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From MILF to MILM (Mother I'd Like to Marry)

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Is my family missing something because I don't have a husband?

man putting wedding ring on womans hand

Dr. Wendy Walsh: I've had a number of conversations lately with single mothers about the idea of getting married again. And I've learned there are two camps. There is one group that is happy to raise their kids alone, with decent child support and not much interference from the baby-daddy. These women also love to tout the pleasures of an occasional "snacky treat" in the form of a lover. Some single moms love being single. (Or, at least that's what they tell me.)

I happen to fall into the other camp. My parents -- may they rest in peace -- completed the "till-death-do-you-part" marriage plan, and that's what I know. A family with a mother and father and a crew of unruly kids is the family model I have internalized as "normal." Even though my two girls and I are certainly a family -- we've travelled the world together and moved to new homes enough times to make us a serious team -- there is a lingering part of my psyche that feels like I am missing a leg. I want to be a MILM.

And so, I have applied my intellectual mind to the study of what makes women marriageable. I have some real-world role models, too. Thirty-six-year-old Sherryl Walsh (no relation) had been a single mother of FOUR for ten years in 1975. That's when she married her coworker, Neil Walsh, a single, child-free man of only 30. Neil passed away this week, after 34 years of marriage -- and when I called to offer some words of condolence, I also asked Sherryl for her advice. If a mother of four could find a great husband in 1975, she had to know something I don't. Her advice was simple: Marry a good friend. Neil was a good friend from Sherryl's office. Their friendship lasted almost 40 years. Sherryl, now I'm looking a little closer at my plumber, my agent (too young), and the guy who fluffs my latte at Starbucks. Because those are the guys I "work with."

I also spoke with another MILM role model -- astronaut Buzz Aldrin's wife, Lois. I have met her a few times over the years at charity events, and one time I cornered her at a cocktail party and asked her how an unknown, middle-aged mother of three could snare one of the most eligible men on the planet (I didn't use those exact words, though). Lois gave me some interesting advice. She talked about helping a man feel like a king in his own household. Some people say that Buzz, despite being the second man to walk on the moon, was all but forgotten until Lois got hold of his public image and put him back on the map. Her technique seems to be to make herself indispensable, and to remind him how valuable he is. I've always said, "Water what you'd like to grow. Not the weeds." Lois seems to have watered his self-esteem, and man, did it bloom!

Which brings me to another topic. When I wrote a book called The Girlfriend Test: A Quiz for Women Who Want To Be a Better Date and a Better Mate, I interviewed 100 married or committed men and asked them why they chose the gal they were with, and why they didn't marry the rest of us. Their answers were sometimes hard to hear. Despite the rumor that women are too needy, I more often heard from my interview subjects that women were "too independent." When pressed for more details about what that meant, men couldn't describe it well (they are the gender that excels in brawn. We are the gender that excels in words), except to say that they found themselves thinking, "What does she need me for?"

Ya see, men like to be needed. Actually, all people like to be helpful and needed. But men feel really good when they can fix something, even if it's a broken heart.

Okay Sherryl, Lois (wasn't that also Superman's gal?), and the many men I have interviewed: you've read it here first. Today, I vow to look closer at male friends, compliment any useful man I see, and not be afraid to say that single motherhood is hard. I need some help here!

next: Detroit Man Stole Woman's Car on First Date
24 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristin - September 1, 2009, 9:11 AM

I’m completely in the same boat! I can do it on my own, I just don’t want to keep doing it on my own. I look forward to the day of trusting my heart and my family with a partner/husband, and having that soft place to land at the end of the day.

ame i. September 1, 2009, 10:16 AM

My late-husband died when our daughters were 3 and 5. My daughters and I were fine on our own financially. My parents, aunts, friends gave priceless emotional support but I wanted to marry again if I found the right person.
Without looking, I found a wonderful man. He was 44 at the time; long military career; never married; no children of his own.
After dating for 4 years, we married and will celebrate our second wedding anniversary in October.

Sex Toys Canada September 24, 2009, 6:22 AM

If you remarry, do it for the right reasons, not because you feel that it’s better for your children to have a father figure. My father died when I was 4. My mother remarried. Sadly the marriage didn’t last forever and they both married for the wrong reasons.

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