by Rebecca Honig Friedman
The editor of the Jewish women’s e-mag 614, Michelle Cove, has just come out with a book, Seeking Happily Ever After: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Being Single Without Losing Your Mind (and Finding Lasting Love Along the Way), based on a documentary film that she co-produced.
Here are excerpts from an interview with Cove, posted in 614 and conducted by Rachel S. Cohen, about the book and the true meaning of “happily ever after.”
RACHEL S. COHEN: I know that Seeking Happily Ever After started out as a documentary. Can you tell us how and why you translated it into a book?
MICHELLE COVE: It was important to me that the film ask questions about why there are more single women today so viewers come to their own conclusions. When the film was completed, I wanted to go a step further and try to answer some of the women’s pressing questions that came up during interviews, such as “How do you deal with the constant pressure to marry?” “How do I know what I want for myself when everyone says marriage is the answer?” and even practical questions like “I worry about being alone and getting sick. What can I do?” I wrote the book to answer these questions and help women feel more in charge of their feelings about being single.
Does this phenomenon of women waiting longer to marry impact Jewish women in any particular way?
Yes. I read an article called “Is e-Dating Good for Jewish Women?” in Lilith Magazine in which the author, Susan Schnur, stated that Jewish women “remain, of all Caucasian groups in America, the ones least likely to marry, and statistical trends suggest that these numbers are growing.” I’m not exactly sure why this is (maybe, in part, it’s because we place such an emphasis on higher education?), but I thought this was fascinating.
In the introduction of your book, you talk about how you experienced both sides—being single “late” in life and getting married and having a baby in your thirties. Did this help you better relate to all types of women during your interviews?
Yes, I could so relate to the pressure most single women still feel in our society to get married—whether they even want to or not. Too many people treated my single status as a puzzle to solve and offered constant advice on my love life without being asked. I often felt like I had to defend my actions to find Mr. Right so that other people could feel better.
Now that I’m married, I also know that marriage and a baby are not “happily ever after.” I love my husband and my daughter, but with my family came new concerns and issues. How do I balance my passion for my work with the time my family needs? How do I make sure I’m getting in enough time with my girlfriends? Are my husband and I planning enough date nights? I miss spontaneous travel. Marriage is not “the answer.” Learning how to tap into your own needs—which shift all the time—and figure out how to fulfill them is the answer.
In the introduction, you also discuss what, as a single woman, you didn’t want to hear. That said, what do single women want to hear?
Many of the women I interviewed would like to be asked questions that have nothing to do with their love lives. Why not ask them about their careers, their passions, their hobbies, their favorite restaurants… anything else! If they bring up the topic of being single, questions are usually good. Ask them how they feel about being single and what kind of relationships they’re interested in. Then listen, without judging them or telling them what they should do. Offer advice only if it’s sought.
So how do you find “happily ever after”?
I think you stop seeking it and focus instead on becoming resilient. There’s so much push in our culture to achieve happiness as if it’s a state of being. It’s not; it’s a fleeting emotion that comes and goes. I think it’s much more important to strive for resilience because every life stage is filled with ups and downs. Life is all about enjoying the up moments and knowing intrinsically that you can get back on your feet after the down moments.
Michelle Cove is the editor of 614. She is also the coauthor of the national bestseller I’m Not Mad, I Just Hate You!: A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict (Viking, 1999), which appeared on several national talk shows, including Oprah and The Today Show. She has been writing and editing for national magazines for the past 15 years, including Psychology Today, Mother Earth News, Girls’ Life, and Family Fun.
Posted on September 27th, 2010
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