Dr. Tigress vs. Dr. Laura: I’m husbandless with stupid friends!

Yeah, my name is now Tigress. What. I’m like a tiger! Just more ladylike. It’s still me, though.

This week, Dr. Laura has advice for a woman who is anxious to get married.

Dr. Laura
Dr. Laura: living a life made possible by feminism, and then bitching about feminists.

The question: I’m 27 years old, many friends are getting married. Sometimes I feel resentful and impatient about this, because some of my friends are marrying guys who are clearly not right for them, and I want to know when I’ll meet the right guy. I was engaged about two years ago, but I broke it off because my ex-fiance’s relationship with his family was creepy, and his mother seemed to control him. I do date a decent amount, how do I deal with my impatience that I have not met the right guy yet, and how do I try to feel more positive about my friends’ clearly stupid choices in mates.”

Dr. Laura’s advice: Well, I don’t want you to be positive about your friends’ stupid choices in mates, because if you’re going to be a friend, you’ve got to be the one to say, “You know what? I’m feeling impatient, I have a sense you’re feeling impatient, and you’re jumping into the wrong pond because of your impatience, and these are the things that are going to make you miserable in 3-4-5-6 years, and meanwhile you’ll have four kids, and then you’ll be calling Dr. Laura going, ‘I don’t know, I don’t think I saw these things beforehand,’ Yes you did.” There’s not much you can do about your friends except not to copy them. And if I were 27 and looking to get married, I’d be talking to respectful responsible older friends of mine and family, lawyer types, physician types, whoever, you know, professional people, who know other people, to do an introduction. You know, a lot of people are negative about arranged marriages, but what happens is you get two families who really do get along, and know their offspring, and know the qualities they need to have toward them and they have to give, and go about bringing them together. So there’s something to be said for you asking people who know you and the gentleman to bring you together. Some of the background’s already done for you. Anyway, stand up at your friend’s wedding so when they say, “Does anybody here have any reasons these two should not be brought together,” “Yeah, yeah, I do,” I mean you won’t have many of these friends left, but you’ll still be doing the proper thing for them.”

Oh, Dr. Laura. It’s so nice that people who want to be smug have someone to turn to that validate their judgey judginess.

There are two separate issues here: first, that the woman wants to get married and feels like the train has left the station at age 27. The second is that she is watching her friends get married and thinks they are all making terrible mistakes.

Dr. Laura’s advice regarding finding a mate starts off okay. Acquaintances are a great place to start when you’re trying to find a relationship, because they know you, and they know the person that they might set you up with. But then she veers into absurdity. I am not an expert on arranged marriages, but from what I have read, there are pros and cons to it – and while I feel that arranging a marriage for my child would be wrong for my family, and I would be livid if my parents had tried to arrange one for me, I am not willing to pass judgment on others’ marriages without knowing more details. What I do know, though, is that “arranged marriages” are often pitted against “love marriages,” when discussing pros and cons. This woman is looking for a love marriage. It has nothing to do with an arranged marriage.

Further, comparing the act of asking your friends and family to set you up on a date to the act of having your parents arrange a marriage for you is like saying that going on a vacation to Florida is similar to giving up your American citizenship and building a house in Brazil. The actions, motives, and behaviors of all parties involved in the two situations is not in the least bit comparable.

Beyond that, the woman broke up with her fiance because his mother was too controlling. And the first thing that comes to mind is arranged marriages?

Regardless, the woman wants to be married and she isn’t. I suppose now would be a good time to talk about how society pushes women to get married and she should find the strength in herself to be self-sufficient and happy alone, but it’s not my place to decide what people should want. She wants to be married. The best thing to do, as Dr. Laura says, is to keep trying, keep looking. People are getting married later and later, and there are many, many single people out there at 27 that are looking for a long-term mate.

As for the other part of her advice: you know, I’m not a fan of pretending like everything is okay when it isn’t, and I think if your spidey sense is going off, it’s your duty as a friend to let your friend know. But when it’s happening to everybody around you, you might want to look at yourself and how you are perceiving things. Are you really fairly assessing the situations? The tone of the letter suggests that you are not being completely objective. If many of your friends are making “clearly stupid choices in mates,” either you have a very stupid set of friends, or, more likely, the common factor here is you.

Everybody has the right to choose their own partner. You have exercised this right several times yourself. You don’t have to be in love with your friends’ partners – if you were, that would be weird. You also don’t get to decide what makes somebody else happy; things that might make you miserable could just be the price of admission for somebody else. Having said that, love can be blind, and if you feel something is terribly wrong, by all means, talk to your friends. I think Dr. Laura was joking when she said you should stand up at the wedding and yell out that you object, although I can’t really tell, because then she said it would be the “proper thing.” If you really want to talk to them, talk to them. Let them know your concerns. If you feel strongly enough, boycott the wedding. But trying to publicly embarrass or shame them out of actually getting married is a crappy thing to do.

