Monday, February 1, 2010

Elizabeth Gilbert's new book "Committed." I can't say that I agree...

I just watched Elizabeth Gilbert (author of New York Times best sellers “Eat, Pray, Love “and the newly released “Committed”) on the Bonnie Hunt show, and while she made some very valid points during the interview, I can’t help but disagree with some of the opinions she expressed. Namely, the opinion that women who marry too young , and have children right away are less happy than women who wait longer to get married, and have less children during the marriage. While this MAY be true for SOME women, I think it is a mistake to make a blanket statement to include all women in this statistic.

I still believe that regardless of when someone gets married or how many children they have within that marriage, the number one enemy of marriage and personal joy is selfishness. Women should get married when it is right for them (whether this is at age 18 or 65 or 97) and it is most definitely DIFFERENT for everyone. There is no ONE answer for everyone. Elizabeth Gilbert and Jane Kazmeric made it very clear that they believed that it would be better for ALL women to be married well after 35, and I think that this is insanity!

Having children and a large family is one of my greatest dreams, and having Kortland in my life for the past 6 years has brought me joy beyond description. I am 29 now and have already struggled for 4 and a half years (starting at age 24) to conceive our second child. Would there have been ANY chance for me to have even one child had I waited until 35 to get married? I think not. In fact, it has been medically proven that a woman’s fertility begins to plummet after age 30. What hope do MOST of us have if we wait until 35 to even BEGIN this part of our lives?

I think waiting to get married is great if you’re not at all ready, haven’t found the right person, and/or couldn’t care less about having a family, but for women who DO CARE – 35 is a pretty big stretch.

I guess I just resent being told that I can’t possibly be happy because I was married at 20, had my first child at 23, and because I also plan on having as many babies as I possibly can in the next 4 years!

Elizabeth Gilbert stated statistics that married men were more successful in the workplace, were healthier, happier, and lived longer than single men, while married women were the complete opposite! They were less happy, less healthy, died at an earlier age than their single female counterparts, and also were an average of 10 pounds heavier than their single female counterparts. While this is probably statistically true, there could be completely valid explanations for why this is the case, (i.e: said women married selfish jerks and have set their own health, happiness, and sanity aside in order to devote their lives to them - not a good, balanced. or "loving" situation by any means) and I also cannot stress enough how very much this is simply not true for me!

After meeting and marrying Kyle, I am happier than I ever was in my life. Not because “he completes me,” (blech!) but, because we are good for each other. I am 20 pounds lighter (even pregnant) than I was when I was single. I am more creative, more confident, and more joyful. This is because I am part of a partnership that is encouraging, loving, and supportive of the person that I am and ALSO the person I hope to become. Kyle is my number one fan. He encourages me to write, to explore my photography, to do my fundraising, and do any and all of the things that are necessary for me to be a balanced, happy person. He also shares parenting responsibilities 50/50.

He is nothing short of thrilled when he comes home to find a sink full of dishes, dog toys littering the living room floor, Kortland painting next to me at the dining room table, and me still in my pajamas at 5:00 pm. This is because he knows that it means that I wrote over 3,000 words in my new novel, and he thinks, no wait, he KNOWS that I have what it takes. (Wish I could have the confidence in me that he has).

That’s love. That selflessness. That’s commitment to wanting the other person to achieve their full potential in this life, and I can’t help but feel that my age at the time of marriage has NOTHING to do with our potential for future happiness. I love my life, and wouldn’t want it ANY other way.

Maybe women are just marrying the wrong guys. I don’t know what else to say on the matter…well except this: society is becoming increasingly more selfish. It’s all about YOUR fulfillment, and YOUR wants, and YOUR needs, and “if you need to wait till 35, or 50 to get all your kicks and giggles, then by all means, that what you should do!” I can’t agree with this sentiment. I don’t think any life could be more hollow than a life lived solely in the pursuit of one’s own pleasure.

There is beauty in being exhausted after loving and comforting a crying infant through the night. There is growth in it. There is sacrifice. There is growth in putting your spouse first and loving them NOT for who you think they can or should be, but in loving them for EXACTLY who they currently are. There is beauty and joy in cleaning up spilled Cheerios, if you let there be. I will never believe that I would have been happier had I been married at age 35. I was ready at 20. I had found a WONDERFUL man at 20. Just because the world says that it isn’t the norm, and just because statistics say that women in my situation are less happy, it doesn’t mean that I want to BE normal, and it certainly doesn’t make me any less happy.

