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Lanie's Articles  |   Essays From M.H Borden

By the Book

You’ve heard of 5 degrees of separation? Well, happily there now are no degrees of separation between me and Lori Gottlieb, author of “Marry Him.”

First of all, she and her book seem to be mentioned everywhere: on the Today Show, in the New York Times, in Oprah Magazine, and on an on.

My husband, friends and clients started sending me links to “Marry Him” the minute they read the synopsis, and at the very time that I too was reading the same material.

This is the book I could have written myself after working with clients for 8 years. Because Gottlieb is so funny, relatively young and single, and because the book is based on her personal experience, it is so much more readable than any dry yet-another-dating-book I might have come up with.

So that makes maybe one degree of separation since it is the book that is probably in the minds and hearts of most all matchmakers everywhere.

But now there are zero degrees, because scarily soon after emailing her, I received a gracious and warm reply. She operates on email just like I do. Fast!

My message was not only to congratulate her but was also a thank you, because now I can tote this book with me daily when I meet women clients and point them to exhibit A, their first assignment. And if they don’t listen to me, I am hoping and betting that they will listen to her.

Gottlieb’s sound advice for women is backed up with eye -opening research, which raises the level of the book even more and is bound to raise eyebrows as well. Hopefully there will be some strong “Ah ha” moments where folks will see the error of some of their ways.

Apparently the brain is hard-wired to resist change, which of course explains a lot about how we live and certainly why we stay in unhealthy relationships too long.

But information is also power and I’m pretty sure that many women will start taking baby steps toward making healthier relationships for themselves after reading “Marry Him,” so they won’t have unhealthy relationships to extricate from.

When I read a book to comment on, I usually underline the most salient and pertinent things.

In the case of “Marry Me,” however, I could have underlined virtually the whole book. And if I quoted the whole book I could find myself hauled up for plagiarism.

But I trust Gotlieb doesn’t mind and won’t haul me into court. She wants women to make wise choices and wise decisions after all and besides, this is all about her and not about me, as you know is the case with any book report.

Let’s just start with a few insights:

In 1975, according to her research, almost 90 percent of women were married by age 30, but in 2004, only a little more than half were. And the percentage of never married women 25-44 more than doubled between 1970-2006.

When you read the book, and you must if you are a woman or know a single woman, you will discover why and it isn’t only because of cultural pressure to marry later.

It’s because the older women get the longer the list gets of unrealistic and counter- productive requirements for their potential husband, while men stay pretty much with a short set of requirements.

Here’s a secret? Know what I do when I get these long lists that people give me of attributes and physical characteristics they are looking for? Short answer: nothing. I stick them in their file and try not to read them, because they can make me a little nuttier than I already am.

Gottlieb says when she was younger neither she nor her friends could believe that Meg Ryan would go for Billy Crystal in "When Harry Met Sally." Now that is so nutty even I can’t imagine it.

The subtitle of the Book: “The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” is a tad misleading and might get your ire up without good cause. There is a huge difference between settling and compromising and Gottlieb never suggests that you settle for someone you don’t love. Only that you use your head and marry the man who will make you happy, and not the one who fits some fantasy checklist and who probably won’t.

Now I’m only up to page 24 here and almost at the end of my allotted space, so you are just going to have to get the book.

But a couple of last things…as to happiness? From page 9: Whether or not people went into marriage head-over-heels in love, there seemed to be little difference in how happy they were now. Both kind of marriages seemed to be working equally well or poorly.

That certainly fits in with research I’ve read that we have a certain level of happiness. If something wonderful or hideous happens to us, within a year we are back to our normal level. The onus is on us to change our attitudes, and not rely on external circumstances. No one can make us truly happy, though certainly people can make us miserable.

What are some “reasonable deal breakers?” Go to page 24: bad tempers, unkindness, irresponsibility, not a generous spirit, dishonesty, and addictions not dealt with.

I also tell my clients to focus on kindness and integrity….communication and shared values and goals. Why do you think arranged marriages work so well? Realistic expectations and shared values and goals??? Hmmmmm.

Well, as I’ve said I could go on and on. But Lori Gottlieb does it better than I could as I’ve already said. Go out, buy the book and see what you think. Use your head and choose wisely, or as they say, “by the book.”


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