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Jennifer

Ahhhhhhhh! Classic Lance. :) You know, towards the end I almost picked up just a slight note of mush...

Mike Schilling

One of us is misunderstanding The 40 Year Old Virgin. I saw a movie where all the guys chasing sex are miserable, and the only one that ends up happy puts off sex until he's sure he's in love. (He also finds a woman who's attractive but plausible, unlike the incredible babe the shlubby guy somehow attracts in Knocked Up).

Lance

Actually, Mike, it may just be that we have different opinions on the babeliciousness of Catherine Keener and how plausible it is that Steve Carrell's character winds up with her.

Ralph Hitchens

Seems to me, a woman who "settles" will cheat in a heartbeat. Fidelity is a big part of the M package, and therefore you really do need the L word. Hopeless romantic that I am (=liberal democrat, it goes without saying), I have to believe that if you wait for it, Lori, it will come.

Ken Houghton

Unfortunately, it's available to all. (Fortunately, I have more important things to do, like try and find all of Heath Ledger's doctors and wonder if that combination kills if your lung capacity isn't already impaired by pneumonia, or maybe figure out how evil it is that the new Aaron Sorkin play is closing March 2nd, after either 102 or 104 performances since he's such a GREAT writer even though all his characters sound the same. Or maybe flossing, if I can figure out which end of the floss to use.)

Mike S. - I'm on Lance's side, but I don't see that the two descriptions don't fit the same movie. (Hmmm: spend several scenes chasing and being chased by a Phreak, have Ursula from George of the Jungle projectile vomit all over you, be sexually harassed by your boss, set arbitrary standards for sex avoidance that are even more absurd than The Three-Date Rule, and end up with the fakest of fake endings in which you are a two-hour stud on your second time [two minutes after the first]. Yep, that sounds like a prescription for "ends up happy"—roughly the same as "after you pass three kidney stones, you'll feel better.")

Ken Houghton

Ah. NOW I see why I'm with Lance--the Keener Konundrum! (Your choice: Isabel Evans or Maxine Lund. Does that make it easier to understand.)

anita

I absolutely distrust any man who claims to be a "feminist." I'm glad you have the courage to put your cards on the table. Three cheers to ya !!!

Ken Muldrew

"I am in favor of staying in love for the sake of the children, which is an idea that deserves some more thought, on my part."

If the young are persuaded by intellectual arguments that there is little or no hope that the eros of romantic love will never fade, then they are robbed of the emotional energy needed to carry out the very hard and often frustrating work of raising a family and navigating their way in the world. But a shared purpose, and a shared struggle in a long campaign, with both successes and failures, gives us deliberation and therefore hope; care and therefore companionship; ceremony and therefore comfort; joy and therefore love. No eros or thoughtless whimsy or demonstrative paeans to vain sacrifice; but love nonetheless, for no other word suggests itself. Nor is a better word needed, the reciprocal emotions being understood by the principals, with no particular necessity of communicating them to outsiders. Mush has no place in a world where practical decisions must be made. Decisions like staying in love for the sake of the children.

K2

Is Lori Gottlieb angling to become the Ann Coulter of the domestic sphere (move over Caitlin Flanagan)? What she outlines here is a nearly perfect recipe for contempt, the generally acknowledged killer of marriage. Does she really imagine you can stay married to man prized for his capacity to pack a diaper bag? And what happens when he falls down on the job, as he inevitably will. Then you look at him and think, "wow, you really can't get good help these days." Gottlieb is clearly in need of a good vacation.

Doug K

my wife and I went to an Orthodox Marriage Encounter, not because we were having problems, but to get time to talk to each other without breaking the conversation to look for someone's missing Lego piece ;-)

One thing they said there struck me with the force of revelation, "Love is a decision". Well of course it is. Eros is mere mischief from the blind archer, agape is a decision which you have to keep making. Love doesn't come from nowhere and last forever, it's uphill all the way.

