You Have To Kiss A Lot of Princes Before You Marry The Frog

You Have To Kiss A Lot of Princes Before You Marry The FrogYou’ve been through a LOT when it comes to love. You’ve dated guys with whom you felt the most incredible connection, only to find out that they weren’t serious about you. You’ve dated guys with whom you didn’t feel much connection at all, and hung on for awhile hoping it would develop. You’ve dated guys who seemed great on paper, but one or both of you just couldn’t find a way to make a commitment. Everything you did, you did for a reason, and I’m not going to second-guess any of those decisions of the past. I am, however, going to share three things I learned this weekend at my 20th High School Reunion – and illustrate how they may apply to you… It’s easy to question your own judgment when dating. You may be insecure that you’re drawn to the wrong men. You may be frustrated that you can’t help who you’re attracted to. You may even look around at friends and wonder what they’ve figured out that you haven’t. Questioning your own judgment is normal. But so is the opposite: It’s easy to NEVER question your own judgment. It’s easy to form a set of beliefs and live your life by them, even if they’re flawed. It’s easy to find evidence to support these flawed beliefs, which is why you never question your own judgment. It’s easy to spend years and years stuck in negative relationship patterns, and never conclude that you’re the common denominator in each situation.

Now, as you well know, being 38 and single is certainly not a crime.

To illustrate these principles, I’ve got 3 interesting anecdotes. Now, to nostalgic people like me, a 20th reunion is a big deal. It’s not like I was super-popular in high school, but I still reflect on my high school years fondly. At the very least, I was genuinely curious about what happened to all these people whom I once considered myself close friends. One friend, in particular, is a lot like me. The only difference I’ve seen is that, as we’ve gotten older, I’ve found a measure of humility and he has not. So while I went into the reunion telling my wife, “Don’t let me talk about myself. Make sure I’m listening and asking questions,” my friend Brian’s impetus to return for the reunion was to show everybody how great he was. And it’s not like he’s wrong – he’s an impressive guy. But what Brian failed to recognize was that he wasn’t “better” than everyone else who get married at 30 and had 2 kids – he was, as I saw it, just less likely to compromise in love. His decision not to compromise meant that he’s been extremely successful in his career, he’s traveled around the world, he’s dated models. It also means he’s 38 and single. Now, as you well know, being 38 and single is certainly not a crime. But it is a choice. And while Brian was looking down on all the married suburbanites who couldn’t hop on a flight to Morocco, I was sort of envying them. Jesse took his kids to Jay, who was his local pediatrician. Barry took his kids to Stacey, who is a speech pathologist. Dan had to get up early the next day to drive his kids to soccer practice. This is, to me, the American dream. And yet all Brian could say was how sad it was that none of our peers had grown because they’re still living where we grew up in Long Island. On the contrary, I thought they had grown tremendously. In fact, all of the happily married people grew to understand how important it was to compromise in love. Sam certainly did. He’d been married for 12 years, and in about 20 minutes of conversation, he made it clear to me that while having the freedom to do whatever he wants can be exciting, his life is ALL about the kids. I thought this was beautiful. Sam is about devotion to one woman and selflessness and building something bigger than himself. (Yes, men like this DO exist.)

If you’ve been looking for your whole life for your prince, it may be time to let go of the image and find a real, live, human being who loves you unconditionally.

