When I read that a recent not-too-scientific survey found that 50% of women had a back-up husband in mind, I was incredulous and more than a bit surprised. My first thought was for the husbands, wondering if they had any notion that their replacement was apparently standing at the ready. I then pondered if the men-in-waiting knew they were a consolation prize or a safety net and how they might feel at being placed in that role. I then contemplated the women that were either unsure of their marriages or so afraid of the thought of being alone that they always made sure to have another man at the ready.
It seems risky to me to have this sort of mindset. If you have a back-up husband, there must be some energy going into the relationship with him to ensure that he stays close and available (and are there really this many men that are willing to be held in limbo for an uncertain amount of time???). It is almost like the existence of a back-up husband increases the need for a back-up husband. If that energy was put into the primary relationship, perhaps a Plan B would never be required.
Of course, sometimes no matter how much effort we exert, marriages end. And it’s scary to be alone. Daunting to face dating again. Risky to expose vulnerabilities in new relationships. Perhaps there is some prudence to having someone already selected for the role.
As someone who is generally risk averse and a planner by nature, my back-up plans usually have back-up plans. So purely as an intellectual exercise after reading this study, I surveyed the single men in my life to see if any could be candidates for a back-up husband.
And even though they are great guys, awesome friends and would make great partners for somebody, I am not that person. In fact, the mere thought made me feel kind of squicky.
Even though I know firsthand that marriages can end, I don’t want a back-up husband.
I’d rather invest 100% into the marriage and risk losing it all than to spread myself so thin that no relationship really has substance. I would rather count on my own strength to see me through than believe I need a man to support me. And I would rather nurture a supportive group of friends that can act as a safety net than quietly court a man-in-waiting.
Back-up husband? No thanks.
I’d rather have my husband’s back and take my chances.