As GBS says,
"Marriage: When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part."
Once that first fine frenzy is past, love changes into love, and the love that is not madness isn't nearly as easy.

Kathleen M.

I'm with you, Lance. Love is all. The sticking point is that love is undefinable. Maybe it's different for every person. Or different for every couple.
Then there's the matter of "good love" and "bad love." Of course, good and/or bad love only applies to some definitions of love.
A never ending question, isn't it?
With luck, maybe you'll know when you feel it. In any case, you better pay close attention to all those other "yous" and what they might need and want and love.

Mike Schilling

Women in films and TV are always better-looking than makes logical sense. Keener for Carrell is an example of that, but Heigl for Rogen is a reductio ad absurdum. Factor in that Keener has a troubled teenager and a job that must bring in all of $150 a week, while Heigl has no baggage (Rogen's own child doesn't count) and is a budding TV star. I can't see the two as parallel.

Queequeg

Actually, Lance, I think she does take a stab (toward the end of the essay) at the notion that maybe the men are settling, too. I read it on paper a few days ago and my memory is getting a little hazy, though.

For the most part, I thought Gottlieb was making points that were so unexceptional as to be trite. I see lots of people who have a tremendous sense of entitlement -- twentysomethings who believe they deserve to be put on the management track, and who don't want to start with a starter home; they want a McMansion for their first house and a Mercedes for their first brand-new car.

And they want a perfect spouse, too. One who will help them bring into the world gifted children who are above average at every single goddam thing, and who will get full-boat scholarships to the Ivies at age 16. To get those kids they need that perfect spouse. I'm trying to picture what the Perfect Wife would be like. I was never childish enough to wish for one, because I knew I would end up with a flawed human being at my side instead.

Lots of folks nowadays don't want that flawed human being. They want a unicorn known as the Perfect Spouse. And they'd damn better well settle, the women and the men, because perfection isn't out there.

(At other times, like you, I wanted to throw the magazine across the room and scream at Gottlieb: "You're just enabling men to behave like boors!")

greg in ak

I made it through most of the article before a) getting bored and b) disliking this person. I'm not sure this is about feminism. it's more about being a shallow nitwit. while wanting love is a good thing, i got nothing against that, so much of what she seems to want is excitement, good looks and flash. but being a good dad and responsible is somehow less. that seems to be backwards. take this dating advice she quotes:

"I would say even if he’s not the love of your life, make sure he’s someone you respect intellectually, makes you laugh, appreciates you … I bet there are plenty of these men in the older, overweight, and bald category (which they all eventually become anyway)."

Does it get more shallow than that. old, bald, fat there a lesser person. how about if we found a playboy article that said a man should settle for a plain, flat chested girl who would cook him dinner and good role in the hay. that would be shallow and there would be argument. but this twerp is selling the same crap. she is just stunned about the possibility of having to look deeper into a person.

Not there is anything wrong with wanting to love somebody of course. nothing wrong with that.

JD

What happens when one day it slips out that he felt he "settled" by marrying her? Not so unthinkable, is it?

Ken

This was just on Masterpiece Theater:

"The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love."

Kevin Hayden

I agree with a fair amount of your reply, Lance. If kids are part of the plan, a loving relationship oughta be the goal. It doesn't have to be the gushy kind but it should involve at least the sharing of some common interests and the shared commitment to aid each other towards each other's life endeavors.

The concept of settling strikes me as a self-help need projected onto others. If one is too damn picky to begin with, they must settle simply because their ideal is non-existent. Too much time arranging Ken and Barbie dolls leads to expectations that one can bend a perfect mate to fit any occasion. If that's the case, of course settling's the only option, though I think it's better defined as getting in touch with the human race for people too controlling.

She gives short shrift to the idea that men might feel some loss or absence as they grow older without a committed partnership, conveying that the desire for companionship is a girl thing. She gives even shorter shrift to all the arguments one could have for staying free of a committed relationship.

