For some time now I have been polling people as to what they think makes someone a good spouse, and there are definitely some traits we all seem to look for in a partner. What struck me about these common characteristics that we are seeking in our mates is that very few of them are innate. In fact, most of these skills need to be taught to us by our family or friends in our early, formative years. Here are some examples of what we most want to find in our significant others:

1. Someone who is considerate.
2. Someone who can listen well.
3. Someone who can effectively communicate.
4. Someone who can compromise.
5. Someone who is able to show his/her affection.
6. Someone who is responsible and trustworthy.
7. Someone with an upbeat personality.
8. Someone you like spending time with.
9. Someone who wants to create a stable home environment.

As adults, we will face many challenges in life. Having a rock that can keep us grounded when everything else seems out of control is a key survival tool. As parents, we need to ensure that we teach our children the skills to form solid relationships, because the fact is that we will not always be there for them, and they need to be able to bond with others. They need to be taught to trust and to attach not just to immediate family members.

The adults I have encountered that have the skills set forth above all had wise, loving parents that provided them with roots to come home, but also the wings to fly. While it can certainly occur that we can learn from our parents mistakes, and we can chose to be the opposite, it is far easier when parents model good behavior for their children. The task may not be easy, and we may have to take some courses and read up on developing these skills ourselves, but I can only imagine that the payoff in seeing your children blossom into well-adjusted adults has to be a parent’s proudest accomplishment.