April 30, 2008

Fish Bicycles

Every Wednesday, Dennis Prager does his "Male/Female Hour" - generally a quite enlightening look at, and acceptance of, the differences between genders. Today the topic was "Settling" and his guest was Lori Gottlieb, author of the recent article Marry Him!

Some excerpts:

My advice is this: Settle! That's right. Don't worry about passion or intense connection. Don't nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling "Bravo!" in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year. (It's hard to maintain that level of zing when the conversation morphs into discussions about who's changing the diapers or balancing the checkbook.)
And no matter what women decide - settle or don't settle - there's a price to be paid, because there's always going to be regret. Unless you meet the man of your dreams (who, by the way, doesn't exist, precisely because you dreamed him up), there's going to be a downside to getting married, but a possibly more profound downside to holding out for someone better.

My friend Jennifer summed it up this way: "When I used to hear women complaining bitterly about their husbands, I'd think, 'How sad, they settled.' Now it's like, 'God, that would be nice.'"

I agree with a lot of her points, not so much with others.....

Ladies, what is your take? Gentlemen?

Posted by Vox at April 30, 2008 04:35 PM | Men


Seriously, though - I think the question is wrong. It is not about settling vs. waiting for an ideal. When you make the decision to love someone for life, you are not comparing her against an ideal. You are matching her against yourself. (Substitute the appropriate pronoun.)

Posted by: bk at April 30, 2008 08:21 PM

First, I think there is a problem with the word "settling." It shouldn't be used. People make choices. You can choose and focus on the worst qualities of a person or the best. When you think about what's wrong the entire time, of course you're going to feel as if you're settling. If you focus on the best, then you're going to appreciate that person.

I don't believe the window closes for meeting someone. (Some days it might feel like it has.) There aren't any regrets because you don't know the next amazing person who's going to appear in your life. (I'm an optimist.)

Choose the person who sees the best in you and who makes you feel good about yourself when you're together.

And if something inside you says don't marry the Bravo yelling guy with bad breath, then don't. That's not settling. That's called knowing yourself and making a choice without any regrets.

Posted by: Michelle at April 30, 2008 10:54 PM

I had generally thought of men as being the ones always "looking for something better" and worrying that they might be settling.

I never really considered women might be doing that, too. As I look around, though, I see my circle of friends is full of women who have never married. Some because they were busy in their careers, and some who I now realize were always hoping for that perfect guy they had dreamed up.

My own marriage could be considered one of 'settling', for both of us, because we both ignored our inner voices that were screaming that it was a bad idea. I don't regret it, though, and even through the bad times, he and I maintained a great friendship (even when we hated each other )

Perhaps that relationship is a proof that Gottlieb's theory is false; we had all the connections she claims are important (and still have some), yet the marriage was doomed.

Perhaps my experience just skewed on her age scale. Had we met and married 10 years later (when we were getting divorced) it may not have ended at all. Settling as an older woman, rather than younger as she suggests, may have worked.

Or perhaps, as I've said many times, we just need to focus on longevity. We live in a disposable society - anything that doesn't work quite right, just get a new one. If people run into a snag with their significant other, they often just end it and start again with someone new.

"Till death do us part", "for better or for worse" - just anachronistic phrases foolishly left in the ceremony.

Posted by: Vox at April 30, 2008 11:29 PM

From the NY Times:
One version of the familiar oath -- ''til death us departe'' -- was codified as long ago as 1549 in Edward VI's ''Book of Common Prayer.''

I wonder why that was included? How long was the phrase used before the book was written? Why did the Anglican church include it? Was there a theological reasons? Who would benefit from it? Who would not benefit from it? This vow means to control the behavior of people (people must have been leaving marriages before death). What was the church/people afraid of losing?

LDS marry for an eternity -- that's a serious commitment. (I'll pass on that.)

One reason I think we want a relationship that lasts a lifetime is because we're afraid to be alone. In the past, women had to rely on men support them, so we would want a lifetime commitment.

In today's world, women can take care of themselves financially. Women don't need a relationship to ensure their basic needs are met, but they can look for one that makes them happy/connected. Maybe the women who are being told to settle have created a really good life for themselves, and now want the right man to be part of it. They should get what they want. And men should get what they want too.

Posted by: at May 1, 2008 07:55 AM