I read the most fascinating and eye-opening book suggested by one of our readers this summer. It’s called “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” by Lori Gottlieb. Now before you go off and think “settling” means giving up the most important things you need in a future spouse – such as respect, responsibility, integrity, and a strong testimony – know that it’s not. In fact, I think this title might be a turn off and should be instead called, The Case for Accepting Mr. Good Enough. I’ll have to talk to her publisher….
There are many points the author puts out there – but one point I really related to was the fact that women often give up or pass up fantastic men because they don’t fit their extremely large list of “requirements” in a future spouse. Of course, some of her examples were just absurd: women who had relationships with men that were funny, smart, good looking, kind, and someone they related to but broke up with them because they weren’t romantic enough or dressed well enough. I think single women in their 30s and 40s realize that there is no perfect man and that romantic love stories in movies are just for the movies. They don’t exist.
Or do we?? Do we really believe it? Do we believe that the outer shell of a person doesn’t really reflect the person that will make a perfect husband and family man? The author had some excellent examples about how the men we THINK we want to marry are the men we pass up for trivial and silly reasons.
I’m completely guilty of that. I’ve broken up with a really great man for some unrealistic picture of a man, but I surely have passed up some men after only one date because – his laugh was just too annoying, or he had facial hair, or was shorter than me, or I just didn’t “feel” anything after a first date. And after reading this book, I’m completely ashamed.
Now let me qualify here that there are some men that have asked me out that yes - it ain’t ever gonna to happen. But aren’t there also some people in my social circle that I have written off for no real good reason who could be a real potential and great spouse if I just “got over myself?” And I don’t mean the creepy or the needy ones, or those with absolutely no social skills. I mean, the nice guys that we overlook because they are too nice, aren’t tall enough, or have less education then us, or not quite good looking enough.
Have you ever said about a guy, “oh, he is the absolute best! Kind, funny, fulfills his church calling. He’d be perfect for anyone but me!” I do that ALL the time! But why?? I think it’s time I start analyzing and realizing why I’m really discounting these men. Are they good enough reasons? Are these reasons important ENOUGH? Is it just because I’ve always wanted a man 4.5 inches taller than me so I discount those that aren’t? Or a man who has a better job than me that will impress family and friends? Or is it because that one guy that dumped me had that one special trait that I just thought was so perfect for me and I keep holding on to it as though it’s the most important thing in the world and discounting men that don’t have it?
REALLY? Isn’t this exactly the shallow behavior I accuse men of doing all the time???
I liked this book because it had reality in it. I’m forty. My dating pool is smaller and with scarier looking fish. I need to open my horizons and stop focusing on the shallow things we accuse the men in the world of doing. I need to look at MYSELF and stop getting in my own way of finding my spouse.
So what does that mean? What am I going to give up? Well, there are several childish, ridiculous rules I made up when I was 12 when dreaming of a future husband. Admit it! You’ve all had them. I’ve given up several already, I’m proud to admit. Here is a list of some of the qualifications I had as a college student:
1. Had to be from a big city and not from Utah. (that lasted 3 years before I fell for a guy from Toquerville, Utah. Population 910.)
2. Had to be over 5’11 (love of my life admitted he was lying when he said he was 5’8” and was actually 5’7” yet I could have cared less)
3. Never married – because I never wanted to be compared to a previous wife (Yet, I dated another great guy who was divorced and was the most thoughtful of all I’ve dated)
Well, luckily I got over those childish reasons. But yet I’ve still held on to some with all my might and strength and won’t give them up because I’m too prideful to admit that they are childish. I’m not telling you what they are – I’ve already admitted too much here. But you know what I’m talking about. These stringent rules that eliminate really good men because we feel like we can’t control much in this life, so darn it, we are going to control this about who we marry!
Things like they had to served a mission and be righteous to this very day with no bumps in the road in their past, has to have all the skills to be a future Bishop, has to be charismatic and take the lead but also let you lead whenever you want to, can’t be shy, has to like your favorite types of movies or music, has to anticipate your needs before you know them…you can see how this list can be completely ridiculous.
I had a lot of epiphanies from this book and I’ll be posting about them later, but one other point I want to share is the need of letting the man I marry be human. If I expect a man to accept me for all that I am – with my many failings and quirks – I should give him a break and let him be just as human and quirky. If he wears bow ties and forgets to take out the trash, so what! As long as he loves and adores me and is a supportive husband. He should be allowed to be just as human as I am.
Do you see the difference from giving up some things you should never compromise from the things that really have no bearing on a good marriage? Having that realization is helping me think about the men in my life differently.
I challenge you (and myself) to take a good look at the men around you and see if they have the qualities you are looking for even if they might not be in the perfect packaging. Which guy makes you laugh? Which guy do you respect for how he treats you and others? Which guy is really kind and looks out for others? Even if they are 20 pounds overweight, no hair and dresses like he is a crazy professor - take the time to get to know them and flirt or even ask them out once. No, you aren’t committing to marriage so don’t get freaked out! You are just opening up your options and seeing people as Christ does.
I think you’d be really surprised as to who you might find attractive in the end – IF you just give him a chance.