If you’re looking to marry, how do you know if he’s the one? Besides giving due weight to chemistry and other concerns, you can do some “litmus testing” to find out which qualities he has that you can accept and which ones spell trouble.

Marriage-readiness is necessary. It can’t be forced. When he’s ready, he’s ready and not a moment before. If you’re able to manipulate a not ready man into marrying you, he may resent you for a long time. You don’t want that, do you? So do test for readiness.

The “Sex and the City” television characters once compared a marriage-ready man to a taxi: At a certain time, he becomes ready to commit. His “available” light goes on and the next woman in his life gets the ring.

You can tell the difference between a man who’s got the light on and one who’s just driving around in the dark. Here are some positive signs of his readiness:

  • The singles scene no longer appeals to him.
  • He’s financially independent.
  • He’s at least able to talk about the idea of commitment.
  • He wants to be a dad or is willing to be a step-dad, if this applies to you.
  • He’s your boyfriend in name — your husband in spirit. He makes plans for the future, introduces you to his family and friends. He calls you regularly, wanting to hear about your day and to tell you about his. He’s open and honest.

Financial independence relates especially to a man who desires to start a family because he’s likely to want to be financially secure before marrying. Regardless of your age and life stage, if you want a responsible partner who is able to commit to a job, pay his bills, and so on, look for these qualities.

If a man objects to any talk about your future, he’s probably not ready for marriage. To further test the waters, tell him directly how you feel. You can say candidly that you’re wondering whether he’s dating with the hope of finding a wife or if he’s just, well, dating.

Signs that He’s Not for You

If he says he doesn’t want to marry, believe him and move on. But even if he does want it, make sure the answer to questions like these is a clear no:

  • Does he spend irresponsibly?
  • Does he speak negatively about marriage?
  • Does he hurt you by being unreliable or abusive; or by lying, cheating, or flirting with other women?

Watch out for red flags. If you want a good husband, know that a yes to any of the above questions is a likely disqualifier, even if he’s charming and says he loves you.

Test for Long-Term Compatibility

Talk about what your lives together would look like after marriage. Even many couples who live together first say that marriage changes their relationship.

Say what matters to each of you. Maybe my husband sensed that I wasn’t cut out for a traditional gender-based division of responsibilities. One evening while we sat on my living room couch, well before we got engaged, he said, “I’m not the kind of guy who expects his wife to have dinner on the table at a certain time each evening.”

Green light for me. I could be myself with him.

This is the main thing to test for: are you fine being yourselves with each other and able to accept your differences over time?