So when I compare Brian and Sam, I don’t see one person as better than the other. Brian is a wealthy single guy who raises money for cancer. Sam loves his wife, supports his family and gives every ounce of effort to his children. Neither is superior, but I can tell you, 100%, that I’d rather be like Sam. What about you? Would you rather be the world-beater who has all the luxuries on earth, but looks down on everyone who made compromises? Or would you rather be the woman who makes certain compromises and finds love? The choice is yours. Brian has told himself he needs to be with a liberal Ivy League supermodel to be happy. I used to feel the same way. I learned to compromise. I’m MUCH happier than I was before. You can be too, if you’re open to it: Which brings me to my final story from the reunion, courtesy of a surprising source. Darlene and I were barely even friends in high school – it was more of a first name recognition. But we knew people in common, she knew what I did for a living, and we had a really engaging conversation about the nature of love. And then she said something to me that I’d never heard before. “You have to kiss a lot of princes before you marry the frog.” I was so confused that I asked her to repeat herself. She did, and then some: “You have to kiss a lot of princes before you marry the frog. What I mean is that it’s easy to find a cute guy with money – especially in South Florida. These are the men who SEEM like they’d be princes. My first husband was a prince, and you can see how that worked out. So now that I’m on JDate at age 38, I finally figured out what I was looking for – the guy who treats me the best. The guy who, in the past, I would have thought of as the frog is REALLY the prince.” I think Darlene’s line is instantly quotable and kind of genius. If you’ve been looking for your whole life for your prince – the equivalent of Brian’s liberal, Ivy League supermodel – it’s not that you’re “wrong” for being attracted to that person…But if you’ve been looking in vain for that person for your whole life, it may be time to let go of the image and find a real, live, human being who loves you unconditionally, instead of holding out for the super-impressive man who doesn’t. I honestly thought my 20th high school reunion would be validating for the same reasons that Brian did – because I kept my hair, because I make a good living, because I left home to forge my own path. But the real affirmation I got from the event was that, in marrying my wife, I was positive I was choosing the right path for me. Marriage. Kids. Love. Compromise. I look forward to making sure that your compromise, like mine, FEELS GOOD. Your prince may not look exactly like a prince, but I guarantee he won’t look like a frog either. 🙂

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  1. 61

    Wasn’t going to comment anymore, but geez @ #66!!
    “A single person around you might just end up doing all of the heavy lifting in some regard because you are married and have a child and that’s your out.”
    I’ve got to say, that is one heck of an out! Does a single person stay up every night for months on end with a colicky neighbor, trying to get him to be quiet, because another neighbor is trying to sleep in the same room?? does he buy all of the neighbor’s food and clothes? drop everything and comfort the neighbor when he’s in a bad mood? take the neighbor to ER any time he falls down the steps and breaks something? miss years of work to stay home with the neighbor? pay the neighbor’s college tuition?? let’s just not go there. Parenting is incredible fun, but it also happens to be freaking HARD WORK. Often thankless, may I add. Let’s just not go there.

  2. 62

    Jesse, just because there’s ranting and insults on this blog doesn’t mean that Evan is at fault or inferior to Bella.
    There is a certain kind of anger in both Bella’s writings and your comments. I will grant you that it may be right to be angry, as society at large does tend to encourage coupling, and that makes life as a single harder than it should rightfully be. But I don’t think that the solution is to direct your anger toward currently married people. 
    I think that society takes a long time to change. Much of the encouragement you see toward marriage is based on romantic films and literature. Well, they have their roots in hundreds and thousands of years of literature on romance – Jane Austen, Castiglione, the medieval poets, even Homer. But as nathan pointed out earlier, social realities today make it much easier to live singly rather than the past necessity of being married. This has never happened before in recorded human history. So we are really at a breakthrough point in society – and literature and the romantic idealism have yet to catch up.
    Thus, the “fault” of matrimania is not those of us who have indeed found happiness in marriage, but the whole history of humankind. I am not sure what point you were trying to make by pointing out that we married people are called “smug marrieds” and that no such term exists for singles. The reason we don’t call single people such names is that we neither hate nor resent them. That is all.

  3. 63

    [email protected]: No one said that raising children isn’t hard work. It’s not the only type of hard work in the world, though, and it isn’t the only way to contribute to society. As some on this board have pointed out, it might not even be a contribution to society at all.

    And the example you offer about the neighbor also is full of singlism. As if the only relationships that single people have are with some distant neighbor and not with close friends, lovers, parents, siblings, children, coworkers, etc., who might enjoy the same types of intimacy or interdependency with the single person as a married person might enjoy with a spouse.

    I might also point out that a marriage contract is no guarantee that your spouse will perform all of the duties you list–that in fact, it might be a single friend who is taking you to the cancer clinic; a single aunt who is paying your college tuition; a single son or daughter who is visiting you in the nursing home. Or perhaps these types of giving go unnoticed or are devalued because you aren’t married to the person doing the giving?

