Jul 092014 22 Responses

This Is Who You Want to Marry

I’ve never seen it on someone’s Top Ten list of traits for a future spouse. Yet one characteristic I would demand regarding a future spouse is a healthy work-ethic.

It’s late at night as I write this. Having put the kids to bed, Jenny and I have opened up our laptops. I’m forming sentences as she is surveying spreadsheets. She’s worked all day. The first hour was spent getting kids ready. The next seven were spent on her company. The next few hours were spent watching kids and talking to clients. A few hours were spent cooking, cleaning, spending time with family, and putting kids to bed. Now a few more are spent trying to get some things completed which were not finished earlier.

Not every night is like this. She’s not a workaholic, but she is a hard worker.

Never marry someone who isn’t. (See: Dating to Break-Up–a Unique Perspective)

Laziness kills relationships.

It might look appealing at first. It seems easy and laid-back. But when you marry a lazy person you will either have to do the work of two people or live in the consequences of their laziness. Neither are desired.

A healthy work-ethic is necessary for a well-balanced relationship. If a person is lazy, the marriage becomes unequal. One spouse does more work than the other. This easily results in bitterness and/or entitlement. It makes one spouse the parent and the other a child, but marriage is about partnership.  (See: You’re Not My Soul Mate)

Partnership requires equal effort. It doesn’t require both parties to be involved in the same type of work; as a matter of fact, the more diversified the efforts, the more well-rounded the couple. The same type of work isn’t necessary but the same amount of work is.

In a healthy marriage, both partners are giving equal effort to make the partnership work. While there might be seasons in which this isn’t true—illness or other situations might limit the capability of one partner—most of the time it is the defining characteristic.

Mutual satisfaction is most often found with mutual work. Only one might draw a paycheck, but in a happy relationship both partners are contributing to the well-being of the relationship. (See: Never Marry Someone Who Blames the Umpire)

Work-ethic isn’t always easy to identify while dating, especially if you are in college, but there are some clues:

Does the person study regularly and take their school work seriously?

If they have a job outside of school, do they do that job to the best of their ability?

If given a responsibility, do they follow through with it?

Do others view them as lazy?

Lazy people make bad spouses. They expect to have the fruits of labor but they are unwilling to do the labor. Most often they expect their spouse to do the work for them. (See: Marry a Partner, Not a Child)

It’s okay to be friends with someone who is lazy, but never marry them. Life is too hard and success takes too much work for half of the partnership to hold you back.

Only marry someone who is willing to work just as hard as you are. If you don’t, you will forever be frustrated, lonely, and tired.

But if you marry someone who works hard at their job and the relationship, you will always have a partner by your side. Marriage is a partnership between equals, therefore work-ethic should be an essential quality in who you choose to marry.

22 Responses to This Is Who You Want to Marry
  1. -- Reply

    And so…. what if this advice is 20-30 years too late? The person I married does not have a great work-ethic and everything you describe as challenges and consequences are right-on. And believe me, the old advice that “it’s not possible to change someone else” is true and good advice. My response has been to really try and see this as an opportunity to grow in grace, patience, perseverance and commitment – the concept of “Sacred Marriage” (What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?). It’s a huge struggle that I often fail at, but I just wanted to both affirm your advice and to let you know not everyone chooses their mate so wisely.

  2. Kim Reply

    I am pretty sure you were spying on my previous marriage lol. I learned that lesson the hard way. It does everything you said it does, and more. I was doing the work of two people. My marriage felt like I was a mother of 3 instead of two. It’s discouraging and disheartening. Thank God, I don’t worry about that now!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I’m glad the lesson was learned, but I’m sorry you had to learn it.

