Qualities of a Good Marriage Partner
Getting married and choosing the right life partner is one of the most important decisions you will make in life. With divorce rates hovering around 50 percent, it’s clear that far too many couples are struggling to build a strong, lasting marriage.
When searching for a marriage partner, what qualities should you look for to have the best chance of marital success and happiness?
In this blog post, we will explore the top qualities to prioritize when evaluating a potential husband or wife, including:
- Shared values and life goals
- Strong communication skills
- Emotional intelligence and maturity
- Commitment and loyalty
- Mutual respect and trust
- Compatibility and chemistry
Equipping yourself to identify the right qualities in a partner can set your marriage up for long-term fulfillment, connection, and teamwork.
Read on for detailed explanations of what to look for in a spouse along with real-life examples and tips from marriage experts.
Shared Values and Life Goals
One of the most fundamental building blocks of a strong marriage is having shared values and life goals with your partner. Values refer to your priorities, beliefs, and general outlook on life. Life goals encompass your vision for the future and hopes for accomplishments or legacy.
When two people have significantly different value systems and ambitions, it tends to create chronic conflict, resentment, dissatisfaction, and lack of intimacy down the road. But when spouses share core values and dreams for the future, it fosters mutual understanding, empathy, teamwork, and vision.
Here are some key indicators to assess alignment in values and goals with a potential husband or wife:
- Religion/Spirituality – Having similar belief systems surrounding faith establishes common ground spiritually.
- Finances – Agreeing on spending habits, debt tolerance, saving/investing, and working towards shared financial goals.
- Family – Shared desires surrounding having kids, parenting approaches, priorities for family relationships.
- Service/Philanthropy – Mutual passions for volunteer work, donations, or community involvement.
- Health/Wellness – Similarly valuing physical health, mental wellbeing, work-life balance.
- Home Life Vision – Complementary hopes for what home life looks like day-to-day.
- Retirement Dreams – Common visions for retirement timing, location, hobbies, and lifestyle.
Cultivating intimate conversations around values and dreams before committing to marriage is key. Be honest about differences that emerge, so you can thoughtfully evaluate if they may become points of contention or sources of enrichment.
Dr. Howard Markman, renowned marriage researcher at the University of Denver says, “Discuss each other’s life dreams and challenge each other about whether your dreams are compatible.”
Strong Communication Skills
The way partners communicate with each other has an enormous impact on relationship satisfaction and longevity. When communication breaks down, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, resentment, and isolation often snowball.
Strong communication establishes a foundation for resolving conflicts, celebrating joys, supporting one another, and nurturing intimacy.
So, what defines a strong communicator within a marriage? Here are some top indicators:
- Active Listening – Being present and engaged when the other person speaks by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and asking thoughtful questions without interrupting. Avoid being distracted by technology or external factors when your partner is sharing.
- Emotional Validation – Expressing verbal and nonverbal understanding of your partner’s feelings rather than just problem-solving. For example, “I can see why you felt really hurt when I forgot our anniversary dinner.”
- Assertive Expression – Being able to share your own perspectives, needs, and concerns without being passive or aggressively dominant in the conversation.
- Compromise – Willingness to find middle ground when conflicts arise rather than insisting on getting your way.
- Tact/Timing – Sensitivity around when, where, and how you bring up difficult topics to set the conversation up for success rather than failure.
During dating or courtship, pay close attention to how prospective spouses communicate under stress. Marriage researcher John Gottman says, “Observe how your partner reacts when you bring up a touchy subject. It will end up being one of your perpetual conflicts as a couple so you need to know if you can resolve differences without hurting each other.”
Emotional Intelligence and Maturity
Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to someone’s capacity to tune into, understand, and constructively manage emotions – both their own and others. When seeking a marriage partner, prioritizing emotional intelligence is vital because it enables constructive conflict resolution, empathy, resilience, and intimacy.
Signs that a potential husband or wife has high EQ include:
- Self-Awareness – Understands own strengths, growth areas, emotions, needs, and triggers. Able to take feedback without getting defensive.
- Impulse Control – Makes decisions deliberately rather than emotionally reacting; thinks before speaking when upset.
- Distress Tolerance – Has effective coping strategies when faced with stressors or situations beyond their control. Don’t lash out or direct anger at your partner as an emotional release.
- Empathy – Shows care and concern when spouse shares vulnerabilities and struggles. Don’t minimize or judge your partner’s emotions.
Alongside EQ, maturity speaks volumes when seeking a marriage partner. Maturity shows up as being responsible, independent, and having emotional self-regulation. Immaturity manifests as self-centeredness, volatility, blame-shifting, and a lack of accountability.
Susan Pease Gadoua, Licensed Therapist and author of The New I Do, explains, “Ask yourself if the person throws tantrums, acts entitled, or is excessively dramatic. If so, don’t expect marriage to make them grow up magically.”
