Susan Patton’s Skewed Advice on How to Marry Smart

Posted by in dating in midlife, self-esteem in dating, single women over 40 | 0 comments

Susan PattonSUSAN PATTON became known as “The Princeton Mom” after a letter she wrote  in her alma mater’s newspaper went viral. “Advice for the Young Women of Princeton—the Daughters I Never Had”, reflections on what she’s learned about marriage and motherhood in the four decades since graduating, sparked an international dialogue. A year later, she wrote the highly controversial book “Marry Smart: Advice for Finding THE ONE”. In my interview with Susan Patton for a recent episode of Last First Date Radio, I confronted her on some of the more outrageous things she said about focusing on finding a husband during your college years.

The basic premise of the book is that women in college should spend 75% of their time looking for a husband and 25% of their time on their studies. She claims there will never again be such a fabulous pool of men for a woman to choose from. Sure, there are plenty of smart men in college, but ignore your education and focus on reeling in a good husband candidate? Feminists hate her. Leave it to Beaver called and they want their apron back. College is a time of experimentation and individuation. Women and men are ‘finding themselves’; trying on drugs and sex. And does a women really want a frat boy for a husband? Is that the definition of “marry smart”?

In theory, I do agree with Ms. Patton on some of her basic theories, like the fact that women should date with dignity. That is a cornerstone of my coaching practice. Love and honor yourself, and don’t give up your power for anyone, especially when dating. I took issue with Susan Patton’s black and white portrayal of many subjects, including having gastric bypass surgery and plastic surgery before college so you can look good enough to “hook a guy”,  and her condemnation of women who claim to have been the victim of date rape. Arghhh! Listen to Date Smart to Marry Smart and let me know what you think.

Before the show, I posted a New York Post article about “Marry Smart” in a Facebook chat group for singles 35-50. It sparked quite a lively conversation.

Facebook discussion on Marry Smart

Nothing that she says is new. When I was in my 20s there were so many many books written (by others) about the SAME exact subject. It freaked a lot of us women out and then consequently, some of us ended up in bad marriages. She’s right in a way … but again she’s frightening women as well, which isn’t quite fair…its like “Hey girls…u all had better don your ‘desperate cap’ “! NOTHING is EVER written about men on this subject.

I agreed with most of what she said, with exception to the part where she said 75% of a woman’s college time should be trying to get a MRS degree.

Yeah…in a sense she’s right but wrong. For instance the MAIN reason as to WHY its harder as one get older is this: people (men AND women) are more set in their ways and its very difficult to adjust to another persons habits – good OR bad. And 2) I mean really…where do u REALLY meet ppl after college? The internet is risky and impersonal..bars are seedy and etc etc. Rather than “pick” on women she should also focus on the logistics factor.

Sandy, I was talking with some of my single colleagues. One stated that she sometimes wishes that she would have worked more on her MRS. I did agree with her to some extent. I stated, that there is really no convenient time in life to get married.

I wasn’t ready to get married until I finished grad school-in my case, in my late twenties. I found a good man without so much trouble, and we simply didn’t work it out, after much effort. And now-I need to support myself, and am very grateful for my degrees-no way was I prepared in or by college to marry-or take care of myself and my son as a single parent.

Oh and also … she talks about GETTING a man. But how about KEEPING him? (And vice versa if course!) She talks about getting a guy but NOT about the high divorce rates … so then what’s up with those girls that found their Prince in college already? They too are 35+! She never mentioned that. That they succeeded once but that was THEN.

Sandy: This is a complex topic. I think most of us get married before we know ourselves well enough, and before we understand the ingredients for a successful relationship. I knew there were red flags in my marriage before I got married, but I figured I could ‘work them out with time’. I was young and naive. After my divorce, I decided to dedicate my life’s work to figuring out how to have successful relationships. While it’s true that in many ways dating in your twenties is easier and less complicated and the choices are abundant, I believe that dating in midlife offers so many wonderful advantages. You know yourself better, you know what you will and won’t tolerate in a relationship, you are responsible for your own emotions, and you’re looking for a partner for YOU, not a caretaker, provider, father for your future kids. The author is divorced, by the way. She didn’t KEEP her man either. You’re right, getting a guy and keeping him are two different things. 

I most certainly did not know myself when I left my parents’ home. It was in college that I met people from all different walks of life and cultures and learned to appreciate and respect such things, before hand–I thought the world was “black” and “white”. I suppose getting married at a young age could work if both parties are on the same page. Willing to learn, willing to adjust and willing to compromise within reasonable parameters.

While some of what is said in this article is true for both sexes, it isn’t totally accurate. Back in the day when I was in college, I knew people who got their MRS degree or they met “the one” and got married after graduation. I also know many who graduated, started their working career and then found their spouse. Saying women should go to college to just get the MRS degree is pretty much saying that women aren’t worthy to be in the workforce.

Did she say that?? I thought what she said was that women who are in college should be spending 75% of their efforts on finding the one…. certainly, that is not good either. I needed at least 80% effort for my academic endeavors-lest I fail. Most of the women that lived in my dorm who were unabashedly looking for a husband took degrees like home economics. They would prepare healthy lunches for the medical students during the day and would be looking at china patterns at night….

That’s part of the impression I got from her article. I’m sure there are some females who go on to higher education get that MRS degree, but overall, that should not be the motivation to further your education. Unless college students live in a cave, most will be meeting many, many people in their college career. And telling a 20 something to spend 75% of your time finding the one is no different than telling anyone over 30 the same thing. The harder you look, the less likely you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Truth. I think that meeting a partner that is going to evolve into a successful relationship, means doing the things that have meaning to you!!! Don’t go to MoMa and the Met if it REALLY means nothing to you.  I may be wrong, but I think that most of these endeavors are not going to get me heterosexual man.

But not ALL women are lucky enough to find their life partners. A lot of young people break up…OR MANY men give the women the excuse of ” you r too young to get married and hv kids. FOCUS ON YOUR CAREER” THATS THE NUMBER ONE EXCUSE that men give to girls in their 20s. THEN wn girls are in their 30s…THEY ARE CONSIDERED DESPERATE! SO THEY want NOTHING to do with them … then when women are in their 40s and beyond they are TOO OLD!!!! This is what happened to me! So go figure! And pls voice this opinion for me! Its all a MATTER OF LUCK!

I should basically stay out of this discussion, than get out of it…but for what it’s worth I had no problem what I was younger. It’s not that difficult now, but I am not willing to “settle”. I am open minded etc, I want a friend and equal. Check our luggage at the door. together we will have enough.

Sadly, most of my female friends have given up. I think they are used to being single now and it is hard to change. I think its the same for many men. And the fact the men always think something better will come along. Stop blaming women!

She left something big out of the equation…the man. If the men in college aren’t looking for a wife or a steady girl, then she’s got no chance no matter what she does.

I wonder about her thoughts on the changes in the mindset of college kids these days. They are very open to the casual hook up (boys and girls) and family values seem to be vilified in the main stream media.

 Now it’s your turn. What do you have to say about Marry Smart? Please leave a comment below!


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