If you think your friend is in danger, or is not seeing things clearly, my advice is to have a heart-to-heart, and if that doesn’t help, to say that you won’t support the relationship but you will support the friend – so you can’t, say, be a shoulder to cry on if he stole all of her money for alcohol but she is going back to him, but you can and will be a place to stay if she needs it, and you will maintain your friendship outside of their relationship. This is something I would only do in serious situations, though – if you think that a friend’s fiance’s mother is too controlling, that’s not really any of your business.

Nobody who is getting married thinks, “I’m going to get a divorce within the next fifteen years,” but 43% of first marriages end in divorce in that time. Nobody can tell, with certainty, which ones are going to work and which ones aren’t on the wedding day – if you can, you should ignore all of the advice anybody is giving you, get yourself a reality show, and get a gazillion dollars. Barring that, be good to yourself, keep trying, and don’t worry about the perfection or lack thereof in other people’s relationships.

By Susan

I am old and wise. Perhaps more old than wise, but once you're old, you don't give a shit about details anymore.

18 replies on “Dr. Tigress vs. Dr. Laura: I’m husbandless with stupid friends!”

Arghh, because a woman is ONLY EVER VALIDATED in life thanks to her marriage. Where’s the “you’re only 27, if things haven’t come out for you yet, it’s ok, enjoy being yourself and don’t judge  yourself based on your marital/relationship status?” cuz that’s what I hear from the write-in.

I’ve come to learn that some women aren’t ever going to like a friend’s choice in men. I have a friend who, to date, has complained about every single husband in her circle of friends, and family. It’s just how she is. Not a single one of those couples has broken up, many of them are coming up on 10 and 15 years of marriage. It’s an interesting phenomena.

 If many of your friends are making “clearly stupid choices in mates,” either you have a very stupid set of friends, or, more likely, the common factor here is you.

This is especially good. It’s easy to be critical when you feel insecure. I have a vegan friend who has been known to run ultramarathons, and one time I felt worried about her: “OMG, she’s going to get osteoporosis!” But I realised my urge to concern troll mostly stemmed from my feeling inferior for not being a ultra-running vegan.

I will judge the practice of arranged marriage – my cultural relativism does not extend to practices that deny others agency. See also: use bullshit “states rights” arguments to deny basic human rights. As you pointed out, though… Dr. Laura, you dumb shit, that’s not even what an arranged marriage is!

And amen to “hey, lady: the common denominator here is you.”

Yeah – I see your point.  There’s something…I can’t put my finger on it.  There’s something about the whole family being involved with creating the next generation that isn’t totally awful to me.  Agency-denying is awful.  I guess in my fairy-tale imagination of what it could be in a perfect world, it would be sweet.  But that is just stupid of me.

I wish like hell she hadn’t used that term. Because it’s not what she’s talking about. And it’s not what you’re talking about. I mean, presuming you have a good relationship with your family, why wouldn’t you value their input on major life decisions?

From what I’ve seen, there are actually several different kinds or styles of arranged marriages, which makes me hesitate before making a blanket statement that they deny people agency. In the community that I have been working in for the past year, it is strictly against cultural practice to allow men and women to spend time with each other alone. And that sucks. But then that means it is almost impossible for a woman to meet a man which whom she would like to get married. One woman I am friends with said, “My parents would allow me to get a love marriage if I wanted, but I have no way to meet anybody, so I might as well ask them to find some options for me.” Many of the women I know have their parents looking for eligible men for them, but they also have a choice about whether they will pursue those options or not. The parents will give the woman information about the man, she can decide if she likes him or not, she will meet the man’s parents and talk with them, and if they decide to get engaged she will be able to meet him or date him, or at least speak with him on the phone,  before the marriage. Within the strict cultural context, there’s actually a lot more ability to make decisions that you would expect.

Of course, not all arranged marriages are like this; there are certainly many, many cases (maybe more than what I’ve said above) where a woman is essentially sold off to the man’s family and it is a terrible situation. But to my understanding, at least some communities are progressing out of this model, which means all arranged marriages aren’t necessarily bad!

Oh Dr. Laura. Helping me feel smarter since before I was born.

As far as not supporting someone’s relationship choices go is fucking tough because in my experience, those people have either cut me out or I’ve had to cut them out because there was no reconciling the differences. It gives me the sads to lose friends to jackasses. (And now this is veering off somewhere random.) But I feel like if more girls grew up listening to Salt N Pepa we would have a much more empowered female society, and these pesky “problems” of not having a man would start cease to be seen as problems.

I don’t know. I’m rambling. TL/DR, you dissect Laura’s stupidity well. And for that I am thankful.

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