  4. 64

    [email protected]: Not sure where you get the anger from in my posts or in Bella’s. You can’t hear my tone of voice, but I assure there isn’t anger in it. I’m just pointing out the obvious. I mean, seems to me people in crappy romantic relationships seem like the most miserable people on earth. And have to say, some of those miserable people in my life are also “smug marrieds”–so that’s pretty funny in my book! 🙂

    [email protected]: Like I said, it’s your blog, so of course do or say whatever you want. Doesn’t matter to me if your goal in life is to get everyone into happy marriages–go for it and good luck with it. Doubt many people are saying they’re looking to get into a bad marriage, though, so clearly something isn’t working, despite all of the advice offered by psychologists, pastors, mothers, bloggers, and self-appointed gurus on TV shows. I must not be the only one who holds this point of view, given how many people out there are eschewing marriage for something else.   

    And I do date, but I don’t have relationship “goals,” for want of a better phrase. So a lot of what’s on here doesn’t apply to me, true.

  5. 65

    Finally, if one were to coin a phrase like “smug singles”, it would begin with the DePaulos of the world who have an axe to grind against couples who couldn’t care less about single people.

    And there it is. If people are single, they don’t count? But couples do expect singles–and everyone else–to care about their marriage, their children, their homes, etc. Right?

    I think DePaulo has a point.

    1. 65.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Jesse – You’re making another leap and putting words into my mouth. “Couples expect singles to care about their marriage, their children, their homes?” Really? I know for a fact that I didn’t care about anybody’s kid until I was a parent. I assume that my single friends are only being polite when they ask about my daughter, which is why I tend to keep my comments about her brief. In fact, in my experience, married people are far more likely to be interested in their single friends’ love lives (if only for a vicarious thrill) than singles are really interested in the inner workings of a marriage. When I say couples don’t care about singles, it’s that pretty much everyone is so wrapped up in their own personal goals and dramas that we don’t spend any time thinking about “those poor single people out there” anymore than you lose sleep about unhappy married people. In other words, married couples are obsessed with their own marriages and indifferent to your problems. DePaulo’s suggestion that we look down on you and pity you just doesn’t really apply. I’m particularly sympathetic to singles who WANT to be married and like to think I have something to offer them.

      And do people get into bad marriages in spite of all the advice out there? You betcha. But it’s not the advice that’s wrong. It’s human nature. For an easy parallel: everyone knows that it’s important to save money – for a rainy day, for retirement, for kids’ college fund, for an emergency. No one debates that wisdom. Yet how many people save money? Most go into credit card debt, buy houses they can’t afford, and would rather buy nice things now than sacrifice for later. Who’s fault is that? The people giving financial advice? Or the people who refuse to listen despite the fact that they’ve been warned.

      I already linked to this, but I’ll do it again:

      Now, I’m not a big Neil Clark Warren guy, per se, but he does understand marriage and compatibility. The real problem causing 50% divorce rates isn’t marriage itself; it’s that people dive into marriage based on attraction and chemistry without ever contemplating if they could make each other happy for forty years. So two people who are “in love” – genuinely “in love” – often break up because she’s a really negative person or he’s not particularly ambitious or because he wants to live in the suburbs and she wants to live in the city. Like saving money, people prefer the short term decision to the long-term decision. And if fewer people get married for the wrong reasons to the wrong people, then I’m all for it. Being pro-marriage does not mean I want everyone to be married. It means that, despite all the negativity surrounding couplehood as espoused by DePaulo, it’s entirely possible to have a great marriage. Not everyone’s capable of it. I’m doing my best to help.

  6. 66

    #70. I am not even married, so your arguments do not apply. I took offense to you stating that having a child is an “out”, i.e an excuse that parents (single or married) use to get out of volunteering, helping others, etc. Read your post that I quoted. It sounds like the parents are slacking off with their kids, while everybody else is doing “all of the heavy lifting”.
    “And the example you offer about the neighbor also is full of singlism. As if the only relationships that single people have are with some distant neighbor…”
    The “neighbor” was a follow-up to earlier comments, such as, oh wait a minute, your comment #56: “They are more likely than married people to maintain ties with friends and neighbors. ” Geez, as if the only ties a single person can have is with another single person, or a distant neighbor. Why are you so full of singlism Jesse? shame on you. LOL