One does not have to be lonely to be unmarried, nor unfulfilled. The stats say married people live longer but isn't there a case to be made for shorter lives free of the difficulties one can find in even a decent partnership?

Personally - though I'm sure the shrinks will dispute it, I think the choice to single parent, when made solely for the single parent's fulfillment, is a pretty selfish choice. "Hand me the test tube and maybe I'll find a daddy later" can be financially viable but whose purpose does it really serve? I'm not sure why any man would be drawn to self-centeredness like that.

One can easily find numerous reasons to settle, but it also includes settling for bachelorhood, spinsterhood or permanently divorced. I don't think most such folks grow up desiring that but they may ultimately conclude that no one is right for them or, conversely, they have nothing to offer another that fits traditional relationship wants.

I include myself in the latter category. I look okay but feel no compulsion to invest any effort in looking fashionable. I'm indifferent to much beyond dressing comfortably and combing my hair once in the morning. I approach vocation with the pursuit of efficiency and pragmatism with no grand plan for marketable success beyond the capacity to meet overhead costs. I don't offer material wealth nor financial stability. I think I'm a perfectly adequate lover and don't feel compelled to impress anyone with the notion that I might evolve into some dazzling orgasmatron... though I certainly made that effort in decades past.

So why should any woman settle for what I'm perfectly content to be? She shouldn't. There's many men out there offering something more that they can choose from. But I don't have to settle and I'm sure I can be well-satisfied with my aloneness. It took some practice once I came to grips with the concept that relationships were not some automatic ticket to paradise or even semi-paradise.

Ms. Gottlieb surely should consider 'settling' for aloneness as an equally valid course as those she proposes. Especially if she's defining the full range of realistic options to other single women. But that doesn't seem to be her goal.

Instead she's saying "Door Number One never worked for me, so me AND EVERYONE ELSE should consider Door Number Two. Maybe that's the only options she can envision for herself but why should she limit the multiple options others can choose from?

It sounds like more of her control issues, to me.

joel hanes

I believe that Ms. Gottlieb has made the same mistake that I made for most of my life, and that many people who "settle" have made. I think it was best expressed by Anna Quindlen, long ago now:

I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.

Only you can make you happy.

Uncle Merlin

My Aunt Ella who lived to be 102 always said the most important ingredient in her marriage was kindness. Ofcourse they did not have children so maybe that changes how you view the other.
But I've always felt-,( and this is from the other side of the fence mind you) that, that zap ding instant love fades and morphs into the old comfortable easy chair with holes in it love.
Don't you think the long term love is a different animal altogether than the instant just add sex variety of love? And isnt that the real glue in the long haul? Is the romantic love the glue in the long haul?

I don't know I have never been stuck with anyone long enough to find out. I tried very hard to get stuck with 2 someone(s) but they always managed to escape somehow. Damn!

No, correction 3 someones! (It's been awhile!)

I always thought romance was really in your head. And love was the thing you both felt towards each other and that was expressed in acts to each other.

Evaluating someone on how often they change a diaper as a hallmark of a life partner, is well, so far out in left field as to be laughable!
I have always fled those who measure a personal relationship with me based on "what I can do for them".
That's one of the many deadly sins in my book.

And I think this expectation is alien to most people. Most people can spot this behavior in men and women in a second so that tells me it is out of the average range of behaviors because it stands out to so many people. Like a Zebra wandering around in the Adirondac Park.


I don't see this Lori person ever finding a healthy respect for a man, any man for that matter.
They are a vehicle to get her somewhere else than where she is. The present is not fun nor ,I bet, will it ever be for her.

Now there is a type that is very common. "Please take me away from NOW as fast as possible...."

borehole

Call yourself whatever you want, but let's not gloss over the distinction between "guys who are feminists" and "guys who start feminist blogs because they have a pathological need to self-identify as feminists and don't have a wide enough social circle to work their feminism into the conversation two or three times a day."

