Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover – In Defense of “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” by Lori Gottlieb
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a single woman who is offended by the mere title of Lori Gottlieb’s new book, “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.” And if ‘settling’ was what this book was about, I wouldn’t blame you one bit.
The words “Marry Him” may irk you if you don’t wish to be married. The word “settling” has an inherently negative connotation. And all of us would agree that if you “settle” on the wrong man, you’re consigning yourself to a life of silent misery.
Thank god that’s not what this book is about.
In fact, it’s about how to find true love (including physical attraction, passion, and deep compatibility) by looking at what’s important in a long-term marriage, and letting go of the stuff that isn’t. And it’s about how to tell the difference, so you can marry the RIGHT guy for the RIGHT reasons.
Declaring that “Marry Him” is misogynist, misguided, stupid, wrong, or pathetic without reading it is the equivalent of thinking that Obamacare includes “death panels.”
You’d never know this if you were to Google Lori Gottlieb. In fact, from the press you may have read, you would have no idea what “Marry Him” is actually about. Posts are being written based exclusively on the title, with absolutely no care taken to look inside Gottlieb’s tome to see what she has to say.
Thankfully, I’m here to set the record straight for you, and for anyone else on the Internet who wants to jump to conclusions about this eye-opening and important new book. I’m doing this because if you want to find love, this book could change your life.
Declaring that “Marry Him” is misogynist, misguided, stupid, wrong, or pathetic without reading it is the equivalent of thinking that Obamacare includes “death panels.” In other words, reactionary critics have made a patently false claim that, once made, has to be vigorously defended against, even though it has no basis in truth. And it’s a shame, because Gottlieb’s book is an absolute gem.
The funny thing is, despite all the misguided attacks on Gottlieb, Gottlieb’s book doesn’t emphasize her opinion, per se. Like a sociologist trying to discern the truth, she has interviewed dozens of the country’s most respected experts in putting together “Marry Him.”
Gottlieb is a well-regarded journalist who has compiled the collective wisdom of psychologists, researchers, scientists, couple therapists, matchmakers, dating coaches, professors, clergy and married people, all filtered through the prism of this universal question: Why hasn’t an incredible catch like me found a husband?
If you have asked yourself that very question, you need to pick up this book. However, in case you’re still skeptical, I’ve compiled a list of misconceptions that you probably have about “Marry Him”, along with the truth about the contents of the book:
Issue #1 with “Marry Him“ “I will NOT settle on anyone. I would rather be alone than to settle!”
All she says is that if you’re holding out for a “10” in each area, you may find that you’ve missed the boat,and that the men available to you later on may even be MORE of a compromise.
Gottlieb completely agrees with you! Yes, the word in the book title is “settle.” However, it’s the wrong word to describe what the author means, and is probably a conscious decision by the publisher to provoke debate. The real word that Gottlieb means is “compromise” (which you will see when you read the book). And I think we can all agree that people who refuse to compromise in relationships will have a hard time forging a long-term partnership.
At NO point does Gottlieb conclude that you should go your entire life without attraction, humor, and intellectual stimulation. All she says is that if you’re holding out for a “10” in each area, you may find that you’ve missed the boat,and that the men available to you later on may even be MORE of a compromise. This is why she wrote “Marry Him.”
Her hope was to help smart, strong, successful women avoid falling into the same exact trap as she did: always going after a certain “type,” always putting butterflies above compatibility instead of looking for a healthy balance of both, believing that there’s always a better dating option around the corner, not fully understanding what marriage is truly about, etc. Frankly, I’m not sure what there is to disagree with.
Issue #2 with “Marry Him” “If I compromise then I will never feel love.”
This is not the message of the book at all. The message is that there’s a HUGE difference between settling down on a healthy, nurturing, comfortable, fun relationship and relegating yourself to an awful, boring, toxic partnership. Thus, Gottlieb’s message isn’t to “settle” on the latter, but to hold onto the former. She’s saying that we need both passion and compatibility, and that compatibility isn’t about whether you both like “The Daily Show” or are really into rollerblading.
It’s about whether you’re compatible on the day-to-day things that make a marriage work. From the book: “Most people don’t go into marriage thinking they’re settling. Most go into marriage believing that they’ve found The One. I doubt that the divorce rate is high because the people who supposedly settled are calling it quits. More likely, the divorce rate is high because the people who thought they were madly in love are realizing that they’d been looking for the wrong qualities in a spouse.”
…we need both passion and compatibility, and that compatibility isn’t about whether you both like “The Daily Show” or are really into rollerblading.
This is a very wise quote. Most people marry for passion, it’s that FEELING that gets them all the way down the aisle. What these chemistry-driven people often haven’t considered is what a 40 year marriage is all about: trust, compatibility, compromise, nurturing, selflessness. This is not to say that there’s NO passion, she’s saying that while passion has to be there, it may be wise to start valuing these other qualities at a younger age. One can very much be in love without feeling giddy and weak-kneed, and if you hold out for that feeling, you may just never get married.
Issue #3 with “Marry Him” “Gottlieb says that everyone MUST have a husband.”
Actually, she doesn’t. Not once. What she is saying is this: IF you want a husband and IF you want your own biological children, you might want to make healthier relationship decisions when you’re 30, because there are generally fewer (and lesser) dating options when you’re 40. That’s all.
It is not a screed against independent women who would rather be alone, focus on career, travel, hang out with friends, nieces, and nephews. If that’s what you want, God bless you! “Marry Him” is, by its very nature, for women who WANT to get married. That is assumed. It is not assumed that YOU want to get married. And if YOU don’t want to get married, it shouldn’t be at all threatening that there’s a book for women who really DO want to get married. Which is why any criticism on this point remains so specious.
