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In the Name of God بسم الله

The Good Enough Marraige

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AnotherUmmAli

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http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/fea...marriage?page=4

Forty-one-year-old single mother and journalist Lori Gottlieb has written candidly of spurning "good enough" men in search of the perfect romantic mate. But in her provocative new essay for the Atlantic, Gottlieb advises singles -- especially women -- to consider settling when it comes to a love relationship, arguing it will likely lead to long-term happiness.

In her essay, Gottlieb likens a "good-enough marriage" to a small nonprofit business with a likeable mate who can problem solve. Gottlieb spoke exclusively with WebMD about the reaction it has generated.

"I've gotten quite a response, and it's been all over the map," Gottlieb tells WebMD. "Married people are very supportive of the point I am trying to make. Some single women applaud me for saying out loud what many are thinking but not saying. But many single women think it is an affront. They think it is an unpalatable challenge to an empowering world view that you can have it all."

At the heart of the "good enough" argument is that too many of us have been brainwashed into a "fairy tales and fireworks" view of romance that lacks long-term stability. Gottlieb writes that marrying Mr. Good Enough is a viable option, especially if the goal is to land a reliable life partner and create a family.

"The point of the article is not to settle for any schmo off the street, but a good guy you like, enjoy the company of, and have realistic expectations of," she says.

"If you want to be with somebody and you're holding out, you may end up with nothing," Gottlieb says. "That's the crazy-making part -- you're always comparing."

Defining the Good-Enough Marriage

London pediatrician Donald Winnicott coined the term "good-enough mother." A good-enough mother stands in contrast to a "perfect" mother. She provides a safe environment, connection, and ultimately, independence, to facilitate the child's development. A good-enough mother meets some, but not all, of her child's needs.

Can the good-enough theory apply to romantic partners as well?

"Good enough, rather than the fairy-tale model, which is a big disappointment, is a reasonable way to picture married life," says Louanne Cole Weston, PhD, WebMD's sex and relationship expert.

Katharine Parks of Chillicothe, Ohio, married John at 19 and has been happily wed for 32 years. She says the terminology is right on target. "In American society, we are always going for much more than we actually need. We're expecting too much from a relationship. I think realizing this is as 'good as it gets' and that life isn't 'once-upon-a-time' is important to building a life together."

Scott Haltzman, MD, a clinical assistant professor at Brown University's department of psychiatry and human behavior, says the issue of settling for a certain person or behavior in a relationship is one of the principles of happiness -- if you reframe it as "acceptance."

Defining the Good-Enough Marriage continued...

"We live in a culture where we're being told through all forms of media, 'Don't accept anything but the best.' We all marry 'the wrong person.' I think the real challenge of marriage is to get out of the romantic, over-idealized phase and into the 'now what' phase. Making adjustments, modifying expectations, and settling is something that happens throughout the entire relationship, not just the day you stand in front of the altar," he tells WebMD. "We need to broaden our view of what acceptable means."

Pepper Schwartz, PhD, a relationship expert at perfectmatch.com and professor of sociology at the University of Washington, acknowledges that the term "good enough" carries a negative -- and unnecessary -- connotation.

"The implication of settling or good enough is that at some core level you will be dissatisfied," Schwartz tells WebMD. "It's a downer concept for sure. The whole feeling has infected society in a way that is shocking." She draws a sports analogy. "I'm a good skier, I have a lot of fun skiing, but I don't say I'm a 'good enough skier.' I wish we could just call it a 'good marriage.'"

Schwartz says that being in a state of constant aspiration is a form of "self-torture."

"If I had to settle for a new Oldsmobile when what I really want is a Porsche, I'll never be satisfied. In truth, the Oldsmobile is new, it's pretty, and it works. Why wouldn't I be satisfied with it?"

Haltzman notes in his book, The Secrets of Happily Married Women: How to Get More out of Your Relationship by Doing Less, that for centuries happiness was not a factor in good marriages. Rather, marriage was a practical matter that ensured social and financial security and provided for offspring. It's only over the last century that couples have expected marriage to bring them happiness. We're learning as we go.

David Rice of Alpharetta, Ga., agrees. Married for five years to Cynthia, he points to his parents' long marriage and the role model of World War II couples. "Think back to those soldiers, who just wanted to get home to a woman who came from a church-going family, could dance, and was happy to marry a nice guy. Prerequisites have changed."

He admits that his romantic journey didn't go as planned. "At the ripe old age of 44, I felt the time was right and I wanted to get married. I found somebody I could build something with, but regardless of the attraction, it wasn't puppy love. I actually treated it like a business decision, as cold or callous as that might sound. I didn't feel I had time to make a couple of mistakes. I felt I had to hit it out of the park."

