"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb

Please note: Links pointing to Amazon contain my affiliate ID. Sales resulting from clicks on those links will earn me a percentage of the purchase price. So buy and read now!

Summary: A 42-year-old unmarried journalist researches the dating market with the goal of finding a husband who meets every requirement on her Husband List.

Get over yourself!

That’s basically the advice that 41-year-old Lori Gottleib gives single women over 35. No other book I’ve read lately (or at least in the past 5 years) has made me so glad and grateful to be married.

Believe me, I’m not interested in dating anyone else but this book gave me a kick in the pants to stop complaining about my husband. I always thought I got a pretty good deal but now I’m realizing that by marrying young, I got a great deal.
Says Gottlieb: “What I didn’t realize when I chose to date only men who excited me from the get-go (without considering the practical side of things), is that what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. According to my married friends, once you’re married, it’s not so much about who you want to go on a tropical vacation with; it’s about who you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a constant passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane nonprofit business.” 
Gottlieb is also a single mother by choice, having chosen artificial insemination because she wanted a kid far more than she wanted to “settle” with any of the men in her life. And from what she shared, some of the men she dated would have made terrible fathers. Gottleib’s Husband List of the qualities she needs in a husband is so long and so specific that you can’t help but realize that Gottlieb has been way too picky, esp. since she says she wants to get married, but won’t consider anyone under 5’5”.

This book was an easy-to-read mix of the author’s personal experience, case studies from friends and colleagues, professionals in the dating and marriage business and science. She reviews marriage expectations with people who divorced, people in arranged marriages, people who “settled” and are happy over it, and women who wouldn’t settle and are still alone. Many divorce experts say that marrying the wrong guy for a fleeting sensation like excitement instead of stability feels like settling but really leads to unhappiness down the road.

And she talks about maximizers versus satisfiers, one of my favorite topics. I’m trying to change my own shopping habits from being a maximizer to a satisfier. I always wonder if I could get a better deal on that pair of black pants, and go from store to store looking for the perfect pair. What I should have done is bought the pair of black pants that I originally thought were too expensive but that I ended up buying anyway after I bought two other disappointing pair for $30 each. So I ended up spending $160 for a pair of black pants that really only cost everybody else $100 and made a second trip out to the fancy mall.

When you look at your life, or your man, or your job for that matter, you will always make yourself unhappy, especially if you’re a maximizer, if you ask, “How does this compare to what I though I wanted? But if you ask yourself, “Do I like this?” then you have a better perspective and a better chance for happiness. Just as you shouldn’t settle for someone who treats you badly, if you and your beloved don’t share a love of college football, in general, do you like him?

Know what you want, know what a good value is, and when you find it – stop looking!

So that same advice goes for women looking for a husband. Don’t think that perfect guy is out there – 6’1”, green eyes, dimples, high earner, exciting, passionate, understanding, good listener. Pick your 5 needs (loyal, smart, responsible, affectionate and tolerant) and separate them from your wants (world-traveler, funny-but-not-funnier-than-me, well-read, must love dogs and good dancer.)

Once you know what you need, you open up your choices and find a way to look at people with new eyes. This is terribly hard for Gottleib, as she still doesn’t want to settle. And when her friends, or the matchmakers or the online dating sites convince her to look deeper or at least go out on one date with someone she wouldn’t consider, that man is often unavailable by the time she changes her mind. That happened several times in the book and while I would be feeling desperate, Gottleib still seems to think she’s some smoking hot 25-year-old. With a kid.

She doesn’t realize that she has to settle for someone who would actually want to date her. The dawning of this insight is a lowering experience to read about and will make you hug your husband even tighter.
“Women under 30 might be dating a great guy, but there’s this one thing they think he’s lacking. They’re with an 8 but they ant a 10. Then they’re 40 and they can only get a 5! So they gave up the 8 in order to hold out for the 10, only to end up with a 5 – or nothing.” 
In the end, Gottlieb tells about her encounters with the 5s and 6s she’s met and checks back in with the happily married 7s, 8s, and 9s she passed by. This was an enjoyable book and one I’d love to give to my single friends, if only they wouldn’t be offended by it.

No comments:

Post a Comment