Gottlieb’s book is for young women who want to go through life with a husband and could stand to learn from the wisdom she gathers from experts across the country. It is not for women who have no interest in this message. Getting upset that this book exists is as silly as getting upset that there’s a book about car repair when you personally don’t drive a car. It doesn’t threaten your world view at all, so give it a rest.
Getting upset that this book exists is as silly as getting upset that there’s a book about car repair when you personally don’t drive a car.
She’s not saying women need a husband. She’s not even saying she needs a husband. She’s saying she WANTS a husband, and that if you do, too, here’s some very valuable information she’s learned, both as a journalist, and as a single woman who realizes she made some mistakes. Someone out there wants what Gottlieb wants. In fact, many people do. This book is for THEM.
Issue #4 with “Marry Him” “Passion is the most important thing to me and I refuse to spend my life without it.”
Fair enough. Just know that in ANY relationship, there’s a trade-off between passion and comfort. Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame just mentioned this in her new book, “Committed”. She cites a statistic that people who marry for being ‘in love’ get divorced MORE than people who marry for practical reasons. It’s not romantic to say this, but it’s reality. The fact is that most “passionistas” have a false set of EXPECTATIONS about what marriage REALLY is. Ask any married couple. It’s a perpetual compromise that millions choose to make instead of going at it alone.
So if you have found that in EVERY passionate relationship you’ve ever had that the man was selfish or volatile or uncommitted, guess what? That’s often what comes with the territory. Just look at your own life. If you want the building blocks of a 40 year relationship, you may have to trade off a little excitement for a little bit of safety and comfort. Nobody’s saying you have to give up ALL excitement. Once again, giving up on a “10” passion doesn’t mean NO passion. It means that you have enough attraction to sustain a relationship, you have a healthy sex life, and you very much enjoy the 90% of the rest of your lives that doesn’t revolve around sex.
Issue #5 with “Marry Him” “Gottlieb slams feminism, and I’m a feminist, therefore I don’t like Gottlieb’s message.”
What she does say is that the “never settle/never compromise” attitude espoused by women in the name of empowerment has created a dilemma for marriage minded women.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Gottlieb says quite clearly in the book that feminism isn’t the problem at all. The problem, she says, is that many women (herself included) MISINTERPRETED feminism to be about not compromising in any area of women’s lives, including the choice of spouse. As she writes in the book — “It’s not feminism, per se, after all feminism never published a dating manual.”
At no point does Gottlieb slam the equality achieved by feminists on behalf of all women. Nor does she say that women need men, need to be married, should sacrifice their independence or any of the other reactionary bunk that you may have assumed by reading blogs from people who couldn’t get past the title of “Marry Him”. What she does say is that the “never settle/never compromise” attitude espoused by women in the name of empowerment has created a dilemma for marriage minded women.
Namely, that attempting to “have it all” can be dangerous if misinterpreted, and if you want both the perfect career and the perfect family, there are tradeoffs and compromises to be made. That doesn’t mean you “settled”, it just means that life is complicated and nothing in life, not our friends, not our jobs, not our families, and not our spouses (oh, and not ourselves), is perfect.
Gottlieb never suggests that rolling back the clock is the answer, this should be clear, as the author is the consummate educated career woman. But in Gottlieb’s blind confidence that she could and should “have it all,” she realizes now that she passed up several men who would have made her quite happy, and finds herself wondering what she could have done different. There is nothing revolutionary or subversive about this. Gottlieb’s assertion that young women need to consider their life-choices and tradeoffs at a younger age is good, practical advice for women who have the same goals as she does: husband and (possibly) biological children.
Issue #6 with “Marry Him” “The author is pathetic and lonely and is speaking only for herself.”
…she realizes now that she passed up several men who would have made her quite happy, and finds herself wondering what she could have done different.
As someone who has known Lori Gottlieb casually over the years, I will say this. She’s not pathetic. She’s not speaking only for herself. Millions of women have the same desires, questions and frustrations hanging over them like a black cloud.
Is she lonely? Probably.
Then again, she’s no lonelier than anyone else who wants to go through life with a partner and doesn’t have one. Which is to say that Gottlieb is not all that different than you. She’s bright and driven. She’s both confident and insecure. She wants to live a fulfilling life. She’s vulnerable and honest, and brave enough to put herself out there and say things a lot of us wouldn’t admit in public. She never, ever wanted to settle, and she’s not telling you to do anything other than look at what makes for happy long-term marriages, open your heart to more possibilities, and then decide how you want to live your life. And if what you desire is to be in a loving and passionate but realistic marriage with a great guy, you truly can have it all.
From her own relatable confusion came the book, “Marry Him.” The opinions inside are not so much Gottlieb’s but those of others who specialize in relationships, myself included. But really, Gottlieb is just a surrogate for you, the reader, who may be struggling with the exact same issues: How much does one compromise? How do you know when it’s right? What should I look for in a long-term life partner, given my own life goals? So do yourself a favor.
Gottlieb is just a surrogate for you, the reader, who may be struggling with the exact same issues.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. If you do, you’ll be missing out on the amazing qualities that lie just beneath the surface. Pick up a copy of “Marry Him” and then let me know what you think. The book is coming out tomorrow and Lori will be on the Today Show to discuss it in the morning. I will also be attending both of her book signings in Los Angeles, if you want to come by and say hi.
Warmest wishes and many thanks.
Evan Marc Katz