  7. 67

    Well, having kids, to ME, has NEVER been my American Dream!  Perish the thought!  I can’t stand kids.  I’m in a long term committed relationship, have always been disinterested in marriage as anything other than a financial contract, and my finances are quite fine as they are, although my main squeeze of  (gasp!) ten whole years is very well off and spoils me rotten.  The fact is, I don’t need marriage, nor want it.  What I want is happiness, and love having someone who loves me for me, not for potential kids he can gain from our relationship (we’ve both been on the same page about that from day one!) or anything else.  If I REALLY truly wanted to get married, then we would…he’s agreeable to it because he is happy with me and I’ve never once questioned his love or commitment for me over the years.  I know I’m possibly just weird, because it seems like at least 90% of the population is looking for the contract and the kids, but I guess we all have our own vision of happily ever after.  Oh, and although I had a blast in both highschool and my university days…my idea of hell is a reunion of any sort.  Ughhhh!  God, the very idea of running into any old flames kinda sorta creeps me out, LOL!  I suppose I want to remember the handsome rascals as they were…and although I’m hanging in there pretty well, I’d also prefer to be remembered as the young vixen I was…ha!

  8. 68

    Oh, Jesse #70, and another thing – like all of us, I kind of hope that no one will have to take me to a cancer clinic, you know? You sounded pretty positive in that comment that I am going to have cancer… what kind of argument is that?? Not cool, dude.

  9. 69

    Jesse 72, your misreading of Evan’s point seems to prove his earlier point about having an axe to grind. Any rational person reading his comment would have understood that he didn’t mean that he doesn’t care about the well-being of singles. Rather, he doesn’t care whether people are single or not, and won’t treat them badly just because they’re single.

    And yes, you are angry. Or dissatisfied, or both. No truly happy or satisfied person would take glee in other people’s misery, as you obviously do about the “smug marrieds” you know who are “miserable.” That attitude is rather sick.

  10. 70

    [email protected]: Those words were from a column by Bella DePaulo, not by me. But she goes into much more detail in her book, and she cites research by other social scientists in it. Agreed, her way of explaining singlism is much more compelling than mine.

  11. 71

    [email protected]: My feelings exactly.

    [email protected]: I know lots of people who have had cancer, and several have died from it. To me, this is a reality, and one that is only going to become more common the longer I live. Could be me next, could be you. Do you think I’m not going to help a friend or relative because I’m single or that they aren’t going to help me? Think again. Real life doesn’t come with a bow.  And I was using “you” in the sense of “one,” not you in particular. Because, of course, nothing bad is ever going to happen to you before you get married.

    [email protected]: Again, you are atributing feelings to me that I don’t have. Since I know how I feel about these things and you don’t, will disregard.

    [email protected]: I don’t divide my friends, relatives, coworkers into married v. unmarried unless they do it first. In which case I merely exit their lives. As a person, I care about other people in my life regardless of their marital status, which seems to change in one direction or the other anyway the longer I know a person. So, unlike you, I care about kids that are not my own, even though I am–OMG–single.

  12. 72
    Saint Stephen

    You are pretty much oscillating back and forth without refuting i said. I don’t know if you are doing it deliberately but i’ll ask for the last time. You said people of the past never married for love & were unfaithful yet stayed in unhappy marriages simply b/c divorce was frowned upon but currently people are getting married for love. My first question is- why is escalating divorce and infidelity rates still the other of the day? 2) if divorce is escalating as a result of divorce been less frowned at, then how can we be sure people of the past never married for love? Especially since what is expected to be outcome of past marriages has become the ongoing trend.

    Why does diversity needs to come from some folks getting married and others not? Diversity can come from a hell of a lot more different things. such as some human going into arts and others science. Except you are a priest or monk, i see no correlation between one’s single or marital status to your contribution towards your community. I’m sure a single cop doesn’t contributes more to his community than a married one.     

  13. 73
    Saint Stephen

    @Jesse Said
    But don’t go on her blog and start offering dating advice–the folks there aren’t into it.

