What tells you that your relationship is “for keeps?”
A quiver of delight might go down your spine when you look at him. He might treat you as if you are the greatest woman ever to walk into his life. He might look at you and feel a strong physical attraction. She might look at you like you are Superman. But, does he or she have what it takes to stay in your life? Does the initial attraction, no matter how powerful, mean this can be a forever love?
No. Frankly, that initial attraction can last a lifetime, but it can also fade very quickly when you come face-to-face with reality. The Baha’i teachings encourage a broader view, suggesting that the couple:
…show forth the utmost attention and become informed of one another’s character and the firm covenant made between each other must become an eternal binding, and their intentions must be everlasting affinity, friendship, unity and life. – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, Volume 2, p. 325.
The other person’s character—the combination of inner qualities that make up the true self—tells you whether or not you’ve found a keeper. As you consider what qualities of character you observe in each other, keep in mind which ones count as most important to you. Look for these 10 qualities and decide: do these attributes make each other worth hanging onto?
This is all about showing up when you say you will, calling when you agree to, and keeping your focus on each other…not on someone else. It means you manage your lives in a way that helps others trust your integrity.
What comes out of your mouths has to be real and straight, not manipulative or twisted. Lying destroys your trust, and truth builds connection and respect.
You know and honor the fact that you each have a mind, heart, and soul, not just a body. You speak positive words and act towards each other like noble human beings.
You both need to have an equal say in decisions, in what you do together, how you accomplish your responsibilities, and how you meet your needs. Relationships and marriage are partnerships.
You support yourselves and look after the significant areas of your lives. You value when bills get paid, problems are handled promptly and well, and important relationships get the time and attention they need.
You give of yourselves, your time, your listening, your money, your laughter, and your hearts. Openness to share will contribute to your relationship growing and going smoothly.
You openly and generously express love to each other. The words are important, but you act more broadly through sharing tokens of affection, spending time, and doing thoughtful acts.
Do you interact with good manners? Courtesy is definitely one way of expressing love, as you show consideration and kindness for each other. You remember to say please and thank you, and you spontaneously support what’s best for the other.
You value each other and consider each other as great friends. When the going gets tough, you share what you think and feel, and you enjoy spending time together. When you display a friendly nature with others, you can each be at ease and relax and be together in a group, while still feeling as if you are special to each other alone. You laugh and have fun easily together.
This special person isn’t afraid of making promises, saying they will stay and meaning it, staying faithful in word, attitude, and action, and carrying it all out. Your whole-hearted commitment places you very near and dear to each other’s heart.
When you recognize inner mental and spiritual qualities like these 10 in someone you love, you can serious consider marrying each other, and forming a “binding covenant,” a “tie that will endure forever”:
Baha’i marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity…. The true marriage of Baha’is is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 118.
Many factors affect whether you will be good marriage partners—but these qualities form an excellent foundation. When they exist, you both definitely have “keeper” possibility!