The Man List

I sipped my latte and patted myself on the back with an invisible hand. I must be a more mature Christian, I thought.

“I taped it to my bathroom mirror,” Elly continued. “I titled it, ‘No Compromise.’ Do you want to hear it?” Without waiting for my answer, Elly launched into a list of the qualities her future husband was required to possess:

  1. Great relationship with his parents
  2. Love dogs
  3. Tell me I’m beautiful
  4. Have a good job and a great work ethic
  5. Enjoy the outdoors
  6. Not be nervous to pray out loud
  7. Want at least three kids
  8. Have a good sense of style
  9. Lead family devotionals
  10. Be smart financially
  11. Have a great sense of humor

“There’s more,” Elly took a deep breath. “But you get the drift. I know some of them are physical traits, but having this list will help me be selective.”

“Just be reasonable,” I cautioned her. “Nobody is perfect. You may never meet your man if you’re stuck on a list of perfect qualities.”

Fast forward 12 years. I’ve been married for a decade, and guess what, I just discovered my list. I’d never written it down or taped it to the mirror, all the same, I had a list of expectations a mile long. And sadly, the most obvious items were exactly the things my husband wasn’t fulfilling.

For years, I enviously observed my friends’ husbands. Jordan has a great sense of humor. He and Chelle share all kinds of adventures. He goes to romantic comedies with her, kisses her in public, cooks with her and takes funny pictures.

Blake, another friend’s man, tells her she’s beautiful all the time. He even tells me she’s beautiful! He does projects around the house, goes shopping with her, and brings her small gifts.

Jen’s hubby is quiet, practical, gentle. He has a precious relationship with his mother and adores her parents as well. He takes her fly fishing, tries eclectic restaurants and dresses well. He’s a doctor and works as hard as any man I’ve ever met.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I sat at a different coffee shop, with a different friend, sharing our hearts.

“It’s just so hard,” Renee’s words spilled quickly. “I know I’m not perfect, but there are so many ways it’s just not working. The best thing we do is parent together. There are so many things I wish he could understand about me, things I wish he’d take the initiative in, things I thought a husband was supposed to do.”

I tried not to gape at her in shock. Renee’s husband, Brent, was one of those guys I secretly wished my husband would emulate. From a outsider’s perspective, Renee had married the perfect man.

Suddenly, I was tempted to share my recent revelation about my own husband’s shortcomings. I thought about telling her that I wanted him to be more romantic, that I wished he would help me out around the house, do more things with me and be more talkative with my parents. Instead, a couple Bible verses came to mind.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,” (1 Thess. 5:11a).

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8)

I held my tongue. “But, Lord,” I almost interjected in quiet prayer.

“Think on the admirable things…”

A new list began to form in my mind. My husband will never be able to meet all the expectations I have of a perfect man. No one could. But he has innumerable admirable qualities. He is generous, quiet, inventive, diligent, a hard worker, self-sacrificing, patient and strong.

I reached across the table and placed a hand on Renee’s arm. “I think we need to focus on all the things that our husbands do well. Even if there are a million things they need to work on, it will change our hearts to think on all of their positive qualities.”

No one is perfect. I’d hate to see my husband’s list of all the qualities his dream wife would have. But by obediently searching for the good attributes of our mates, we encourage and strengthen them to become more like Christ.


Abby Kelly is a blogger, personal trainer, partner in Moms Who TRI, a journaler and a dog owner. She currently lives in Northern Virginia with her military officer husband. She writes on cultural, personal and relational lies that destroy women's lives and seeks to share the truth, hope and love of Jesus Christ.

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