Single Mom asks the 'Settling' question
I hate the title (which she probably didn't pick) but I agreed with much of what she said. Her premise is that if women keep holding out for Mr. Perfect, they may end up alone:
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.)
I've met Lori and she is wickedly funny, endearing and an incredible writer. You've probably heard her NPR commentaries (and she did one on this topic). I had a chance to hear her do stand-up about the fact that she had a tube of donor sperm banked and was deciding whether to use it. The next year I heard that she had a son, so apparently her stand up hit closer to home than your typical comedy routine.
So Lori is writing this piece from personal experience, as a single Mom over 40 who would like to find a partner, not as a "smug married" who is speaking hypothetically. The other day Lori was on The Today Show paired up with a married matchmaker for a counterpoint, and the matchmaker's optimism that there is a soulmate out there for everyone fell flat against Lori's candid pragmatism.
This knotty issue resonated with me on the level that we are sold so many fantasies about marriage and babies. We know how different the reality of motherhood is compared to our unrealistic fantasies. Marriage and (especially) raising kids are entirely different than the fantasy you see on something like The Bachelor. I loved Lori's description of marriage:
It sounds obvious now, but I didn’t fully appreciate back then that what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.
Lori is not saying that women should marry someone they don't love, but rather not to disqualify guys so quickly, for example by turning down a second date because there's "no chemistry." She describes women's declining choices as they get older while men's options stay largely the same. The age trap.
I used to be the biggest romantic but as I get older I do appreciate the pragmatic aspects of marriage. I read or watch Pride and Prejudice every few years, and while I still cheer that Jane married her highly improbable soulmate Darcy, I now see how reckless she was, and how precarious her family's financial situation was, when she turned down the obsequious Reverend Mr. Collins.
Now I don't think Lori would endorse marrying Mr. Collins, but in real life the choices aren't usually so stark. We should at least give Mr. Nice Guy a chance. If we insist on holding out for Mr. Darcy, we may end up chasing an illusion to our own detriment.
Lori is getting some pushback from young single women who have read her commentary, but I am really interested in getting feedback from the Mojo Mom audience.
Read Lori's article and let me know what you think. Do women expect too much from marriage as their ultimate fulfilling experience? Where is the line between settling in and selling out?
Lori, I am rooting for your happy ending. If the married matchmaker wants to make her point, then she should help you out!