He’s handsome. He’s charming. He earns a good living.
But would you be able to spend the next 20 years with him?
It turns out that we know a LOT about the kind of guy who’s still happily married decades down the line.
He adapts. He welcomes his wife’s input. He puts in equal effort.
He loves her just as much as she loves him.
We also know a lot about the dynamics of difficult marriages.
How do you know what kind of marriage you’ll have if you stay together?
Look for this “master trait.”
The Invisible Contract
When you get married, you sign an invisible contract.
This contract lays out your responsibilities to one another: what you owe your husband, and what he owes you.
It’s invisible because most couples never talk about what they expect of each other.
They just assume that the other person sees marriage the same way they do.
What you think a husband should act like may not be what he thinks a husband should act like.
What you think a wife should act like may not be what he thinks a wife should act like.
So you end up angry at each other. You both feel let down.
This isn’t how either of you thought marriage would be.
Traditional vs Modern Marriages
To complicate matters even further…
Traditionalists believe that the man should be responsible for providing financially for his family, while the woman should be responsible for emotional sustenance.
Whether they own a home, what kind of car they drive, and what kind of material luxuries they enjoy will depend on him.
The cleanliness of that home, the kind of meals they eat, and their children’s manners will depend on her.
Traditionalists assume that their spouse knows the score. It’s not up for negotiation.
Then they get married, and their 20th century expectations clash with their spouse’s 21st century expectations.
His modern wife expects him to do half the chores around the home, because she’s also working fulltime. Her modern husband expects to be actively involved in the parenting decisions she thought were hers.
Cue the power struggle!
Look For This Master Trait
If a couple wants to stay together forever, they can’t afford to fight over their expectations of one another.
They need to set up their marriage in a way that allows them to support each other—not disappoint each other.
They need to be flexible enough to help their marriage evolve as their life circumstances evolve.
Rigid traditionalists aren’t great at this. They can only see one way to have a marriage.
If they can’t have the marriage they want, they’ll dig in their heels or check out.
The kind of man who can stay madly, passionately in love with you for a lifetime is an adaptable man.
He’s willing to grow and change.
He’s committed to improving.
He’s open to trying something new.
Now, we don’t often look at a man’s adaptability when we’re dating.
We’re so impressed by his confidence, conviction, and authority that we don’t consider what he’ll be like to live with.
We don’t realize that we’re making an unspoken agreement that he’ll set the terms of the relationship and we’ll abide by them.
But if you want a relationship that lasts forever, you can’t agree to that.
Adaptability isn’t sexy, but you’ll thank your lucky stars you picked this man.