And to anyone who thinks the Steve Carell character could never get the Catherine Keener character in real life--are you serious? I see foxier babes with schlubbier guys every day. Granted, it's a mystifying phenomenon, but as one of its beneficiaries, I'd be grateful if nobody looked into it with any vigor. Thank you.

Chris the Cop

I would just like to say that getting my two children to bed has evolved over time into a project more complicated than building a nuclear reactor.

And that's with my wife and I splitting the blueprints.

Glenn Kenny

I wouldn't get overly agitated about Gottleib's piece, as it's clearly the product of some in-house contest at the Atlantic to see if anyone could commission and publish a "women's issue" piece even stupider and more heinous than any Caitlin Flanagan opus...

May

You raise an interesting issue here. Only, I suspect that the solution you suggest would work in a world where humans had complete control over their feelings.

Thanks for the link (isn't The Atlantic Monthly free now?)

velvet goldmine

It's often struck me that where parents should "settle" is in their quest for privacy and independence from their own parents. Too many of us, I think, move away so that we can raise our kids without anyone watching over our shoulders. This is sometimes not the wisest move.

As Lance points out, it really does take a village, and at times it seems less relevant whether there are one or two parents in the home (since they're so rarely in the home at the same time) as to whether there's an spare aunt or father-in-law around to watch the baby while you take the older one to the doctor for screamin' earache.

smythe

Lance, she DOES know that men might have to settle for HER:

"Now, though, I realize that if I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, I’m at the age where I’ll likely need to settle for someone who is settling for me. What I and many women who hold out for true love forget is that we won’t always have the same appeal that we may have had in our 20s and early 30s. Having turned 40, I now have wrinkles, bags under my eyes, and hair in places I didn’t know hair could grow on women."

The Countess

Over here from Pandagon... Lance, when I read the article, I wondered if there was a contest for some poor fool to be the next Caitlyn Flanagan. Gottlieb is a shoe-in.

The entire time I read that article, I thought of Holly Hunter's character in "Broadcast News", sobbing at her desk everyday for five minutes, and then getting back to work.

ciocia

A previous poster made a remark about the unwillingness of twenty somethings to settle for anything; that they want management track jobs right out of college, McMansions for starter homes, etc. But popular culture is partly to blame, I think, for the sense of romantic entitlement among young men. You listed two pictures in which schlubby guys get hot babes (I think only Knocked Up really belongs in this category), but you see it on T.V. shows all the time. In old movies, schlubby guys never got hot, A-list women. Only Clark Gable and Cary Grant got them. It was understood that to get an A-list woman, you had to be a similar man.

Ken Houghton

borehole says:

And to anyone who thinks the Steve Carell character could never get the Catherine Keener character in real life--are you serious? I see foxier babes with schlubbier guys every day. Granted, it's a mystifying phenomenon, but as one of its beneficiaries, I'd be grateful if nobody looked into it with any vigor. Thank you.

Join the group on the latter. But Carrell, for all his virtues, is a 40-year-old Best Buy clerk—not exactly someone with what an old (female) friend called "PEP" (Positive Earning Potential).

At least not until she finds out his never-opened-toys are worth several times his salary. And that's capital, not earnings—a one-time thing that won't happen a lot.

It's not coincident that the movie ends two hours and one minute after they first have sex; it will all be downhill from there.

Northern Observer

The concept of settling strikes me as a self-help need projected onto others.

I just loved that line. Well done.

mjaybee

"Let's ignore for now, because Gottlieb ignores it, the fact that most single-mothers aren't single because they refused to settle but because the guy they settled on has removed himself from the picture."

WRONG. Women initiate about 70% of divorces, and women's groups have consistently lobbied against joint custody legislation that allows children to have two parents in their lives.

Keep talking pablum, Feminist Guy. It might get you a backrub, if you're lucky.

The Marriage Strike is finally bearing fruit - enjoy your single lives, ladies.

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