Posted by: fathersez | January 31, 2008

What should I tell my children if they were to ask me “How to choose the right spouse?”

Our “little girls” are adults now. Along, our eldest will be 22 in April while Azah, our second will be 21 in May. 

They are now both busy planning their careers. My wife and I shall do our best to help by guiding them not to make the mistakes that we had made.  

There is however, one issue that the children would have to decide on by themselves.  

Choosing their spouses. 

Early Retirement Extreme wrote a post on “How to be happy in the long run”, which included a section on choosing a spouse. My understanding is that he has suggested “stress testing” the potential spouse to ensure that we end up marrying “a survivor” as he puts it. I am not so sure if I can suggest this advice to my children.  

I am truly blessed that in the so very important decision of choosing a spouse, I have made or have been guided in making the right decision. My wife and I have gone through many ups and downs and whilst we have differences, the net is very, very positive and good. 

How would I react if my children were to ask my advice on how to choose a spouse?  

Well, I have thought about this and these are my thoughts.  

It is impossible for us to predict the future and try to do a comprehensive spreadsheet evaluation on how to choose a spouse. So many events will happen in our married life, during which each partner may behave or react in a manner that may surprise the other.  

These are my suggestions. 

a)  Choose someone who believes in and fears God. 

This is putting the “Big Brother” mechanism in place. That someone is always watching you. Knowing that doing good is good and doing bad is bad and that all our deeds are being counted up.  

This part should also take care of good behavior and respect for the wife, the elders and others in the community. Above all this rule will make the person respect the sanctity of marriage.  

I don’t know how and don’t want to comment on the many fine people who do not believe in any particular religion.    

b)  That someone must believe in having goals for himself 

This would help in weeding out the directionless drifters who somehow with silver tongues manage to sweet talk their way into many a lady’s heart. I am sure that during their conversations, my daughters would be able to gauge this.  

A person with goals, no matter where he may be now, will have an advantage in improving his position as opposed someone who does not have goals. 

If they have written goals, so much the better! 

c) And finally, that someone must be able to make you laugh. 

Make you laugh loudly and happily. Whether it is by doing something silly, or by telling a good joke or whatever other way people are made to laugh. I think humor is a great adhesive in sorting out the many little differences that will crop up as people live as husband and wife.  

Well, these are my thoughts.  My wife also agrees with these suggestions. My daughters read my blog (don’t you, Along and Azah?), and I hope they understand what I am saying here.  

All my 4 brothers and sister were married off by parental matchmaking. I was the first one to break this chain, by choosing my wife myself. In addition my wife and I come from different cultures, which was also a first for both our families.

Our marriage has endured and has gone from strength to strength. Whilst my wife and I will never be able to guarantee “good spouses” for our children, we can help pay it forward by treating everyone as we would want our children to be treated. 



  1. It really helps to know your spouse for a while too. My husband and I were close friends and then dated for 5 years while I was in school. I got to know his quirks and such and to know that I could handle them.

  2. Maybe we should make such a list. I’ll think some more about it though I’m by no means an expert in these matters. I will respectfully disagree with your (a) if I understood it correctly. While I do think it is important to agree (more or less) on the choice of religion, I would be a little bit afraid if the determining factor that keeps a person from doing the morally right thing is based on the fear of punishment by a grand authority (God, parents, the justice system, etc.). Kohlberg made a study of moral development and refraining from doing something bad due to the fear of punishment is at stage 1. Stage 2 is a tit-for-tat, share your candy, fair play stage of school yards. Stage 3 is a be nice and do good things for your friends and family. Many people stay in this stage. Stage 4 is obey the laws of the country because they are the laws. Many people also stay in this stage. Stage 5 is obey the laws but realize that you should obey them because we have democratically decided on them. Stage 6 is realizing that even such laws can sometimes lead to immoral decisions that does not respect human rights and thus such laws should be broken at whatever personal cost (think Jesus or Gandhi).

  3. Mrs. M,

    You are certainly correct. The matchmaking days, when husbands and wives met each other only for about 5 – 10 mins before getting hitched seem to be dying off. (Though the practice still flourishes in certain parts of India and even my country, Malaysia, the young ones get more opportunities to get to know each other).

    Still 5 years is a long time.

    I hope my girls get to know their chosen ones quite well before they make this all important decision.

  4. Phynance,

    You have honoured me and my blog by writing the longest comment I have ever received. Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble.

    You have made a great point. I do not profess to know about the various stages of development in the quest to do right.

    It would be good enough for me if the person has his own mechanism or motivation to do the right thing.

  5. Totally agree with you on all of these points. My wife is the funniest person I know and makes me laugh everyday. Our faith also helps strengthen our marriage as well.

  6. true. thanks.

  7. Brett,

    Thanks for your comments.

    No matter how manly we may be, having a spouse who is strong in faith and has a great sense of humour is a big ++.


  8. can’t agree more especially the third point 🙂

  9. […] What should I tell my children if they were to ask me “How to choose the right spouse?” Choosing a spouse is probably the most important decision you’ll ever make. I’m blessed enough to have an awesome wife. Seriously, I don’t know where I would be with out her. Read this post for some great advice on choosing a spouse. (@ father sez) […]

  10. buying into a controlling religious dogma isn’t exactly a selling point for a potential wife.

  11. Here’s why.

    Religious people statistically have a higher divorce rate than people who claim to be atheists and agnostics.

    You’d stick with your wife, too, knowing that you didn’t marry her under religious obligation.

    What’s the appeal of marrying under a totalitarian delusion, anyway?

  12. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  13. Hello !!!! 🙂
    My name is Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that your posts are really interesting
    And want to ask you: will you continue to post in this blog in future?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Your Piter

    • Hi, Piter,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, I am continuing the blog at

      Please drop by.


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