A few friends were talking the other day about how they know women who have settled down and gotten married, primarily because they had reached a certain age and they felt like it was time. And, of course, because they wanted kids. And they did not want to raise kids alone.
I’m not disputing the notion that those are valid reasons – and they motivate plenty of men, as well as women! – but they do strike me as a reasons that could be solved not with a wedding band, but with the accumulation of massive dragon-hoard’s like stash of cash. And then you would not have to sit on the couch every day with someone you were not absolutely thrilled to see in your house.
I suppose I’ve thought about this ever since reading Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him, a book which basically encourages women to settle with pleasant seeming guys because a marriage and raising a family is like running a small non-for-profit business. In her Atlantic article she wrote:
Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since 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.)…
Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.
Incidentally, Lori Gottlieb’s book haunts every single woman I know. The notion, of course, is that if you don’t settle, you might not be able to have a family, and you need someone to share child raising with. You are an industry.
Well, yes, that’s probably true, to some extent, but that person really doesn’t need to be a husband.
There’s some logic in that statement, but I always sort of secretly suspected that there are ways you could outsource some of the spouse-duties, and then not live with someone that you were not absolutely crazily enthusiastic to be living with.
I feel this is especially true when I hear women talking about how they have to get married by the time they hit 30 or 35, because they want to have kids – but they really don’t like living with people. They like picking their own TV shows to watch! They like waking up and going to the restroom without tiptoeing to avoid waking someone else! They like not having to be continually polite to their SO’s boring friends!
They like doing things, basically, that you can’t do when you have a spouse to worry about.
I suppose, if you were to come into a big pile of money, and are debating whether or not to get married, there are questions you should ask like…
Do you think a husband would always help with the household chores? – If so, you would do better with a maid.
Do you really want wild, expertly executed sex solely for your benefit? – Gigolos are relatively cheap on the sex worker spectrum.
Do you want someone to tend to your children with ease and expertise when you go out? – You could hire a nanny.
Also, get a private chef. Just do it. Even if you’re married. Even if you’re a bigamist. I just think having a private chef would be great.
I’m not saying that the notion of having a helper around the house, a childcare provider, and access to sex is the only reason people get married, but it is the reason some people get married. And while a lot of things in the world can’t be solved by accumulating a big pile of money, those are things that you can have handled by trained professionals.Things that trained professionals would probably handle better, because it would be their job.
Which would free up a lot of time to make sure that, as far as your romantic life went, you were with someone that you loved seeing, just because you loved seeing them.
Of course, a lot of us probably can’t make enough to afford full time help. And a lot of people want to get married for other reasons. But if those are factors motivating our marital decisions, we should probably stop reading Cosmopolitan and start reading Fortune.
Picture via Arrested Development