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  9. Kate Reply

    Hey, I’m in love with a guy I have never felt as close to anyone before not even my sister and we are crazy close 🙂 we just bounce off each other really well, our dreams are align, his parenting from what I see is defiantly align, our hobbies, sport everything! When we first met we drove 3 hours together and we where just in perfect sinc. but he’s all about fun, family,
    friends which I love because he brings it out in me. And I’m super driven, hard worker, massive goals, he’s not a motivated loyal worker like I
    am…. I haven’t dived into a relationship with him because of it, but I really want to be with him for the amazing other qualities I see in him. Thanks I would love your oppinion Kevin 🙂

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I would take the relationship very slow. This is an important area and he will have to make a decision of whether or not he’s going to grow up or not. He doesn’t have to be a workaholic, but does he take care of his responsibilities and can you respect his work ethic.

  10. Sarah Reply

    Hi Kevin,
    I was engaged within a few months of knowing a guy whom i met only once as it was basically a long distance relationship. As he was sure of it quite fast he asked me to decide in order to not waste much time. So i did basing my decision on him being a nice person, easy going, settled,hardworker and an honest person.
    Thing is once we started with the preps, I started feeling quite unsure and uneasy. He seemed to have a tough background so when it came to making decisions it was left entirely on me or others. I was left to decide on our honeymoon on my own once he figured out with his friend it was too expensive to where he wanted so left it to me to decide where and if i could pay it as it worked out more expensive from where he lived.
    He didnt seem happy about where he lived so when i suggested options hed say hed tried hard enough and was tiered cos work never seemed to have worked out for him anywhere but there… so he wasnt gonna try again. This was an answer i received in many aspects and say i could change him once there. He then mentioned he just wanted me to get there and handle his accounts, put up a business and manage the household cos he was tiered of doing it all alone and needed to depend on someone.
    When we talked about kids..i was astonished when he jokingly said hed stay home to take care of the kids n i could work.
    Further down the line i happened to know hed even lied about his job..hed said he was a business owner with his friend and then i come to know he was an employee there. When i asked him.for clearer explanations I could tell he was winding me down with untrue facts. It didnt matter much what he worked as but i just didnt know if the rest i knew about him was true or fake.
    Im a hard worker myself as I believe in working it up the ladder in order to gain stability and also a better future for my family and would have continued once married but with what mentioned above I felt all insecure and a feeling of being dragged down succumbed me so i decided to call the wedding off.
    Ive been thinking it over and at times feel guilty as he was a good person…but the rest of the values i held my decision for..
    All crumbled down.
    Im still trying to figure out my insecurities and wondered if you could help me understand where i went wrong or if i exaggerated the situation as ive felt guilty of having called off but physically and mentally couldnt gather myself to go ahead as all i felt was fear and insecure… all this considering i was moving right across the world for him.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Sounds to me like you made the right decision. Calling off the wedding was difficult but was the proper call to make. Learn from this experience, move slowly next time, and you won’t regret it.

  11. LJ Reply

    Everything you have said is correct. My husband is lazy and has no work ethic and it is frustrating to work so hard while he sits at his leisure on the couch. The resentment just boils inside of me. I wish I read this article 14 years earlier. I hope this article save someone from making the same mistake I did. And save themselves from a lifetime of grief.

  12. Jennifer Reply

    I can understand this article, but what happens if I am the one who doesn’t have a great job, but a minimum paying job? What if time, money and school isn’t working out due to some circumstances? Does this mean I am not worthy of marriage? My boyfriend makes more money, graduated with a Masters and has a stable career.. I make enough to pay my own bills and contribute on little things here and there.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      It doesn’t mean that at all, Jennifer. As long as you are doing your part, working hard, and have a plan then you are doing what you are supposed to do.

  13. Jessica Reply

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks in advance for reading my comment!

