Should you settle for Mr. Good Enough?

by singlemomseeking on March 9, 2008

mr-good-enough.jpgIn the past few weeks, so many women have forwarded this month’s Atlantic Monthly essay, “Marry Him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough” to me.

Have you read it? I’d love to know what you think.

When I first read this essay, I applauded the writer for putting herself out there. Although I don’t know Lori Gottlieb personally, we’ve chatted on the phone a couple of times. I’m grateful to her for contacting me out of the blue last year to give me my first assignment for MSN.com. We’d chatted about dating and men back then, and I later interviewed Lori for an article I wrote in Pregnancy about dating when you’re pregnant and single.

Lori had described herself as a woman who got “knocked up by half a cubic centimeter of defrosted sperm.” She gave birth to her son at age 38.

Lori Gottlieb says that her “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.”

I hear what Lori is saying when she urges us to let go of that “true love” Disney movie playing in our heads. But how far would I bend in order to gain the “practical benefits of having a husband”? Not too far.

In an interview with the Atlantic Monthly about “The Case for Mr. Quite-Not-Right,” Lori adds:

I was so focused on true love that I hadn’t appreciated the purely practical benefits of having a husband. Not only does he contribute financially, help with the dishes, and share in the child care, but as his wife, if you want some companionship or physical intimacy, you don’t have to shave your legs, blow-dry your hair, find a puke-free outfit, apply lipstick, drive to a restaurant and sit through a tedious two-hour meal for the mere possibility of some heavy petting while the babysitter meter is ticking away. You don’t have to follow up with flirtatious e-mails or engage in time-consuming courtship rituals. You don’t even have to make conversation if you don’t feel like it.”

Of course, guys, I’d love to hear what you have to say, too. How would you feel if a woman settled for you? Would you settle?

Maybe, ten years from now, when I’m the 45-year-old mother of an 18-year-old, I’ll agree with Lori. But right now, I can’t.

I did settle, in my late 20s when I was pregnant, and if I was still in that relationship, I’d be miserable. Being on my own has not been easy. I almost settled again, in 2006, with a man who didn’t pick up his dirty socks or turn off the TV to give me a little kiss good night. My daughter watched it all, and I knew this wasn’t the kind of relationship I wanted her to model.

“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,” Lori writes.

Would I have been happier in the long run? I don’t think so.

My writer-friend, Diane Mapes, who is single but not a mother, said in her recent “Single Shot“column in the Seattle PI:

“Now, as much as I love men and kids and, heck, even the idea of a bigger place to live, what I long for most in life probably is another book deal. But Gottlieb won’t have any of that. She says what I want, what I need, what I yearn for every waking moment, is a man. Any man.”

“Forget love, forget self-fulfillment. Hell, forget honesty. Just grab the first thing you can find with a pulse and a penis and start decorating that nursery. Yuck.”
Oh, Di, I hear you about that pulse and a penis. Been there, did that.
Let’s hear from you.

Do you think that women in their thirties should settle, if they “don’t want to be alone for the rest of their lives and/or want the kind of traditional family in which there are male pubic hairs on the toilet seat in the master bathroom”?

Photo courtesy of Simmbarb

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