Why Men Marry

Getting a man from meeting on dating websites to admitting that he’s ready to walk up the aisle can seem harder than getting to the top of Mount Everest. But if you take some time to understand what can make a man decide to commit forever, you’ll be well on the way to a long and fulfilling relationship. Here, match.com’s relationship advice expert Kate Taylor reveals what makes a man say “I do”.

Men really do want to get married

It might seem that men are more reluctant than ever to get married – but don’t be fooled. Despite the popularity of shows like Sex & The City, which portray men as wild animals that are nearly impossible to tame, it seems that men are as willing as ever to marry. The 2010-2011 LoveGeist report – an annual survey by match.com that forms a unique snapshot of the UK dating scene – revealed that 96% of men would love to be in a serious, committed, long-term relationship.

But why?

Doesn’t the modern day culture of premarital sex, long, uncommitted relationships and self-sufficiency suit most men perfectly? Actually, no. It’s a cliché to assume that men want nothing more than a constant succession of pretty faces passing in and out of their lives. When a man finds a woman he believes will make an ideal partner through life, he’s down on one knee before you can say, ‘hey – what’s in the jewellery box, Romeo?’

Marriage suits men very well. Studies have shown that married men live longer, earn more money, enjoy more sex and have lower levels of depression than single men. They cope with stress more successfully and are far more likely to be involved in their children’s lives than if they didn’t marry the mother. Even divorce doesn’t put them off: on average, divorced men re-marry within 3 years of receiving their Decree Absolute, compared to 8 years for divorced women.

A healthy wife is better than a pretty one

However, men are fussy about who they marry. The fact they often bear the financial brunt of divorce means they’re pragmatic about entering into a legal commitment. They look for very specific qualities. An ongoing study by Forbes magazine in the US revealed the traits men look for in a future wife, and this study provides some salient relationship advice for those looking to marry. The study revealed that looks are important, but not essential – they’re only rated eighth in the top 10 (rising from no.15 in 1939, presumably before free eye-tests became available!). Good health is more important, rated 7th, followed by Sociability, and a Pleasing Disposition is at number 5. Education And Intelligence is the 4th most desirable quality, and has been growing in popularity since the 1930s when it was languishing in the no.15 spot.

The top three traits make fascinating reading: third is Emotional Stability. According to John T Molloy, author of “Why Men Marry Some Women But Not Others”, an easy-going partner becomes more important to men as they get older. While youthful 20-somethings don’t mind a bit of high-drama from their girlfriends, it becomes less popular with time and “an easy-going, kind personality” was given as the reason why most men in their 40s settled down with their wives.

Thoughtfulness and dependability are key

Forbes found the second-most desirable quality men look for in a wife is Dependability. This reinforces a trend we’ve seen in our LoveGeist survey as time goes on: today’s daters are looking for stable relationships where partners can support one another emotionally, through the hard times. Some added relationship advice here – it’s not about money: LoveGeist found that ‘thoughtful gestures’ are far more popular than ‘extravagant gifts’. Perhaps surprisingly, Dependability has always been important to men – Dependability has been in the top five desirable qualities, ever since records began.

Don’t forget love

Finally – Love. “Mutual Attraction and Love” is the number one quality men look for in a future wife. Predictable? No. It’s only since the 1980s that Love has made the top spot – before 1983, Dependability, Emotional Stability and a Pleasing Disposition All out-ranked Love. Marriage has changed in recent years – as we all become more self-sufficient, marriage is no longer about forming families and gaining independence from parents. Men can do what they like today. But it’s wonderful to know that ideally, above all else, what they like to do is still meet a woman, fall in love and live happily ever after – with a quick trip up the aisle long the way.