Ask your girlfriends what they want in a husband. Most of their answers are in list form and go like this: has x color eyes and x color hair, makes x amount of money, has x career and so on.

I’m here to tell you that those lists of wants — musts, even — are bullshit. At the end of the day, you need to follow that cliche saying and marry your best friend, regardless of occupation, salary, body type or anything else.

When you have a type-A personality and are tightly wound — as others will so often tell you — that stupid list won’t matter when it comes to your husband. What will matter is having a man who can unwind you just a bit, one who lets you take a break and just breathe. A lifetime commitment may sound scary, but spending the rest of your life in the rigid little world you’ve created for yourself — with no escape or even break — is much scarier.

My husband is absolutely my best friend in the entire world. And moving across the country weeks after our wedding was the best way to test the strength of our budding marriage. We ran out of gas on the drive out, got no sleep as we tried to organize our apartment and frantically rushed to find furniture so we could live comfortably. While I freaked out throughout the whole process, he remained calm and helped me through it all. As I looked back on the challenges we faced getting here and getting settled, I realized that while I never had a checklist for my “perfect man,” it was time to create one based on the real-life perfect man I found.

Marry someone who …

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knows you better than you know yourself.

This doesn’t happen overnight, but, if you date someone for long enough, the right man will learn. If he doesn’t, it’s because he doesn’t care to. The man who doesn’t care to isn’t what you need when you’re often too caught up in life to slow down and understand why you’re feeling the way you are.

The right man will learn when you’re just tired or hungry versus when something is truly wrong; he’ll learn when to talk it out versus when to just hold you. He’ll learn what makes you happiest and what drives you insane (though, he may often be the culprit here). He’ll be able to look at your face, decode your body language, detect what you’re really saying … and he’ll just know.

Blake and I are about to hit our three-year mark of being together. After 21 years I don’t know myself all the way, but in less than three years, Blake gets me. When I’m stressed out, flustered and anxious without any idea why, he’s able to tell me what’s really going on — he’s always right.  He knows when he should crack and joke and lighten the mood and when he should just walk away. He has no qualms sternly telling me to get out of my head and give myself a break. He’s both tough with me and kind to me because he always know what I need.

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is your biggest fan.

You need someone who will cheer you on because you’re often too hard on yourself. The right man will celebrate all of your victories, big or small. When you think you could’ve done better, achieved more, he’ll praise what you did get done and tell you how amazing you are. You are your toughest critic, but he’ll combat that by being your biggest fan.

When I landed myself in a walking boot from overtraining for the Baltimore Marathon, Blake reminded me of all that I had accomplished along the way even without making it to the start line. After all the tears and self-hate for failing when I had been so close, his words made me smile and realize that I had come so far. He knew I would run and race again, smarter than before. And guess what? I’m about to start training for my sixth half-marathon. I’m not afraid to say that my husband was right.

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puts you first, no matter what.

Do you ever put yourself first? When you have a type-A personality, meeting your next goal, coming out on top, and succeeding and then some are your top priorities. These achievements are often met at the expense of sleep, exercise, relaxation and overall well-being. This is why you need a man who puts you first. The right man will sacrifice sleep, rest and maybe even his job to ensure that you’re cared for and happy.

Even when he has the chance to sleep in, Blake will get up early to make me a big breakfast after my long run. He’ll stay awake with me when my mind is restless and racing, rubbing my back until I fall asleep. He missed important meetings at work to come to doctor appointments for my bone bruise that I was too nervous to go to alone. He’s always there for me — when I think I need him and even when I don’t need him. He’s there to make sure I’m taken care of physically and emotionally; my happiness is his priority.

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loves you for who you are.

Your inner critic is loud enough; you don’t need anyone else making it worse. You don’t need to lose weight, learn to “chill out,” act more feminine or do anything else for someone to love you. You need a man who accepts the crazy (let’s just be honest, we’re crazy) and even loves it.

At the end of a major freakout, when I finally admit that I was wrong and apologize, Blake laughs, hugs me and tells me he loves me. There are never any suggestions of how I can be better or what I should do differently next time; he’s said that he knows I’m a work in progress and that I will achieve great things simply because I care so much (See, our type-A personalities afford us some good qualities, too!).

Stop focusing on superficial qualities in men and focus on what matters. As soon as you change your mindset and expectations, you’ll find the perfect man in your life; and I promise he’ll actually be perfect.

 

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