A Pragmatic View of Marriage

Experts and married couples both agree: It's a fantasy to think you'll achieve perfection in a relationship. Chemistry, while important, is not all-important, and the "soul mate" concept sets the bar unrealistically high.

"The good-enough marriage that de-emphasizes romantic love in favor of a pragmatic relationship is a very important topic that addresses the idealization of romance and the failures that inevitably occur due to unattainable expectations," says Michael D. Zentman, PhD, director of the postgraduate program in marriage and couple therapy at Adelphi University.

Belinda Rachman, an attorney in Carlsbad, Calif., has been married to Eliot for more than 20 years. "I made a rational choice that had nothing to do with romantic love and have been very happy. I had a written 'man plan.' As each successive relationship failed, I took a look at what I had to have in a man, what qualities I had to have and what was negotiable; I knew I didn't want to go on another emotional roller-coaster ride. When I look at the utter mess made by couples who have based a marriage on being in love with no thought to basic compatibility, I know I made the right choice."

Terri, an artist based in Roswell, Ga., who has been married for eight and a half years, says the good-enough concept resonates with her.

"I did have a fantasy idea of what marriage was going to be. By the time I got married in my mid- 30s, I had a lot of dating experience and the bubble burst. We had a child within the first year of marriage, and it got pretty practical pretty quickly," says Terri, who asked that her last name not be used. "The ever-shifting process of coming together, compromising, and the day-to-day of housekeeping and child rearing have taught me to accept Thomas for who he is. When that happened, I truly felt a sense of relief, a comfortable feeling of where I have landed. I'm much more relaxed."

Recognizing Mr. or Ms. 'Good Enough'

In Tyler Perry's films, the girl often gets the guy -- but there's a caveat: He's not usually the guy she pictured herself with. In fact, it's usually a regular guy -- the proverbial "diamond in the rough" -- that she's overlooked.

As we mature and learn more about who we are, recognize our inadequacies and learn to accept those of our mate, we are better equipped to "screen in" candidates who are good enough, experts say.

Gottlieb believes many of us -- herself included -- have dismissed potential mates based on looks, habits, or other superficial "deal breakers." In her article, she writes about her own change of heart in terms of what romance and marriage is or isn't supposed to be.

Recognizing Mr. or Ms. 'Good Enough' continued...

Cynthia Rice underwent a similar change. "Earlier in my life, I had certain criteria in my mind, like 'I'm not going to choose someone without a certain stature in life or money," she says. "I consider [settling] reprioritizing. We all have a little more baggage. I realized David was really smart. We can have a conversation and connect even while we are grinding out the day."

"I made a practical choice in a mate," she tells WebMD. "It's not what we look like to our neighbors or to society. It's what we have here in our home."

Although everyone has different requirements of a potential spouse, experts offer five guidelines to help you determine the qualities needed for sharing "good enough" lifetime together.

Compatibility. "Similar styles in living, similar ways of operating, whether more rational or emotional, will help you avoid chronic disappointment," Weston says. Gottlieb speaks of lifestyles that can "meld."

Sexual Attraction. "You need adequate sexual attraction, some chemistry, but you each don't have to like 17 body parts," Weston says.

Similar Goals. You may have a laundry list of ideal qualities in a mate, but narrow down your list to three must-have traits, Schwartz suggests. "You only have so many "slots" someone can fulfill, whether it's a shared love of travel, a similar outlook on money, or raising children." Schwartz cautions about seeking what she calls "incongruent characteristics" from a partner. "Some women marry industry lions and then are surprised when they bite," she says.

Respect. "If you admire someone, you are way ahead," says Schwartz.

Gut Check. Finally, Weston suggests trusting your gut for clues on whether someone is good enough for you. "Nine years before I married my husband, I was engaged to another man," she says. "I had funny little shooting pains and a twitch in that hand; I wasn't sleeping well. My body was giving me clues."

From what little information there is available, it seems that Muslims in America are about equal with their non Muslim counterparts when it comes to very high divorce rates. I've always kind of wondered why that was, I think the above is probably true for us as well as the wider society. Do you think we have expectations that are too high and therefor impossible to meet?

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From what little information there is available, it seems that Muslims in America are about equal with their non Muslim counterparts when it comes to very high divorce rates. I've always kind of wondered why that was, I think the above is probably true for us as well as the wider society. Do you think we have expectations that are too high and therefor impossible to meet?

