The High Cost of Settling

Treadmill of HappinessLori Gottlieb’s article Marry Him! tells women who are getting older to suck up and settle for Mr. Good Enough. It appears that after searching for her soul mate, Lori decided to have a child through modern medicine and then get married to Mr. Right. Unfortunately, it didn’t all work out as she had planned. So, now she wants to tell her sisters-in-arms that we’ve been duped, by the culture, our parents, mass media, whatever, that told us we are entitled to happiness and a soul mate that can make us shiver with delight. What we really want is a husband who can be a good sperm donor before our eggs get too old.

She wants us to do what our mothers might advise us to do:”Stop being so picky!”

From her point of view, I suppose she has a point. If she just wanted a baby daddy so bad instead of a romantic partner, she should have just settled for anything that walks on two legs and whose sperm can still manage to swim upstream. I’ve even met men with the same attitude. They are getting older and want to attract a “young fertile woman” so they can pass on the family name. It isn’t just women who think that marriage should be proposed before the opportunity to bear children is lost.

But, even that stinks a little of entitlement. Who said we are all entitled to have children or that we all make good marriage partners? Maybe some men and women shouldn’t be married. Maybe we should adopt more. The cost of settling wasn’t even really discussed either. From a financial standpoint, sure, it’s far cheaper to have a man who will “donate sperm” to a good cause. But, there are far too many other costs to a marriage, emotional and psychological (as well as financial), that if you don’t go into it with the right attitude will come back to bite you in the butt big-time.

So, is our life just about getting the two-car garage, the big house, the spouse, and the kids? Since when did good old friendship and intimacy get thrown out the window? Why are the material things more important to us than the actual happiness they are meant to endow? Most of the people who settled may end up getting a head start on material happiness, but what did it cost? Do we all have our price? For some, it’s sperm, others it’s a big flat screen TV. As long as we get our material possessions in order the other intangibles like love, companionship, community, and happiness can all go out the window.

Ask a woman who settled who later divorced what a divorce settlement costs:

  • Half your property (houses, retirement, and savings)
  • Half the debt load created in the marriage
  • Loss of intimacy
  • Loss of happiness
  • Lost years of youth
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Loss of personal growth
  • Sharing your children with a new step-mom
  • Loss of opportunity to find someone else
  • Impact on earning potential, now and later
  • Years of conflict, sometimes abusive physically other times verbal
  • Lack of self-respect

It’s always better to find a someone who you admire and love than someone you are only willing to settle for. Marriage is hard enough without starting off on the wrong foot. If you want to cultivate spiritual wealth, then don’t throw away the intangibles just because you are looking at the physical results: babies, cars, spouses, etc. These things are meaningless if they come with conflict, trauma, unhappiness, and malaise. If you learn to be happy with yourself, then when the right one comes along you will know it based on how they enhance your life and don’t detract from it. Then, you build wealth and not potential misery and poverty.

*Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license by Burge5000

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