You may have seen the much buzzed-about New York Times article in which Maureen Dowd, in consultation with 79-year-old Catholic priest Fr. Pat Connor, laid out 10 requirements for the “ideal husband.” Though I’m pretty sure BG hates MoDo with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns, I’ve got to say I think her checklist makes perfect sense. Having witnessed my parents experience the ups and downs of marriage, I’ve come to understand that love is just the beginning of a successful lifetime partnership. So here, in case you missed it, is what MoDo and Fr. Pat urge you to consider. (I’ll use male pronouns as the article implies that only girls are on the big hunt — lies!):
- Does he have friends? This is an automatic red flag if he doesn’t. If other people don’t think highly of him, enjoy his company, or want to be around him, then why should you?
- Does he use money responsibly? Money is not everything, but it is important. The key word here is “responsible.” Is he cheap? A gambler? If you’re looking towards marriage, you want to be sure the two of you will be able to make the financial decisions that support your plans for the future, and not your own selfish (or stingy) endeavors.
- Is he a doormat? Fr. Pat warns, “Steer clear of someone whose life you can run, who never makes demands counter to yours.” The best relationships I’ve had were with guys who were able to sass me right back back and make me realize that it wasn’t all about me. While it’s fun to be in the driver’s seat, it’s much more rewarding to be moving along together.
- Is he a mama’s boy? Loves and respects his mom: great. But: a fella who’s constantly running to momma — instead of you — for help with decisions large and small may not be a primo candidate for commitment to you. Doree Lewak, author of The Panic Years: A Guide to Surviving Smug Married Friends, Bad Taffeta, and Life on the Wrong Side of 25 without a Ring, agrees, adding that if (God forbid) you and she disagree, he will likely not side with you. Yeah, worse than awkward.
- Does he have a sense of humor? And we don’t just mean “Can he tell a joke?” or “Does he still crack up all of Zeta Psi when he does that thing with the lampshade and the bagel?” Fr. Pat says humor “covers a multitude of sins.” (Hey, that means there’s hope for me!) If you’re planning on spending a lifetime with one person, you’re going to have maybe, you know, one or two moments where the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere or you burn the calamari at your first dinner party, or worse, and you’re going to need some real levity. You remember what Big said to Carrie, and that it’s illegal to write a post like this without a SATC reference: “Sometimes you just want to be with the one that makes you laugh.”
- Beware the strong, silent type. Ah, the mysterious, brooding soul. I admit I was a sucker for these back in the day, but let’s face it, without two-way communication, your relationship will fall flat in no time.
- “Don’t marry a problem character thinking you will change him.” You won’t.
- Take a look at his family. My mother always jokes that she should have done so before marrying my father. But it is important to consider the values he’s inherited (tolerance, respect, adoring you, etc). (Of course, some nightmare Aadams families produce total gems, so you never know.)
- Is religion an issue? Work it out beforehand, though not at the dinner table with his parents.
- “Does he possess those character traits that add up to a good human being — the willingness to forgive, praise, be courteous?” Ah, the best for last.
After Fr. Pat gives this talk, the audience response is usually, “But you’ve eliminated everyone!” Not so. No, really! Anyone want to share a portrait of hope? Or weigh in on (or against) one of the above? Or add your own?