If he lavishes you with gifts and extravagant nights out, all the better.
And, of course, he should provide the most expensive engagement ring he can afford when he proposes.
Right? Not necessarily.
Stick with me, please.
I've got two quick stories for you: Leslie is married to Tom, the former saluditorian of his private high school class.
After college, he tooka series of increasingly high-profile jobs in media.
He is currently a VP of a well-known American TV network.
Leslie and Tom fight all the time.
Despite his handsome income and the big house they live in, they are way over their heads in debt.
They greatly outspend his income.
They fight over his spending, her spending, keeping up with the Joneses, their children's educations, etc.
They threaten each other with divorce constantly.
He's got a few stress-relievers of his own.
But, from the outside, they look like the picture-perfect family.
Joan is married to Dave.
Dave didn't go to college, but he's smart and naturally curious (he can tell you more about the Crimean War than anybody I know).
He runs the repair division at a Mercedes-Benz dealership.
Joan works in the supermarket, where she's been employed since high school.
Not very glamorous, right? Hold on: Joan and Dave have paid off their mortgage.
They take vacations, usually about three a year, to London, Florida, Ireland, and wherever the spirit takes them.
They own a boat.
They have just bought a second home in Vermont.
Except for the mortgage on their second home, they owe nothing to anybody.
They are not in debt.
Even though they make less money and seemingly enjoy less prestige than Leslie and Tom, they're much, much happier.
They bought things they could afford and saved for things they couldn't (and while they don't own a new Mercedes, they have restored a vintage one.
) They love each other, enjoy a good laugh, and they never, ever fight about money.
So, am I telling you to marry a guy who doesn't make a lot of cash? Quit your job in corporate finance to work as a supermarket checker? Absolutely not.
But I am asking you to watch the way potential suitors spend money.
Do they run up a lot of debt? Feel compelled to buy things they cannot afford? Look, nobody (especially me) wants to be stuck with the cheap guy, the creep who stiffs waitresses and tells you what you can order from the menu.
But it's even worse being married to a Big Spender -- and lying awake wondering how you're going to swing the mortgage every month.
Don't be swayed by fabulous gifts.
Be swayed by meaningful gifts.
Even better, by swayed by affection and excellent treatment.