Having reached the ripe age of 31 without getting married, I’ve had a number of years to think about what I’m looking for in a life partner. I’ve been through a few relationships, and I’ve been surprised in both good and bad ways. I’ve discovered unexpected qualities in potential partners that I value, and qualities that I now know to avoid.
In short, I have an idea of the kind of man I want to call my husband.
What (or who) am I looking for? A man who will allow me to be uncompromisingly myself—strong, independent and just a little feisty. Just as important, I am also looking for a man who will take the lead.
I am also looking for a man who will take the lead.
The expectation that a man will “lead” probably makes many of us cringe. Let’s be honest for a moment, shall we? For millennia, men have abused and controlled others in the name of “leadership.” For the most part, women have been told to stay quiet, hidden and at home—when, in reality, women are just as capable as men of leading a company, city or nation.
Yet, a husband who takes the lead doesn’t equate to a husband who is domineering or controlling. A husband who leads doesn’t make all the decisions. Large—”Should we buy the house?” or small—”What should we eat for dinner?” Instead, we make them together, as a team. A husband who takes the lead doesn’t mean that I don’t get to pursue my dreams or lead other people.
A husband who takes the lead doesn’t equate to a husband who is domineering or controlling.
“Taking the lead” means that my husband takes responsibility for the well-being of our marriage. It means that he initiates with me, even when we’ve grown into comfortable routines and rhythms. It means that he wants to defend me, even when I’m perfectly capable of defending myself.
A husband who leads exhibits strength, intentionality and the desire to protect and pursue in love, all qualities that I personally love the most in men.
A husband who leads exhibits strength, intentionality and the desire to protect and pursue in love.
Women are the Prize
Men who lead well in marriage start out by doing so in dating relationships. I don’t think it’s wrong for a woman to ask a man on a date. I don’t think it’s wrong for a woman to fight for a relationship to succeed. Heck, I don’t even think it’s wrong for a woman to propose to her boyfriend.
Yet, if I have to be the one leading in order for a relationship to deepen in commitment or survive trials, then I usually lose interest. For me, the very act of pursuit cools me down. On the other hand, being pursued— even by a man who wouldn’t normally catch my interest—is enough to, err, warm things up for me.
I recently had a conversation around this topic with a friend. This woman is quite progressive and all for egalitarianism. Yet, when talking about the lack of communication and intentionality that’s so present in dating today, she made this intrepid claim:
“I still think women are the prize.”
Many women want to be won over. We want to be pursued. We want to be asked out on dates, communicated with and led into deeper commitment by our partners.
This doesn’t mean a woman needs to be rescued. It simply means that she’s looking for a man who is ready and willing to make a bold decision to pursue her, commit to her and take responsibility for her heart.
Some of you might be thinking, “Don’t you think your expectations are a little…high?” I admit, I’m asking for a lot. I’m looking for a man who wants to commit to me and who has the humility, strength and ability to lead in our relationship.
While I fully realize that marriage will involve sacrificing a significant portion of my independence, I also expect a husband to embrace that part of me: the woman who has worked for herself, moved overseas solo and enjoys her alone time.
Having these standards may extend the wait for marriage, but I also believe it will make the wait worth it. At the end of it, I’ll find a partner who isn’t afraid to take the lead from the start—and to fight for a marriage that’s loving, balanced and fulfilling for the both of us.