I've felt like the opposite problem is also an issue in the community. I have a number of friends in their 20's (and 30's) who felt like they had to marry men (as a first marriage, not as remarriages) who they wouldn't have really chosen as spouses (whom they were not really all that attracted to, or who they didn't really see eye to eye with) because they didn't have many options, and they seem to have, well, average marriages. They don't seem miserable, but they don't seem that fulfilled in their relationships either, and I feel sad about that because marriage CAN be much more than a 'nonprofit business'. However, this probably applies to some young (and not so young) people who get mythical ideas about marriage from the TV and movies - as the saying goes, it is wise to keep one's eyes open before marriage and half closed afterwards since no one is ever perfect and, as they say, the grass always seems greener on the other side.

'Incongruent characteristics' was a good point though. I imagine a lot of people are looking for incongruent characteristics and feel frustrated when they only get one or the other.

I think an important thing the article suggests is that people's happiness in marriage depends on what they do afterwards - their commitment and willingness to work rather than just the existence of mutual love.

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Do you think we have expectations that are too high and therefor impossible to meet?

(salam)

A lot of people don't have a clear idea why they are getting married in the first place. A lot of people are looking for Mr/Ms Right who don't exist. So I agree with the concept that all you need are Mr/Ms Good enough for marriage :!!!:

And a whole lot of people are looking for benefits (wealthy, beautiful spouses from well connected family). It is hard to fight a culture that promote such marriages.

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I used to think that NO ONE should ever settle for 'a good enough' to marry person and only want the best. Now, with some life experience behind me and taking a lesson from Jane Austen of all people, In Pride and Prejudice she gives Lizzie's best friend Charlotte as an example of someone who is perfectly happy to settle for someone thats barely 'good enough' and explains to Lizzie that not everyone is searching for a perfect lover, I can see how for some people 'good enough' is what makes them happy.

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Theoretically the "good enough" partner should work. It gives you a realistic expecation of the relationship and may even materialise to exceed those expectations.

Unfortunately, human nature is such that even when you have 12 out of 20 good or decent points in the person, we tend to focus on one or more of the 8 negative qualities. That is why the marriages we have marriages which although may not be doomed for failure but at the same time also not fulfilling.

I would look for a "good enough" person myself...but I am just wondering if I would be "good enough" for anyone :(

Edited by Muskaan
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taking a lesson from Jane Austen of all people, In Pride and Prejudice

Personally I think a lot of problems can be laid to rest at the feet of 18th/19th century western literature. Perhaps eastern literature is the same? Dunno, never read any.

Whether it is Austen, Hardy, Tolstoy, Zola, Balzac, whoever - these people came up with the 'romantic' notion of the 'fulfilled' marriage/relationship and one that women could leave. In those days where divorce was not possible, so adultery was presented as the acceptable alternative. Austen is at least somewhat better than some of the others since she recognises the value of the social and economic aspects of marriage.

Also I am not talking about leaving abusive husbands, but rather ones who 'just weren't quite right'.

These ideas are nowadays perpetuated by the movie industry.

At the end of the day there is no money to be made from writing/making movies about people who marry for social/economic/religious reasons with 'romance' as an after thought. Money is to be made from the illicit, the taboo and so on.

The fact that so many women have fallen and continue to fall for the propaganda peddled by these atheistic con artists shows how weak many of them are.

IMHO

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Personally I think a lot of problems can be laid to rest at the feet of 18th/19th century western literature. Perhaps eastern literature is the same? Dunno, never read any.

Whether it is Austen, Hardy, Tolstoy, Zola, Balzac, whoever - these people came up with the 'romantic' notion of the 'fulfilled' marriage/relationship and one that women could leave. In those days where divorce was not possible, so adultery was presented as the acceptable alternative. Austen is at least somewhat better than some of the others since she recognises the value of the social and economic aspects of marriage.

Also I am not talking about leaving abusive husbands, but rather ones who 'just weren't quite right'.

These ideas are nowadays perpetuated by the movie industry.

At the end of the day there is no money to be made from writing/making movies about people who marry for social/economic/religious reasons with 'romance' as an after thought. Money is to be made from the illicit, the taboo and so on.

The fact that so many women have fallen and continue to fall for the propaganda peddled by these atheistic con artists shows how weak many of them are.

IMHO

^ ooooh, I feel like I've been told off properly!

Bro Haji, I agree with you mostly, just to let you know though that this one particular example that I quoted off Jane Austen was about someone who married for economic and social reasons rather than romance alone and actually was very happy because of it. What I'm saying is that a 'good enough' life partner can theoretically lead to a great marriage. IMHO the success of a marriage depends on the effort by both spouses over a prolonged period and the compatibility of the pair ( that which determines if they are just 'good enough' or 'great' for one another) may change over time.

