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“The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing – and then marry him.”~ Cher
A scene from the movies
When you were little, your parents probably read you many fairytales that involved “damsels in distress,” beautiful princesses, regal queens and kings, and dashing “Prince Charmings.” My personal favorites were “Snow White,” “Rapunzel” and “Cinderella.” Oh, how I wanted to be a princess, so I could get my happily ever after with my handsome and heroic prince.
My young friends felt the same and we’d often pretend that we lived in a faraway land where “Prince Charmings” came a dime-a-dozen. I would reckon to say that most little girls envisioned the same thing growing up. As little girls, we were taught that it was important to find that magical man who would protect us from harm and provide us with a life full of luxury and love. Our very own real-life “Prince Charmings.”
Although they were fairytales (aka not real), we internalized them.
We wanted someone to love and take care of us like the princes in the stories our parents read to us each night. We wanted to feel the magic. This improbable fairytale followed us through childhood to adolescence, and into adulthood. As a result of this childhood fantasy, we developed unrealistic expectations that were impossible for most, if not all men, to reach and follow.
Because of these idealistic images, we tend to turn a blind eye when we shouldn’t and not pay enough attention to signs when we should. In other words, we miss a lot of things, especially when it comes to our male counterparts. Why? Because we desperately want to attain the ideal life and marriage. We want the fairytale by any means necessary – even if the guy is not a good partner.
What we hear from society
Society tells us that happiness comes in the form of a handsome, strong man, who provides for his family, leading to a couple of kids, a fluffy designer dog, and a grand house with a white-picketed fence in a good neighborhood. So, we strive to attain these things. We’ve been taught to do just that. We want this so desperately that many of us don’t even know if our partners are right or not right for us.
The thing is marriage is a huge commitment.
One we should not take lightly.
It is also important to understand that no man, like no woman, is perfect. We are people – not fairytales. We make mistakes and we fail, but we pick ourselves up and try again. So, when we contemplate marriage and if our partners are “marriage material,” it is important to set realistic expectations. It is also important to know if you are or are not dating your future husband because it matters – a lot.
Marrying a man just because other young adults are getting married or because you’re looking for the perfect man will ultimately end in disaster. What is important is finding a partner who you want to spend the rest of your life with.
He accepts you – as is
It is important that your partner supports you through good times and bad, in sickness and in health. If he is devoted to you and shows you he can live up to these basic principles of marriage, he’s most likely a “keeper.”
A good way to determine if your boyfriend truly accepts you – just the way you are – is to be honest with him about how you feel about various topics. Broach the harder, more complex topics and pay close attention to his responses – and attitude. If your boyfriend appears critical of some of your decisions, he may not be your future husband.
You feel safe and comfortable with him
If your boyfriend always makes you feel safe and comfortable with him, you’re probably dating your future husband. It is important to understand that making you feel safe and secure some or part of the time isn’t enough to be “marriage material.” You must feel that way every single time you are together. He can’t be an adoring partner one minute and an emotional or physical abuser the next. It doesn’t work that way.
You don’t want to get tied-down with a man who isn’t treating you well before you get married because things won’t change once you’re legally wed. In fact, I’d wager that things would only get worse as time goes on.
How can you tell if you truly feel safe and comfortable with your partner? By making two lists – List A: This list should be the things your partner does that make you feel loved and protected. List B: This list should be things that make you uncomfortable. If the things that make you feel safe outweigh the things that make you uncomfortable, you may be dating your future hubby.
He values your opinion
A man who listens to his partner and takes into consideration what they say is definitely showing “marriage material” signs. That’s a biggie in relationships and an even bigger factor in marriages. Everyone wants to feel heard, respected, and valued, so if your man does that for you, you may want to start thinking about your future with him.
How can you tell if he values your opinion? Well, if he makes eye contact with you when you are conversing, that’s also a good sign. Even better – if your boyfriend applies your advice or tips to whatever situation he is experiencing.
He lights up when he sees you
Having a partner who is genuinely happy to see you can make you feel loved, appreciated, valued, and just plain happy. And, if he can make you feel that way for the rest of your life, well, then, I’d say you’re bound for that fairytale life (or close enough) that you envisioned as a child.
How can you tell if your boyfriend is happy to see you? Just look into his eyes and pay attention to his mouth. If his eyes “sparkle” and crunch up in the outer corners when he sees you, there is a good chance he’s thrilled to see you. And, if his mouth breaks out in a goofy smile when he’s in your presence, he’s having a hard time containing the joy of being with you. You can tell by his gestures if your guy is still madly in love with you.
About the Author
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Ph.D. in Family Psychology
Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
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