BOOK REVIEW: “Marry Him: The Case For Settling For Mr Good Enough” by Lori Gottlieb; Reviewed by Gregory Hilton

BOOK REVIEW: “Marry Him: The Case For Settling For Mr Good Enough” by Lori Gottlieb (Penguin, $39.95). Reviewed by Gregory Hilton
This book was published on February 4th and was written after the tremendous reader response the author received because of her March 2008 article “Marry Him” in “The Atlantic,” as well as her June 2008 “Marie Claire” article “Should You Settle For Mr Good Enough?” If you have not heard about these articles or the book, you soon will. Tobey Maguire of the Spider-Man series has already purchased the movie rights for Warner Brothers.
Marriage is obviously a serious decision and no one should rush into it with the wrong person. It is a partnership and hopefully you will feel sparks, but my experience in both the DC and NYC social scene convinces me many single people are way too picky.
The book is written for women in their late twenties and thirties, but the message also applies to men and it is valuable for other age groups. This lighthearted and amusing book will be my Valentine’s Day present for several desirable but dateless singles, because it expresses sentiments they really need to hear.
In the words of the cartoon character Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us!” Forbes magazine puts it this way, “In business, ‘good enough’ is often ‘very good’. So why should we expect-and demand-perfection in dating and marriage?”
Many of you are not aware of my highly successful sideline. I am not paid, but for over two decades I have been a volunteer matchmaker. How did this happen? I serve on finance committees for several prominent non-profits and the boards are dominated by incredible women. They appear perfect to me and it was surprising to hear their numerous problems in the single scene.
I do know great guys and the bottomline is that I am now responsible for two marriages and numerous meaningful relationships. Many of my matches did not work out and of course it is difficult to predict chemistry. Queen Victoria did the same thing in the 19th century. She thought of potentially compatible young royals and introduced them. Her track record was better than mine.
I can not speak for Her Majesty, but I quickly learned some middle aged singles can be extremely difficult and a major factor is that their expectations are not realistic. They have so many prerequisites for a partner which sabotages their own happiness. The book downgrades the importance of getting your own way which is a difficult lesson for many singles.
For example, my divorced 50 year old friend who is a partner in a white shoe law firm rejected a fantastic guy because of his 15 year old son. The teenager was well behaved, but she wants someone without children which is not easy to find in her age range.
A DC bachelor who is an investment banking colleague told me he insisted on women who were “a perfect 10.” He does have money but aside from that he is a perfect 3! We were at a party where he complained because no desirable women were present. I thought the event was packed with beautiful and intelligent women.
Lori Gottlieb, the 42 year old author, feels left behind because most of her female friends are now married. Their husbands are not GQ models, but they made great partners and fathers. One past boyfriend made the author feel “like I was the most wonderful woman in the world. So, then I started thinking, ‘If I’m so wonderful, maybe I should be with someone better.’”
It took years to realize but finally concluded that she was looking for the wrong man. Her Mr Right could have been in front of her all along. She now advises us to “Look for reasons to say yes.” It could change your life.
One reviewer took on the feminist notion “A woman needs a man like fish needs a bicycle,” and concluded “Maybe fish do need bicycles.” The author says, “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. 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.”
The part my female friends will not want to hear is this: “Not only do many women have unrealistic expectations, but they also don’t see themselves clearly. They have an inflated view of themselves. This whole culture of ‘empowerment,’ ‘girl power’ and ‘I’m so fabulous’ has gotten to the point where women are ego-ing themselves out of relationship after relationship. In reality, most of us are pretty ordinary – and a lot of women have trouble seeing that.”
The reaction of Ross Douthat of “The New York Times” is, “American women are wealthier, healthier and better educated than they were 30 years ago. They’re more likely to work outside the home, and more likely to earn salaries comparable to men’s when they do. They can leave abusive marriages and sue sexist employers.
“They enjoy unprecedented control over their own fertility. On some fronts — graduation rates, life expectancy and even job security — men look increasingly like the second sex. But all the achievements of the feminist era may have delivered women to greater unhappiness.”
The claim is documented in last year’s “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” a study published in the American Economic Journal by Betsey Stevenson of the Wharton School of Commerce and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, http://bpp.wharton.upenn.edu/betseys/papers/Paradox%20of%20declining%20female%20happiness.pdf.
Dr. Helen Fisher, the author of “Why Him? Why Her?” says in the long run, “good enough” might be better than great.

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One response to “BOOK REVIEW: “Marry Him: The Case For Settling For Mr Good Enough” by Lori Gottlieb; Reviewed by Gregory Hilton

  1. sounds like an interesting book.

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