"How do you know when you've met the right one?"
Almost everyone asks this question at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, there aren't too many who get a concrete answer.
Amazingly, the criteria for choosing a spouse can be boiled down to just four characteristics. If you can find somebody with all four -- and if you possess them, too -- then you've likely found your life partner.
1) A Higher Commitment
Before you decide to marry someone, make sure that they are fully committed to some kind of objective moral and ethical standard. Whether we realize it or not, everyone has a core value that is central to their personality. And when push comes to shove, that value is going to be the most important thing in the world to that person.
For example: Jerry's core value is adventure. When Jerry starts to date Diana, he happens to be volunteering at the local Emergency Room. He goes there every night to assist in the most difficult trauma cases. And Diana's thinking to herself that Jerry must have a heart of gold if this is how he's spending his spare time.
Now, it may be true that Jerry really has a heart of gold, but actually the reason he's volunteering is because of his love of adventure. The ER is filled with exciting action. Right now, Jerry's adventurousness happens to be expressing itself in a "kindness" way. But that could change. Jerry might try other adventures that Diana finds unpleasant, dangerous, or even unethical.
However, if Jerry is down at the ER because his core value is a commitment to goodness and caring, then everything he does will rotate around that, including his marriage. And Diana will be a very lucky woman if she marries him.
So how do you get to know the true Jerry? Surprisingly, it's not that difficult. No matter what a person's core value is, you will see him or her sacrificing for it on a daily basis. If Jerry's core value is adventure, then he might risk an accident in order to speed through an intersection. If Diana follows him carefully, she'll see that he places adventure above other things on his list of priorities.
On the other hand, if Jerry's core value is goodness, then even if the waiter mixes up his order, he'll say thank you and eat the dish anyway. He'll let the other guy cross the intersection first, or he might be late to work because he drove a little old lady home with her groceries. If Diana follows him carefully, she'll see him let go of some of his own desires in order to take care of other people.
So look for someone who is committed at the core to a higher set of values that you can appreciate.
2) Treating Others
Number two is obvious: You want to marry someone who is going to take care of you and treat you well.
How to figure it out? Simple. When you spend time with this person, and pay attention to how they treat those who they are not trying to charm. Do they thank the attendant who pumped the gas? Are they courteous to people at checkout counters? Or do they curse out people who don't deliver on time, like overworked waitresses? Do they tend to drive aggressively, as if there's no one else on the road?
Ask yourself questions like these and take note of the answers -- because they reflect characteristics that are bound to emerge down the line. Even if your date is "on guard" to be extra nice to you, it's unlikely that they'll guard themselves so carefully vis a vis how they treat others. So by keeping your eyes open, you'll know how this person is going to treat you after you're married -- when they will no longer be so "on guard."
3) Communication Skills
Make sure that you understand each other. This may seem obvious, but it's not.
Sometimes you can see a couple arguing for an hour, two hours, maybe even overnight. And then, at the end of round 16, it turns out that the whole thing was just a misunderstanding: "Oh, I thought you meant that...That's not what you meant? Oh, then we agree."
This is a problem because frequent disagreements are like a mushroom cloud -- they spread throughout the house and ruin its atmosphere. A home filled with the negative energy of ongoing arguments is not going to be a place to which either spouse wants to return at the end of a rough day (or even at the end of a pleasant one). And this is doubly true for children, who need to feel that their home is a safe zone.
So although husband and wife will not always see eye to eye -- and even mistaken disagreements can happen to anyone on an occasional basis -- beware if you see it happening frequently.
4) Physical Attraction
Even the most pious rabbi will tell you that physical attraction is an essential part of marriage. You cannot marry someone who you aren't physically attracted to.
However, men and women differ slightly in this area. Men tend to fall in love with a woman they're attracted to, and women tend to become attracted to a man whom they love.
A word of caution: Although physical attraction is essential, don't make it the basis of your relationship. Whatever is going on physically is meant to be an expression of something deeper on the emotional and spiritual level. The rule is: Make sure that physical attraction is there, but don't get swept away by it. The other three characteristics are just as important, if not more so.
Put these principles into practice. It can save you a lot of time and headache. And you might find yourself walking down the aisle faster than you think.