3 Things To Look For In A Spouse

I have a colleague who told me his father’s rule of thumb for choosing a wife: “Except for beauty, you should have more than her in every aspect.”
This means that the husband should be more knowledgeable, richer, stronger, older and probably come from a more noble family.

I’ve heard different rules for choosing a spouse before but my friend’s father made a lot of sense. This is because many women would agree with his advice. It is similar to a woman’s list.

Yet, like all rules of thumb, it left a lot unsaid. Such as the individual characteristics of both individuals. And Baba was talking to his son, so he addressed the man’s perspective. I’m sure if Baba were alive today, he would have told us more. For example, he must have told the daughters a different thing.

This brings us to the three important traits I found very insightful. In her book, “How Not To Die Alone,” Logan Ury said that when we are deciding on marrying an individual, we should focus on three things: emotional stability and kindness, growth mindset and fighting well.


Let me start with the last one. Fighting well. You should establish that both you and the person you’re marrying are going to fight well when you disagree and quarrel. Because you will surely disagree and quarrel.

I know of only one friend who has never quarrelled with his wife; which is a very remarkable feat. I once asked the husband how they did it because I’m thinking of studying their relationship for a PhD, but that is a story for another day.

So when you quarrel, you should do justice. Justice here means two things: not forgetting the good that the person has done in the past and avoiding what psychologists call fundamental attribution error. Meaning when your spouse does something bad, you conclude that they must be a bad person.


Someone who can empathise. Who feels pain when you’re hurt and is happy when you are. Someone generous with his words, time and resources.

This is the kind of person who is the opposite of a high-conflict personality. One of the attributes of someone with such a personality is that they have unmanaged emotions. In another article, I wrote: “They can suddenly yell, cry or storm out of the room. These are emotions they have not managed.”

For more on high-conflict personality, read my article entitled “2 Types of People Who Can Wreck Your Life.” It is article number 31 in this series.


This simply means someone who thinks things get better with effort. Carol Dweck of Stanford University has done a lot of work in this area. Even students with a growth mindset do better in school and are not afraid of new challenges.


That is a lot of information to unpack, so let me summarize. You will never get all you want in one person. And the more options you have to choose from, the more helpless you would become. So said Barry Schwartz in “The Paradox of Choice.”Therefore, if you found one and are considering marrying them, focus on three things: Are they emotionally stable and kind? Do they have a growth mindset and believe that things can get better? And do they fight well?

To even summarize it further, take Prophet Muhammad’s advice and marry a saliha/salihi or a good person.

This article is a synthesis of three books. So you may want to read them for more information:

  • How Not To Die Alone
  • The Paradox of Choice
  • The Science of Happily Ever After

But know that there are no guarantees in life.

Series count 62/100

  • Dr Ibraheem Dooba
(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)