    I find it a “Double Standard” that You issued a caveat to Evan to refrain from going to “Bella DePaulo’s” Blog to offer dating advice while you hang around his Blog Advocating singilism. 
     Couldn’t it be that you are scared he might rack up some client’s who aren’t really sure they want to remain single? I mean why would anyone who is really happy and contented with their single status go to a blog offering relationship advice? I have no interest in remaining single, hence i would never visit her blog even at a gun-point (No sarcasm intended). 

    Research also showed that married people are happier and live longer lives. So if we should always go by what research says then i’ll conclude that Brian and other single folks in this thread aren’t really as happy as they claim, or rather as happy as married couples.

  14. 74

    Stephen, infidelity is not more common today than it was in the past.

    I don’t believe nathan ever said that people never married for love in the past; literature over the millennia has proven the opposite.

    And divorce is more common today both because it is easier to obtain a divorce than ever before, and because the consequences of divorce are not as dire now as they were as recently as a few decades ago. It is not because people are more morally bankrupt than they were in the past. There may be a few people who misuse others in the ease of divorce today, but I would venture to say that the vast majority of divorcees do so because their situations had become intolerable and it was healthier to separate.

  15. 75

    @ Jesse #79. I know people in my immediate family who have or had cancer. And I still do not appreciate being told that I will definitely have it. I don’t think I like the way you argue, so I’m going to stay away from replying to your comments OK?

  16. 76

    [email protected]: No one on here has said that you are going to get cancer. So, yes, maybe it is better that you refrain from responding if you don’t get the gist of what people are saying.

  17. 77

    @ Helen #82: agree. And I would even argue that, in the good old days, infidelity was socially acceptable, while now, it’s not. I believe the reasons for this shift in acceptance are that, back in the day, it was nearly impossible to get a divorce. You got married early and stayed married for life, regardless of how good or bad your marriage was. So people tended to get some action on the side, since they felt they were stuck in their marriages and couldn’t get out. Today, on the other hand, they have no valid excuse for that, because they are not under as much social/financial pressure to get and stay married as people used to be before. 
    FTR, to address a few assumptions voiced on this thread, personally I do not plan to remarry, because I don’t see the need. I see marriage primarily as a financial/legal institution that makes it easier for a couple to run a shared household with shared finances, and raise children together. I don’t plan on anymore children, so why get married? Only exception I can see is if I am in a healthy, working, committed relationship with someone, and one of us doesn’t have adequate health insurance (small business owner, self-employed, etc). In that case, I can see myself getting a marriage certificate so the person could be added to my policy. Other than that, don’t see the point of it for myself at this stage in my life. Besides, I’m leery of getting into something that has already cost me $5K once to get out of 😉

  18. 78

    Jeez, Goldie, a little oversensitive, are we?  You didn’t get all up in Jesse’s grill about potentially having your tuition paid or being put into a nursing home.

  19. 79

    Jesse, oh I get the gist. The gist of what you’re saying is, you’re on a dating-advice blog trashing couples, for being too selfish and too absorbed in each other, or single people that are not in enough opposition to couples (like myself), throwing random insults around in the process and then saying you didn’t mean it. I have no idea what purpose it is supposed to serve. Sounds like a waste of time to me (kind of like if I went on Bella DePaulo’s blog and started offering dating advice, right?), but hey, it’s your time and your choice of what to do with it. If you want to win more people to your cause however, I need to warn you that you’re doing it wrong.

  20. 80

    There are negatives and positives in every situation whether married or single.  Having been married once there are things I miss about it not my ex h though!  But like Goldie I see no reason to remarry at this point in my life.  Plus the failure rate for second marriage is much higher than for first marriages.  
    There are areas for example US tax policy which favor married couples over singles hopefully this will change. 

