What makes a man marriage material?

The latest rom-com might say, “That’s easy! A man is marriage material if he loves you for who you are and treats you right. He should also be your best friend and the dreamiest guy you’ve ever seen.”

Regardless of your favorite chick flick’s wisdom, this is only partly good advice. Yes, he should love you and be a great friend, but there’s much more to consider.

You might have come to this article because you suspect you’ve been looking for the wrong things. Now you’re curious how you can fine-tune your search. Or maybe you’re entering the dating scene and want to start off right. You’re trying to avoid pitfalls on the front end.

In my own dating life, I’ve had ample time to pray for and dialogue with others about what kind of man is marriage material. I’m thankful for their influence on my idea of what makes a man worth dating and, eventually, marrying.

Marriage Material Qualities

Amidst my iPhone notes you’ll find a list titled, “What I’m looking for in a husband.” Over the years, I’ve crossed off once-significant items—blonde, similarly educated, California-bred—and honed in on nonnegotiables. Some are personality-based, but the core revolves around his Christ-like character.

For those asking “What makes a man marriage material?” I’d like to share my core list with you. If you’re already dating someone, see if this list describes him. And if you’re in a season of singleness, let this list shape your prayers in moments of longing, loneliness, and hope. Don’t be afraid to pray specifically and consistently. God isn’t our genie, but when it’s His will He enjoys answering specific prayers. The beauty in asking specifically is noticing God’s attention to detail when He answers.

I hope these core “marriage material” qualities help guide your search.

1. Marriage material men devote themselves to God.

I’m not talking about someone with “Christian education, never skipped a Sunday, and grew up in a Christian home” written on his resume. I’m here for the heart, not the credentials.

Based on your conversations and observations, does he believe in the supremacy of Scripture and sift everything through its truth? Is attending and serving a local church a priority? How about choosing godly male friends?

Most importantly, look for whether he bears fruit from deep devotion to Christ. Prioritizing this quality will set a strong foundation for your relationship.

2. Marriage material men are quick to laugh.

There’s something to say about personality here, but I’m a firm believer in the health that laughter allots. I’ve found in most of my relationships, we’re happiest when laughing together.

A light heart that isn’t easily offended, who can laugh at the situation without letting it unnerve him—now that’s attractive! Look for a man who’s quick to laugh and laughs much.

It also matters what he laughs at. As Ephesians 5:4 tells us, “foolish talk [and] crude joking” shouldn’t be characteristic of Christ-followers. Sadly, many “Christian” men color their jokes with mockery and sexual innuendo, justifying them when ladies aren’t present, and sometimes when they are. I hope to find a man who has a great sense of humor yet resists the degrading and crude variety.

3. Marriage material men are humble.

On a recent flight, I jotted in my nonnegotiables list: Someone who’s humble—who doesn’t think they’re always right and shows interest in what I think.

Humility looks like interpreting a superior’s criticism as an opportunity to grow. Or it looks like not throwing a hissy fit when someone forgets to give you credit. Humility looks like letting Jesus mercifully put you in your place.

No one receives straight A’s in this, but marriage material men possess teachable spirits and look to put others first.

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4. Marriage material men love and respect family.

Even if you’ve never observed him around his family, you can quickly detect his attitude toward them. Anyone stalking my social media photos can quickly pick up on my family’s closeness.

Of course, it isn’t fair to expect his family dynamics to match yours (and maybe that’s not something you want!) It’s actually not the family structure that matters—though it’s undoubtedly part of the package.

Here’s what does: Does he love his own family, despite their faults? Does he respect your family? Does he want a family of his own? Since God takes honoring our “mother and father” seriously, you and I should as well (Exodus 20:12).

5. Marriage material men are secure in their identity.

Identity has two arms: worth and self-esteem.

If I place my worth in being a good writer, for instance, that’s where I’ve placed my identity. Career, good looks, and special talents are effortless snares to our worth.  I want to marry someone who knows and fights to remember his worth is in Christ.

It’s easy to see what we’ve put our worth in when the object of it disappoints us. If his talent or appearance failed him, would he crumple or would his sure footing in the Lord steady him?

Pay attention, also, to his self-esteem. I pray for a man who’s confident in his physical, mental, and emotional giftings. If he’s secure in how God formed him, he’ll be more likely to affirm it in me and our potential children down the line.

But what does “placing your identity in Christ” really mean? Here’s a helpful article with more insight.

6. Marriage material men are capable.

Of course, girls should be raised to be capable, too. I’m thankful I was taught to handle my money, mow my lawn, pay my bills … However, if I’m choosing to knit myself to a man for the rest of my life, he needs to be capable and willing to lend a hand.

Most importantly, I need him to have an unshakable work ethic. I need him to be a wise spender and saver and a generous tither. I need him to be capable of taking care of a home or a car (or at least know where to go for help). I need him to take ownership in protecting me.

What’s on Your List?

While I believe this is a central list for Christian women, why not think through your own nonnegotiables? Jot down a number of qualities you feel your personality and values require. Remember to think character more than appearance.

As your mind starts to fill with expectations, don’t forget to set high standards for yourself, too. It’s equally important to become the “marriage material” woman such a man would marry. Let these qualities shape your prayers for your own refinement, as well as your future husband’s.

Copyright © 2021 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Lauren Miller serves on staff with FamilyLife as a writer in Orlando, Florida, though she’ll always be a California girl. She graduated from Biola University and the Torrey Honors College where the Lord first planted in her a love for family and marriage ministry. As a single, she loves serving the youth at her church, taking long walks, and reading a good book in her free time.