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?