The “Princeton mom” who caused a stir with her controversial letter to the Daily Princetonian offering advice to young women at Princeton about marrying early delivers more unvarnished truths in this smart, straightforward, and witty book of life lessons.
You’re single and you know what you want in your life. And if your dreams include getting married and having children, this fresh new approach to finding the right one at the right time shows the way to make those dreams a reality.
A graduate of one of the first classes of women at Princeton University, Susan Patton has heard smart young women admit they aspire to marriage and motherhood but have no model for pursuing those goals; reflecting on the choices she made in her early twenties, she’s boldly turned the tables on our “career first” conditioning and suggests that you seek out the golden opportunities right in front of you, right now.
In Marry Smart, she shares the wisdom of her experience with warmth, humor, and very straight talk. But this is not your mother’s dating guide— Marry Smart celebrates the vital achievements of traditional marriage and motherhood, and gives you the essential life strategies that no one’s talking about, including how to:
• strike while the greatest number of single young men is available to you
• attract a man who is your intellectual and emotional equal
• date to find a mate—and how to spot a diamond in the rough
• find total satisfaction in your roles as a wife and mother
Whether or not you are in college, whether your future plans are clear or still undecided, Marry Smart is a must-read for all young women who want to get the most out of love and life.
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About the Author
Susan Patton is a first-generation American and was in one of the first classes of women to graduate from Princeton in 1977. She is a first-time author, a human resources consultant, and an executive coach in New York City. She is the proud mother of two Princeton sons, a daughter-in-law who also graduated from Princeton, and a long-haired red dachshund named Lucille.
Read an Excerpt
IF YOU ARE A WELL-EDUCATED woman hoping to marry a man who is at least your intellectual equal, you have almost priced yourself out of the market. Honestly, where do you think that you will find super-smart men once you are no longer a student? At a bar? Online? You know that the men on your campus are just as smart as you are—they got into the same school that you did! They take the same classes. You see them in the library, pulling all-nighters studying, taking exams. Once you enter the real world, you’ll be stunned by how smart the men are . . . not. In fact, the collective erudition of most of the people you meet (men and women) out of an academic environment will distinctly disappoint you. They may have many other things to recommend them, but it will probably be a mistake to attempt to engage most of them in the kind of serious discussions about esoteric subjects you can chat about in college. After all, 22 percent of the American public believe that Elvis is still alive.
You don’t have to marry a man who is as smart, capable, and accomplished as you . . . but tell the truth: Don’t you want to? Clearly, your admission to college was not by accident. You’ve invested yourself in academic achievement, and your discipline, hard work, and character are what earned you a place at that institution you are justly proud of. Of course you want a husband who shares those values and that work ethic. You’ll find some of these men after you graduate, but you’ll never again have this many wonderful men who are single and age-appropriate to choose from as you do on your college campus.
Can you be happily married to a man who isn’t as smart as you? It depends on what you want from marriage. If your priority is financial security, a huge bank account may be enough to satisfy you. And then of course, there are some very self-sufficient women who marry slightly unintelligent, ultra-studly men just for the sex. Okay, but the likelihood is that after a while even the most Thrilling Circus Sex with Mr. Macho will become Mechanical Boring Sex with Annoying Dumb Guy. And that’s not something that’s likely to get better. The sex won’t improve and he definitely won’t ever get smarter.
The big thing is that you want to form a lifelong union with a man who will celebrate and encourage your achievements and never be threatened by your capacity for greatness, simply because he has a similar track record and those same capacities. But it’s the little things that continue to surface that will remind you of why you should marry a smart man. You will either have to regularly explain your references to things like Fermat’s Last Theorem or Diaghilev or the Bayeux Tapestry—or else get used to that glazed look that comes over his face when he just doesn’t get it. There is a wonderful scene in the movie Swingers where Mike (Jon Favreau’s character) tries to impress a waitress in a Las Vegas diner. The menu says, “We serve breakfast any time.” He asks her for an omelet in the Age of Enlightenment. The waitress walks away in disgust and Mike rues having used a time frame that was “over her head,” and wishes he referenced the more commonly known Renaissance. A few minutes later, the waitress returns with his order and says, “Here’s your eggs, Voltaire.”
