TIP #37: Be Okay With Settling

TIP #37: Be Okay With Settling

“Why have the man of your dreams when you can have some dude?”

Though our parents might as well have been (and might actually be) sourced from different universes, they both shared big dreams for their children. When Nate told his mother that he wanted to be a doctor, she did nothing but encourage him. The same was true for Jared’s mom when he told her that he wanted to be a veterinarian – and then a lawyer, and then an entrepreneur, and then an actor. There were never any alternatives other than achieving “a personal best,” as Jared’s mom and his high school track coach called it. In fact, Jared’s mom used to say: “I don’t care if you’re going to be a beachcomber – just be the best damn beachcomber there is.”

Even though we’re not really clear what a beachcomber is, her point is well taken.

Advancing one’s career to the point of chasing an unattainable goal is one thing, but doing the same in relationships is like skydiving blindfolded without a parachute and expecting a perfect landing: it might be technically possible with an assist from magic, but you may want to lower your expectations a bit.

Jared’s mom is perhaps the most idealistic on the whole “don’t settle for a guy you don’t really want to be with” thing. That may stem from her divorcing a guy (his dad) who she says she always loved, but couldn’t hack a marriage with any longer.

Nate’s family, on the other hand, takes a significantly more pragmatic Midwestern approach to the situation. When we asked Nate’s grandma, Sharon, how in the cornhusker hell she’s been married for more than 60 years, she replied, “I take pills.” Upon further request, Sharon explained that she “has (her) side of the bed and Bill has his.” That’s love.

This is not to say that we don’t have some version of that love thing going on. But the idea of finding one’s soul mate, without occasionally or frequently wanting to press the Escape button, is a notion that we fundamentally and mostly reject.

Things didn’t start off this way – they never do. When we met that November night in 2008, everything seemed pretty great. Our eyes were perfectly hazel and sea blue, respectively; our smiles made angels sing; our hearts went aflutter with every word and gesture.

But then, by the time we permanently moved in together after finding our four-legged soul mate, Cooper, in June 2010, we realized what Abe Lincoln was talking about when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

The battle lines formed relatively quickly, and so we’ve decided to summarize them below, helpfully organized by topic:


- Jared likes doing laundry. He does not like folding clothes.

- Nate will fold the clothes. Not a huge fan of the laundry-doing part.

- Nate likes doing laundry in a way that does not destroy the washing machine. Jared is a bit more of a risk-taker, happily filling the machine to the brim.

- Jared is not a fan of matching socks in the sock drawer, nor does he enjoy putting away clothes with any particular human rationale.

- This lack of a rationale on Jared’s part makes Nate feel, well, insane.

- To his mother’s chagrin, Jared does not fold shirts particularly well. Being the scientist in the family, Nate has the thing down to a science.

Walking The Dog

- Although Jared enjoys runs with Cooper and long walks on the beach (except in subzero temperatures in Chicago), he is not a huge fan of long walks on the street.

- Nate is more excited about the walking part, occasionally.

- Cooper does not often walk alone.

- He would like to though.

- In fact, we’ve spoken to him about this topic and he has expressed a desire to rent a studio apartment, live on his own, and date bitches.

Waking Up and Sleeping

- Jared wakes up as late as possible.

- Nate, being from Michigan via South Dakota farm roots, wakes up before roosters even think about it.

- Jared, being from New York City where nothing ever closes, goes to sleep as late as possible.

- Nate goes to sleep about the same time as his grandma does.

- This Circadian rhythm conundrum has obviously never caused any tension.


- We both love traveling (as evidenced by our constant moving), which seems to suggest that we are ideal travel partners, except:

- Nate likes maps and enjoys planning recreationally activities according to cardinal directions.

- Jared, as is his life, prefers to “feel” the “vibrations” in the air and listen to his various senses to determine the best travel route. It is amazing he has ever found his way home.

- Nate likes making relatively concrete travel plans and sticking to them.

- Jared usually does not do that.

Grocery Shopping

- Jared enjoys doing this (without a list).

- Nate does not really enjoy this (with a list).

- Usually, Jared does it and asks Nate what he wants. Nate puts all the stuff away.

Things With Heights

- Nate is terrified of bridges; Jared is not.

- Jared is terrified of (most) rollercoasters; Nate is not.

- At “amusement” parks, Jared does not enjoy swinging from objects high above the ground.

- Nate does.

- One of Nate’s favorite places is the entire world is a rollercoaster park in Ohio.

- This is not one of Jared’s favorite places, other than the terrific Chinese restaurant in the food court.


- Jared enjoys writing, and is currently writing this chapter.

- Nate does not enjoy writing, and is currently editing this chapter.

Religion vs. Science

- Jared is as religious as most American Jews, which means he loves great Chinese food and haphazardly celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. He still likes to believe that there could be a higher power out there, otherwise his Dad would have never found so many great coupons and spring rolls won’t be so delicious.

- Nate was raised a bit with the God stuff but is now a self-professed scientific method guy. He isn’t exactly a fan of providing a substantial tax credit for mega churches.

- These issues are not controversial at all and have never caused any tension.

And hence it became clear that several significant differences divided the Milrad-Johnson camp, suggesting that there is no such thing as a perfect alignment of the universe. But with time and a noticeable dash of patience, we came to realize that settling was something that we all do, just a bit at least. Plus, all things considered – neither of us planned to support Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions, and that suggested that our values aligned at least ever so slightly. We learned to be content with that reality.

© 2016, Jared Milrad and Nathan Johnson. All rights reserved.