Dear Dr. Norquist:
I have seriously dated several men over the past 6 years. Now that I am approaching the important age of 30 (when the baby clock really starts ticking), I am interested in finding a man who would be a good father, as well as a good husband. Now this is something I’ve never been taught how to do. How do I know what to look for? I feel naïve in this area. In the past I was looking for good company, good chemistry and similar interests. I figure this isn’t enough when it comes to my husband and the father of my child. Can you give me some pointers of what I should be looking for? My parents divorced when I was young and I don’t want to make the same mistake. How do I know when I’ve found the right man for me?
Dr. Norquist responds:
I’m impressed that you are approaching this so thoughtfully and conscientiously. Our culture would have us believe that anyone with whom we have a romantic connection is the right one. I can give you some pointers, but, as you know, the man you choose will not be one that you choose because he has all of the features I suggest. You will know when the fit is right for you.
Ideally, your perfect partner and you are looking for the same things in life. This is evidenced by shared beliefs, values, and life goals. He has an innate sense of fairness and respect, and is able to see and to take responsibility for his own issues, needs, and feelings. There should be a sense of teamwork and support, an ease of communication, and good enough chemistry. The ability to see, accept and respect each other for who you each are, and what you each think and feel, provides the foundation for developing genuine love.
Rather than completing each other, you and your partner are each whole onto your own Selves. You have a responsibility to your own life journey as well as to the marriage and the family you want to create. Consider that sometimes the fit is right because the difficulties between both parties provide the necessary ingredients for individual growth. Relationships are always opportunities to grow in your ability to feel and to express unconditional love towards both Self and other. Please write again if this answer leaves you with further questions.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2012 Chaitanya Counseling Services.