by Delano Squires
According to Urban Dictionary the term “wifey material” is a phrase used to describe a woman who possesses certain qualities that would make her a model wife. I’m sure many men would describe this type of woman as a perfect mix of style, substance, sass, and love””or at least respect””for sports. Aside from that, men appreciate her kindness, supportiveness, and caring nature. She’s the type of woman who could turn a serial player into a one-woman man.
Urban Dictionary has no such definition for “hubby material,” however, and the definition for “husband material”"””a guy you would consider perfect enough to marry one day”””is so self-explanatory it’s almost laughable. Generally speaking, there’s relatively little dialogue about what makes a man husband material, aside from the standard responses that include some combination of appearance, stable employment and steady income.
A quick glance at some of the magazines and websites that cater to men serve as confirmation. There are entire sections dedicated to advice on careers, fashion, grooming, diet, exercise, and dating. Unfortunately, there is very little attention paid to the types of intangible character traits that women find desirable. This troubles me because I believe men can be much more in relationships than just protectors and providers.
This post is meant to inspire self-reflection and accountability. My question to the men who read it is the same one I often ask myself: What character traits are you cultivating that make you husband material? This question is often more difficult to answer than the ones we ask ourselves about the traits we find attractive in women.
Even when the discussion does focus on the qualities we believe women will find desirable, men tend to concentrate primarily on things that can be quantified (e.g. education, income, etc.). While these are all important, we should not neglect growth in other areas. A strong and healthy relationship requires a man to contribute more than just his intellect and income. Successful relationships require honesty, integrity, teachability, humility, patience, commitment, loyalty, and a number of other qualities that aren’t easily quantified. Therefore, it is important for men to cultivate these traits in every area of our lives, even during periods of singleness.
Advanced degrees and ambitious career aspirations say nothing of a man’s ability””or desire””to resolve conflict, practice forgiveness, or encourage his partner in her professional endeavors. Studies show that increasing numbers of women enter marriage on an equal, if not superior, educational and economic footing as their husbands. This means that fewer women are choosing to marry solely for the purpose of ensuring their financial stability. I did an informal survey of the women in my social circle and they overwhelmingly chose intangibles (e.g. faith, commitment, honesty, trustworthiness, responsibility, etc.) when I asked them to name their three most desirable traits in a man. The results were in stark contrast to media images that suggest the man who can shower a woman with expensive gifts is the man most worth having. Admittedly, my sample was not representative of all women, but I have no doubt that there are many other women who know that a successful relationship takes more than just deep pockets and surface level compatibility.
I once heard a preacher say that it is always a mistake to decide what you want to do before you decide who you want to be. His point was that our lives should be lived in a manner that prioritizes character over achievements. This principle is applicable to relationships as well. The type of husband a man becomes will be strongly influenced by the type of man he is, and ultimately the consequences of a lack of character development (e.g. infidelity, abuse, etc.) will be remembered far longer than his ability to pay the bills. As men we need to be sure we are just as diligent in becoming the right man as we are in finding the right woman. We should apply the same critical eye that we use to assess a woman’s culinary skills, style, and appearance to our own lives. Put simply, it’s time for each of us to put down the microscope and pick up the mirror.
Guys, what qualities do you possess that make you husband material? Ladies, what qualities, aside from income and education, do you believe make a man husband material?
Delano Squires is currently a graduate student in Social Policy at the George Washington University. His interests are contemporary African American culture and fatherhood, families, and child development. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Squires.
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