    Do you think people really can’t change? Even God wouldn’t change them? I’m still hoping that I could change my husband who is extremely lazy. The four years I have been with him, he never pays his part of rent or utilities. He only works part time and the money he makes goes to his alcohol( drinks everyday), weed, cigarette and lunch at work. He often runs out of money and will spend money on my credit card but never helps me pay my bills. When he needs something, and he doesn’t have money, I pay for him. He never pays me back. He had poor money management skills and carries debts that he is not working on paying back but spend money like he is some rich guy. He thinks that if I run out of money, I can just ask my family to send money and it has always been like that.
    I do all the dishes, laundries, cleaning, grocery shopping and taking the garbage out.
    He only goes to work and comes home plays video games, drinks and smokes. He spends his day off staying at home doing the same thing, plays video games, drinks and smokes. Beer cans, bottles, dirty dishes and left over food would pile up around his computer and room for days and weeks until I go clean them.
    I’m the one who has to plan everything, smaller things like going on trips, and bigger things like apartment hunting or car shopping, I have to do it all on my own. He just assumes I will take care of everything and he will tag along. I am so tired of always doing things for two people. I feel there are cement blocks that tie around my feet and every steps I take, I’m dragging my legs, and I barely move forward. I just can’t think of a better future for us and i feel so trapped. I worry that when we have kids, I have to face everything on my own, including pregnancy, raising the kids and teaching them to be hard working people.
    You must wonder, this sounds awful, why haven’t I ran away?
    Well, the most important thing is that I’m in love with him. The attraction and chemical is just unreal. I never feel so deeply connected to anyone like this.
    He has got a heart of gold and he truly cares and loves people. He is so talented, intelligent, funny, charming, out of box thinking, logical and analytical. He can do so many great things but he just throws them away because of his laziness. I worry if I leave, he will go back to using hard drugs, heavy drinking and no one is going to take care of him. but I’m just so drain, tired and depressed being with him to be honest. I still blame myself on not being strong enough and not trying harder. Should I keep trying or should I just let go? It’s been four years and nothing really changed.
    Thanks again for reading!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I do think people can change, I just don’t think we can change people. It has to be a choice they make. In my opinion, your guy has no reason to change because he gets everything he wants done for him. Personally, I would like the two of you to go to counseling so these issues can be worked through.

  14. Amy Reply

    Hey Kevin,

    Im engaged to the sweetest man. He is a total gentleman and treats me how a woman should be treated. He is loving, godly and the perfect guy. He listens to me and respects my decision. My family loves him as well. However, he can be lazy and overall just likes to do nothing. He works but doesn’t work hard while on the job. Its been bugging me because we are planning to open our own business together. I love him to death and believe that god has brought him into my life for a reason.

    He has gotten better about cleaning and doing things around the house. But I feel like I am always nagging him. Nothing would get done if I didn’t nag him to do things.

    I want to marry him but don’t want this to be what ruins our relationship!! Can you help?


    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I would read the second section of my book Friends, Partners, and Lovers. Ask yourself if he will be a good partner. It’s possible to marry someone you wouldn’t want to work with because styles conflict. That would be its own question. The big issue is respect. If you can’t respect his work ethic, life might be difficult.

  15. Ellen Mackler Reply

    My daughter asked me if I could help her figure out how to explain to her boyfriend (great potential, negligible work ethic) why she is not ready to marry him. This essay is beautifully written and hits the bullseye. Thank you!!!

  16. Linda Reply

    My boyfriend and I are in our 50’s. We both come from poor families. I’ve worked 50+hours a week since I was 18. My only debt is the mortgage and I have 50% equity.
    My boyfriend is the local handyman without a guaranteed income and credit card debts.
    He lives with me now. He was living with a roommate. I pay the mortgage, he pays the utilities. We both buy groceries, both cook. He pays when we go out to dinner once a week.

    I’m starting to feel taken advantage of. I want him to come to my level of financial stability. He doesn’t have health insurance, he owes back taxes, maybe child support still.

    My biggest fear is he has a major health issue and I’m stuck caring for him. I asked him what happens if he has a heart attack. He said, “call an ambulance”. I’ve asked in different ways and he shuts down the conversation. “Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen. Everything is fine. You worry too much. Take it one day at a time.

    I love the way I feel when we’re together but I don’t want to be financially responsible for a grown man.

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