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What qualities do you value in a spouse?
Commitment and optimism are two of my top contenders for the qualities I hope my daughter finds in a future spouse. - photo by Erin Stewart
Occasionally, my youngest daughter will get very angry with me because I married the man of her dreams before she could.

She will say things like, You knew I wanted to marry Daddy, but you did it anyway! When she is in one of these you-ruined-my-life moods, she will also swear she will never marry now, and she will just live with us forever.

I feel for her, I really do. Her daddy is quite the catch, and I totally snapped him up just to mess up her life. I can be cruel like that.

So I feel bad for her, but I also find it hilarious that she worships him so much that he has ruined her for every other man who may come into her life down the road.

Of course, I know she will eventually bring home a man, and I will be the one saying he is not good enough for her. Until then, though, I love that she has a daddy to look up to and use as a role model.

So, when she goes into her rage about not getting dibs on Daddy, I use those moments to talk about what exactly it is about him she loves. Why would he make a good spouse? What kind of qualities make a good husband or dad?

In our conversations, I tend to highlight four things I hope will be at the top of my daughters lists for future spouses. Some of these were on my list when I was younger and some have been added through the years as I learn more about what it takes to be a good spouse.

1. Find someone who lets you be who you are. We all want someone who makes us better in certain ways and who challenges us. But that person also needs to accept you with all your flaws and eccentricities, too. If you want to change certain qualities about yourself, great, but dont marry someone who makes you feel like you have to just be with them.

2. Commit to someone who can commit to you, no matter what. Marriage is so much more about commitment than it is love after a certain point. I hope my daughters find someone who didnt quit soccer season halfway through or give up on life goals because his attention wandered or he struggled. Find someone who doubles down when the going gets tough, not someone who runs away.

3. Choose a positive person. Life can get really messy and really tough the longer youre in it. Having someone by your side who stays positive even in the darkest moments is insanely valuable. Im not saying they have to be on a constant laughing, manic high, but life is a lot easier with a smiling partner by your side.

4. Search for your best friend. As clich as it sounds, your spouse has to be your best friend because youre going to be spending a lot of time together. Find someone who you can have fun with just hanging out eating pizza on Friday night or binge-watching the latest Netflix show after the kids are in bed.

And while my daughter insists she will not be marrying anyone besides her daddy, I hope that our little chats are sinking in on some level. She is right: I did snag the perfect man at least for me, anyway. And I only hope she gets half as lucky someday.
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