heather Steiger's Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.