In my last post, What qualities should a man look for in a wife?, I was asked by Maeve to “write a post about what a woman should look for/expect in a husband.” This was a reasonable request, and so I delved a bit into Scripture to create this counter-part for my last post. [Something that isn’t clear from the title, but is baked into this post and the last one, is that it is for Christians.] The goal is some basic qualities that a Christian woman should look for in a man to determine if he is “husband material.”
This post was a much easier endeavor, as I focused on Character traits rather than more specific life skills. However, before I mention what I think a Christian woman should look for, I wanted to mention a few suggestions brought up by commenters in the last post, as well as another set of traits mentioned elsewhere. That will be section 2. Section 3 will be my own thoughts. And of course Section 4 is the conclusion.
Commenter Aquinas Dad suggested that the traits I was looking for had already been codified by the Church, a reference to the seven virtues:
While this is a good list of qualities for a potential husband to have, it is too broad and general to really be helpful to a woman trying to determine if a man would make for a good husband. Instead, we need to get a bit more specific (or particular, depending on how you want to define it) in order to get some identifiable qualities for Christian women to look out for.
While I was thinking about good qualities for a man to possess, I started to think of what might already be out there which could help. In particular, I was looking for something not written recently or by women. Searching around, I found in the Boy Scout Law something close to what I was thinking of. It has 12 points:
A nice list, but a little shallow in some respects, and too long. It is possible to condense them down somewhat and make a shorter list. Besides, some of those points aren’t really necessary qualities in a husband, although good ones for a man to have.
Moving back to my original post, Deti and Deep Strength also chimed in, offering their thoughts on the subject. Here is the final list that they came up with:
- Independence (he doesn’t need a woman)
- Interdependent on other men (is part of a “tribe” and has a place in it)
- Firmness of resolve (has a well developed worldview of facts and Truth, and is wedded to it)
- Industriousness (works a job and has some material things, or the potential for same)
- Temperate (even keeled in his day to day life, has basic mastery over his mind and body, does all in moderation and nothing to excess, easy going, slow to anger)
- Enforces his boundaries (1) enforce the boundaries and restrict others’ behavior to remain within them; or (2) remove the offending person/situation/behavior. This can be applied to jobs, social situations, friends, girlfriends and wives.
All in all a good list, although I think again there can be some condensing. Plus a few things are missing as well.
With all of this in mind, lets move on to part 3 where I discuss what I think Christian woman should look for.
I used the above examples as guidelines or templates, and then looked at Scripture to fill everything in and make sure I was on the right track. Here are the qualities,. in what I perceive to be the order of importance, that a Christian woman should look for in a husband:
Now for a bit more as to what they each mean.
- God-fearing- This is much the same as it was for my previous post. Devotion and faith all fall under this character trait. Scripture makes it clear that we are not to be yoked to unbelievers, and that Christian women shouldn’t marry men who are not of the Lord. So this trait is absolutely essential. It is also the most secure safe-guard that a woman can have that the man she marries love her as Christ loved the church.
- Courageous- Courage is a quintessential masculine trait, and is pretty much required for a man to really achieve his full potential. It is essential to face the many travails of life, as well as to really live your faith as required. For a husband especially be extremely wary about marrying a man without courage. Odds are, he will fold easily and be unable to lead you and your family as is required. The end result is you will probably lose sexual attraction to him, and suffer an unhappy family life. Courage is also necessary for him to protect his family as needed.
- Honorable- This traits encompasses trustworthiness and loyalty. It means a man of his word- someone who will follow through on his promises and treat you as you both want and need to be treated. Outside of faith, this means a man who will do the right thing- by you and by others. Kindness is a plus, but honor is a requirement. One can also include a strong sense of Justice here too- always a valuable thing in a man.
- Sensible- Prudence and wisdom fall here, but so does mastery of self. His ability to exercise sound judgment means the difference between a head of the household who knows what he is doing, and head of the household who doesn’t. Remember, you will need to submit to his authority, so pick someone who is going to make wise decisions. Also, someone who is in control of himself is very important, as it will keep trouble and sorrow away from your home. Well-grounded is another way to describe a man with this trait.
- Resolute- When he sets his mind on something, does he see it through to the end? Is he a hard worker? A resolute man is one who won’t be distracted or easily driven off course. Diligence is a key example of this trait. It is a very important trait, as his hard work and resolve will ensure that there is food on the table and a roof over the heads of you and your family. Jobs come and go, but a strong work ethic takes a life-time to develop. Likewise, any task which is necessary to your family’s well being requires a resolute man to see through to completion.
- Mission Oriented- This trait is somewhat difficult to explain. It means a man who is oriented towards a specific goal. He doesn’t drift from place to place, or event to event. Instead he deliberates on what actions to take, and then sets about accomplishing his goals. While seemingly similar to Resolve (or Diligence), its not the same thing. Diligence kicks in after a man has begun to act- this trait is what drives him beforehand. A man with this trait doesn’t let distractions divert him from his goal. Nor does he pedestalize women- he knows that a wife isn’t his mission but a key help in him achieving his mission.
- Temperate- Cool, calm and collected describes a man with this trait. A temperate man is one who controls his emotions, rather than let his emotions control him. You will find living with a temperate man to be much easier than living with a man ruled by his emotions, or subject to emotional outbursts from time to time.
Just as with my post concerning women, men will display these traits in different ways. All men are unique, even though they share many masculine qualities. And just like with women, you will need to observe a man to get a measure of how he fares when these character traits are concerned. Some can be easier to discover, perhaps in a conversation or two, while others will simply take time.
Just like with my previous post, Proverbs and Sirach were both pivotal in providing scriptural support. I also looked at many of the male figures in the Bible, and observed and analyzed their strengths and their flaws.
In summary, there are seven key character traits that Christian women should look for in a man to determine if he will make a good husband: god-fearing, courageous, honorable, sensible, resolute, mission-oriented and temperate. These are all character traits- more specific than the seven virtues but also not so specific as to include life-skills, which a man might not have had time to develop yet. As I close, I would like to note that there is no such thing as a perfect man. While I’m sure my regular readers don’t need to be reminded of that, I feel it prudent to issue that reminder all the same. None of us is perfect, and if women wait for perfection they will wait forever and never marry. So don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Instead, look for a man with a solid foundation of these character traits, and one who demonstrates a capacity and eagerness to improve himself.
[I’m sure I have missed a few things, so don’t be surprised to see this post get updated over time.]