Summer Reading

Tis the season for summer reading and, as you probably know, lists of beach books happily appear on every blog.
For those looking to make a purchase of something quite a bit more substantial than a book, though, you can first take a gander at “Shopping for a Husband” and perhaps kill two proverbial birds with one stone. Learn something and have a laugh while watching the waves and then begin to plan for your bigger purchase (i.e. spouse) and perhaps flesh out your wedding invitation list.

Written by Janice Lieberman, the consumer reporter on the Today Show, Shopping for a Husband certainly has some tips for those women in the market. And of course single men might take a quick look too, to make sure they have what it takes to be husband material.

I found many things about the book engaging and insightful.

Take the pickiness factor. I have written quite a bit myself about the pickiness of many people who are often choosing potential qualities and abilities of mates as if they were in a candy store.
Washington Post writer Libby Copeland says:
“There is something peculiarly modern about the phenomenon of pickiness, something aligned with our dark privilege of too much, this consumeriffic culture in which jeans and houses and breasts and ring tones are customizable.”

Janice Lieberman adds : “What does this have to do with dating? Well, our predilection for the personalized, the customized, the made-to-order, and the all–around generally perfect has bled into our search for a soul mate. Since we can’t simply write a recipe for romance, we do the next best thing. We search for the custom-made mate.”

I remember being mortified when I first started reading my college alumni magazine. By now, though, I’ve gotten slightly used to the fact that unlike all the other grads, I don’t own or rule a country or huge cooperation and my child didn’t just win the Nobel Prize.

Similarly, in the dating world, the personal or Internet ads can also give one the feeling that one doesn’t measure up. The flip side of writing one of these looking for Mr. Perfect ads is that you are likely to read their Looking for Ms. Perfect ad, or vice versa. Who fits these projections we have of other people?

Liberman cites John Tiernan of the New York Times who calls the trend the “flaw-o-meter” i.e. “that inner voice, a little whirring device inside the brain that instantly spots a fatal flaw in any potential mate.”

What I suggest to my clients is that they should, in fact, be picky, but about the right things. Research suggests that the more you have in common with someone, the easier things will be and no, hooking up with opposites is generally not a good idea, unless you are one of those rare and tolerant creatures, amused by the idiosyncrasies and wildly different points of view of your beloved.

So yes, be picky in this way: Beyond common values, backgrounds and some common interests and shared goals, is the person trustworthy, a person of integrity? Are they kind to you and others? Are they supportive of you and don’t put you down? Do they communicate when things go wrong and not storm out? If they have an addiction problem, have they dealt with it? Are they on your intellectual level? And has all that translated into the necessary chemistry?

Shopping for a Husband has done some research of their own.

I found some of the results very interesting:

He washes the dishes. Apparently sharing household tasks contributed to a happy marriage.

The man lets the woman have her way. Apparently when it comes to solving problems in the home or in the marriage—in the domestic arena---letting the woman have her way is a key indicator of a happy marriage.

He’s not type A. All work and no play can make for one unhappy spouse.

He’s not an isolated, grumpy or generally unhappy person. Laughing together is the best aphrodisiac.

Hearing each other and fighting fair. But you know that,

Similarity in education can matter as can similar tastes in food and TV preferences. As can shared appreciation for or aversion to the outdoors.

That he likes your friends is important as is seeing eye to eye on money.

And interestingly, according to this book, the age differential is a non-issue, no matter who is older or by how much.

There’s a lot more, of course in the book to agree or disagree with.

And a lot more good dating books to look at.

Happy summer and wise “shopping.”

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"We can't remember if we let you know, but you helped us find each other. After dating on and off for about a year, we moved in together (during that freak Halloween snow storm), and married at an old inn in VT in January.

We just wanted to thank you."

Jon & Jean

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