6 things to look for in a partner
Part 2: How to work out if he (or she) is marriage material.
Edited version of original article by Hannah Ellenwood from Biola University's Center for Marriage and Relationships.
In Part 1 of this article, I suggested that the first three things to look for in a partner are:
1. He lives a resounding 'Yes' to God
2. There is fruit in his life now
3. His "future glory self" excites me and I want to invest myself in his journey of becoming that person
Now, for a few more things to look for as you think about the characteristics you want to see in your partner....
4. You share a common vision
Tim Keller says that:
“Ultimately, your marriage partner should be part of what could be called your ‘mythos.’ C.S. Lewis spoke of a ‘secret thread’ that unites every person’s favorite books, music, places or pastimes. Certain things trigger an ‘inconsolable longing’ that gets you in touch with the Joy that is God. Everyone has something that moves them so that they long for heaven or the future kingdom of God and give themselves to that vision. Sometimes you will meet a person who so shares the same mythos thread with you that he or she becomes part of the thread itself.”
This is the kind of comprehensive attraction you should be looking for in a future partner. While some of this chemistry is formed and built through friendship over time, some of it is also found in that mythos - the way you were innately created to connect with God and with others.
A couple that often gives me wise counsel said one of the best questions you can ask when evaluating the potential of a relationship is: “Is this a person you can stand in awe of God with and together run after him full speed ahead?” That really put things into perspective for me. That ‘secret thread’ connects us, moves us to long for heaven and stand in awe of God and then run after Him - together. That common vision is what I want.
5. He is safe; you can just be you
My insecurities used to be heightened by the guys I was interested in because of the value they placed on their public image. It seemed so attractive to be with the guy who was “at the top” of whatever social circles he moved in, but that came with certain expectations. It was exhausting trying to keep up - trying to prove myself - because I was never able to just be me. Unguarded. For me, one of the clearest indicators that I feel safe with someone is that I show my silly side.
My closest friends and family see that side of me all the time because they’ve gone the distance and have proven themselves to be safe. I don’t have to be anyone but me when I’m with them. And it is a gift to be with and be known by those people.
6. He perseveres through suffering with hope
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us... –Romans 5:4.
If there is anything that I've seen consistently in the marriages around me, it's that it's not all romance and fun. There are a lot of hard things that happen in our lives - things that are out of our control, things that send us reeling. I want to find someone to spend the rest of my life with who doesn't run at the first sign of trouble. Someone who perseveres with hope because he trusts and rests in the sovereignty and goodness of his heavenly Father. I deeply value when someone can look back at dark seasons and painful experiences and recount God’s faithfulness and name who he is today because of God’s work in his life during that time.
Some final thoughts on what to look for in a partner
I really believe that choosing to look for these six indicators of character widen your pool of people to consider, while simultaneously narrowing it. There are some really incredible people out there; I've gone on dates with guys I may not have considered years ago because I began to look for compatibility on these deeper things, and I’ve gained some great friends as a result. I’ve also said no to dates with people who may have been at the top of my list before because they have some cracks in their character that make for a crumbly and unpredictable foundation.
But, let's be real and practical for a moment: You're not going to know all of this or be able to evaluate and draw sound conclusions about a person on Date #1 (usually). Though it’s tempting to figure it all out as fast as you can so you don’t waste your time, try to stay open to the process. It can be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. On the first couple of dates, I simply practice asking:"Based on what I know now, do I want to know more?" And then let the rest unfold from there. But most importantly, it takes staying sensitive to the Spirit’s voice and following His lead. I've found that beyond looking at these 6 things, it is ultimately Him who gives me peace to keep moving forward or calls me (or the other person) to step back when the timing or relationship isn't His best for either of us.
And just one more thing before you go ... please ask yourself:
“Do I have the kind of foundation that’s worth building on?”
Because, as they say... "like attracts like.” So, if I want to find this kind of person, it's important that I am this kind of person - one who says and lives yes to God no matter the cost, one whose life bears fruit because I've surrendered to and been transformed by Christ, and one whose "future glory self" excites others! I want to be that person who creates safe space for others to truly be themselves, and who runs to God first when things get hard as I "suffer" with hope. One crumbling foundation + one solid foundation doesn’t make for a solid one. Both foundations need to be solid to make one that's worth building on.
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