David Burchett Christian Blog and Commentary

Can You Predict Lasting Love?

Yahoo.com had a link right there on the front page with this intriguing title.

Qualities in a man that can predict lasting love.

I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not looking for a man with these qualities. My interest was to see if I brought any of those projected qualities to my relationship with the stunning Mrs.Burchett. I actually joined the Men Who Married Up group on Facebook so I can handle the truth. I am going to self-score to see how I measured up 34 years ago when Joni was deciding if I was a keeper. Author Mina Azodi came up with five different traits that she believes can predict lasting love.

Dating Trait #1: He Knows What He Wants

Any guy you're serious about should be able to articulate his long-term goals and passions (sorry, fantasy football and Xbox don't count). He can't ally himself with you until he has a sense of how he envisions his life in the future... and how you fit in. "If a man has no idea what he wants to be when he 'grows up,' then it will be impossible for him to commit to you,"
says Paul Dobransky, MD, founder of womenshappiness.com. Don't assume he'll work things out, because when he does, you may realize his ambitions don't mesh with yours. "This mistake has contributed to the starter-marriage phenomenon, in which couples in their 20s and 30s suddenly realize they're going in different directions and divorce at an early age," says Dobransky. "It's preventable as long as you're both clear about your plans."

Hmmmm. That is a tough one. I thought I had it figured out at that point in my life so Joni might have believed I had this trait. But I didn’t really know what I wanted in my early twenties.

Dating Trait #2: He Has a Sunny Outlook

A recent study led by the University of Oregon found that women who had upbeat partners felt more satisfied in their relationships and -- this is huge -- that the man's level of optimism determined the relationship's staying power. Not only is it nice to have someone help you see the silver lining of a situation that totally sucks, but cheerful guys are good at keeping things in perspective, so they don't let little conflicts get to them and can go with the flow.
Along with having an optimistic POV, it's also crucial that the guy you're seeing can make you laugh. "It's an important stress valve for any couple," says Les Parrott, PhD, coauthor of "Trading Places." "Having a sense of humor helps you weather the rough patches that you'll inevitably encounter together." It shows that he is able to let loose and doesn't take things too seriously. Plus, you'll have a better time together if you can see the funny side of things.

I scored really well on this one. Most people assume Joni married me because I made her laugh. I can’t argue with that assumption unless she had an odd attraction to bad 70’s hair and ugly polyester shirts with big pointy collars.

Dating Trait #3: He's Open to Changing for You

It's true you may not be able to change a man, but a guy should want to change for you. If a facet of his behavior irks you (for example, maybe he's not attentive enough in certain circumstances), he should be game to hear you out, listen to how you'd like him to do things differently, and then act on those suggestions. "When a guy is truly in love, he is more self-reflective and will work on the aspects of himself that bother you," says Diana Kirschner, PhD, author of "Love in 90 Days." "Studies have found that successful married couples change each other quite a bit over time."

Hate to spoil the party but a lot of guys are “willing to feign” openness to change during the dating process. I am not sure how predictive that is of future behavior. I would have scored pretty well on this prior to marriage but I reverted back to old patterns early in our marriage.

Dating Trait #4: He's Still a Little Mysterious

The beginning of a relationship is always exciting because you're just getting to know each other. But even after the newness wears off, it's essential that a man keeps you guessing. "If you can never quite pin down what makes him tick, that's actually a healthy thing," says Kirschner. Although at first you might feel more bonded to a guy who shares tons of personal info with you, over time, you risk losing the intrigue that pulled you to him initially. You might start to see him as more of a friend than a romantic partner.

That just makes me chuckle. I think mysterious would never me a word used to describe me. Weird might work. Hiddenness maybe. But I don’t consider hiddenness to be a particularly attractive trait.

Dating Trait #5: He's Responsible with Money

Besides giving you a heads-up about money-related conflicts you might encounter in the future (one of the topics long-term couples argue about most), how a guy handles cash reveals a lot about his character. "A man who doesn't track his money shows a lack of patience and self-control," says Dobransky. "In fact, guys who are financially reckless share many traits with men who cheat." But you also don't want to be with a tightwad. If a dude doesn't splurge now and then, it may mean he'll be stingy in other ways, such as compromising during a fight.

I was (and still am) a mixed bag on this one. Too generous at times and a little disorganized when it comes to financial discipline. When Joni met me she couldn’t have made a judgment on my responsibility with money for one very good reason. I didn’t have any.

Interesting exercise. I don’t think I was all that good a prospect for a long lasting relatonship based on these traits. After thirty-three years of happiness with my bride I think I might suggest a different list of traits to examine. My list of traits apply to men and women who are follower of Jesus. That has been the single most important predictor of our love lasting the years. Here is my list.

1) He knows who he is.

I believe that knowing who you are is far more predictive of success that what you want. Joni knew I was a follower of Jesus. She knew I was committed to the belief that the marriage vow is exactly that. A vow. She knew my values. Those things that defined us (faith, committment, values) gave us the foundation to figure out what we wanted over the years and to hang in until we did.

2) He knows who is in control

I completely agree (obviously) with the sunny outlook and sense of humor thing. But perhaps a better indicator of marital success for us was trusting God and believing that He had a plan for us that we would discover together. The mystery of the two becoming one in Christ works really well when you are willing to cede control to Christ.

3) He is open to growing in Christ and as a spiritual leader

Any man who understands who he is as a Christian will be much more likely become the kind of man hoped for above. When a husband seeks to become more like Christ he will love his wife well. You can’t help it.

4) He is always a lot transparent.

There is nothing more amazing than your spouse knowing everything about you and still loving you. Check that. There is one thing more amazing. A holy and righteous God knowing everything about you and still loving you because of Christ.

5) He realizes all of his blessings (including money) are gifts of grace from God

A man that understands that nothing is really “his” is a very good risk in my humble opinion. Rush Limbaugh takes a lot of heat for saying his talent is “on loan from God”. I am not sure what his heart attitude is when he says that but the statement is true. Everything from health to weath is on loan from God.

I think our marriage is still viable because I have slowly (Note from Joni – really slowly) matured in the truths listed above. My bride’s committment to her faith and values allowed me to grow in numbers two through five on my list. I am grateful to her for that patience and grace. No one can predict lasting love. For us the most important predictor was starting our journey with Jesus as the foundation of our marriage.

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.

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