Recently, while I was being interviewed on the topic of relationships, someone asked me if it bothered me to be my age and still single. You know what's interesting? When I was in my late 20s with a boyfriend who hadn't yet proposed, I was bothered. During points in my 30s when I wasn't sure if I wanted to birth kids or not, I was bothered. Now? Absolutely not.
It's no secret that I haven't had sex since I was (whew) 32 and that I'll be 45 soon. One of the things this time of abstinence has done for me is helped me to purge the personalities that came with the people I slept with out of my system (oxytocin is the ultimate super glue, y'all!).
Something else it did was help me get to know who I am sans the preoccupation of being in a relationship. For the first time since, probably ever, I'm very clear on who I am, what I have to offer, what I deserve, and also what I not only desire but expect from my future husband should I ever jump a broom someday.
The things on this list that I'm about to share with you? They're not your typical kinds of characteristics. They're more like…things that I overlooked in the past; things that, either the lack of them have turned out to be major issues in the marriages of couples I work with or they're things that, if they are not present, I already know I won't be fully satisfied with my own union someday.
They're things that go way beyond he's gotta look good, be good in bed, and a protector and provider. All of those are relevant but these right here are what will keep me in the game until death parts him and me.
I'm telling you, when you spend time looking within rather than out at other people (mainly men in this case), you can discover so much about yourself; things that will help you to really know when you've met the right one for you and your life.
Me? Something I discovered, not too long ago, is that I'm an empath. I feel things…deeply. That's why I now get that I expect to be with an empathetic person—someone who is a good listener; someone who puts the needs of others before his own; someone who has natural leadership skills; someone who isn't desensitized to other people's pain…someone who has a strong sense of discernment, doesn't mind spending time alone (because Lord knows I sometimes need it) and puts real effort into trying to see my perspective of things, whether we're debating politics or having an argument about money.
Empathetic people tend to be kind, sensitive, and fully present. I think A LOT of women underestimate how important this quality in a man really and truly is.
LIS-TEN. I didn't put these in the order of importance, but if there is one quality that I didn't require in the past from pretty much any guy I had a relationship or situationship with but is now a total deal-breaker if it's lacking, it was this one. Rather than being proactive, most of the men in my life were reactive. You know what I'm talking about—they tried to make up missing my birthday (reactive) or they'd do something thoughtful after I would bring up that I couldn't remember the last time that they had (reactive).
A reactive man can keep you on the hook for a while because if they go to extreme measures to fix things, you can feel like matters will improve. But the reason why this no longer works for me personally is because a proactive man is going to demonstrate that you're on his mind, that he wants to please you, and that you're so much of a priority that he doesn't need your help (reminders included) to show you just how much you mean to him. He's gonna be thoughtful and on top of things all on his own.
Proactiveness is a superpower and sexy as all get out. Chile, chile…CHILE.
Something that I make sure to bring up in premarital counseling sessions with couples is that it's important that their purposes complement one another. I'm not saying that they should be the same; I'm saying that they should work together in a way where both are giving the space and support to truly thrive.
A woman who wants a man with a set 9-to-5 schedule doesn't need to marry an entertainer (trust me, their schedules are all over the place; their income tends to be too). A man who wants a traditional housewife needs to think long and hard about being with an entrepreneur (her ambition may clash with his expectations).
So many people—people who truly love one another—end up straight-up resenting each other, all because they feel like their partner is not (pardon the corniness, but it's the first thing that came to mind) the wind beneath their wings but a huge stumbling block.
Mark Twain once said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." My husband needs to celebrate my birthday and support my purpose. Both are non-negotiable. Your husband should do the same. Because if you're married but because of the obstacles from your husband, you're unable to soar in the very lane of why God put you here in the first place…what kind of marriage is that?!
I don't know about you, but I love hard and I give a lot. I don't have to think about it, it's just who I am. But in the past, rarely did I feel truly appreciated for my efforts. I allowed both men and women to manipulate me into thinking that expecting such a thing meant that my motives for giving were wrong in the first place.
Whatever. Someone who benefits in a relationship who doesn't express gratitude is rude. And if you let them get away with it for too long, that can transfer over into them having a sense of entitlement when it comes to your time, resources, effort, and everything else.
Appreciative people say "thank you." Appreciative people let you know that you matter to them. Appreciative people aren't comfortable with one-sided relationships (they are all about reciprocity). Appreciative people are generous.
I can only imagine how many marriages would avoid their local divorce court if husbands and wives felt truly (and consistently) appreciated.
For me and what I personally expect, I'm saving the best for last. Intellect and wit are huge turn-ons for me, so I never really lacked in those departments with guys. But spiritual maturity? Don't. Get. Me. Started.
I must say that this one right here runs the gamut. I'd like someone who will pray with and for me without my prompting him to. I'd like someone who has such a strong relationship with the Most High that it's one of his most attractive qualities. I'd like someone who finds his spiritual growth and development to be more important than how successful he becomes or how much money he makes. I'd like someone who is intentional about avoiding the people, places, things, and ideas that would tamper with his spirit, my spirit. or our union.
There's one more thing. I adore the Hebrew language and the Hebrew word for spirit is "ru'ach." It means "wind." Wind is air that naturally blows in a horizontal direction. Here comes the wind beneath my wings reference again. I want the kind of man who, due to how mature he is in his spirituality, I can directly attribute his presence and influence to my going to new heights in every area of my own world.
At this stage of my life, I am so serious about my spirituality that I don't just want it—I expect it.
Again, I've seen so many marriages lack in these five areas, that I really do believe these are things that all of us should expect. But even if you don't, I unapologetically do.
It takes a rare and special man to be empathetic and proactive and supportive of my purpose and appreciative and spiritually mature. I desire a rare and special marriage. I can wait. It'll be worth it.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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