Michele C. www.coppolawords.com
Here's the thing: Any time you use the word "settling" in reference to a man, a career, or a house, it's gonna piss women off. This is America, damn it, and we are entitled to soulmates, and dream jobs, and beautifully renovated kitchens. If you only work hard enough, want it bad enough, and send enough positive vibes out into the universe, it will happen. To think otherwise is not only selling yourself short, but downright unpatriotic.
So I read with interest a few reviews about Lori Gottlieb's Marry Him! The Case For Settling for Mr. Good Enough, based on a column she wrote for The Atlantic in 2008. As one of those (apparently rare) females who has never believed in The One, it struck me as funny that there are actually 40-year-old grownups still waiting for him. Just like Santa Claus, he never really existed and even if he did, you're too old for him now. Had I known there was such a huge market for common sense, I would have published my thoughts about this subject decades ago and spared myself the pain and retired on the profits. So Let's Make a Deal: You can choose what's behind Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3:
DOOR #1: If you're a woman in your 20s and have any inkling that you might want children, and that it's preferable for procreation to occur within the confines of marriage, you need to get that done before you're 35. With the exception of Demi Moore and George Clooney, men and women are more physically desirable in their late teens and twenties. It is also the time when we happen to be the most fertile: Mama Nature's first imperative is survival of the species, so it's that way on purpose. While you may not get your own TLC reality show, you are more likely to hit the conceptual jackpot if you have kids young and less than three at a time, and you're also more likely to have a partner to share diaper duty. However, this option means that you may have to compromise on your career in the years when you have the most energy. You're not doing anything wrong if you have kids and find that you're not rising as fast or as far in your job, but you also can't whine about it and expect your single co-workers to cover for you when you have parental responsibilities. If you choose to have them, children should be your number one priority - and that's true if you're a man or a woman.
DOOR #2: If you recognize that you're career-oriented, then your 20s need to be spent establishing yourself in whatever field you choose. That should be your first priority. But your expectations about marriage and family need to be dialed down: It is less likely you'll find a partner, and if you do, it's possible you will be required to, as Ms. Gottlieb puts it, "settle" for Mr. Good Enough. And since you've decided to put biology on the back burner, it's going to be harder to find a partner and more difficult to become pregnant. Sorry - that's just the facts. You can always opt for a sperm donor, but I've always felt that if you're going to end up screaming with your legs in stirrups, you at least deserve dinner and a backrub first.
In the interest of saving you the time and expense of reading Ms. Gottlieb's book, here's the gist: Make your choices, adjust your expectations accordingly, and stop whining. Oh, and I almost forgot...
DOOR #3: This is the woman who wants it all and gets it. We don't speak to her.
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