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We like lists because we are afraid to die.–Umberto Eco

I strongly suspect that every person, or at least almost every man, has a list of qualities and attributes that their ideal spouse must have.  I know a gentleman who, at one point, had 40 attributes and qualities on his.  His list ranged from hair color (Red), to interests in art (Van Gogh), all the way up to their family origin (middle child).

I’m sure you laugh, but the fact of the matter is that these lists we all keep in our heads are poisonous.  These lists set dates and relationships up for failure, as we cast aside perfectly worthy people in favor of some Platonic ideal of our perfect match that doesn’t really exist.  In the end, we chase after phantoms, or, settle for someone that we see as “lesser,” and that just ends badly.

The fact of the matter is that anyone’s list, at least as an Orthodox anyone is concerned–should contain just five attributes.  These are as follows:

  1. Spiritually inclined in some capacity towards Christianity, preferrably Orthodoxy, but mixed couples do work (Sometimes, and we’ve talked about this before a little bit. But, since one of the points of marriage is working together towards mutual salvation, spiritual compatability is pretty darned important.)
  2. Respect what you do for a living (This is more important than it seems, I assure you.  Having someone that respects what you do makes strain within a marriage less, or so I’ve been told by those who have experienced it.)
  3. Mentally stable (Or rather, at least as stable as anyone can be in this strange, wild world.  This should go without saying.)
  4. That you find attractive, and have some amount of chemistry with. (Attraction does matter, in a limited extent–why would you date someone you’re not attracted to?)
  5. That you can easily and comfortably converse with. (When trouble comes up, someone that you can communicate easily with means you can work together more easily as well)

Anything else is frippery, and chasing after phantasms and distractions, if not outright Pharisaic in nature. I would argue that these things are the core of any stable, long-lasting relationship, which is after all, the nominal goal.  Not only this, but as you drop your list down to the bare essentials, you’ll find that there are more people around than you thought. (At least, that’s what I’ve discovered as I chopped my list down to these bare five things.)