Maybe it’s the word.
Feeling a little like Groucho Marx — I’d never join a club that would have me as a member —
I never join or sign anything until I know what it’s about. I haven’t read the book yet, but I read Lori’s article in the Atlantic a few years ago, which lead to the book. And, Lori is right — women (or men) who go around with the fairy-tale idea that they’ll find a “perfect” partner are, well, living in a fairy tale — one that won’t end happily-ever-after.
I wish all single moms by choice (which she is) would read what she says about raising a baby by yourself while working and trying to find love. Most single moms by choice I know have teens now. They’re tired and stressed and still single. And they cry a lot.
If you think dating is hard as a single person, just try doing it with kids, especially if you’re a woman. More women are interested in being stepmommy to someone else’s kids than men are, and I don’t blame the guys. The best thing choice moms have going for them over divorced moms is that at least there isn’t an ex to deal with!
I don’t disagree entirely with what Lori says:
“Look for the important qualities in a partner, and let go of the stuff that won’t matter five, 10 or 20 years down the line, when you’re more concerned about child care and contented companionship than you are about height or hairlines.”
That’s all well and good, with one problem (as most divorcees know all too well) — we never really know for sure what will happen five, 10 or 20 years down the line. It isn’t enough to find a “good enough” guy; it’s all the hard stuff of married life after that. Although a lot of marriages break up over the three As — affairs, abuse, addictions — a lot fall apart under the weight of quirks (the ones we find so endearing when we first meet) that cumulatively start to drive us crazy. And all of us have them, Adonises as well as nice guys.
Marrying Mr. Good Enough doesn’t guarantee happiness or companionship.
All settling for Mr. Good Enough gets you is a husband; it does not necessarily get you a long, happy marriage.
If we’re heading to divorce court anyway (as a good percentage of marriages do), why shouldn’t we at least start off having wild hanging-off-the-chandelier sex with a drop-dead gorgeous hunk? Or, marry someone for money, who’s going to shower us in diamonds and Louboutins and trips to Bora Bora and Paris? Those sorts of marriages might work out because at least each party knows exactly what he or she’s in it for.
Which is more than most of us can say.
It isn’t enough to “settle” with someone who has 50, 60, 70, 80 percent of what we’re looking for; it’s also the expectations we place on him once we walk down the aisle and say our I dos.
I married for love. Did I expect to be divorced in my 40s? Hell no! And, when I met Rob, I wasn’t even all that attracted to him. He wooed me and then I started to fall for him. So when he cheated on me X-number of years later, I thought: “WTF? I wasn’t even all that attracted to you in the first place; if anyone should have cheated, it should have been me!”
So I and many of my friends married our “good-enough guy,” the one Lori says she wants to be with this Valentine’s, and, here we are, divorced and not one of us remarried.
Sure, I know what she’s getting at — be realistic about what’s truly important. I agree, but how do we know that when we’re in our 20s or 30s? There’s no way to, even though I sure thought I did. As she admits, now that she’s older, she’s so much wiser. Well, doh. But if someone tried to tell her that back then, well … good luck.
“Ultimately, what most of us are looking for isn’t the guy who keeps us so intoxicatingly distracted that we’re tingling in anticipation of his every phone call. It’s the guy we feel completely comfortable with, the guy who “gets us,” hugs us at our parents’ funerals, laughs with us, reminds us to go to the doctor, fixes the toilet, has our backs and eventually sets his dentures on the counter next to ours.”
Right. And he still might have a midlife crisis and trade you in for a Corvette and a blonde.
So, if settling — not going for, as Gottleib says, “an Adonis with the humor of Jon Stewart and the bank account of Bill Gates” — doesn’t necessarily lead to happily-ever-after either, what does?
So glad you asked.
You need to find a guy with whom you can be open and honest and communicate well and genuinely like (and vice versa). And — this one’s a biggie — you have to be on the same page about having and raising kids.
Then work, work, work on the marriage. At least you’ll have a fighting chance.
Oh yeah; guys like that can just as easily be short, overweight and bald as they can be a beautiful mix of Stewart, Gates and Adonis.
- Is Lori Gottlieb right about settling for Mr. (or Ms.) Good Enough?
- Do you think marrying a good enough person makes the marriage more likely to last?
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