It didn’t come across my mind that I will borrow this book home as I thought it was for single women. However, it mentioned that this book will make married people appreciate their spouses more.
I briefly flipped through the chapters and found it interesting enough for me to borrow it home. Why? It’s realistic. There are increasing number in single women reaching 40. I have many single friends above 35 and I have been trying to matchmake them as I always believe in having a family. The previous book I read indicated that married people are happier. So did this book. Well, I won’t say that it is entirely true. However, if you have children, they are really bundles of joys and change the lives of couples.
The Prologue of this book attracted me to read.
“The Husband Store”
A new store has opened. A Husband Store! There’s a sign at the Entrance: You may visit the Husband Store ONLY ONCE. There are 6 floors, and the value of the products increase on each successive floor. The shopper can choose any item from a particular floor, or go up to shop on the next floor, but she cannot go back down except to exit the building.
So, a woman goes into the store. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:
Floor 1-Men Who Have Good Jobs.
“That’s nice,” she thinks, “but I want more.” So she continues upward, where the sign reads:
Floor 2-Men Who Have Good Jobs and Love Kids.
She’s intrigued, but continues to the third floor, where the sign reads:
Floor 3-Men Who Have Good Jobs, Love Kids, and Are Extremely Handsome.
“Wow,” she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.
Floor 4-Men Who Have Good Jobs, Love Kids, Are Extremely Handsome, and Help Equally with the Housework.
“It can’t get better than this!” She exclaims. But then a pice inside her asks,”Or can it?” She goes up and reads the sign.
Floor 5-Men Who Have Good Jobs, Love Kids, Are Extremely Handsome, Help Equally with the Housework, and Have a Great Sense of Humor.
Having found what she’s looking for, she’s tempted to stay, but something propels her to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:
Floor 6-You are visitor 42,215,602 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor only exists to prove that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.
To avoid gender bias charges, the store’s owner opened a Wife Store right across the street.
The first floor has wives who Love Sex.
The second floor has wives who Love Sex and Are Kind.
The third floor has wives who Love Sex, Are Kind, and Like Sports.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth floors have never been visited.
This was Lori Gottlieb’s version of an old joke about choosing a husband.
Why are so many eligible women–particularly in their 40s and up–still alone when they desperately want to be married? Lori Gottlieb, a 41-year-old (at the time of writing this book) single mother and journalist, aims to find out.
I’m 37 this year and married with 2 children. I have many single friends. I got married at 31, which I thought was a little late as I always wanted to have children earlier. As I read this book, it said things that are so true. The mistakes I made when I was in my twenties. The men I have given up. The men I regretted going out with. And so much. This book is not only for women who are approaching 40, but also for women at 25. I just got hooked to this book that I decided to write my first book review. It’s a long review.
As you can see from the Statistics, women after aged 40 tends to remain unmarried.
‘The secret to marriage is simple: it’s not about you; it’s about “us.” According to Gottlieb, women who cannot “get over themselves” or compromise their standards are the one that have difficulty getting married. To make matters worse, they are also looking for the wrong things. They know what they want, but it’s not necessarily what they need. Marriage is about building a team for the long haul. Who would you want to be stuck on a desert island with? Is he trustworthy, patient, and kind? These are the qualities that make marriages work, not his stats, looks, or hobbies. The fluffy stuff is certainly nice, but it also changes with time. Character is what endures. Unfortunately, style too often trumps substance.’ Review by a Justarius, a philosophical science fiction writer.
I took 1 week to complete the 322 pages book. It consists of 5 parts.
Gottlieb discussed about the dating trenches and speed dating etc. She interviewed women of different age groups to find out about the men they want and their dating experience. Many older women expressed regrets on the men they gave up when they were in their 20s due to nitty gritty reasons which they thought are no longer important when they were older. However, these men were all married when they are still single in their 30s or 40s. She also interviewed men who one said,“When we decided to marry someone, we don’t think we’re going to fix our wives and we don’t try to change them. We don’t get out the spreadsheet and break it down on a microscopic level the way women do. We either want to be with her, or we don’t.”
Another man said,“Men know early on when they’ve met the person they want to marry. It’s a very visceral feeling. That’s why women are always flabbergasted when their ‘commitment-phobe’ boyfriend goes off and gets married a year later.”
In part 2, Gottlieb talked about her own experience engaging a matchmaker and a dating coach (Evan Marc Katz) who knocked some sense into her.
I always believe that there’s very small chance that you will meet your Prince Charming on the streets one day. You have to do something about it. What Gottlieb said is so true. “When you want to get a job, you don’t just hang out in the lobbies of office buildings, hoping an employer will strike up a conversation with you.” That’s why she decided to turn to a matchmaker and tried online dating websites.
Evan is realistic. “Write down the characteristics you’re looking for,” he said,“then calculate the percentage of men out there who meet those criteria.” No wonder it seemed like there were no men out there. According to Gottlieb’s criteria, there weren’t. “It’s going to be very hard to find someone unless you stretch your criteria a bit,” Evan said. “The more you stretch, the more guys you’ll let through your filter.”
“Don’t be Picky, Be Happy” was the first chapter of part 3. Berry Schwartz of ‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less’ explained that a maximizer is content only with the absolute best and will continue finding while a sacrificer is content with something great. “You’re continually looking over your shoulder to see if there’s something better. And the more you look over your shoulder, the less good you’ll end up feeling about your partner or a potential partner-even though he’s probably just good, on balance, as the people you’re looking at.”
