Alex Blaze

Maureen Dowd... on marriage?

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 10, 2008 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: Catholic church, marriage, Maureen Dowd, New York Times, preist

Instead of actually writing a column this week, Maureen Dowd just pulled some marriage advice from a priest. Talk about phoning it in.

Father Pat Connor, a 79-year-old Catholic priest born in Australia and based in Bordentown, N.J., has spent his celibate life -- including nine years as a missionary in India -- mulling connubial bliss. His decades of marriage counseling led him to distill some "mostly common sense" advice about how to dodge mates who would maul your happiness.

She reprints his advice that makes a lot of sense (make sure you know the guy's friends, make sure he's honest, his problems aren't going to be solved by marrying him. He finishes her column with this:

"After I regale a group with this talk, the despairing cry goes up: 'But you've eliminated everyone!' Life is unfair."

Indeed, I guess if you're looking for someone to fulfill all the ideals he has lain out, no one actually will. My mother used to tell me that if we all thought about every decision when it comes to love and sex, the human race would have died out a long time ago.

What I do find interesting is being told to look for the most ideal partner by two people who, if they followed all the rules of their religion (Dowd is Catholic and has never married), have never had sex nor have ever been married. The fact that both are rather cynical about people's prospects in love might just be what Dowd needs to tell herself every night if she does feel any shame about her current marital status and the constant criticism she lobs at married political couples like the Clintons.

It's a weird way for her to use a column in the biggest newspaper in the country, but I guess that's what she wanted to do. And all it does is let us know that there are people out there, who most likely living in sin, who love to judge others because it makes them feel good.

Oh, well. As Kimya Dawson says, "If I spend my time practicing, then when will I preach?"

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Dowd is certainly a bitter lady. But I think this is an argument for compromising some of your standards.

For example, my online dating profile had three absolute requirements: college education at the Master's level or beyond; non-smoker; no kids. Unfortunately for me, that's a pretty limited pool. But which of those requirements should I eliminate in order to broaden the pool? The kids thing is ultimately the biggest absolute, so I keep that and change the education level to BA or above. However, I'm really dissatisfied with most of the potential candidates I meet because they just can't keep up a good conversation. So I put that filter back on and take off the smoking check mark. Is it really so much to ask for an educated date without kids? Apparently in Phoenix it is. So I broaden my search to include the entire state of Arizona. It's lucky that I did! I met an extremely intelligent nonsmoker who doesn't have/want kids. And the fact that he lets me beat him at Scrabble is just icing on the cupcake!

I guess my point is this - ideals are great. But no one is going to live up to all of the standards that we set for ourselves. Yes, we deserve to be selective and we shouldn't just "settle" for anyone. (And who wants to be the person that you're "settling" for, for that matter?) Sometimes we have to relax (but not eliminate) our standards a little bit or look in a different dating pool. So maybe Dowd needs to leave the Big Apple and start looking somewhere else. Assuming, of course, that she actually wants a relationship (or two or three . . .). There's absolutely nothing wrong with being fabulously single as a lifestyle choice. And in my opinion, this is an important point that marriage equality activists have missed.

Yeah, I have my three absolutes too (no barebacking, no Republicans, no smokers). The first is just safety, the second is because they're too funny, the third is because it bothers me. I ended up compromising on the third out here, but he's trying to quit. (I say that as he lights up.)

Bobs Friend | July 11, 2008 12:12 PM

"After I regale a group with this talk, the despairing cry goes up: 'But you've eliminated everyone!' Life is unfair."

Ah yes, the peasant mentality. So appropriate in so many settings.

Yes, life is often unfair; but that bromide suggests that all unfairness is somehow inevitable and unchangeable so ya might as well just suck it up. Very useful, of course, for authoritarian religions, especially those in which celibate clergy are considered experts on sexuality, marriage and family life.

Some of the advice was sound: you're letting yourself in for trouble if your potential mate has no friends, is too attached to parents or is irresponsible with money. But a better response to "you've eliminated everyone" would have been "if there are no marriage prospects among the people you're dating and you want to get married, obviously you need to to branch out and start looking and thinking outside the box. Get some new friends. Get some new interests."

I have recently come to the conclusion that Maureen Dowd is a highly functioning android who has been fooling people into believing that she is a human being. This would explain her inability to understand human emotions and behavior. It would also explain her need to be hypercritical at times that are almost inexplicable. Unfortunately, the programming is running down and the quality of her columns is deteriorating. Just like Hal in 2001 a space Odyssey, something can go wrong, can go wrong.

I think the advice is basically good. I had a number of friends in my college days who would likely have met all these criteria. However, if your primary goal is to impress your girlfriends with your catch, its unlikely that any of these men would have fit the bill.

This is why we have such a crisis with divorce today. Women think that if they find the "right" man, they can change his other attributes. Unfortunately, when it comes to the basic qualities that are required to make a marriage successful, this is very unlikely. Most are developed before one reaches adulthood. However, in most cases, such men have so many "options" that they have no reason at all to even want to change and will start to look elsewhere.