Sure, we all want to find “the right guy,” but how do we successfully approach such a task? In her new book Get Married This Year: 365 Days to “I Do,” relationship expert, professor and psychotherapist Dr. Janet Blair Page shares her easy-to-follow 12-month plan to help readers not only get married this year but to build a loving and long-lasting relationship with the man of their dreams. We had the chance to interview Dr. Page, during which she shared her personal story of true love. She also expanded on the steps of her program and discussed why her plan really works.
Can you tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
In 1984, I began teaching a course at Emory University called “Before a Year Is Over, I’ll Be Married.” The way people meet and date has changed over the last three decades, but the problems haven’t changed: they feel like they’re not meeting enough eligible people, or if they are, they keep facing the same relationship love blocks over and over again. As a psychotherapist – divorced and remarried myself – I was not only able to empathize with many of the women, but I have personally been on the same path and have my own backlog of bloopers. I’ve also experienced the joys of a good marriage, and it’s the most wonderful way I can think to spend your life. This book offers the experience I have gathered.
Your first bit of advice is to get to know yourself. What does a woman need to do to truly know herself?
To truly know herself a woman has to be scrupulously honest about whom she is and has been. A positive realism toward herself and all others in her life is the definition of mental health. She also needs to be aware of her effect on others — life is a team sport — be open to caring and competent critique from people with low to no agendas. If she has personal pain, she needs to have the courage to heal; and if change in her behavior or attitude would be advisable, she needs to be willing to make it happen.
Before a woman can “find the right guy” (month 6), she must figure out what that means to her. What advice do you have for someone at this stage in her journey to love?
“The right guy” is not only the best possible man for you but also one with whom you are absolutely willing to put in whatever it takes to make your relationship succeed. You trust and respect each other, have shared your goals and desires, enjoy the comfort of being honest with each other, and love each other unconditionally. You crave being together but are able to be apart without having to worry about the other person’s behavior. You both understand mutuality and are capable of truth telling. (The truth – as inconvenient as it can sometimes be – usually comes out one way or another. Wouldn’t you rather it be on your terms?). You feel even better about yourself being with him and loving him with your brain as well as your whole heart.
Do you believe that this timeline works for all women? If not, whom wouldn’t it work for?
It depends on your starting point. For women who have already accomplished some of the tasks — they knew what they wanted in a man and how to spot a keeper but not how to date or create a close relationship, for example — a year works. But realistically, many women won’t be able to become self-aware or good at self-marketing and dating, de-cluttering their lives, communicating, and connecting beautifully with a man in 365 days. Succeeding at every stage in the 12-month program is much more important than meeting the timeline.
I’m not worried about the women who aren’t married in 365 days as long as they have fixed their old, ineffective behaviors and are in a place to go out and find their soul mate. The ones I worry about (and who I’d especially like to help) are the ones who continue to drag an ineligible man behind them for years. Keeping my game plan in mind can help them transition to a more effective dating strategies.
Wouldn’t some relationships benefit from dating for longer than 365 days?
There’s a difference between a couple who both know that they want to be married to each other and just haven’t set a date yet and a relationship where one party is simply a placeholder while the other party figures out what s/he wants. After 365 days, he should know if he is interested in marrying you and will have let you know by thought, words, and actions. That said, keep in mind that men like to control the when and how, and unless you think he will never get around to it, bide your time and let him be the conquering hero.
Do you think your program can benefit a man in the same way it benefits a woman? Why or why not?
Yes! I know it can. Many men took my class, and all seem to like the “pull no punches but have a sense of humor” approach. Also, most of my clients are men, and while they are less likely to buy a book or take a class, they experience the same pain, if not more, in love. They are very welcoming of any rules that can alleviate hurt and promote success. Marriage and being in love is of tremendous benefit to men, and they know it. I’ve spent a great deal of time in my practice learning how men feel and interact in relationships. My program is not only effective for men, but I’ve developed it to help women be effective in dating them by using my experience with men in therapy.
Can you share your favorite success story with Cupid’s Pulse? Having helped over 1,000 couples, I’m sure it’s hard to narrow it down to just one.
My favorite success story is my older daughter’s. When Tasha got serious about getting married, she flew down from New York and took my course. She listened to the lecture audio and kept the workbook with her at all times. When she went back home, we scheduled regular consults about where she was going and whom she was dating. Tasha religiously stuck to the big three: going out three times a week somewhere, anywhere it was possible to meet someone to date or someone who could be a conduit to someone to date; keeping an open mind about her type of man; and only dating qualified males. She told me about a guy she met in a bar while shooting pool. Eric was younger, a writer and an intellectual. He seemed shy, and he wasn’t her type, she said. I encouraged her to pursue it anyway.
She accepted the date — nothing to lose and a possible gain. Then she told me he suggested they do show-and-tell and wasn’t that “cool.” I thought, “A match!” It was the request of someone who wanted guaranteed talking points and was accepted as a smooth move. Eric brought old coins that she found intriguing, and she was also impressed by the history lesson that went with them because she had wanted someone smart. And that was it. They were and are perfect together. Although it’s always a great joy to me to know that that couples I’ve helped get together are still happily married, it’s particularly great when I get a treasure for a son-in-law.