Some time ago Stephen Stills offered his dating advice that if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with. But does this concept apply to marriage as well? It would appear that this theory has more validity than you might think.
Recently a young woman, Taylor Herd, blew up the internet by posting a video on Tik Tok which posited the controversial question do most men marry the woman in front of them, when they decide to wed, rather than their greatest love or soulmate? According to this influencer marriage is more a matter of being in the right place at the right time than it is a matter of passion, fire and endless love.
Herd suggested that when a man is financially and emotionally ready to settle down he takes an entirely different approach to dating. No longer is he searching for the love of his life. Rather he is looking for someone who will take care of him and who checks off all the boxes in terms of having or not having children, social status, education, interests, religion and getting along with his family and friends.
Indeed, Herd's theory finds support in scientific literature. According to Psychology Today, "Eighty-one percent of married men surveyed agreed with the statement that they decided to get married because it was the 'right time' in their life to settle down". And when is that time? The median age for men to first marry is now 27, adding another year or two for college-educated men. The scientific journal went on to note that most men want to see marriage as a decision they make themselves when it fits their timeline. That is why pressuring a partner into a commitment does not work out well. "Threats and undue pressure are not the best routes to I do".
And what about women? Do they also settle for "Mr. Right Now" instead of Mr. Right? There seems to be support for this notion as well. According to Kim Kardashian she married Kris Humphries, a marriage that ended in record time, because she panicked about turning thirty and settled for Mr. Right Now. Said Kim, "I just thought, ‘Holy s***, I’m 30 years old, I better get this together. I better get married...I think a lot of girls do go through that where they freak out thinking they’re getting old and have to figure it out, all their friends are having kids. It was more of that situation.” Similarly, some time ago Lori Gottlieb wrote a New York Times best seller entitled "Marry Him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough" a book which posited the notion "that stability and dependability outrank fireworks and witty banter."
Of course, such dry, pragmatic, mundane reasons to marry fly in the face of all of our romantic love stories, movies and plays. I mean Jack didn't simply fall in love with Rose because they were both passengers on the Titanic at the same time. There were hundreds of other people on that boat including her fiance'. And nowhere in Shakespeare's epic play did Romeo say to Juliet "hey I have dated a lot of women but you're okay and you're here now. No, Herd's Tik Tok video, which garnered over three million views, elicited strong opinions both agreeing and disagreeing with the premise that marriage is more about timing than true love.
Some people suggested that the reason people are ready for marriage is not a function of maturity or timing but because they found the right person, comparing it to the "chicken or the egg" debate. Others were much more strident in their opinions. One said: “Disagree completely. I waited until I found a partner worth building a life with.” Another added: "I will never marry a woman that I don’t know is the one...I won’t even date a woman if my heart is with another. Conversely, one woman shared that she personally experienced this phenomenon. "I’ve heard it and seen it. Ex literally married the next girl he dated after I ended things. I asked why and he said, he’s going to be 30 soon.”
As for me I find myself in the camp of those that believe that people should marry not settle. Recently, my mother-in-law and father-in law celebrated their 75th Wedding Anniversary. They were intensely, deeply in love with each other each day of their lives, so much so that when my mother-in-law passed away at Thanksgiving, he joined her a mere 5 days later. Never once did I hear them say or suggest that they settled for a love that was okay but not great. For them it was always great.
I would love to hear from all my readers about this interesting and polarizing question. Please feel free to submit your thoughts and comments in the "contact" section of this website.
And stay tuned for the launch of my book "An Elephant Doesn't Marry A Giraffe- Everything I Learned As A Divorce Attorney" which will be out shortly.