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The term "marriage material" gets thrown out a lot — without much definition. But according to Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of 5 Simple Steps To Take Your Marriage From Good To Great, the meaning behind marriage material is clear. "It means that he or she is a good partner for a long-term relationship," she says, complete with certain qualities. "Marriage market qualities are those that are good or key for a happy and healthy relationship. They add to a relationship, long-term, and will help the relationship grow." And to see if the guy or gal you're dating is really marriage material, she says, you can look for these signs.
1. Your significant other is trustworthy.
Knowing your partner tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth is the key ingredient to having a healthy relationship. "It is the key, essential step to any relationship that will continue to flourish," says Orbuch. Why? Because, Orbuch explains, it's not just about the ability to pass a lie-detector test. "When someone is trustworthy, he or she is predictable, reliable, and loyal, and can have a partner's best interests at heart," she says.
2. Your significant other is caring.
If your partner thinks first — or only(!) — of him or herself, he or she is not marriage material. "Someone who is marriage material is able to think of and feel emotions for others," explains Orbuch, "and not just be self-centered." Beyond that, she points out, a partner must also be able to feel deep empathy for his or her significant other.
3. Your significant other has the ability to commit.
It's implied that a person who's marriage material is actually ready for marriage. But wanting to settle down isn't the only sign you should search for in the man or woman you want to marry. Not only must your partner have the desire to tie the knot, Orbuch says, but "your partner needs to have the ability to continue a relationship long-term."
4. Your significant other is responsive.
When a man or woman is truly marriage material, he or she is "able to understand, respect, appreciate, and effectively respond to his or her partner's needs," Orbuch describes. Not only will being with a partner who possesses such qualities make you feel secure, but "intimacy also increases when people believe their partners can be responsive and concerned for their welfare," Orbuch explains.
5. Your significant other shares personal information.
And Orbuch doesn't mean what he or she had for lunch. "A man or woman who is marriage material has the ability to share personal — and often confidential — information with his or her partner," she says. "He or she doesn't share with everyone, but can reveal personal knowledge with his or her partner."
But just as there are signs you're with someone who's marriage material, there are glaring red flags you've tied yourself to someone incapable of tying the knot. Orbuch warns that anyone who can't deal with or resolve disagreements in a constructive fashion isn't someone you want to marry, nor is someone who can't show his or her affections openly and honestly.