Keris Stainton‘s fortnightly column on married life…
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Lori Gottlieb’s article Marry Him! in which she suggests that single women in their thirties holding out for Mr Perfect would be better off settling for Mr Good Enough. Gottlieb writes:
When we’re holding out for deep romantic love, we have the fantasy that this level of passionate intensity will make us happier. But marrying Mr. Good Enough might be an equally viable option, especially if you’re looking for a stable, reliable life companion.
Gottlieb has been called all sorts, including anti-feminist and “a female misogynist”, but I think she’s got a point. And, because I’m shallow, I’d like to illustrate it with examples from Sex and the City.
If you go to the website for the forthcoming Sex and the City movie and click on Match Your Man, you can answer a series of questions and find out who is your perfect match: Mr Big, Harry, Steve, Smith or … Stanford.
I got Steve, as I knew I would. Steve is described as “sweet, sincere, scruffy” but he “prioritizes your relationship over his career and his wardrobe.” Of course, Miranda didn’t see him as the kind of man she’d end up spending her life with, but she eventually accepted that he was indeed the perfect man for her. “Although at times he lacks maturity, you have a hard time resisting his boyish charm. Steve has a contagious optimism and is always there when you need him.”
The description of Steve applies pretty well to my husband of twelve years, David (apart from the “contagious optimism” bit – David is much more likely to say, “Oh great. Typical. Now what.”). It sounds good, doesn’t it? Sweet, sincere, boyish charm, always there when you need him. But occasionally, often after watching a chick flick or reading a particularly romantic novel (which is a bit hazardous, given my other job as editor of our chick lit website, Trashionista), I start thinking about a Big Love. A Big Passionate Love that sweeps you off your feet, and makes you lose your mind, etc. (Partly because, as I’ve written before, I not only married young, but also married my first boyfriend.)
But while the big love sounds wonderful in theory, it’s just not that practical in reality. Gottlieb points out in her article that even the most passionate couplings can’t sustain that level of intensity: “many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year. (It’s hard to maintain that level of zing when the conversation morphs into discussions about who’s changing the diapers or balancing the checkbook.)”.
Of course, I feel like I could have plenty of “zing” with Mr Big, but get him in the quiz and: “He has an elusiveness that you find as irresistible as it is frustrating. Big may be unpredictable and seem totally unattainable – and he does let you down occasionally – but then he manages to surprise you by showing up when you least expect him.”
Now I found Mr Big (and Chris Noth, the actor who plays him) incredibly sexy, but “unpredictable and unattainable”, that’s not really a long-term prospect, is it? (And I really wouldn’t find “elusiveness” irresistible – I get wound up if I don’t know exactly where David is in our three bedroom house!)
No, what you want for the long term is a Steve. A sweet, reliable man who cares at least as much about you as he does about himself. I’ve had a Steve for more than a decade now and I never considered it settling. I consider it good sense.