Just needed to say so. Thanks for listening.


Natalie said...

I couldn't have said it better, and I am proud that you are my daughter!

If I had waited, I wouldn't have had my four children, I was infertile at 27. I am so happy I followed "MY" path, not the world's idea of fulfillment, because I wouldn't have had my four wonderful children, four wonderful son and daughter-in-laws, and 3.3 blessed grandchildren.

She, the author, couldn't have gotten it more wrong!

Love you,

Kristina P. said...

I have mixed feelings about this. I don't think you can make any blanket statements about anything.

But, I do think that waiting a little longer to get married is probably a good thing if you can. Not until 35. That's crazy.

But I know that for me, I was only half way into college at 20, and had no idea what I wanted to be, let alone who I was. I got married at almost 26 and obviously, don't have kids, at almost 32. I will say I think we are really prepared for kids because we have had so much time with just each other.

Unknown said...

Amen sistah. I couldn't have said it better myself. I got married at 21. That's not too young. For me that was perfect! What she fails to take into account is the pressure on women to have careers. Being a mother in the world's eyes does not equal success. Take away that cultural myth and voila. Women would be happier at home because they would know how valuable what they do is. As it stands, most people don't feel appreciated or important. So sad!

the Lola Letters said...

Kristina - EXACTLY! The only "Blanket Statement" that should be made about marriage (or anything else for that matter) is "To each her own!"

I think what you did is perfect for you.

What Elizabeth Gilbert did is clearly working for her...that is, until she decides she is unsatisfied and moves on, which I predict will happen within the next five years.

And what I did is perfect for me.

So, voila! If you want a career first and a marriage later - good for you!

If you NEVER want to get married - well, nobody knows what will make you happy more than you.

If you want to get married at 20 and start a family right away - more power to ya.

But for heaven's sake, let's stop acting like there is ONE perfect answer for everyone.

Cynthia said...

i am proud to be your friend :)

you said it PERFECTLY!!!

love you girl...


the Lola Letters said...

Nisa - I agree. It's sad that motherhood is still considered to be a second class occupation to many members of society.

Celeste said...

K, YOU need to go on a talk show now. But 'cept maybe not Bonnie Hunt. (really? You watch that?). It's the big O or nothing.
I think the only blanket statement about marriage is that God designed it specifically to push you to grow, and if it's not doing that, you're doing it wrong. It's hard. That's the point. But it's also the single most fullifilling thing we can do. And don't even get me started on parenthood. I thought Eat, Pray, Love was self-endulgent drivel anyway. Well, as a whole, there was one chapter that kinda changed my life.

the Lola Letters said...

Oh Celeste, how I love you! ha ha!
And for the record, NO! I don't usually watch Bonnie Hunt! I had read that Elizabeth Gilbert was going on there and they were having a big discussion about her new book, so I made it a point to tune in...but as for the day to day - worry not, I am a "big O or nothing" girl myself!!

I love the way you said it. Marriage (AND children) is about growth and FORGETTING yourself!

I think Elizabeth Gilbert is a very intelligent person and a good writer who is doing the best that she can do with the information she has. But her thinking, while very intellectual and convincing at times, is actually still pretty flawed and shallow. I don't know, it's like dealing with one of those really "technically" smart people who have no connection to spirit...or even much common sense for that matter. They fool a lot of people, but to some of us, there's just something missing in their theories.

Lindsay said...

I love that last paragraph I got a little teary:) There is so much joy and growth through marriage and parenthood.
It's amazing how Satan uses so many tools to tell the world that marriage, family, and children just aren't that important!

Amie said...

I'm dying to know what genre of book you're writing. Is that prying too much or do you share that information? :)

Heather said...

Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way!
I'm so happy that we know the true source of happiness. What a sad opinion to have! (Hers, not yours!)

Anonymous said...

Heather, you 'know' the true source to happiness huh? Isn't it funny that Utah has the highest rate of depression and anti-depressant use than any other state?

Unknown said...

I don't like blanket statements either. I wonder what the data is behind that statement. Is it really true that woman in Utah are more depressed. Son interesting.

We don't get to see the Bonnie Hunt show in this part of the world. Isn't that crazy? I think I would love it. I like her a ton!

Rachel said...

I know this is a very insightful comment, so you might want to sit down.....