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If Marriage Is the Object, Then the Subject Must Meet People

December 30, 1988|SUSAN CHRISTIAN | Susan Christian is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

One of Laura's resolutions for the New Year is to meet her future husband--or, at least, to try, try, try again.

She devised her own game plan in that pursuit, but Laura sounds as though she has been talking to the "marriage experts."

"I am serious about getting married and make a point of meeting people by attending outdoor functions--e.g., Sierra Club hikes, weekly volleyball games, events listed in the paper," the 27-year-old Placentia resident wrote Single Life. "And this from a person who refused to go to any singles functions until a year ago. But I work in a library where the majority of the staff is women.

"Next, I tell people I know that I am interested in meeting people. The result of these endeavors is that I meet many different people and learn to differentiate between men I would like to have as friends and those I would like to date.

"It really is true that you're not going to meet anyone by walking through your living room."

Dr. Joyce Brothers' sentiment, exactly.

"If you sit in the house, the only person you're going to meet is the television repairman," said the celebrity therapist in a telephone interview from her New Jersey office. "So the more activities you're involved in, the better. My first piece of advice to anyone who wants to marry: Get out of the house."

"Even recently, I could not get into the idea of attending singles events," Laura said in an interview. "That approach always seemed so cold and calculating, rather than spontaneous. But you're not being realistic if you think you can just meet somebody walking down the street, especially in a place so sprawling as Orange County."

A drawback to singles clubs, Laura remarked, is that her tender years often fall well below the median age of members. But she will not be daunted.

"You only have to meet one right person," she philosophically observed. Laura said her interest in marriage and children stems from her own positive family experience. "I come from a large family--three brothers and a sister, 25 first cousins," she explained. "My sister has a good marriage, and I would like that same situation for myself."

Although his first marriage ended in divorce, Russell, 43, also appreciates the sense of security found in pairs.

"Obviously, my particular relationship had its low points, but overall, I enjoyed the institution of marriage and I hope to have it again someday," said the Laguna Beach contractor, a father of two teen-agers. "The problem I'm running into now that you don't so much when you're 22 is just finding the time to date. I usually work 50 hours a week, I see my kids on weekends, I play basketball two nights a week."

Vicki, 31, a public relations consultant in Newport Beach, offered her own list of obstacles. "I really want to get married at some point, but I seldom have the time to socialize," she said. "I go on a lot of business trips; I teach at a community college; I go to my aerobics class after work; I attend seminars on weekends."

Wait a minute, admonished Rachel Robbins, a Los Angeles based "relationship consultant" who presents workshops in Orange County. Serious marriage seekers, she insisted, must pencil that goal into their busy schedules.

"I've seen people literally blow a situation because someone asks them for a date, and they say, 'Let me get my calendar; I don't have a free night for 3 weeks,' " Robbins said. "Well, that doesn't do anything for anyone's ego.

"You have to allot time (for meeting marriage prospects); you have to make it a priority--even if it means you work fewer hours and maybe you won't be eligible for that promotion this year. If you always opt to stay late at work, if you're inflexible about your gym schedule, chances are you won't be very successful at meeting someone."

"It's such a temptation to become a couch potato after you've had a pressured day," Brothers said. "But it is important to schedule social time just as you would schedule business meetings."

Laura's openness to plutonic as well as romantic relationships also jibes with Brothers' counsel.

"There are going to be lots of people who aren't even in the remotest way a possible marriage partner but who are fun to date," Brothers said. "They will have friends who will expand your area of acquaintanceship.

"Besides, it's good to stay in practice at dating, though you should make it very clear all along that there isn't any future in the relationship." And Laura again hits the nail on the head with her axiom: Tell a friend.

"Develop a network of support as you would with any other important project," Robbins said. "Become public about it; let friends know what you are up to, so that they will introduce you to their friends."

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