A few months ago, at a dinner I couldn’t believe I had been invited to, my friend Leigh told me about the sequel to Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage.
“I admit, it’s even got me thinking,” she said, raising one of her delicate eyebrows and trying to ignore my camera.
Leigh has been swearing off marriage ever since her first ended in a divorce. But she has since found a delightfully adorable and sweet boyfriend, who I suspect has more to do with her thinking than this book. “You should read it, too.”
“Maybe. What convinces her to finally get married?” I ask.
“Her husband needs a Green Card.”
“Fabulous,” I throw my hands in the air, “That sounds familiar.”
And then Leigh laughs, one of her huge bottomless laughs that makes me feel like I’m actually funny. “And Eat, Pray, Love – what’s that about? I know I’m like the last person on Earth to know but tell me.”
“After her divorce she takes off to find herself. She travels all over the world and realizes she’s just fine on her own – without a man.”
“Ahhh. Sounds like a fairy tale, totally impossible for single divorced women with kids.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t even think about that. You can’t take any time to yourself after a divorce.”
“Yep, but we make it work.”
I decide to check it out regardless because us single moms can still learn so much from our single and childless sisters.
They keep us in check. Remind us not to choose a man just because we have kids. And that we should shouldn’t lose sight of our own career goals even though we have full-time jobs already. We’re all women trying to find our place in this new, big bad world bursting with endless roads of equal opportunity decisions.
Sitting here at this table, Leigh and I are examples these dichotomous decisions. She, a fiercely independent career-minded woman who has seen and will continue to see incredible success as a result of her devotion to her work. And then myself, just as fiercely independent and career minded but side tracked by an unexpected marriage and pregnancy. Had it not been for a Homeland Security stop of my own who knows where I would be.
After our dinner, I forgot about the books and then life caught up with me until I stumbled across the Eat, Pray, Love trailer last night.
In just a few clicks I found Gilbert’s Website and a question and answer podcast on Commitment to Marriage. She discusses a few of the things that make a good marriage including: the woman maintaining her precious autonomy (career or passion) before, after and during the marriage, marrying over the age of 25 and another big one, managing our own expectations for what we can expect from marriage.
Managing our expectations seems to be the most challenging. After all, having been told about a Prince Charming since day one isn’t an easy thing to toss out. We want the romance. We want the ridiculous butterflies. And as Gilbert says, “We’re kind of making this up as we go.” This being, marrying out of love and not for pragmatic reasons like many of our parents and grandparents did. Listen to the podcast. You’ll be glad you did.
And then tell me, what do you expect from marriage? For those of you who have been married and divorced, are your expectations different now that they were? Perhaps more grounded in reality? And finally, do you hold men to the same expectations you have for yourself?
Everyone who comments will be entered to win a free new leaf necklace. I’ll draw a winner on Tuesday night.