Okay, so Mike underestimated the woman’s intellectual prowess, but if your date doesn’t understand why this is funny, he’s not smart enough for you.
Beyond your frustration at his not getting cultural references, you will want a man who can express himself as elegantly and as eloquently as you can. Command of the English language is important, and a limited vocabulary, bad grammar, and the inability to construct a proper sentence will drive you crazy. It is comical to watch Meadow Soprano’s reaction to her uneducated boyfriend Jackie Aprile Jr.’s objection when he thinks she is using a Spanish word in their Scrabble game. If your man doesn’t recognize oblique as a proper English word, you won’t think that is at all funny.
While some men might find it adorable that their little wife doesn’t know about high finances, or global perspectives in government and politics, you will not experience making excuses for your husband as in any way adorable. And neither will he. The chances are that he is smart enough to know that he isn’t smart enough for you. Recognizing that you and your friends know things that he doesn’t, he may ask you to buy him a copy of Ulysses or The Fountainhead. But he’ll never actually read them, and probably wouldn’t understand them if he did.
Most men’s egos are fragile. If you can imagine the stress that is associated with your being smarter than he is, just think about what will happen when you outearn him, which, unless you purposefully hold yourself back, you probably will.
• Look for a man who will celebrate and encourage your achievements.
• Look for a man who will not be threatened by your capacity for greatness.
• Beware of marrying a dumb guy for good sex: The sex won’t improve and he’ll never get smarter.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Who Am I and What Was I Thinking? xi
Part I Your College Years
The Letter 3
It's Harder for Us Smart Women 5
Marriage and Motherhood: The Modern Taboo 9
Look for the Good Boys-They Grow into the Good Men 13
The "Hookup" Culture 19
Multitasking at College-Do Everything, Not Everyone 25
So, Go Find a Husband Already! 29
Smart Is Sexy 33
Be a Better Girlfriend 39
Be a Better Girlfriend … to Your Girlfriends 43
Part II Your Twenties
Things Your Twenty-Year-Old Self Can't Imagine 49
Husband Hunting in the Real World 53
What the Feminist Movement Did … and What It Didn't Do 59
Stupid Juice 63
Go for the Best Credentials 67
Birds of a Feather 71
"He's Too Old for You!" "She's Too Young for You!" 77
Mr. Right? 81
Is It Really Just as Easy to Fall in Love with a Rich Man? 85
Political Correctness 89
Are You a Little Hothouse Tomato? 95
Where Is Love? 99
Behaving Badly 103
Guilt-You Do It to Yourself 107
Plan for Reality 111
Part III Your Thirties
So, a Thirty-Five-Year-Old Single Person Walks into a Cocktail Party … 117
Tell Me What You Want… What You Really, Really Want 121
Do It Yourself 125
Get All the Questions Right 129
The Gender Equality Fallacy 133
Life/Work Balance 139
Fear of Failure 143
Take It Back! 147
What You Heard Is Not What I Said 151
Watch Your Mouth! 157
Kindest Regards 161
Bad Childhood? Get Over It! 165
Part IV First Find Yourself. Then Find the One
Speaking Your Truth 171
Beware the Green-Eyed Monster 177
Like a Pit Bull on a Pot Roast 183
A Tough Guy from Pleasantville 189
Denning "Having It All" 193
You Say Potatoes … 197
Before You Cut the End off the Roast Beef 201
To Forgive … It's Divine 205
I Knew You Were Coming, so I Baked a Cake 209
Part V Wise Advice for Wise Women
Maturity-It's Better than the Alternative 217
Count on It-Plan for It 223
Parents, Talk with Your Daughters! 229
Afterthought: You Know What? This Is Who I Am and This Is What I Was Thinking 233