What Are the Most Important Qualities in a Spouse?

This month, readers share their partner’s best trait—the one that most reminds them of how lucky they are in love.

marriage-partners-chores
Photo by Christopher Silas Neal

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, my husband’s unconditional love got me through my treatment with grace and ease. As I underwent a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery, he stayed by my side—lifting my spirits when I felt I couldn’t go on.
Christine Pastal-Long
Toms River, New Jersey



As a child, I never witnessed my parents having a nasty argument or saying cruel things to (or about) each other. Their mutual respect must have stuck with me, because in our 20 years of being together, my spouse and I have never insulted each other. We always heed my mom’s sage advice: “Once said, never unsaid.”
Jonathan Tunis
Delray Beach, Florida

My husband thanks me for emptying the dishwasher and putting away his laundry, and every time I cook dinner, no matter what I have served, he says, “Thanks for dinner, honey. It was delicious.”  His gratitude reminds me why I’m happy to do things for him in the first place.
Erica Talbert
Richmond, Virginia

As a busy mother of even busier kids, I can’t express how much I appreciate my husband’s helpfulness. He jumps up to assist me with whatever needs to be done—hanging paper on my classroom bulletin boards (I’m a teacher) or bringing my lunch to work when I accidentally leave it on the kitchen counter. What’s more, he does this on top of his own demanding and stressful job.
Julie Scheiffele
Paso Robles, California

Mark is able to maintain an incredibly positive outlook, even in the midst of trying circumstances. Last year we had to move into our new house during a torrential rainstorm, and as a result some of our furniture got ruined. As I grew frustrated, he said, “The good news is, if our basement didn’t flood today, it’s safe to say it never will!” He always knows how to help me move past life’s little annoyances.
Maria Francesca Sorrentino
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Kindness has to be the most undervalued trait in our culture. My husband expresses it through countless small gestures, such as filling my car with gas on a cold day or watching the kids so I can go out with my girlfriends. He is good to me, gentle with our children, and generous with my extended family. He has helped give me a very happy life.
Alison Olsen
Glenview, Illinois

I can always count on my husband to put our family first. When someone asks for his time, his first response is “Let me check with Anne.” Sometimes his friends give him grief about the fact that he can’t make plans on his own, but he doesn’t care. His top priority is being present for our son’s ball game or our daughter’s concert—whatever is on our family’s agenda.
Anne Stone
Washington, D.C.

Above all, my husband values loyalty. He knows that if the grass looks greener on the other side, it just means that we need to water our own lawn more often.
Vickie Gonzales
Las Vegas, Nevada

Adaptability is essential to a successful marriage. In our years together, my husband and I have lost jobs, gained weight, had kids, and started our own businesses. The bottom line: In good times and bad, we adapted together to every change. With a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old at home, I suspect there are more changes on the horizon. I am so thankful to have a partner who can help me through them.
Peri O’Connor
Valley Village, California

My husband has drive. He’s always reaching for even greater success. At age 30, he is the youngest person to ever become a principal in his school district. And he has gone further, improving the school so much that it won a prestigious educational award. He is amazing, and his drive is the sexiest thing about him.
Beth Zarling
Tacoma, Washington

When my husband and I are coping with a tough topic, he’ll say, “This is what I heard you say. Is that what you meant?” And I do the same for him. This technique is called “reflective listening,” and it helps us to understand how a specific tone of voice or a certain look can prevent us from seeing eye to eye. Thanks to this sort of thoughtful communication, we have boosted our patience with and passion for each other.
Heather Currie
Kenly, North Carolina

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that my husband’s sense of humor is indispensable. He doesn’t make fun of anyone (except himself) but still manages to point out what’s funny in every situation. Each time he and I laugh, we feel more connected.
Janet Rose
Denver, Colorado