Want to read something chilling for Valentine's Day? How about a case for settling for Mr. Good Enough? And here's an interview with the author, Lori Gottlieb, which is actually easier to stomach than the article.
There are a couple of good points that I won't bother to enumerate, but many things bug me about her article. For example: the awesome statement that if you've reached 30 and you're not married and "you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying. In fact, take a good look in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you’re not worried, because you’ll see how silly your face looks when you’re being disingenuous." I'm sure Gottlieb's right--I mean she's obviously in a position to know what every woman in the Western world thinks and believes about life partners and more specifically about marriage. But what bothers me the most is that she never considers that there are other ways to construct a supportive and harmonious life besides settling for Mr. Good Enough.
In fact, the author dances close enough to this issue to raise it properly, but then doesn't. She says that her relationship role models are Will and Grace: "What I long for in a marriage is that sense of having a partner in crime. Someone who knows your day-to-day trivia. Someone who both calls you on your bullshit and puts up with your quirks. So what if Will and Grace weren’t having sex with each other?" Okay then if what you want is the "infrastructure in place to have a family"--in other words, a long-term child-rearing relationship--how about opening up your definition of family a bit? How about living with your best friend, or with a few like-minded people, and sharing household expenses and childcare, and having people to depend on and talk to at the end of the day and go to bat for you when you need it? Why wouldn't that be an awesome alternative to legally binding yourself to some dude who is kind to you but doesn't turn your crank intellectually, emotionally, physically? Or if you meet a dude who wants to be your babydaddy and share in childrearing and be a supportive friend, move into a duplex and pay the few hundred bucks or whatever it costs for both of you to have legal guardianship of the kid.
I remember years ago when I was doing research for something or other, I came across this article about a modern-day "Boston marriage," that Victorian term for two women who opted out of the usual kind of marriage in favor of living together independently and supporting each other's artistic or scholarly pursuits. "At least in theory," says the author, "the Boston marriage indicated a platonic, albeit nerdy relationship" (though the platonic thing certainly wasn't always the case). I was surprised, I guess, that I didn't know anyone who was doing this, or that I hadn't really considered it myself before. I'm talking about me at 26 or 27 with ALL kinds of education and liberal thought: it hadn't ever occurred to me that you could do something besides 1) get married, 2) cohabit romantically, 3) be single, or 4) have a roommate. But, you know, intentional non-romantic partnership is another option for homelife, just like an intentional community is.
Dudes could most certainly do it too--like hetero life-mates Jay and Silent Bob.
I like seeing people I love partnered up and I love my Brit and I have certainly been privy to many more good marriages than bad ones, but I have zero patience with the wedding industry, the relationship self-help books that instruct women on how to get someone to propose to them, and magazine articles that say "tick tock, ladies, maybe it's time to shed your idealism." I don't know about you, but I would much rather spend my days happily crafting in a shed and socializing with my friends and family than know that I have settled for someone and/or that he has settled for me. Your marriage is going to be at the center of your life and it's going to define you forever and you're going to have to work at it, so you'd better be sure it's a good choice and not just the lesser of two evils.
(If you'd like some more things to think about before you "settle," maybe check out this post and thread from last summer. You won't like all of it. I didn't. But there certainly is a lot of food for thought.)
My boyf is going to read too much into this, but he shouldn't and I am going to post it anyway. Kisses, all of you.