Do you feel relationships are hard work, maybe a little too hard? Have you ever thought these lyrics to the Clash (English punk rock band) song by the same name, Should I Stay or Should I Go? Have you considered leaving but are not sure that’s the right decision for yourself and your family? Then, this blog post is for you.
The inspiration for today’s post is the overwhelming reaction to my post 15 Secrets of Marital Longevity in which I interviewed 15 couples whose marriages spanned six to 59 years. In the weeks I’ve been blogging, it is only the second post I’ve written which hit triple-digit page views. Many readers (some who’d only read the title) wrote me to describe the conversations that took place in their homes with spouses as they took turns responding how they would have answered me, in the homes of family and friends as my post became a springboard for conversation, and in their hearts as they struggled silently to answer the question, What is the secret to marital longevity?
However, some wrote me that they tweaked the question in their hearts. Instead of asking themselves the secret of marital longevity, many asked why they stayed as long as they did. One respondent wrote, “Sometimes it would be better not to be married.” Reader, this post is for you and others like you. (Note: I have many male readers. I’m extremely grateful for their support of my blog and interest in my writing. However, I will be addressing my reader as if she were a female since those were the overwhelming majority of the readers who pondered today’s question, “How to Know if He is a Keeper.” Despite my use of the feminine pronoun, these tips are, of course, applicable to males as well.)
- Do you miss the person when you’re not together? I don’t necessary mean all the time, 24/7. Of course we all need space. Space is healthy. We bring more “to the table” after having time apart. Overall, ask yourself if you’re happier in his company.
- Do you have a good time when you’re with him? If you are having fun, ask yourself if you are enjoying the activity or the company of the person you are with. Would you be having the same degree of enjoyment if someone else were with you?
- Does he consider himself fortunate to be with you? Does he go out of his way to make you feel smart and valuable? Don’t you love The Help quote? You is smart, you is kind, you is important. Does he make you feel this way? Would he fight to keep you if he had to? Is he only with you because he doesn’t want to be alone?
On the other hand, does he take you for granted? One girl who had plans to go to the gym and exercise was asked out by a man she was interested in. She happily accepted knowing she wouldn’t have time for her work out. He showed up so late she felt taken for granted and regretted not going to the gym. Are they together today? Of course not. Good for her.
- Is he afraid of commitment? Did you see the movie “He’s So Not Into You?” A whole two-hour movie was based around this point. The movie showcased men afraid of commitment and the stress that put on their significant others.
- I’ve always been a big believer in pet names. I know a wife who married a man she’d known inside of a year. Today she still calls him an inappropriate name in Yiddish. I once asked her what the word meant in English, and she blushed bright red. Are they still together today decades later? Absolutely. Are they happy? Absolutely!
- Does your man do what he says he’s going to do? I know a woman who didn’t keep her word to her husband about little things. She said she was going to the store, but she’d go to three stores. She’d say she was running to the store for one item but did the weekly shopping. He didn’t understand why she was missing for so long. Are they together today? No.
- In life we need to weigh the pros and cons. Use tally marks if your fingers aren’t ample. Which is greater, the downside of being with the person or the upside? Nothing is perfect. Please hear me. You will never (am I being prophetic?) have 100% tally marks on the “up” side. But, if you’re going to invest your time in a relationship, make sure there are more pros than cons.
- Does the guy like to fight? Forget him. Life is too short. I devoted two posts How to End Communication Problems Part I and How to End Communication Problems Part II to helping people avoid fighting and diffusing tensions when they rise. You have better things to do with your time than argue. (But, that was the theme of yesterday’s post, 17 Time-Saving Tips for People Who Are Rushed.)
- One of the points this post should address honesty. Okay, let’s be honest and address it. (Ha ha.) Of course, I believe in honesty, but not to a fault. Did you watch Juan Pablo’s season of the Bachelor? If you did, you might remember why he and Andy Dorfman broke up. They spent the night in the fantasy suite. (Ooh la la.) Apparently, in the throws of passion, Juan Pablo turned to Andy and told her he’d done it with Claire. When she contronted him the morning after, he claimed the importance of honesty as his rationale.
Does anyone remember why Juan Pablo and Claire broke up? He took her up in a helicopter ride on what should have been a romantic date and told her that he only liked using her for conjugal visits. Men, (yes, I’m talking to you now) this may be honesty, but it’s honesty to a fault. I would remind you what Andy called it, but I don’t want to risk offending my readers by being that honest.
- Oh, are we still on the subject of sex? Okay, then. Is he faithful? Is he monogamous? In the movie “The King and I,” the king, who has a harem, tries to explain that men are like bees–they flit from flower to flower getting honey or other such rubbish. Girls, if your man is a bee, then you be and tree and LEAVE.
- Is your happiness important to him? I explained I read in a previous post that men want to make their wives happy. My experience and observation tell me that’s true. To quote two men from my marital longevity survey, “Happy wife, happy life.”
- Does he attempt to love, or at least get along with, your family? If your happiness is important to him, he will try.
- Is he supportive? What are your aspirations? Marriage and family? He shouldn’t make you feel bad for being traditional. Do you have career aspirations? He shouldn’t make you feel small for wanting to reach your goals.
- Does he treat you better than you feel you deserve? Does he make you feel spoiled? pampered? like proverbial royalty?
- Can he provide, or help provide, for the two of you?
- Does he ask you to tell him about your day, your opinions, your interests, or your needs? Or, does he only talk about himself?
Readers, I will ask about your opinions right now. Are there any tell-tale signs that you can think of to help one know if he is a keeper? I look forward to your views.
(If you think these questions can help someone you know realize whether to stay or leave their relationship, please share.)