Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mr. Good Enough

Ahh, I have found someone who agrees with me. Lori Gottlieb wrote a book called, Marry Him: the Case for Mr. Good Enough. Interestingly, the German title of this book is Take Him: You Are Not Going to Find Someone Better. I wrote in my previous post, Role Play: the Shriver Report that gender roles and the whole idea of feminism and independence have spun a little out of control. In that post maybe I was a little hard on men, suggesting that many of my generation's males are sub par when it comes to fulfilling their "role." I am not suggesting, however, that women are not at fault, because in all actuality, we are at least 50 percent to blame.

Recently my best bud, the beautiful and wonderful Lisa, reminded me of Matthew McConaughey's wise words:

Sometimes when a woman falls for a guy, she [asks him to change], and he changes so much that she loses her Huck Finn, the rascal in the man she fell in love with. Men are willing to change to make you happy -- but don't completely take the boy out of the man. You're gonna miss him.

Don't we do that? Don't we grow up hearing, "wait for Mr. Right," "you deserve someone who will treat you the way you want to be treated," "don't settle," "when he's the right one you'll just know it," and "he's not good enough for you?" I'm not saying that these words are wrong. Many times they are right on track. But add them to the slew of fantasy stories, songs and reality shows, and you have a recipe for marital (or single) disaster. I, like Lori Gottlieb admits about herself, am no expert. But she makes some really good points that I think are worth considering:

statistically, most women do want to go through life with a partner. And I think that what's tricky about this, and why a lot of women in their 20s will be more offended than the women in their 30s, who looked at this with more, perhaps, life experience, is that in your 20s, because of this whole idea of empowerment and we-don't-have-to-compromise-on-anything and we're so independent and self-sufficient, a lot of us think, "Well of course I wanna meet my soul mate and of course I wanna get married, but if it doesn't happen — that's okay, I will be okay." Better to be alone for the right reasons ...

Better to be alone and be right! Our society teaches us to be so prideful. So many of us think that to compromise is to be weak, and women have spent so many years trying to earn independence and respect that they are now on the total other side: deathly afraid to appear weak, and therefore likely to be completely inflexible. Gottlieb goes on to say:

As I say in the beginning of the book, settling in our culture has this very negative connotation like you're picking the schlubby guy who repulses you. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is we consider picking someone who doesn't meet everything on our checklist. Like that's sort of what our culture is like: "Well, he's not this or that or the other thing, and am I settling?" We're so worried that we're settling if we don't get 100 percent of what we want. So I'm encouraging women to, yes, not get 100 percent of what they want. Some people call that settling, some people don't. I call it finding a great husband.

This is interesting, too, because it seems women are more often preoccupied with the slight imperfections in their partners than men are. I think women ask themselves the "am I settling" question much more often than men do. Men probably just ask themselves the "is she going to get fat in a few years" question. (Kidding. Mostly.)

So anyway, of course all of this reminded me of a study they're covering at church right now- a book by Chip Ingram called, Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships. One of the most interesting things that Chip talks about is the formula for love: God's way, and the world's way. The world's way (the Hollywood formula, as he calls it) goes like this:
1. Find the right person.
2. Fall in love. (Get really emotional, really fast.)
3. Put all your hopes and dreams on that person.
4. When it doesn't work, assume you've chosen the wrong person and go out and look for a new mate. Repeat. Over and over and over.

God's way goes like this:
1. Become the right person.
2. Walk in love, choosing to love someone no matter what (agape).
3. Put all of your hopes and dreams in God, knowing only he can fulfill you, not another (flawed) human being.
4. Start over at step one if it doesn't work out.

The reason Gottlieb's book reminds me of Ingram's is because it turns the focus more onto ourselves. God suggests we remove the plank from our own eye before removing the splinter from someone else's, and so it should be in love as well. The problem is, society teaches something very different. Taylor Swift sings, "Romeo, save me..." as though another person is going to come into our lives and make us whole. Where is the feminism in that? We are skewed in our belief that the knight-in-shining-armour will sweep us off our feet, but yet we will retain our autonomy. So many of us are dissatisfied with men who aren't "sensitive" enough and won't "listen to our feelings," but yet we want them to treat us as gender equals. Women will be women, and men will be men.

Maybe the reason marriages were more successful in centuries past was because there weren't any outside factors influencing people to think that maybe, just maybe, there was someone out there who was just a little bit better than their current spouse. (Men, this goes for you too because I know sometimes you get to thinking you could score an Angelina Jolie look-alike if you just. kept. looking.)

Maybe we're all just too caught up in the Hollywood formula, and we need to get back to our roots. Somewhere along the way, someone convinced us that perfect people exist. And, while we ourselves are not perfect, we deserve someone who is- and we should search until we die, if we have to, to find that person. Phew! Don't know about you, but that sounds exhausting. I'd rather spend my time on something more useful.

In fact, I'll start by removing shards of wood from my eye.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! It's so true about women trying so hard to be independent...

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