Assessing maturity and emotional intelligence requires observing someone’s behavior in hard times versus just the honeymoon period.
Commitment and Loyalty
Marriage inherently requires a strong foundation of commitment – the willingness to stick together when faced with conflict, adversity, and seasons where romantic feelings ebb and flow.
Loyalty also ranks among the most valued qualities in a spouse, meaning fidelity, reliability, and prioritizing your relationship above other friendships or connections.
When examining a potential partner’s commitment readiness, important questions to reflect on include:
- Have they displayed follow-through in academic goals, work trajectories, and personal growth? Do they finish what they start?
- How did they navigate past relationships and breakups? Was there maturity in dealing with conflicts and transitions?
- Are they willing to address differences and work on the relationship when romantic feelings dissipate rather than jumping ship?
- Do they have friends and family who have strong, lasting marriages you can look to as models?
Being vigilant about any warning signs of wavering commitment or loyalty before saying “I do” is crucial. For example:
- Difficulty communicating feelings or needs
- Demonstrating impulsiveness or self-centeredness
- Substance abuse or addiction issues
- Repeated infidelity or dishonesty in past relationships
- Avoidance of commitment-related conversations
While no one can fully predict the future or control another person’s behavior, identifying red flags can help inform one of the most important choices of your life.
Mutual Respect and Trust
Respect means showing admiration for your partner’s inherent value and dignity as a person. It translates to words and actions that display care, honor growth, avoid criticism, and celebrate each other’s uniqueness.
Cultivating mutual respect lays a foundation for establishing trust. Trust grows when consistency and dependability in actions reinforce promises and intentions expressed in words.
- Valuing Each Other’s Time – Making your relationship a priority by consistently showing up present and on time for your spouse. Minimizing distractions from phones, kids, hobbies, friends, work.
- Speaking with Kindness – Communicating in ways that avoid criticism, harsh jokes, judgment, negativity, or contempt towards your partner, even when disagreeing.
- Supporting Personal Growth – Encouraging each other’s dreams, friendships, hobbies, and career aspirations rather than getting jealous, insecure, or threatened.
- Assuming the Best – Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt versus assuming selfish motivations when conflict arises.
- Sharing Power/Control – Making decisions collaboratively and finding compromise rather than one spouse dominating.
- Healthy Boundaries – Respecting each other’s privacy, need for autonomy, and upholding agreed upon expectations for fidelity.
During courtship, listen closely to the ways a prospective spouse talks about you, their past partners, family members, and friends. Do they speak about loved ones positively or critically? Pay attention to nonverbal signals like eye rolling or contempt.
Marriage Researcher John Gottman explains, “Contempt – feelings of superiority and disrespect – is the top predictor of divorce. It must be eliminated before marrying.”
Compatibility and Chemistry
Shared interests, comfortable conversation flow, laughter, intimacy, and just genuinely enjoying each other’s company are all key ingredients for marital fulfillment. Evaluating your compatibility and chemistry involves reflecting on questions like:
- Do you appreciate each other’s sense of humor? Can you be silly and vulnerable?
- Do you have fulfilling physical intimacy aligned with values of care and consent?
- Do your conversations feel positive and affirming or critical and tense?
- Do you enjoy exploring new hobbies, travel locations, cultural events together?
- Can you comfortably enjoy silence, relaxation, and simple presence without getting bored?
Consider not just your courtship compatibility when life feels magical, but also compatibly in tedious day-to-day moments.
Study researcher Ted Huston followed couples over several years, starting in their newlywed phase. He found that early relationship excitement and chemistry didn’t predict lasting marital satisfaction. What mattered more was compatible living styles and values as the honeymoon wore off.
Summary of Key Takeaways:
- Seeking alignment in values, life visions, financial perspectives, family goals, faith orientations, and more establishes shared purpose and teamwork.
- Strong communication, including emotional validation, assertive expression, active listening, and compromise fosters intimacy and conflict resolution.
- Emotional intelligence (EQ) enables managing stress, change, and conflict constructively versus destructively together.
- Maturity marked by responsibility, self-regulation, and accountability sets couples up for success in handling life’s curveballs.
- Demonstrations of loyalty, dependability, and mutual prioritization build trust and lasting commitment.
- Respect manifests in mutual care, honor, affirmation, and assuming the best of your partner’s intentions and character.
- Compatibility and chemistry make marriage more fulfilling in enduring ways beyond initial excitement and romance.
Using this comprehensive checklist of qualities, you can thoughtfully reflect on relationship strengths and growth areas with a potential life partner. To the greatest extent possible, seeking alignment across these qualities can help couples build strong foundations for lifelong marital happiness and success together.