Admittedly, when I first picked up Tracy McMillan’s book Why You’re Not Married…Yet, I was apprehensive.
In fact, I thought I might not make it though the book without hurling it through a window.
A few reasons: First, I don’t want to be married (again) anytime soon, so the title was a bit off-putting. Second, I really dislike anything that makes suggestions on ways to manipulate men in order to pursue a white-picket-fence dream.
But, I did finished the book, and while I’m still not rushing out the door to find a husband, I do give McMillan huge props for reminding women of a key fact:
They won’t make good marriage material until they get their shit together.
The book starts with 38 tongue-in-cheek true/false questions designed to determine whether you even need the book in the first place.
They quickly help identify if you’re unmarried because you have high standards or because you have your head in your posterior when it comes to dating (i.e., “I have showed up unannounced at a man’s place of business.”).
Even if you score in the “I don’t need this book” range, McMillan recommends giving it a whirl anyway because you’ll be in a great position to advise your sister, cousin, or best friend the next time they bemoan their singledom.
Where she goes next with her advice is why I’ll be recommending this book to every woman I know.
Right out of the gate, McMillan doesn’t screw around, pat you on the head, or hand you a glass of wine and encourage you to cry on her shoulder.
You’re not married, she tells readers, because you’re a “slut”, a “bitch”, “selfish”, “crazy”, a “mess”, or — more than likely — a combination of several of these character traits.
God, I love this woman.
Now, before you get upset and try to revoke both our memberships to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Underpants, at least hear her (and me) out. Let’s dissect these traits as McMillan describes them.
You’re selfish If you view men as a way to acquire fancy dinners, but never offer to pick up the tab or cook at your place, you qualify here. If you expect him to stand under your window with a boom box like John Cusack but you can’t be bothered to leave a sweet note on his pillow when you leave in the morning, you qualify. If you expect him to watch a 12-hour Sex in the City marathon with you and roll your eyes when he wants to catch three innings of one baseball game? You QUALIFY.
McMillan asserts that selfishness is rooted in a lack of respect for others. “It’s saying, ‘Me, my thoughts, and my feelings are more important than yours, so they should come first,'” she says. “No one wants to marry someone who approaches love in this way, but that isn’t really love.” She goes on to give good, actionable suggestions on things you can work on and do to make you less self-centered and, hopefully, more marketable in the dating world.
You’re a Bitch I can hear you saying, “Oh, no way. I’m not a bitch!” Are you sure about that?
Take a good look at your Bitterness Meter and see where your needle sits. If you’re not over a long-dead previous marriage or can’t get past your last boyfriend dumping you and therefore ALL MEN MUST BE ASSHOLES, then please buy this book because the chapter on bitchiness is the only one you must read. If you think that acting like the shrill, haranguing, acidic women on reality TV will land you a spectacular husband, then you need to commit this entire book to memory (and, please, get some therapy). Something about society encourages women to “embrace your inner bitch.” Well, go ahead, see how that works out for you. Men don’t want a doormat but do they want to spend time with someone sweet and likable, not someone who makes them feel like there’s an anvil hanging over their head all the time.
According to McMillan, the way to turn off the Bitch Switch is to learn to forgive and create a new story for yourself. “Change your narrative to empower yourself,” she says, “and the underground anger that is the driving force behind bitchiness will naturally disappear.” Do it. Your future husband will thank you for it.
The rest of the book falls in the same vein: Where you fall short, what you can do about it, and how it will help you find Mr. Right.
The only quibble I have with McMillan’s book is her idea that casual sex interferes with a woman’s ability to find a lifelong partner. Yes, if you’re sleeping with men for disingenuous reasons — thinking once you fall into bed he’ll decide he can’t live without you — then you’re probably going to be alone for a very long time. There are plenty of men out there who are unable to commit, either emotionally or because they’re already paired up with someone else. McMillan correctly points out that sleeping with guys like this in the hopes that they’ll change is completely ridiculous.
Equally ridiculous, though, is the notion that casual sex or a Friends With Benefits arrangement will get in the way of finding the husband your dreams. In fact, if you can handle it emotionally then it probably tips the scales in your favor. Let’s face it, plenty of women have a healthy sex drive and need to get their itch scratched on a regular basis. If you’ve got someone to help you with that, you can focus your energy on developing a relationship with someone else who interests you, not count down the minutes until you can get in his pants.
Admittedly, that arrangement won’t work for everyone but I’m not quite as quick as the author is to dismiss the validity of casual sex among consenting adults as you travel your relationship-seeking path. In fact, I met my partner precisely when my focus was on letting relationships evolve in their own way because my basic needs were already being met. In other words, don’t be too quick to dismiss casual sex as something that interferes with finding a mate. It might help.
Even though I don’t fit squarely in the book’s marketing demographic, I highly recommend taking Why You’re Not Married…Yet for a spin.
If you’re not searching for a spouse, you’ll still get valuable insight into relationships.
Plus, you can use the book as a scapegoat to get your point across. “I didn’t call you a bitch, Tracy, the author did!”
But, if finding a life partner is important, then give this book a thorough read. If you listen to MacMillan’s straight-shooting talk, you’ll be choosing your bridesmaids dresses in no time.