8 Signs The Person You're Dating Is 'Marriage Material'

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kissing couple

Dating can be an exciting part of single life. There are all those enticing elements that keep you curious, connected, active, and hopeful.

But for marriage-minded people, dating is more purposeful than it is for those without an end goal of getting married.

If you have marriage in mind, you know that dating can sometimes get stressful. You are, after all, always wondering if your date is marriage material.

Knowing which signs to look for will tell you if someone is ready to get married and will help you spend more time enjoying your dates together, secure that you can trust your head, as well as your heart.

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The qualities you should look for in someone are all about that person’s character, personality, and core values. They assume that you and the person you're dating find each other attractive while recognizing that looks shouldn't be the defining criteria when deciding who to marry.

Infatuation can confuse the mind and your ability to make good decisions. Though it is a normal and necessary phase of dating, and we wouldn’t continue as a species without it, it’s also important to be able to discern those qualities that makes someone marriage material from those that make them just a fun date.

Why does infatuation make it so difficult to judge a relationship's long-term potential with someone new?

For one thing, cortisol levels increase while serotonin levels decrease during this stage of romantic relationships. This means the body is in a stressed state, which makes sense. After all, both of you are worried about being your best and catching the other person's attention. It’s ‘Mating 101’.

Serotonin, the feel-good hormone, doesn’t start flowing normally again until a relationship has been established and becomes comfortable. In the meantime, it's important to keep yourself focused on what's truly important in the long run.

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Here are 8 important signs that indicate a person is marriage material:

1. They're emotionally mature and available

These qualities are huge and, in many ways, encompass most of the others that will follow on this list. In order to have a truly intimate relationship with someone, there has to be emotional maturity and availability on both sides.

Is your date able to access their emotions without trying to avoid them or cover them up? Are they able to communicate their feelings in a responsible manner, owning them and not blaming others?

A person who is comfortable with their own feelings — as well as with sharing them — has the foundation for empathy, which is essential to any emotionally intimate and balanced relationship. They need to want to be in a relationship and possess the desire to connect with another person. I call this wanting to be in an “us” and not just a “me” focused relationship.

2. Their core values align with yours

A big part of becoming mature (and not just becoming an adult) is defining your core values in regard to relationships. Those people who are grounded in their lives tell you in their words and actions who they are and what they stand for. Their lives align with their values.

In terms of dating with the goal of marriage, it’s important that your core relationship values align with your partner's. There will always be shades of difference, but you don’t want to live in a house divided. For example, if you desire an equal partnership and your partner wants a traditional relationship where the man makes the decisions, then you know this won’t work out in the end for either of you.

Essential values might include religious beliefs, how other people and animals deserve to be treated, self-care, views on work-life balance, and how finances should be handled.

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3. They share similar life goals

Your life goals will most likely reflect your core values. And, just like your values, your life goals need to be reasonably well in sync with your partner’s.

Talking through key topics like children, work-life balance, where and when you want to retire and the differences that you'd like to make in the world might top the list. Is your partner supportive of your life goals? Would you support your partner’s own dreams?

Marriage-minded singles are not afraid to express their intentions of finding a spouse. You need to be willing to put a stake in the sand.

4. They possess reasonable and effective conflict-resolution skills

This is a critical area when determining if the person you're dating is marriage material.

You may not think conflict will ever be possible with this person when you're still in the early stages of dating, but it’s a guarantee in any relationship, romantic or not. How a person responds or reacts to conflict speaks volumes about their suitability as a lifelong mate.

As much as no one likes the idea of fighting, it’s important to learn early on how your partner handles themselves during fights. It’s also important to learn how you fight together, and how your fighting styles affect one another. Some people quickly go on the offensive, while others run away to avoid conflict. Which patterns do each of you display? Can you sit down and work out your differences in a calm, respectful manner?

Someone who is committed to finding healthy ways to resolve conflict is likely to be open to getting support when necessary. Couples and/or individual therapy isn’t an insult, but an empowering tool for sustaining healthy relationships.

If your date is marriage material, the two of you will approach conflicts as a productive opportunity to grow as a couple.

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5. They show consistency and follow through on promises

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you count on this person?
  • If they say they are going to be somewhere, do they show up ... and on time?
  • Can you count on constancy in their treatment of you and of other people?
  • Are they cool under pressure or in conflict, or do they fly off the handle?
  • Do they take small responsibilities as seriously as they do the big ones?

A marriage-minded person will want to be someone on whom you can fully rely. This is about dependability, and dependability is rooted in strong character. When a person can be trusted with little things, you can confidently inch your way into trusting them with bigger things — like your life.

6. They are supportive of your personal goals

You may share core values and life goals, but you’re still individuals with personal goals that reflect each of your unique gifts and priorities.

Someone who believes in you shows up in subtle ways, not just for paychecks or award ceremonies, and they make no room for jealousy or competitiveness in your relationship. This means they will be willing to do things like taking on extra responsibilities on the home front so you can chair an important charity event, keep the coffee pot full when you’re working late, and tell you how much they admire and believe in you.

All of these are green lights that someone could be the one and is ready to get married.

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7. They have a healthy sense of humor

Laughter is important in marriage. So much so that, as American essayist Agnes Repplier wrote, “We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.”

What’s important to look for isn’t a “hardy-har-har” jokester, but someone who is able to laugh at themselves and not take life too seriously. Someone who doesn’t make fun of others but can laugh at their own absurdities and mistakes is a great catch. They have a strong enough sense of self to be comfortable in humility — and that kind of healthy humor is contagious.

8. They make you want to be a better person — and vice versa

OK, not just to borrow from Jack Nicholson's famous line in As Good As It Gets, but there is a lot of truth to the importance of this.

Someone who will be in your life on a temporary basis may make you want to look your best or be on your best behavior when you're together, but someone who is marriage material will inspire you to become the best version of yourself period. You will share a magical dance of mutual inspiration, each of you cheering on the aspirations and highest good of the other.

Dating, for marriage-minded people, doesn’t have to be stressful; it just has to be mindful and purposeful.

You are, after all, preparing to commit your whole self to one person for a lifetime.

One thing that stands out with people who are marriage-minded is their self-accountability. They realize that they have to know themselves well, and they know they have to create in themselves a gift to bring any potential life partner.

Dating someone who is marriage material will result in more than the butterflies of infatuation. The experience will make you feel at home with yourself. It will give you a stable footing on which you can reach for even more of who you can be.

When that happens, the whole couple really will be greater than the sum of its individual parts.

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Amy Schoen is a nationally recognized expert in dating and relationship coaching who is passionate about helping marriage-minded singles find their true love and create fulfilling, life-long relationships.