By Nicolle

“I remember thinking,” says author Lori Gottlieb about a couple she knows who confessed her before their wedding that they hadn’t initially had intense emotional chemistry, “that without an initial period of giddy excitement to sustain them through the ups and downs of a marriage, Andy and Jodi would surely get divorced.”

To her surprise, they lasted and now have two kids. And his comment to her about why? “[My wife] is ‘bland’ in ways that aren’t important in the big picture. I’m a talker, and I love the banter, and I’m intense about things, and she’s just not. It mattered more when we were dating. It still would be nice to have in a spouse, but it has so little to do with the day-to-day marriage that it matters very little now.”

Kinda takes the thrill out of it doesn’t it?

But, that’s Gottlieb’s point in her book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. We shouldn’t be looking for the most thrilling, the most romantic, the most exciting, the most intense, the most… perfect. Instead, we need to be willing to settle.

“Settle” sounds like a pretty scary word when we’re talking about the rest of our lives. To settle brings with it the connotation that we didn’t choose the best, that we could do better, that we’re willing to sacrifice lifelong happiness just because we want a relationship.

Gottlieb disagrees. Single and in her late 30s, she realized she’d been doing the dating thing all wrong when a friend reformed her view of “settling.” “She didn’t mean resigning herself to a life of quiet misery with a man she cared little about,” Gottlieb says. “She meant opening herself up to a fulfilling life with a great guy who might not have possessed every quality on her checklist… She used to consider ‘settling’ to mean anything less than her ideal guy, but now… she’d come to realize that she’d been confusing ‘settling’ with ‘compromising’… How long does it make sense to hold out for someone better – who we may never find, and who may not exist or be available to us even if he did – when we could be happy with the person right in front of us?”

With that concept in mind, Gottlieb set out to explore her own dating history to discover if her friend’s concept of settling could be true. What follows is a quippy, quirky commentary on modern-day relationships and how we continue to subconsciously self-sabotage them in the name of a perfect, happy ending.

Gottlieb was also perplexed by our divorced rate. So before she wrote the book, she did market research (aka, she talked to her married friends) to find out what made marriages successful. “Whether or not these people went into marriage head-over-heels,” she says, “there seemed to be little difference in how happy they were now. Both kinds of marriages seemed to be working or not working equally or poorly.”

In her attempt to find love for herself and discover why we have such a hard time walking down the aisle and then staying hitched, Gottlieb gives readers an open case study to examine as she hires matchmakers, hops on the online dating bandwagon and searches for Mr. Good Enough to prove that we’re our own biggest enemies when it comes to long-term commitment. She’s insightful, self-deprecating and intelligent, and her interviews, experiences and evaluations make this book another one to add to the “To Read” list.

She focuses on our culturally perpetuated perceptions of the perfect partner, one who meets all our needs and fulfills all our wants, who makes us feel like the lead in a romantic comedy. She also destroys those perceptions as she fumbles through her own dating experience. She’s harsh, and her words are occasionally hard to hear, but if we take them to heart, we can break out of the cycle we seem to be in – and end up with a perfectly happy ending.

Advertisements