  21. 81

    Stephen, I’m finished with that discussion. You can have your fantasy world where there was a Golden Age of marriage that somehow has been destroyed by our “wicked, modern ways.” I’m tired of trying to reword and add nuance to my comments, only to have you make absolute statements about what I said in response. We just disagree – and pretty thoroughly – that is all.
    Jesse, I feel somewhat sympathetic to the issues you’re raising about how singles continue to get treated in American society. Although I believe it’s more acceptable to be single today, there are still roadblocks and prejudice that need to be dealt with. But you – and perhaps DePaullo as well, I don’t know – seem to have a need to make sweeping generalizations about married couples, especially those with children, in the process of speaking about those issues. Something I find completely distasteful, and which completely undermines your other points.
    I’m personally on the fence about marriage. If the right person comes along, and we decide to get married, we will. If not, I’m fine either being single, or having a different form of committed relationship. Overall, I’m an advocate for whatever form of relationship works best for the people in it.
    Regardless, I have the good sense to see that some people have successful, healthy marriages, and that it’s just fine for other single people to be interested in the same. I don’t always agree with Evan, but I do think he helps people cut through some of the commonplace bs thinking that leads to the very “bad” marriages you repeatedly speak of. Just because a percentage of people still end up in unhealthy relationships despite the advice of counselors, dating coaches, and others doesn’t mean that marriage should be abandoned, or that what the “advice givers” are saying is garbage. 
    If you want to see a society where people’s diverse choices around relationships are embraced, then advocate for that diversity – which includes those who want marriage and children.

  22. 82

    [email protected]: Very funny point. I noticed that, too.

    Nathan, Goldie: I didn’t start it. I just agreed with the following from Kate Candy and continute along these conversational lines:

    “Wow!  What a fairy tale.  Married people are incredibly happy.  The rich, single guy is secretly miserable.  Everyone can get married if they just learn to compromise.  I think there’s something dangerous in this way of thinking. There’s nothing wrong with women who are not married.  There’s no magic cure for singleness.  Marriage won’t make an unhappy or empty person happy.  As for your marriage, Evan, we really only hear your side of the story, and we don’t know what your wife brought to the table that made you commit.”

    I believe that her comment introduced the idea of 1) matrimania and 2) singlism. I just made this part of the discussion more explicit and cited some research to back it up.

    Don’t shoot the messenger.

    1. 82.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      And, Jesse, did you read my long reply to Kate Candy? Was there anything in there with which you’d disagree?

  23. 83

    @ Joe & Jesse: how’s that a funny point? I know for a fact I don’t have a rich aunt and I know for a fact that I will end up in a nursing home, if things go well and I live long enough, so none of those statements bothered me. Now the cancer clinic reference, that was a little scary IMO. Kinda like me telling you that you’re better off married because your spouse will spoon-feed you and change your diapers when you get brain damage from a car accident. I understand that on some Internet forums, you have to go for shock value in order to make a point. Wasn’t necessary in this case. That response was not relevant to my original post anyway.

  24. 84

    As I said, this is basically a right-wing/conservative-biased article.  People who don’t share this leaning (such as myself) will find several points suggested controversial. Chances are the two camps will never be able to agree.

    Evan, is it possible to put up more neutral articles, or is this the kind of conversation you sometimes try to promote?  General dating tips are good as opposed to advising people to lower standards and settle (both meanings: settle for less, as well as settle down).

  25. 86

    I hate to beat this topic to death, but how is an article stating that you do not have to be insanely rich in order to be happy, right-wing/conservative? I don’t understand.
    If Brian had made it clear that he does not want a marriage or kids, and Evan had then written an article about how there must be something wrong with Brian, because everyone has to want to have a family, then yeah that would be right-wing and conservative indeed. The way I understood the article though, is that Brian states he does want a family and kids, but he a)only wants it with a perfect partner that doesn’t exist in reality, and wouldn’t “settle” for any real, imperfect woman; and b)doesn’t want to give up any part of his high-end lifestyle in order to raise a family (even though he does, in fact, want to raise a family. He just doesn’t want to invest any of his time or money into that). Basically, Brian is not being very realistic, and as a result, he cannot get what he wants. Did I read that right?

  26. 87

    [email protected]: Nowhere did Brian say whether he wanted to be married or not. Nowhere did Brian say anything about compromising or not. Nowhere did Brian say that he wanted an Ivy League, liberal supermodel. Nowhere did Brian say that he wanted perfection in a woman or that he wasn’t into “settling.” Nowhere do we find out anything about his lifestyle, high-end or otherwise. All we know is that he has a good career, he’s traveled, and he has dated at least one model, he is not currently married, and he thinks that the people he knows who stayed in their home town on LI haven’t grown.

