It's not true, despite what the advice columnists often write, that a man who leaves his wife for you will eventually leave you. It is true that a man who leaves his wife for you is capable of leaving you, and you would be smart to look at how he conducted himself during his divorce because no matter how crazy, bitter, unreasonable his ex was or is, his behavior reveals his character. You cannot behave cruelly without having some cruelty in your nature (and most of us do). An angry man who honors his obligations gracefully, a man who shows up on time to see his kids, even when their mother behaves badly—that man is a good bet.

I've also discovered that the Virtuous have their downside. A man who cannot face his own flaws or acknowledge the ugliness (not horrors—just normal human flaws: envy, jealousy, pettiness) in his nature, a man who will patiently explain, for days on end, that you should not be hurt by his behavior because he's a good guy who didn't mean to hurt you—may actually prove to be worse company, in the long run, than a guy who behaves badly from time to time and admits it. (Or at least, that's how it is for me. Deeply, Determinedly Virtuous people scare me.) As it turns out, I prefer the full boil to the long simmer and I wish I'd known it sooner.

Know Yourselves

Be real and be unashamed, even of your faults. I do truly know what he's made of and vice versa. We are both people who want cutmen and foxhole buddies; we see life as wonderful and difficult and requiring energy and stamina and, occasionally, guile. We don't mind any of that. We are both bossy and demanding and largely unrepentant. We don't mind any of that. We yell. We apologize profusely. We are idiosyncratic in our tastes, and we are both quite confident that our taste is better than most people's (including each other's). We take sex and family and food seriously and organized religion not at all. We are hard to embarrass and we cry like babies. We are each what the other hoped for.

Note: This article could not have been written without the generous cooperation of the author's husband.

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