Thanks for the anxiety, Lori

by | Feb 13, 2008 | Quirkyalone, Uncategorized | 7 comments

Today a friend forwarded me an Atlantic article called “Marry Him.” Published by Lori Gottlieb in the Atlantic, it was also featured on Talk of the Nation today, and it has inspired serious vitriol across these Internets. Lori’s advice to women in their thirties is to settle. Basically, she writes, think of marriage as a business arrangement. It’s better to have someone on your team to help run a household and watch the kids, even if you have little in common, than it is to go alone. She’s speaking from experience as a single mother by choice in her early forties. She also tells us that women settle, and men do not, and that women should settle when they’re young when they still have the opportunity to.

My reaction: Are you sure? Really, Lori? She seems to be in genuine anguish over her situation, and thinks she may be helping other women avoid her fate by telling them it’s better to settle than wind up alone. But I don’t know.

Isn’t that just a recipe for a failed marriage? If you don’t respect your partner, what chance do you have of maintaining closeness in a long-term relationship and working through all the inevitable miscommunications, differences, speed bumps? How do you go to bed with someone who bores you or leaves you cold? Didn’t we go through this in 1986 when Newsweek told single women over 40 they were more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to get married? Twenty years later, Newsweek recanted with another cover story interviewing the same women they pitied back in 1986, many of whom are now happily married. Actually, the chance of marriage for women over forty was around 40 percent. Why is one of our own (a single woman who made the choice to have a child on her own) dragging us through all of this again?

This is an endlessly fascinating piece of writing from the quirkyalone perspective. Quirkyalones, by definition, don’t settle. It’s the inability to settle that is at the core of the definition. A quirykalone may feel anxious, concerned, or lonely at times, but at the core, she or he tries to write the narrative of her life from a non-victimized point of view. There’s an attempt to see one’s life as full and complete no matter how disappointed a person might feel at times. Lori reads like a person who feels trapped and resentful of her inability to settle. I wonder if this is how she always feels. It’s brave to be so vulnerable, but in her piece, marriage feels like a prize, a golden ring in the distance, a solution to loneliness, rather than what it is: a partnership between two people who want to be with each other. If one person doesn’t really WANT to be with the other, how can it be a marriage?

My advice: Why not wait until all those settlers get divorced? They’ll be more people in the dating pool.

What do you think?

7 Comments

  1. Vanessa

    Or why wait for there to be more people in the dating pool? Why not just be happy with who you are? Never settle. Never talk yourself into “this will be good enough” because it never will. I think you will always wonder. Lori may wish she had made different decisions, but settling is never a good option.

    Reply
  2. Sue

    The problem seems to be the child. Lori wants a father for her child. And she makes an excellent case for wanting this father. What she doesn’t address is her wish for a child. She simply accepts it as a basic assumption that “I want a child, therefore, I should have one.” And, now that single motherhood has become very socially acceptable, lots of women are making that choice without understanding that it has consequences.

    I’m not a conservative at all, far from it. But I don’t think women like Lori understand that motherhood is overblown. The world is already overpopulated, and the financial cost of bearing children is rising exponentially. And the psychological cost is rising as well, a consequence of the rising financial cost: parents in the US must now devote their entire lives to advancing their children’s interests. “Whatever it takes” – you have to put out money for sports they’ll never last in, spend every weeknight trying to get their grades up, and worrying about whether they are “keeping up” with their peers. It’s not fun, and it lasts longer and longer these days.

    Don’t have the child, give time and money to causes you care about, keep your interests alive – and the whole issue about “settling” becomes moot.

    Reply
  3. Melissa

    It’s sad to realize that people still think like this. Settling is never an option. It’s unfair to both parties. And to do it just for the sake of having help to care for a child is even more unfair to the kid. Children know when there’s love between their parents and when there isn’t, and that will also affect their choices as they grow. I can’t help wondering why she chose to have a child, if what she really wants is a marriage. Although the two often go together, they are far different propositions. I hope Lori finds her center and finds happiness that she can pass on to her child instead of the negativity she’s projecting now.

    Reply
  4. Hollie

    When people ask me if I’m married I tell them no, I have two children, I don’t need one more! Not to say all men are children, just that my X was!

    Being a single parent is a huge responsibility, and I completely agree with the input above that if you forego having kids then settling becomes moot! Very true… but for me I always knew I would be a mother. However, I didn’t know if I would ever be a wife. Raising my kids by myself has been very rewarding and I am close not only to them, but to all their friends. It’s not for everyone… and the financial burden can be too much for some… but it has worked out well for us. I feel it is an honor to have such quality relationships with members of the next generation. But that’s my experience, and it may not be for everyone…

    I see so many couples that are just two people entertaining their issues together… Which is actually one of the powerful things about being in a partnership, because it is a path to accelerated growth if we engage in them as such. I would love a healthy relationship founded on honesty, love, personal growth and empowerment and I’m not about ready to settle. I just try to learn the lessons on the way… right now I find that my lesson seems to be to strive to be Love, rather than be loved. (Don’t get me wrong… I have many long term relationships founded on genuine love, just not a partner…)

    Reply
  5. Elsie

    Lori Gottlieb’s article really troubled me, but I have to agree with some of the others here that she’s trying to compare the tough job of a single mom to the untethered life of a single childless woman, and the advice she dispenses just doesn’t apply to the latter.

    I was one of those who posted about this article on my blog for singles. You can read it here: Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb: A Singletude Response.

    Ironically, she undoes her own argument when, after spending four pages trying to convince herself–and us–otherwise, she admits that she can’t settle. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Roman

    Loris arcticle to me could be called,
    “What to do for a relationship, cause you want kids.”

    I hope one day people, as they grow old, will not say thier children are their Legacy from Life. Having children is too easy, to be called this.

    I think Lori did nail a good point. Our time frame of dating
    is different between sexes. Ladies have a better chance of finding a great match when young or mature, but not during thier biological clock phase.

    It’s hard for me to believe a woman,who does not want
    children will just settle. No way. She
    will know more what she wants in life and will stive to find these things and the relationship she wants.

    Reply
  7. cynical

    Face it — most people just settle and become bitter

    Reply

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Hi! I’m Sasha

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