Monday, February 02, 2009


In honor of my birthday, I reread my favorite depressing, get-married-while-you-still-can advice column at The Atlantic.

My 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. 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.
Also, this read through I realized that men and women probably settle for different reasons. Although I am still a fan of settling, I think that my hand only gets stronger as time passes while my opponent's (i.e., future wife's) hand probably has a half-life of 5-7 years. I should just wait 'em out. Also, I am not giving up my requirement to review 5 years of audited tax records and running a credit check.
What I didn’t realize when I decided, in my 30s, to break up with boyfriends I might otherwise have ended up marrying, is that while settling seems like an enormous act of resignation when you’re looking at it from the vantage point of a single person, once you take the plunge and do it, you’ll probably be relatively content. It sounds obvious now, but I didn’t fully appreciate back then that what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. 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. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.


This doesn’t undermine my case for settling. Instead, it supports my argument to do it young, when settling involves constructing a family environment with a perfectly acceptable man who may not trip your romantic trigger—as opposed to doing it older, when settling involves selling your very soul in exchange for damaged goods.


Kaahl said...

lol, i actually meant to post that to my own site. oh well.

Feed said...

I think fate has led you to posting it in the proper place. It's time for a You See This revival!

mnlop said...

This is so true. settling is not giving up on yourself - it's being humble to the fact that you're not exactly hot stuff all the time, either. I think it would be harder to get married if you have overly high expectations, you're more set in your ways or you're over the age when you can rely on hormones. I also remember years ago someone who was happily married telling me that there were days when she just plain disliked her spouse and wondered why she ever married that person. That feeling is normal and will happen at times, no matter who you end up with. It's hard and a lot of work, and I can very much relate to the non-profit analogy. But it's worth it. Growth and pain and humility and difficulty are all interlinked.