Instead of wondering, Am I happy?, maximizers wonder, Is this the best I can do? They experience what Schwartz calls regret in anticipation of making a decision.
In this part, it also talked about women looking for Alpha males. Alpha males are attractive to so many women, but then these same women complain that these guys are hard to date. Meanwhile, they won’t date guys who aren’t Alpha males. They won’t date the shy guy, or the guy who’s not a leader. Confident, successful men inspire confidence in women.
“When we’re dating, we often look for people who are mirror images of us,” Evan said. “A successful woman will usually seek a successful man. But that very quality which makes them successful creates friction, which is how you end up with two strong-willed people who can’t stop arguing. Two people who demand all the attention. Two people who put their jobs before their relationships. But instead of looking for someone who complements us instead of competes with us, we just keep trying to find ‘better’ versions of ourselves, to our own detriment. A guy can be a leader in other areas, but it might not be at the office.”
Are women pickier than men?
“I can’t help who I’m attracted to. I want to compromise, but I just can’t.” Fine. Don’t compromise. Just don’t be too surprised if everyone else ‘compromises’ their way into a fulfilling relationship while you keep chasing a dream that never has a happy ending.
Wants Versus Needs
The difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ is crucial. Be realistic. Narrow the list of needs to 3. If you have 14 ‘needs’, it means that if a guy has 13 of the 14 qualities, he’s gone! And even if he’s most of these things, you have to remember that a lot of good qualities flip over and become bad qualities. Someone highly intelligent and analytical can also be opinionated and a know-it-all. Someone easygoing may have no opinions or be lazy.
“What you want isn’t necessarily good for you,” Evan said. “And in going after the person you think you want, you ignore what you really need.” But figuring out what you need isn’t easy. If distinguishing wants from needs can seem baffling, he said, sometimes our opinions even contradict themselves: I want someone who’s spontaneous and wild…who has a stable job.
You distinguish between your wants and needs. Example:
You want someone who is athletic and physically active.
You need someone who accepts you at your worst.
“Love” isn’t independent of practical things, and if we want to find a happy relationship, we have to learn how to take those practical things into consideration. But just how practical should we be in search of love?
Gottlieb mentioned a dating advice offered by her girlfriend. “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).
The Business of Love
If your goal is financial stability, you don’t invest in risky, volatile stocks because they’re the “hot” picks of the week. Everyone knows that they rarely turn out to be good long term investments (like the “hot” men who often aren’t as great as they seem).
A lot of women are setting their price point so high that they’re pricing themselves off the market. If you have an in-box full of responses from men you’ve emailed, you are correctly priced. If you don’t, you have priced yourself too high.
Love is Timing, a Verb, and a Noun
If you have everything you need in a relationship, but you’re just not feeling it anymore, maybe you’re focusing too much on whether you’re in love (the noun) and not making enough of an effort to love (the verb) your partner. There’s an aspect of love (the verb) that’s a choice.
“The verb can create the noun, and the noun can inspire the verb.”
Part 5 had stories shared by a few of Gottlieb’s married friends and a conclusion by Gottlieb. “I had to show you the reality of being single at my age because I used to be like the teenager who think she’s invulnerable to drunk driving accidents-it’s all on the abstract, something that happens to other people, but would never happen to me. It never occurred to me that I would become another dating casualty. I had to show, in grim detail, the accident that my dating life became so that you could make choices you won’t look back on later and regret.”
“If you recognized yourself in this book, I’m the ghost of what could happen to you if you don’t broaden your idea of Mr. Right. I mean that nicely, because it’s actually an optimistic message: If you’re older like me, it’ll be harder, but at least you’ll have a better chance of finding a great guy if you change your approach. And if you’re single in your twenties or thirties and wondering why, now you know not just why, but what to do to increase your chances of having a happy long term marriage.”
This book teaches us not to settle for less than what’s going to make us happy but about learning how to value what’s truly valuable.
Some things I learnt from this book:
1) Some women choose to believe in “love at first sight”. Chemistry usually takes time to develop. You have to work at it; it’s not magic.
2) Perhaps there isn’t just 1 “soul mate” out there for you. There are many potential ones. You can create a soul mate by building shared experiences together based on Gottlieb’s interviews with a number of women in arranged marriages.
3) When it comes to dating, less is more. The problem with online dating is that there is too much information for women to nitpick. They end up toss out perfectly eligible guys on technicalities without ever meeting them in person.
4) Holding out for Prince Charming rarely means ending up with a storybook family.
5) Distinguish between your needs and wants. List down 3 essential needs (must have).
6) Don’t try changing a man. And don’t believe a man will change after marriage.
7) Don’t waste your time in a relationship when a man gives you excuses like “I’m not looking for anything serious right now” or “I’m not sure I want to have kids” or “I’m focused on my career right now”. It means that if you want a relationship, you should look elsewhere. But women often think the guy is confused and she can change him, when really the guy has made up his mind.
8) Appreciate what your partner has, who your partner is.
This book is valuable for reevaluating your relationship patterns, realizing that no, you’re not special – you’re a flawed human being in the world looking for another flawed human being that wants to get married and have a partnership, and – more importantly – understanding the difference between wants and needs.
Gottlieb’s honesty, thought provoking interviews with matchmakers, marrieds, divorced, singles and her candid process of using herself as a guinea pig in implementing ideas is humbling and soul stirring.
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