If You Want To Be Married By A Certain Age, Is It Better To Be Alone Or Settle?*
*The original poll was posted on October 28th, 2011: https://loveafrican.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/is-it-better-to-be-alone-or-to-settle/
The closeness of this poll prompts me to tip the scale. SETTLE, I say! SETTLE! Well really, Lori Gottlieb says so in her ‘Marry Him!‘ article. Gottlieb, a single (and never been married) 40-year old woman presents some good arguments for why women should settle in her piece.
Gottlieb begins her article by explaining that she hasn’t always been a proponent of settling, however now at 40, her views have changed: marrying mr. good enough is a viable option if “you’re looking for a stable reliable life companion.” She claims that the idea of settling is uncomfortable because people have developed the belief that a good romantic relationship is what makes a good marriage (and that there must be some divine spark). However, “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.” She then likens marriage to a pragmatic partnership: “Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business.” Interesting analogy. To Gottlieb, her own interactions with her married friends only confirm this, because even though her friends complain about their marriages, they would rather feel alone in a marriage than to actually BE alone.
They, like me, realize that marriage ultimately isn’t about cosmic connection—it’s about how having a teammate, even if he’s not the love of your life, is better than not having one at all.
It’s better to have that decent guy to take out the trash and provide a second income, which allows you to spend more time with your kids instead of working 60hrs a week to support a family by yourself (Gottlieb recently had a child through a sperm donor). To her, marriage should be similar to the roles depicted by the TV characters 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 [BS] and puts up with your quirks”…so what if Will was gay and his relationship with Grace was platonic.
Gottlieb notes that settling is mostly a women’s issue, because men settle less and, when they do, they are less bothered by the idea. Gottlieb’s own guy friend justified marrying a quote unquote bland wife who is a good mom (but someone he shares little connection with) by saying: “I think one-stop shopping is overrated. I get passion at my office with my work, or with my friends that I sometimes call or chat with—it’s not the same, and, boy, it would be exciting to have it with my spouse. But I spend more time with people at my office than I do with my spouse.” …Interesting. I’m not sure how I would feel if my spouse honestly felt that way about me. What about you?
I don’t agree with everything Gottlieb is saying, particularly because she speaks of marriage primarily in the context of having children (and not all marriages include children), but I do agree that ‘settling’ gets a bad rap mostly because it is defined incorrectly. Really in the end, “Everyone settles to some degree. You might as well settle pragmatically.”
So for the 54% of you who answered ‘be alone’, does this change your mind? Is marriage really like a game of musical chairs like Gottlieb says— do you have to take a seat, any seat, just so you’re not left standing alone?