Let's be honest. Whether you've written it down or you keep it in your head, you've got a list of attributes you want in your future spouse. You're interested in someone with certain physical characteristics (blonde, tall, etc) or someone who doesn't have other characteristics that bother you.
But what are the attributes you should be looking for if you want to be truly happy in a marriage? If you've got the following characteristics on your list, you're headed the right direction.
This one might seem obvious, but if your sweetheart's not willing to commit, then your relationship is never going to work out. Commitment means deciding you want to be with one person more than you want to be with anyone else. When you're truly committed to a relationship, failure is not an option. No matter what, you work things out. If the person you're with isn't willing to stand by you in any circumstance, then he needs more time before he's ready for marriage, or you need to find someone else.
Talking is an essential part of any relationship — especially a marriage. This doesn't mean you both have to love talking, but it means you need the ability to talk with each other about issues. Life still happens when you're married, and you'll have plenty of things to work through. If you're in a relationship where you can't even keep up a conversation over dinner or make a decision by reasoning together, there will be problems down the road.
It is important that you and your partner share the same basic values and life goals. Do you both want children? Do you both believe in hard work and education? In being frugal with your money? These are only some things that can become issues in a relationship without common goals. Shared values also include religious beliefs. People of different religions can make a marriage work, but it's hard when your religious beliefs affect so much of your family life (raising children, holidays, entertainment and food choices). Be sure to talk with the person you are with about these different issues to see if you are on common ground.
An important characteristic of happy people and happy couples is the ability to be understanding — trying to see other points of view. Understanding spouses support their partners when, for example, more time is needed at work or when spouses pursue different interests. Is your partner understanding of your needs, and are you both willing to give each other help or time when needed?
Yes, it is important that you are attracted to the person you marry. Your spouse doesn't have to be the most attractive person in the world (in fact, it's better if she's not), but you have to find her sexy. You don't hear happy couples talking about how their spouses are "alright looking." Instead, they are in constant awe of how beautiful the person they married is. Not everyone has the same tastes, so it doesn't matter whether or not your spouse matches society's definition of good looking. Find someone who has physical traits you are most attracted to.
You may think the "bad boy" is fun, but what you should be looking for in a marriage partner is someone with good moral character — someone who has integrity, who is kind and compassionate. Kindness and generosity are the two key personality traits found in lasting relationships. So what kind of people are you dating? Pay attention to how your sweetheart treats others. If he's mean to the waiter or constantly puts others down, you should be concerned.
If you want a happy marriage, examine your list, and be willing to make some edits. Lasting characteristics are what really matter.