Fifteen minutes left to throw me together
For Mr. Right Now, not Mr. Forever
Don’t know why I even try when I know how it ends
Lookin’ like another, “Maybe we can be friends.”
I’ve been leaving it up to fate
It’s my life so it’s mine to make
I ain’t settlin’
For just getting by
I’ve had enough so-so
For the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low
So raise the bar high
“Just enough,” ain’t enough this time
I ain’t settlin’ for anything less than everything
Country music’s favorite new child, Sugarland sings “Ain’t Settlin” with the most annoying twang. Which is why when I read Liesl Schillinger’s review of Lori Gottlieb’s new book, Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, Sugarland’s lyrics kept ringing in my ears.
Schillinger takes issue with the book questioning whether women in their 40s actually find happiness by marrying a man who is just “good enough”. To quote When Harry Met Sally, “at least you could say you were married.”
Gottlieb’s book is loosely based on her 2008 essay in which she writes about the many challenges she has faced in raising a child without a mate. She laments her 20s as a time when she should have jumped on Mr. Right Now, even if he was not Brad Pitt. Or as Schillinger’s tough review recounts,
“But half a decade later, furnished with a toddler (via donor sperm) and a U-Haul of regret, she wishes she and others like her had taken her pragmatic friend’s advice and made finding a ‘solid, like-minded teammate in life’ job-one from the outset. She writes, ‘I wish I’d entertained the possibility when the possibility still existed.’ ”
With more and more women turning up in their 40s regretting their “wild single lady” decisions of their 20s and 30s, I am constantly wondering who is to blame? Gottlieb questions the women’s movement who seemed to trick 20-somethings into skipping the romance in favor of ego, career, and bikinis. Having not read Gottlieb’s book (although I loved her essay) I am slow to completely take her side but I can’t agree with Schillinger’s review either. She writes,
That’s right girls: If you’re unwillingly unwed, blame it on mom and Title IX for duping you into educating, respecting and supporting yourselves. She intends this book, she writes, as a blood-chilling cautionary tale,
“like those graphic anti-drunk driving public service announcements that show people crashing into poles and getting killed.”
There is a lot of truth behind modern feminism’s singular focus to push women into careers and not encourage motherhood or marriage. Feminism exclaims “choice” but choice to the BLANKS of the world means “girl cell” or “super girl cell”. For women like Schillinger, who make it to their 40s with children and without mates, it is no surprise that she wants to warn me that there is more to the picture than ego and career.
Yes, women should be educated, respected, independent and able to support ourselves; but we should also know that there are many ways to do that. I can be every single one of those things and be married. What it comes back to is who I settled down with: Mr. Right Now and Mr. Forever.