Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Settling for Good Enough

I recently read Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb.  I first saw this book this past summer while shopping for a gift.  It caught my eye so I picked it up and read the back.  I was in a hurry and quite broke so I made a mental note to pick it up when I had a few extra bucks to spend on myself.  Over the last six months, I've thought about the book a lot and I finally purchased the ebook for my Kindle late last week after a conversation with a couple girlfriends about my relationship with Ken.

I'll start by saying that the title is a bit misleading.  The book wasn't exactly making the case for settling, but rather for reevaluating what you think is important and compromising on the superficial things.  Most of us girls are taught to be confident and have a high self-esteem.  We are taught to NEVER SETTLE for less than we deserve and, well, we deserve nothing but the best, of course.  We grow up with all these fairy tales about knights in shining armor and valiant princes and we believe that someday our prince will come.  We think our soul mate will show up one day out of the blue, sweep us off our feet and we'll live happily ever after in a harmonious and passionate relationship.  Okay, so maybe we realize there is no such thing as a perfect man or a perfect relationship, but we're bound and determined not to settle and we overlook some wonderful men in our search for that elusive Perfect 10 (even if in reality, we're only a 5 or 6)!  At the beginning of a relationship, we tend to focus on all the wonderful qualities our man possesses, but before long, we are picking apart everything he does, comparing him to every other guy we've known and focusing on his imperfections.  We decide that we want more... something... and we jump ship looking for whatever that something is.  Meanwhile, we are oblivious that we don't have the very qualities we expect our man to have.

How many of you ladies have (or had) THE LIST?  You know the one - it usually starts something like this: tall, attractive, kind, funny, stable... and it goes on and on and on.  Every time you break up with a guy, you add things to the list that he wasn't or you modify existing attributes (i.e. funny, but not corny; stable, but not married to his job).  The older you get, the more time and experience you have to refine the list and before you know it, you really are looking for Mr. Perfect.  Then you  meet a guy who has most of the qualities on the list, but he's short, or balding, or maybe a little older or heavier than the person you pictured and you don't give him a second thought.  This book addresses all of those things and encourages women to not judge a book based on it's cover, but to open yourself up to finding happiness with someone you wouldn't necessarily expect.  (I mean, how many single, tall, dark, handsome, rich, funny, adventurous, supportive, age appropriate men with a full head of wavy locks and a desire to settle down and have a family do you think there are out there?  Certainly not enough to go around!)

I wanted to read this book because of where I am in my own relationship.  I absolutely love my boyfriend and am eternally grateful for him.  He's loving, kind, supportive, compassionate, and so much more, but I'd be lying if I said I'm always content in the relationship.  There are days when I think of an ex or of someone else's relationship and I wish Ken had some of those qualities.  I'll have easy, witty banter or a deeply intellectual or spiritual conversation with someone and wish I had that with Ken.  I'll remember the passion of a previous relationship and wish I had that with Ken.  I'll hear about or witness some gesture or quality and wish that Ken was more like that.  I go through phases where I find myself focusing on the qualities that he doesn't have instead of the amazing man that he IS.  The thing I need to remind myself of when I'm going through one of these phases is that those past relationships ended for a reason.  I compare Ken to those men, but those men hurt me deeply.  There may have been intellectual banter or a shared faith or spontaneity or passion, but there were also lies, betrayal, abandonment, instability and passion.  (The thing about passion is that when it's good, it's great; but when it's bad, it's awful!  It's a double-edged sword.)

I do strive to focus on the positive and most of the time Ken makes that very easy.  He is thoughtful and generous.  He supports me in everything I do, donates to every cause I participate in, buys me flowers for no reason, tells me he loves me ALL THE TIME, compliments me and believes in me.  He surprises me with weekend get-aways and unique experiences and steps out of his comfort zone and is willing to try new things.  He doesn't even like coffee, but he bought me a coffee maker for his place, learned how I like it and makes it for me on those mornings I'm there.  He doesn't drink wine, but he keeps a bottle or two of my favorite at his place for me.  He apologizes when he's wrong, laughs at all my jokes, encourages me, cooks for me, takes care of me when I'm sick or sad or just feeling lazy.  He took amazing care of me when I was recovering from surgery.  He is the most selfless man I've ever met.  He is completely focused on my fulfilling my needs and desires, even if he doesn't share them.  And he genuinely thinks HE'S the lucky one! 

I don't feel like I'm settling. I do feel like I am more realistic than I was even just a few years ago.  He may not be everything on my mile-long list, but he has all of the qualities that I NEED and many that I want too.  He is enough!  In fact, he's more than enough and far more than I deserve.  I know I'm the lucky one in this relationship and I'm so thankful we found each other. 

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