What Men Want From Marriage
State of the Union
Like most men, Rich Underwood, 33, never consciously compiled a list of desirable qualities for a potential spouse. But when he met his future wife, Julie Lackland, four years ago at a restaurant where they both worked as waiters, he somehow sensed she was Mrs. Right. Although Lackland, 27, is a pretty woman, it wasn't just a matter of her looks. "I'm not shallow like I used to be," Underwood says with a laugh.
Instead, he felt comfortable because of all they had in common. "We both like hanging out with friends and going dancing," he says. "But we're also both really close to our parents and have compatible views on how we want to raise children." Underwood also liked Lackland's ambition to become an occupational therapist -- not only because he admired her choice of a profession that helped others, but also because he realized the importance of having two incomes. But most important, Lackland seemed as though she would be a supportive, understanding partner. "I noticed right away that she treats people really well," says Underwood, now an insurance adjuster in Clarksburg, Maryland. "When you're going to be with someone for the rest of your life, those sorts of things are really important."
Underwood's priorities are different from those of men of previous generations, who, for the most part, saw their wives primarily as mothers and housekeepers. As recently as the mid-1960s, just 35 percent of married women worked outside the home, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But today, in more than 60 percent of couples, both husband and wife have careers. At the same time, the number of hours that married women spend doing household chores each week has declined from 34 to 19, while men's hours have increased from five to 10 hours, according to a recent study by University of Maryland researchers.