Valentine’s Day Straight Talk for Men: Get to Wife-Hunting

A not entirely serious response to Susan Patton’s Wall Street Journal op-ed.

National Journal
Elahe Izadi
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Elahe Izadi
Feb. 14, 2014, 12:37 p.m.

Susan Pat­ton’s Wall Street Journ­al op-ed ur­ging young wo­men in col­lege to “hus­band-hunt” failed to men­tion what men can do to get hitched. Here’s a start:

It’s an­oth­er Valentine’s Day, chaps. An­oth­er night spent or­der­ing takeout, drink­ing beer, watch­ing sports with your bros. Aren’t you tired of this?

With so much at­ten­tion on your ca­reer, you’ve neg­lected the real source of your fu­ture, long-last­ing joy: the wo­man you will marry. But I bet you aren’t spend­ing as much time think­ing about that than try­ing to get ahead pro­fes­sion­ally. Listen, the clock is tick­ing, that beer-belly is get­ting big­ger, and the wrinkles are right around the corner. The pool of eli­gible wo­men you’d ac­tu­ally want to marry — the chal­len­ging, smart, in­de­pend­ent ones — is only get­ting smal­ler.

Let’s map this out: By the time you ac­tu­ally start think­ing “Gee, I sure would like to settle down,” you’ll have to enter the mar­ket­place of dat­ing, a rough-and-tumble place where the wo­men whom you ac­tu­ally find ap­peal­ing as­sume that you prefer young­er and less-chal­len­ging wo­men.

In­deed, ex­ert more en­ergy plan­ning for your wife than get­ting a raise or a pro­mo­tion at work. Yes, get­ting a good edu­ca­tion will do you very well. But say you have all the aca­dem­ic op­por­tun­it­ies in the world — good luck find­ing a wo­man who can match your in­tel­lect! And if you do, she is most likely already paired off, be­cause she smartly star­ted plan­ning for mar­riage while in col­lege.

Oh, an­oth­er point of ad­vice: Don’t worry if you do find the per­fect mate and she makes more money than you. Wo­men tend to earn less than their male coun­ter­parts, so she’ll sort of be like a uni­corn. And why would you be con­cerned about such a thing? Who doesn’t like hav­ing more money?

Face it, you’re clearly at a dis­ad­vant­age, with little so­ci­et­al guid­ance; there are so many books and es­says about what wo­men can do to get mar­ried, but not very many for men.

Where to start? First of all, don’t squander pre­cious years, months, and weeks on Tinder or dat­ing wo­men who you can nev­er see your­self with long term, the ones whose per­son­al­it­ies bore you, the ones whom you can nev­er en­vi­sion be­ing the moth­er of your chil­dren, let alone tak­ing home to meet your own moth­er.

Try think­ing of mar­riage while you’re in col­lege, you know, while many peers are im­mersed in the so-called hook-up cul­ture. Even if you’re not that keen on mar­riage now, you will be one day. Stay in touch with these smart, vi­brant wo­men. Re­mem­ber, one-night stands can turn in­to life-night stands.

Try not to be too sens­it­ive when wo­men as­sume that you won’t buy the cow if the milk is free. Show you are ac­tu­ally in­ter­ested in com­mit­ment. And make it clear that you aren’t much of a farm­er, any­way.

Is it pos­sible to find mar­riage­able wo­men after you gradu­ate? Yes. So that’s an op­tion as well.

There are men who will nev­er be in­ter­ested in mar­ry­ing, or be­com­ing dads. But if you are in­ter­ested in those things, ig­nore those voices and nar­rat­ives that tell you it is un­manly to seek com­mit­ment or plan for a wife. Sure, you may not have met “the one” for this Valentine’s Day. But you can start your search to­mor­row.

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