Sometimes very decent holy people are divorced. And their expectations of marriage can often be rooted in reality rather than the stars and moonlight vision those who have never been married harbor. You could be getting someone who knows what's important and what to ignore because they now have a long view those who have never married lack.
I find it funny that those who don't want someone who was ever married before are also maybe eliminating the widow or widower from the pool of candidates... maybe someone who was a devoted and good spouse.
Which is fine, because it leaves some of these great people available for people like me. I'd rather be with someone who was married to a faithless woman who cheated on him and let cockroaches run over his dinner and spent all his money... how little work I'd have to do just being me to make him blissfully happy. And the same goes for me... I don't expect perfection. Life has taught me a man who is sober, kind and patient and loves God would be just fine. If he was married to someone who didn't appreciate him before I came along... so what.
Same with kids... sometimes you can learn a lot about someone by how they treat their kids.
Those first timers are basically buying a pig in a poke. People can say anything. But they have no track record to judge them by. They don't yet know how hard marriage can be and how much mutual sacrifice it takes. You don't know if you're getting the kind who walks at the first sign of trouble or the kind who hangs in there till the last dog dies. People can say anything. You should have heard my xh talk about the way he would raise daughters. NOT at ALL the reality I'm observing now. But hey... he wasn't divorced and didn't have kids when I met him. Didn't make him suitable. At least his next two fiancees could see how he ignored his kids and get a clue about his character....
Having said that...
My list based on painful experience:
Demonstrable and healthy relationships with his own family
Abiding fear of God and a mature, functioning and practicing religious life (preferably Catholic.)
Similar political views to my own (seen too many couples end up divided over that!)
Must be sane
No presence of alcohol and/or drug abuse
No sexual deviancy
Employment stability (indicates much)
Must have a plant, a hamster, a fish, a dog... something that indicates he's responsible enough and attentive enough to keep something but himself alive.
Sense of humor, and not one that's viciously pointed at everyone but himself
A set of decent friends of both genders of long duration (indicates much)
Generosity of spirit
A nice set of eyes and a nice smile would be icing on the cake.
Is that too much to ask, God?
Oh, wait.. I was being positive.
Excess baggage: What I don't want:
Irresponsible money management
Someone with hostile kids (indicates other issues. Kids in and of themselves may be workable)
Someone who hates his own mother
Someone with an uneven work history (indicates maybe other problems)
Someone who has ever had a restraining order put on him by an ex
Someone with unrealistic images of women (based on porn or a skewed attitude in life)
Someone who doesn't practice his faith