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As women, we spend way too much time trying to be the “right kind” of woman only to turn around and be the right kind of woman for the wrong kind of man. The reality is not every man is marriage material and if marriage is something you desire, it’s important to be able to decode who is who. Here are 5 ways to tell if your beau is worth that one way trip down the aisle.

#1- He’s Willing To Fight For You

Beyoncé belted out “Ring the alarm/ I been through this too long / but I’ll be DAMNED if I see another chick on his arm,” and in any hair salon on any given day in any city in America, you can hear a woman echoing those exact sentiments. Barbershop chatter, on the other hand, is a lot less forgiving. Why? Because women take pride in fighting for their relationships.

Women are praised and shamed in the same breath for choosing to remain in relationships that aren’t perfect. Whether we’re talking about infidelity, financial strain, mental health issues, or changes in physical appearance, women are more willing to go to battle for and with their intimate partners. Men, not so much. Now there are some who believe relationships are 50/50, you bring your half, they bring their half, and you combine your halves in an effort to mimic wholeness. But time and time again we see that the old 50/50 breakdown rarely works in our favor. Likely because women tend to enter into relationships with survival skills while men go into relationships with maintenance skills. One of us has what it takes to maintain a relationship and the other has what it takes to restore what we feel is worth maintaining.

But let’s say a woman runs out of understanding, empathy, support, forgiveness, endurance, patience, and all of the other intangibles required to push a relationship through its many rough patches, who’s there to grab the baton and continue the journey? This is where most relationships struggle and fail. It can’t be just one half of the relationship dedicated to fighting for the duo, both parties have to be equipped with the tools necessary to restore and rebuild their relationship or it’s bound to fail, no matter how hard the woman fights for it. Is your guy the type to take work criticism and bottle it up into a self-defeating attitude that stunts any potential growth? Or is he the kind of guy who will turn those criticisms into action steps and come out new and improved? A hardworking man is a must find, just make sure he’s willing to work hard when it comes to you.

#2 – He Wants To Solve Your Problems

When I was young, I used to watch my mom casually leave things around the house for my father to take care of after his night shift. Things like carrying the empty garbage containers to the back yard, hanging photos, grabbing things from the top cabinets, etc. A stickler for “letting a man rest when he first entered the door,” she’d wait for my dad to get situated before rendering her honey-do list to him. And like clockwork he’d check items off one by one, not resting until the list was complete.

One day, I watched my dad struggle to carry a few flower pots up a ladder, after four decades of honey duties his knees just didn’t work the way they used to. I asked my mom why she didn’t ask one of us to take care of things for her instead, obviously dad couldn’t get around like he used to. My mother peered at me momentarily over her burgundy reading glasses. “Your dad likes to solve my problems”, she said. “It makes him happy, it makes him feel useful and it makes my life easier. Why would I stop him from doing that?”

My mother, albeit blunt, was right. We tend to throw on our superwomen capes and lose sight of the fact that it’s the job of our partners to make our lives just a tad bit easier, otherwise what good is having a life partner? Having a mate who desires to alleviate even the simplest stressors from your day to day can truly go a long way. Some guys may anticipate what that support looks like, others, like my father, might need it in black and white, but the desire is what counts. When a marriage isn’t just about what your partner can do to make you happy, but equally about how you can contribute to their happiness, no one goes without the fulfillment they desire.

#3 – He Listens To What You Say And What You Don’t Say

Active listening is as basic a skill as any when it comes to healthy relationships. It’s essential that your partner be attentive and perceptive to your verbalized feelings, concerns and opinions, but it’s just as important that he be receptive to the ones you don’t verbalize.

We hear all the time how men aren’t mind readers and this is a fact, but body language is an actual means of communication and men everywhere who desire to build long-term relationships should study it religiously. As young women, we’re socialized to grit through our discomfort. To tough out situations because if we don’t get it done, then no one will. This explains why more married women report feeling like maids than wives and mothers. Women manage most of the household tasks, often work outside of the home, manage the majority of the day to day with the children, overextend themselves to be the primary support systems for everyone else, and find themselves neglected in the process. Our instincts are to keep pushing and not to complain. We don’t always have the selflessness to flat out ask for a break and mommy guilt keeps most of us parenting way past our breaking points. For this reason, it’s important to have a partner who places your health and happiness on par with his. The same way women anticipate their husbands being hungry after a long day of work or their toddlers needing a nap after a play date at the park, we deserve partners who use that same attentiveness to anticipate how best to actively support us. And that’s not called reading minds, that’s called paying attention.

#4 – He’s Willing To Compromise

We live in the age of zero compromise. Women are realizing they don’t have to compromise to get what they want, and men… well, they’re likely still trying to figure out what a compromise is. So it’s not uncommon to hear couples complain about their partner’s inability to negotiate on big and small issues alike. The reality is that compromise is essential to the health of any relationship, whether we’re talking friendship, business relationship or intimate partnership. When doing anything in conjunction with another adult, it’s safe to assume differences will arise. And when they do, it’s important to work through them in a way that makes both parties feel heard and considered.

We’re not talking about compromising essential pieces of our identities, we’re talking about living in the suburbs as opposed to the heart of downtown because it shortens our partner’s commute, using smoked turkey in the greens because our partner doesn’t eat pork, shuffling the kids off to soccer practice so our partner can finish up at the office. These things may sound menial, but over the course of a long-term relationship, small compromises and considerations create an environment where you can be a complement to your partner, not in competition with them. If everyone wins when both people give just a little, then no one really loses. Isn’t that what marriage is about?

#5 – He Expresses A Desire To Be Married (To You)

Have you ever gone on a job interview, gotten nothing but radio silence from the company in the weeks following, and still dressed up and reported to the office for your first day of work? Of course not. People would think you were foolish to expect to start a job that was never offered to you and marriage is very much the same.

It’s not enough for a man to express his casual desire to get married when and/or if the right person comes along. It is essential that the man who wants to marry you has not only verbalized his desire to do so, but has done so with clarity that you are his intended wife-to-be. Not to say this conversation needs to happen on day one, but I’ve heard way too many women find themselves on the tail end of their unsubstantiated relationship expectations. A man who desires to make you his wife should have no problem expressing that to you. Marriage isn’t a reward to women for good behavior, it’s not a participation trophy awarded to the woman who endures the most mistreatment. Marriage is a mutually beneficial partnership intended to help both man and woman navigate the challenges of live with support, love and companionship. It’s a solid foundation on which to build and raise a family, not the card a man plays when under threat of eternal bachelorhood. Simply put, a man who struggles to express his future plans for your relationship either doesn’t have any or doesn’t want to hurt you with the reality of what those plans really are. Head of household is a serious position, a leadership position that takes planning and foresight. You shouldn’t entrust a position of that magnitude to a man who can’t communicate his intentions and desires effectively, or be trusted to follow through with them.

Ladies, contrary to “Pick Me” culture, men aren’t the prize. And taking any ole consolation will only leave you unfulfilled and regretful in the end. Be honest about the health of your relationship. Does your partner leave you feeling supported, heard and valued, or are you just trying to mold Prince Charming out of a frog? Marriage is arguably one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in a lifetime and the decision needs to be just as much yours as it is his. So ask yourself, is he marriage material?

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