Book Review: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough

Marry Him Cover ArtTitle: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough
Author: Lori Gottlieb
Year Published: 2010
Publisher: New American Library (Penguin Group)

Whether you’re in your twenties or eighties, if you’re single, you should absolutely read this book.

Despite the title, Marry Him is not a book about desperately seeking a husband and marrying the next guy who comes along. Author Lori Gottlieb, a 40-something single mother, set out to explore today’s most common relationship dilemma: reconciling one’s growing list of must-have’s and can’t-stands with the reality that no one is perfect. She speaks to a plethora of experts, including dating coaches, marriage counselors, psychologists, sociologists, and even a rabbi, to gain insights on how our expectations of marriage have changed over the decades and how this change has actually made it far harder to get married and stay married. She also interviews dozens of people — singles from their 20’s to 60’s, married couples of various age ranges, and even some of her own ex-boyfriends — and even details her adventures in online dating, speed dating, set-ups, and dating services to offer a picture of the realities of dating and marriage today.

The result: if we women don’t get our heads on straight, we’re in for a lifetime of unhappiness.

What Gottlieb discovered is that, although feminism was a much needed movement that empowered women, some women have taken feminist rhetoric so far to heart that they believe that, not only can they be and do everything, but that they should have everything they ever wanted at all times. How does that translate in dating and marriage? Many women have found it impossible to find “The One” because their expectation is that they will have an instant connection with their soul mate, who will know what they need at all times. It’s unacceptable to ever be lonely in a relationship and to have separate interests and to work hard to make the relationship last decades instead of weeks. They want their boyfriends/husbands to be everything: their primary source of entertainment, their best friend, their partner, etc. Who can live up to that?

The happily married women Gottlieb talked to had very different expectations: a husband should be a good partner who shares their same core values. Rather than looking at what they didn’t like about their husbands or what they weren’t getting but had thought they wanted, they focused on the good their husbands brought to the relationship and chose to be happy with the positive characteristics their husbands had.

And that’s the kicker: our society is so fixated on the “soul mate” concept that we completely disregard the real possibility that relationship happiness is a choice.

Nowadays, it’s the norm to want instant gratification while always being on the lookout for the next best thing. Rather than being happy in what might otherwise be a healthy, sustainable relationship (i.e.: you share core values and a mutual vision for your lives), oftentimes we nitpick at the insignificant things. Gottlieb provides numerous examples of how women do this, such as a woman who broke up with her boyfriend for giving her a candle with a “slightly blackened wick” despite the fact that he was supporting her throughout her mother’s battle with cancer. The woman told Lori, “It’s the worst object to regift in the world. Nothing looks more previously used than a candle. It’s funny because he can do something like that, and then text me to remind me to take care of myself, take long walks, and listen to my iPod. He genuinely cares. He’s just a complete idiot about getting all the basic dating stuff straight. A moron, in fact.”

Stories like this, including Gottlieb’s own journey into learning how to stop prejudging men before really getting to know them, are rampant throughout the book, serving as cautionary tales for women (single or not) who don’t realize they could be missing out on a chance for a lifetime of happiness by eliminating a man for something that, in the grand scheme of things, really does not matter.

Marry Him is fascinating, educational, and a great warning to remember to always do your best to discover who a person truly is before deciding who you think they are.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough

  1. Taylor says:

    I will definitely have to read this. I think there is something to be said for the womens lib movement having at the same time moved women forward and set them way back. While we have empowered ourselves, we have (in ways) isolated the very men we seek to keep. There is a really interesting (and at the same time bizzare) movie based on q book by Forrester called “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” or something like that which deals with this. It suggests that by giving ourselves so many options and the ability to want (and deserve) everything, we have shaken the reality if relationships for men. The “modern” man hasn’t changed like the modern woman; this leaves a dizzying vacuum that fosters much of the stereotypical “bad” behavior in men. It’s like when you have a dog and you get a new puppy. The reality for the original dog is at the same time similar and vastly different. This often times leads to acting out until a new standard of normal is reached. Women, as I may be misinterpreting, be failing to realize what we are doing to men. We are expecting them to hav gotten the memo, gotten on board, and fit in with what we are entitled to. It frequently looks like what we expected. Stop holding out for the unicorn and embrace the narwal.

    • The Slasher Chick says:

      I don’t really think men have changed either, and Lori Gottlieb seemed to find in her research (and experience) that men don’t nitpick nearly as much as women do when it comes to relationships. Obviously there are the exceptions — there are plenty of men out there who want a Barbie doll/trophy wife. But what many women are failing to see is that some of the small things for which they are eliminating potential partners (i.e.: baldness, height, lack of fashion sense, weird laugh) really don’t matter in the long run. What women should really be looking for are the traits they want in a husband, not a boyfriend, such as kindness and loyalty. The sad truth is that most women nowadays want gorgeous body, amazing sense of humor, good father, bread winner, etc., and won’t “settle” for anything less. To me, this explains why women go for the “bad boy” more than anything else I’ve read.

  2. Tricia says:

    I loved this book. We want everything, that guy who sets our souls on fire. In reality, that’s just impossible. No man can live up to that expectation. I was recently seeing a guy who was hard to talk to and very shy, but I gave it time because I knew that he would be a good partner. It didn’t work out for other reasons, but I’m glad I at least gave him shot – rather than compare him to this ambitious dynamo I always think I want.

    • The Slasher Chick says:

      I like how you say “this ambitious dynamo I always think I want.” That’s another great point I discovered in Gottlieb’s book. As much as we think we want a man with X, Y, and Z, oftentimes he’s not the man we end up marrying because those characteristics aren’t what we *need*. It’s interesting to find out we may not actually know what we need from a relationship because we’ve been too heavily influenced by books, TV, movies, and even each other!

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