(salam)

Edited by Batool
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Whether it is Austen, Hardy, Tolstoy, Zola, Balzac, whoever - these people came up with the 'romantic' notion of the 'fulfilled' marriage/relationship and one that women could leave. In those days where divorce was not possible, so adultery was presented as the acceptable alternative. Austen is at least somewhat better than some of the others since she recognises the value of the social and economic aspects of marriage.

Are you suggesting that marriage should be unfulfilling? What about the 'romantic' notion of the 'fulfilling' marriage that is attributed to Amir al Mumineen and Fatimah Zahra?

By any chance, are you unmarried?

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a good enough marriage should be enough...particularly when there are kids involved. it's rather a nonrealistic notion, expecting you'll have an ideal marrige/spouse in this world. it's the hereafter happiness that islam suggested. out of this belief, insyaallah, as long as you do the best in your role and do everything according to islamic teachings, Allah will grant u the immortal happiness in the hereafter life.

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Are you suggesting that marriage should be unfulfilling? What about the 'romantic' notion of the 'fulfilling' marriage that is attributed to Amir al Mumineen and Fatimah Zahra?

By any chance, are you unmarried?

I agree with sis' adore2lights, smiley and Batool.

I did not say that it should be 'unfulfilling', but people who spend a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves, that they are having an unfulfilling time and wondering about the alternatives run the risk of ending up like Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary ! !

I think there is a gap between 'good enough' and 'fulfilling' And trying to fill that gap is where the problems lie. If husbands and wives could emulate Amir al Mumineen (a.s.) and Fatima Zahra (a.s.) in other respects I am sure the fulfilling marriage bit would follow naturally.

Like many other things the source the problem seems to be making comparisons with other people, and then thinking they are better off in some way.

I picked up on the point about literature, because it seems to me that it has had a particularly corrosive impact on marital relations. It concludes with the modern western view that you've got to sleep with half a dozen people, at least, in order to make sure you have found 'fulfillment'. It's logical isn't it? Unless you have the basis for making a personal comparison, how can you say you have been fulfilled?

And that's the summary of my argument. Searching for fulfillment is the wrong search. Having 'good enough' is ok, you can then work on other things. And anyway why should fulfillment come from a spouse? It can come from kids as well. It can come from a feeling that today you are a better person spiritually, intellectually etc. than you were yesterday. Thinking about it, is the 'fulfillment' issue simply a basis for blaming someone else for one's own shortcomings?

I have been married for 8 years (and there were no previous relationships) in case you were wondering.

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(salam)

Many people across the globe are getting married to complete half their Bollywood fantasy - this is why they "fall in love" - this unrealistic marriage ends up in divorce.

While some people across the globe are getting married to complete half their Deen - this is why they "rise in love" - this realistic marriage is based on Love, Mercy and most of all Compromises within the relationship.

One cannot expect to find a perfect spouse, rather how is this even possible when we are not perfect ourselves.

Peace be with you all

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Actually, I know a mashallah very successful lady whose advice is that you should pick a man that's at 50% and then work him up to 100%. There's no such thing as a marriage that's better than "good enough."

She may be successful, but that's atrocious advice. Marrying someone with the intention of changing them is a very bad idea. You should marry someone who you can be happy with as is and InshaAllah you will grow together and act willingly to please one another.

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I happen to think it's not atrocious advice because like I said, there's no such thing as the perfect husband, and I feel that both partners should mold themselves around each other. In other words, marriage helps people grow rather than allowing people to stay stuck in a rut as you're implying.

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There is nothing wrong with searching for an ideal. You just have to realize that ideals don't exist because an ideal by definition is perfection; but, pick that person who comes closest, especially in the category that is the most important.

Looking for 'love' or 'attraction' is not wrong and natural for human beings, but it must be tempered by other factors and a realistic decision must be made.

I happen to think it's not atrocious advice because like I said, there's no such thing as the perfect husband, and I feel that both partners should mold themselves around each other. In other words, marriage helps people grow rather than allowing people to stay stuck in a rut as you're implying.

You are taking advice from a woman? Lol jk. If she means 'encouraging' her spouse to adapt to her style, then it may be fine if she talented in this regard; but, AnotherUmmAli is right. You cannot easily change a person's core without destroying that relationship. If you are a man, and I think you are, you will not want a wife trying to change you, unless it is a type of indirect encouragement, but this all varies individual to individual.

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