Two weeks ago, I shared with you some pretty awful tips on choosing a wife, written by a man who seems not only utterly terrified of women but also bitterly resentful of his continued attraction to them, which are the fundamental ingredients of any case of raging misogyny.

For the guys out there who share the author’s view of women as some sort of commodity that drastically loses value after the age of 30, maybe do yourself and everyone else a favor and just don’t bother getting married at all. For the rest of you who genuinely like and respect women as human beings, I offer my suggestions for picking the right wife (or husband!) and giving yourself the best chance at a long and happy marriage.

People change and grow so much throughout life that it’s difficult to go into any relationship knowing with absolute certainty it will – or should – last forever. I’ve met so many couples who shared many genuinely wonderful years together, but simply stopped making sense together 10 or 20 or more years later. Personally I see no failure in this, and I think sometimes letting each other go is really the most loving thing to do.

There are no guarantees in life, but my observations suggest there are a few ways to tip the odds in your favor if you’re hoping for a happy and fulfilling lifelong partnership.

The absolute most important thing is to find someone who wants and expects the same things out of marriage. This probably sounds obvious but it’s actually pretty common for mostly well-meaning people to agree to things they never truly wanted and promise things they can’t realistically give. Unfortunately, this often includes very big things that carry the ability to make or break the happiness of at least one partner.

Occasionally this occurs as the result of intentional deception (on the part of either party), but more often it seems to be the result of someone convincing themselves those kinds of “details” shouldn’t matter if they’re really in love, or maybe even someone who honestly never bothered pausing long enough to ask all the important questions before committing.

Be honest about who you are and what you want, whatever it is. Want a “traditional” marriage with a sweet and supportive wife that bakes and cleans and stays home with the children? That’s perfectly lovely as long as it reflects what each of you chooses for yourself as mature adults.

Prefer a far less traditional marriage with car keys and fish bowls? Hey, I don’t judge. Just find a woman who feels the same way instead of making promises of fidelity you already know you probably won’t keep.

If you know deep down inside you want an active and childfree life spent traveling the world, reconsider proposing to the woman who wants nothing more than to start a family and set down roots from a house in Spring Hill.

Whatever sort of life you want to live, there’s someone out there for you, somewhere. Don’t waste your life and someone else’s faking your way through a relationship that doesn’t meet your needs. You both deserve better.

Marry someone who consistently treats you with love and respect, but also someone who is not afraid to occasionally challenge you and call you out on your bullsh*t. (We’ve all got bullsh*t, every one of us.) The right woman will bring out the best in you primarily because you respect her enough to want to give her your best. The wrong woman will try to force you to change by berating or manipulating you or, worse, keeping her complaints bottled up until things implode.

If you want a lifelong partnership, marry someone mature enough to thoughtfully commit to a lifelong partnership. This requires you to not only understand yourself well enough to know who you are and what you want, but also have the ability to be completely honest in sharing these things with another person. That takes a lot of maturity.

We’re all unique individuals so it’s hard to suggest a perfect age for getting married. There are plenty of middle-aged folks that still have no clue what they want and probably at least a few 20-year-olds that more or less have things figured out. It really depends on the person.

I will say that personally I wasn’t ready for marriage until I was about 30, and I’m sure I left at least a couple well-meaning men that tried to love me in my 20s scratching their heads in confusion and frustration. I was a mess! I may have a few more laugh lines on my face at 30 but I also have a lot more laughter to offer. Which brings me to my next point …

Don’t choose a wife based primarily on looks. (I kind of wish this didn’t need to be stated.) By all means, marry someone you find attractive. That’s very important, and if all goes well you’ll be looking at them for decades to come. It makes the years a lot more fun when their smile gives you butterflies, but never forget that looks are unreliable.

More importantly, marry someone you have fun with and with whom you genuinely enjoy spending time. This doesn’t necessarily mean all your interests should overlap, but you should definitely have enough in common to consistently have a good time together without having to “try.”

One of the best parts of being married is having a companion to share not only the joys of life, but also the sorrows, stress and monotony. Choose carefully. Your spouse’s demeanor and general outlook on life will have a large effect on your own moods for the rest of your life. Essentially, marry someone so cool you know you wouldn’t want to live without them, even if their face melted off in a nuclear explosion and they grew an extra limb.