A couple of days ago I stumbled across an article in The Guardian that made me choke a bit on my coffee. Then it made me laugh, then punch a cushion, then laugh some more, then stare blankly into space and fear for the future of humanity.
The article in question is about a book called Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough. Which seems to be another bitter tale about how women are too picky and how their biological clocks turn them into hormonal monsters by the age of thirty and if they haven't found a man to reproduce with by then, so help them god they should just take anyone. Phew. This kind of stuff really pisses me off.
According to the author Lori Gottlieb women shouldn't be looking for that elusive and mythical the one, because when it comes to marriage he simply doesn't exist. No, Lori thinks that we've got it all wrong. According to her :
Marrying Mr Good Enough might be equally viable, especially if you're looking for a reliable life companion. Marriage isn't a passion-fest; it's a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane and often boring non-profit business. And I mean this in a good way.
Woah. That sounds like a woman who likes having fun in her relationships. I'm all for realism, but seriously, looking at your marriage as a boring non-profit business will probably not make it any more successful.
The Guardian, being liberal and nice, wanted to include a voice of reason in their article and quoted much loved hippie author Elisabeth Gilbert (who wrote Eat, Pray, Love, which is actually an excellent book in a sappy, post-break-up, gorging on chocolate and loving yourself kind of way).
However Gilbert doesn't really seem to be all too optimistic about marriage either. According to her:
We marry most often because we are in love and we think it will make us happy. Yet married women are more likely to suffer from depression than single women and are not as successful in their careers as single women.
Whoop-de-do. We can't win can we? If we go for Mr. Right, or lets bring it down a notch and make it a bit less Carrie Bradshaw and call him that guy that we happened to fall in love with, we lose because we are less able to focus on ourselves and our careers. Does this mean that marriage automatically turns us into housewives? Do we by default sacrifice more? Well Gilbert seems to think so.
We always have a choice. But the more juggling we need to do, the more difficult it is. However if we listen to Lori Gottlieb, putting ourselves first isn't a good idea either (because of that pesky biological clock) and therefore we just need to find A Good Man... any good man would do apparently, and settle for that.
I think what we're seeing here is just another example of that good old the-grass-is-greener-debate. Single women (or divorced women like Lori Gottlieb) are usually looking for a relationship because that's what we're culturally wired to do. They might even spend a lot of time, money and effort on the process.
Women in relationships, on the other hand, will look at their single friends and feel jealous of their freedom and the amount of time they can spend on themselves. We can't win. Unless we just ignore the whole debate, realize that there aren't any rules and that the only thing that matters is being happy. With or without Mr. Right.