Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In case George Michael was right...

Over the past week, two different people sent me the same article from the the latest issue of The Atlantic. It's a gut-wrenching piece by Lori Gottlieb, who makes the provocative assertion that at a certain point, it's better for women to settle for a man who isn't quite right than to end up alone forever waiting for true love.

Have you seen it? It's a stunner of an essay, most notably because of the author's unquestionable credibility: she's a forty-something single mom (she had IVF a year or so back), staring down the barrel of a long life without a husband to help out with, well, anything. Suddenly, the guy she ditched because he wasn't much of a reader seems like a gem (she has no time to read now, anyway) and all the little things that made her dismiss various Mr. Maybe's over the years seem foolish and inconsequential as she faces the enormity of a life spent alone. She's amazingly candid about her realization that she's no longer in a decision making place, even in terms of settling. Instead, she's someone who (hopefully) some nice guy might someday settle for. Her words dented my heart in more ways than I can describe.

Then I heard Sheryl Crow's new CD, Detours, which was like deja vu all over again. It made me wonder if these two women synchronized their release dates, because as I hear Sheryl sing, "I could wait my whole life for this moment to come/With a long list of beautiful chances I’ve blown," it feels like the anthem to Gottlieb's essay (and, to be honest, my life up until a few years ago). Pain like this obviously makes for great writing and music, but it seems like a kind of awful thing to live with day-to-day.

I talked about this with my friend Grace, who offered an interesting perspective. She's been married for fifteen years now, but freely admits that God gets the credit for getting her through the dating maze. She described how God nudged her to end a relationship with a guy who wasn't right for her (saying something to the effect of, He's not headed to where you want to end up in life), and later urged her to stay in a relationship with Dave, the man who ultimately became her husband. She often tells the story of their tumultuous first year of dating: how Dave triggered every one of Grace's issues, how they fought, how she told him one afternoon, "If you think I'm going to fall in love with you, you've got another thing coming!" But as each of them talked to God about their tumult, they heard similar things: Hang in there. Give it a little more time. Don't give up on this. So that's what they did. Now, all these years later, they're one of the couples that inspire me to believe that marriage can still be sexy and fun as the years go by. They defy the odds.

Thinking about all of this (and my own recent experiment with trusting God with my love life, and George Michael singing cause you've got to have faith in the pilot episode of Eli Stone) gave me an idea. You can read about it here, at a new blog I set up yesterday. If it sounds like something you'd be interested in trying, drop me a line and I'll let you know when we start.

If you're curious (and brave!) you can find the Lori Gottlieb's article here.

Here's to no more kissing frogs, no more detours, and no more settling :)

18 comments:

Stacy said...

I hope she's wrong about settling. The men who are interested in me are just SCARY!

LEstes65 said...

Yeah Grace & Dave. And their beautiful kids and how they'll share their stories. And yeah Trish & Steve for making me believe it can happen to me. And Yeah for God who has shown me over the last 42 years that he will hear my request. And when the time is right? He'll send that perfect guy to me. Oh I will NEVER settle again.

Never.

Surfergrrl said...

well you know how i feel about the article. :) I think everyone should trust their inner "God." I'm agnostic so I just say it's my inner voice or the universe. But whatever it is to you, it's probably right.

L Sass said...

I am really excited to read that article. It's a tough issue!

I prefer not to think of it as settling, myself. As someone in my mid-20s I try to remind myself (every day) that every relationship is going to be imperfect and that the imperfect relationship I've got is pretty darn great!

Eight months into my relationship with AS, he revealed something in his past that would have been a deal breaker for many people. After a lot of thought and prayer I decided that, for me, it wasn't going to be a deal breaker. It seemed to me that something that hard would happen in any relationship eventually, and that we'd better start figuring out how to deal with it eventually. (Needless to say, we got through it and I still totally HEART AS 2 years later!)

Very interesting overall!

Melek said...

i agree with the article that we're all plowed with these ideal notions of marriage so when we don't have the spark, when he doesn't rub our feet during the 10th viewing of our favorite chic-flick, then take out the garbage without a reminder, we think he's a loser. there needs to be a book out there about "what REALLY happens after the wedding day" that talks about the un-fantasy of marriage. maybe then the divorce rate would quit climbing bc people would enter marriage with a more realistic expectation.

maybe 'settling' needs to be renamed to something more like "rationally accepting a man for what he is with a realistic notion of how we'll feel 10 years from now when we realized he wasn't all that bad"

ramblin' girl said...

I love Eli Stone! I'm all in for no more detours and no more settling... but kissing frogs can be entertaining on occassion.. ;-)

Let me know about the 40 days...

Larramie said...

I KNEW that Eli Stone was your new favorite TV show, Trish. Isn't it better than brilliant?

Patti said...

it's a lazy way to go about life....if you ask me.

ellesappelle said...

It's a fine line, isn't it, between settling for something that isn't good enough or choosing something that's okay. I think that's a really interesting idea, to pray for forty days about The Issue...!

Jess said...

Sounds like an interesting article. But still, I think that those little things that make you break up with someone? Are usually so bothersome to you because of a bigger lack of chemistry or compatibility or something. If that makes sense.

Stephanie said...

That is the most depressing article I've ever read. I agree that sometimes women have dumb expectations but you shouldn't have to force yourself to fall in love or settle.

I like the Jane Austen quote, "Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affection"

And just like her, I'd rather be alone than settle! I don't care what Ms. Gottlieb says.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I often think that if I hadn't met my husband in high school (we've been married thirteen years now), I'd still be single. Quite frankly, I think the dating world would have been too much for me. I applaud all the women out there wading through the muck, hoping for a gem.

Best of luck with the new blog!

Sarakastic said...

I never understood settling. How does a person decide that this other person is the best of all the things they don't want when they are literally thousands of men I don't want to be with. That didn't make sense, but let's pretend like it did.

Susie said...

Wow, that is super depressing. I think I like myself way too much to settle. I'd sooo much rather be alone than be with someone who isn't right for me. I'm happy alone so why would I want to be with someone I'm not completely in love with? And um, newsflash, the divorce rate is like 50% as it is...the last thing we need is people getting married who aren't even fully into it from the start!

Can't wait to see how the new blog progresses!!

Swishy said...

Ohhh, I don't know if I am brave enough to read that. I don't have the settling gene in me, and I sure hope that isn't a defect.

Pia said...

Hi Trish!
I'm new here...wandered over after reading about your upcoming book. :)

I am glad to hear the story of Grace and Dave. I love what Kahlil Gibran says--that love is not only for your pleasure but your pruning, and even as it will crown you, so will it crucify you. It shakes us to the core! I think a lot of us raised in a secular upbringing with Hollywood romance as the ideal, don't really see that side of things. I am sorry to hear about the woman who feels she has to settle. I pray God remove any fear from her heart. I recently had an experience a bit similar, where everything seemed 'right' on paper, but somehow my heart was just not on board. It's true, I would rather be alone than with someone I don't feel led to. And yet, loving as we are led can test our faith deeply...;)

Anyhoo...just wanted to say hi and look forward to staying tuned to your discussions here!

Moanna said...

I don't have the courage to read that article but I think I understand Sheryl Crow. She thought she'd found a great guy. Turns out he wasn't what she thought he was. So then you think back, wondering who seemed to be not good enough but actually was great.

The trick is knowing when God has answered your prayer and when it just looks like he has. Not that I have experience in this. Hee.

Anonymous said...

I read the article. And now I'm lost in thought. It rings true to me, as a mid-20's single mom, but I'm thinking more because of life experiences, and things I've been through even in my younger age. Definitely something to put some thought into.