    That EMK chooses to cast Brian as some hapless fellow being punished for anti-family values given the dearth of any evidence is why Chow and I see the article as right-wing/conservative-biased.

    1. 87.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Jesse: You’re forgetting (or conveniently ignoring), that this was my best friend in high school. I know what he wants out of life. Just as I know that I’m happy and I know that my wife is happy. Why YOU think you know what I think, what Brian thinks, and what my wife thinks is the real remarkable leap of faith being taken here. Please, go away now. You’re bright, but so grounded in your position that you’re willing to ignore every rational point I put on the table. Good luck to you.

  27. 88

    I think what Jesse and Chow are reacting to is that Brian isn’t really all that likeable. He sounds smug, and he seems to emphasize material success, which is superficial (at least in my book). And although Evan says that it’s just fine to be 38 and single, his example is of that – Brian – is compared to people who, in Evan’s book, have great lives. Are worthy of being emulated. Who wants to emulate Brian? A few people perhaps, but not most of us.
    Furthermore, there’s a strong emphasis on children being central in the lives of those folks Evan sees as having excellent lives. Which is totally fine – they probably have good lives, and are good folks. But because of the binary created, it’s pretty easy to read this as saying “Those who compromised, found love, and have children are really the ones who get it.” Again, I don’t think that’s the intent, but because we are presented with a man who is an extreme example – Brian – and then presented with everyday couples with children as the opposite – it’s hard to see yourself being talked about if you want something (or are living something) that is different from those two positions.
    Since this is a site focused on marriage-minded folks, I don’t know how much we can expect Evan to uphold happy single folks. But perhaps seeing different kinds of married couples being held up might help somewhat. Like those who don’t want children and are still living fulfilling lives. Those who marry and have a shared focus on careers, or who choose to focus on serving in their communities as a couple, rather than raise a family.
    When I said I’m on the fence about marriage in a previous comment, it’s because I don’t see marriage as something with a fixed definition and direction. It’s more about making a definitive commitment to be with someone, a commitment that can manifest itself in many ways, and not simply by settling down, raising children, owning a house, going to work for 30 or 40 years and and then retiring together. That’s one path, but there are many, many more. I know I’m not the only one thinking like this, and perhaps there are others on this site thinking similarly.

    1. 88.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      It’s remarkable how many of you take things so personally.

      Brian wants to get married and have kids. Lori Gottlieb wants to get married and have kids. Many of my readers want to get married and have kids. I give a lot of advice for people who want to get married and have kids.

      If you DON’T want to get married and/or have kids, that’s perfectly fair. But why get all bent out of shape when I give advice for people who DO want that? I’m not telling you that YOU should want it. Really. I’m not.

      Can we close the book on this now?

  28. 89

    To EMK: Don’t need luck, dude. I have my act together. But good luck to you.

  29. 90

    Evan 99: I think that a lot of the anger you see here isn’t directed toward you specifically, and it isn’t because they think you’re telling them they should be married with kids. It’s because they are questioning whether those who want marriage and kids do so because they truly want that; or because social pressure to follow this norm is so strong. It is the social pressure to which they object. And sometimes, they wrongly take out their anger on those of us who are married with kids, rather than acknowledging that society has built up this expectation for thousands of years. So we might as well blame our ancestors (or praise them) for the norms we see now.

    nathan has pointed out diversity of viewpoints on several occasions, so I will add more to the mix. Two members of a couple don’t always agree themselves. Sometimes one wants kids and the other does not. Sometimes people change their minds; I certainly did (started out HATING having kids, and now am glad I do). Sometimes “oopsies” happen. 

    People, so much of this is pure chance, and that is what we seem to be forgetting. Whether we manage to find the right one, whether we even have kids – let’s not overestimate how much control we have over that. If I’ve realized anything, it’s that there’s no need to be self-congratulatory in the realm of family, given how much is sheer dumb luck.

    The other thing I think we should realize in this whole story is that Brian is SO YOUNG. In all likelihood, he has more than half his lifetime ahead of him. Who knows what will happen? Maybe at the next reunion, he’ll be married with kids. Nobody knows. Life is full of surprises and twists and turns.

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