Marry Your Classmate Says Princeton Mom – Relationship Expert Dr. Karen Ruskin on GMA Says…

Marry Your Classmate Says Princeton Mom – Relationship Expert Dr. Karen Ruskin Appears As A Guest Expert On ABC’s Good Morning America, This Marriage And Family Therapist Says…

In this blog article you will find 6 key talking points to chew on, practical advice from this doc to my readers in response to Princeton mom’s point of view. You will also find a link to view my appearance on FOX News Channel’s America’s Newsroom – this link has been added post this blog and my GMA appearance due to LIVE air date.

First, I will share that for 20 years as a marriage and family therapist I educate my clients that what another person says or does tells you everything about them. So the lesson to be learned is to be mindful of whose advice you are accepting, for their advice is coming from their life experiences! In essence, the Princeton mom’s advice is coming from her own life experience. Which may or may not necessarily be the best advice for you. Which brings me to the following. Late last night, Saturday March 30th, after I had washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on my cozy pajamas and was thus not “camera ready” (ha, ha), my media cell phone rang. With enthusiasm I answered the phone. On the line was ABC’s GMA. Specifically, I was asked if I would share my insights on the Princeton mom who wrote an open letter to Princeton female students that went viral. It was within the next hour I put on my make up and styled my hair to get it from sleepy mode to TV ready so that way my interview could be filmed pronto to be ready in time for ABC’s Sunday edition of GMA.

Princeton Mom – Susan Patton

  • Patton wrote an open letter published on Friday March 29th to young women currently enrolled in Princeton. “Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had” “If I had daughters, this is what I would be telling them”
  • Patton- President of the Class of 1977 (She went to Princeton)
  • Patton’s 2 sons are Princetonians
  • Patton recently spoke at the Women and Leadership Conference on the Princeton campus
  • Patton’s advice in the article: “Find a husband on campus before you graduate”

Immediately, these facts led my clinical mind to develop a hypothesis which is: this woman still holds a candle for either a man she liked in college, or for a man she never knew/met. Bottom line: she is either unhappily married or divorced and believes she would have had a happier marriage had she married someone from her beloved college. Thus, she wants to pass on advice she wishes she had received and taken back in the day. Why else would one advise as such? (Hm, I wonder how her sons’ feel about this).

As I write this blog I wonder if I could prove my hypothesis, at least to some degree, without ever having met/spoken to Patton. Low and behold, these days you can find much indeed on the internet. Here is a link to an article which proves my hypothesis that likely a woman who is telling other women who are students at Princeton to find their mate at Princeton, must be a woman who wishes that is what she did. Thus, this must be a woman either unhappy in her marriage or divorced. The article surprisingly (ha ha) is entitled: Princeton Mom Wishes She Married A Princeton Man.

I feel for Patton, and any woman or man who wishes they made a different choice in their past. To blame the past makes it difficult to relish in the now and work on making a fabulous present. I am hopeful for all the women and men who are not happy in their marriage that they find within themselves the courage to take ownership of the choices they can make to improve their marriage. Marriage is worth fighting for.

You Want Advice?

6 Talking Points – Advice From A Relationship Expert/Marriage And Family Therapist’s Point Of View

  • The Key To Marital Success

In response to Patton’s statement “It will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you” says something about her own relational struggles, not necessarily true for all women. True for some women but not for all. Much more goes into a marriage and affects the success or lack there of then whether your spouse is as smart as you.

The key to marital success is to choose a mate who is respectful to you and you of him, is your biggest fan and you of him, vested in each other’s well being, supportive of each others growth, and healthy communication. Shared values and similar goals are more important than intellectual heft. Similarities help. Intellectually equal, great. But no way would I suggest that is the ticket to marital success. There are couples who are similar and unhappy in their marriage, and those who are similar and happy. Similarity in intellectualism is not the “fail safe” for a successful marriage. There are couples who are different in oh so many ways from one another and are happy in their marriage, then there are those who are not.

Marriage is a work in process, and a journey- it takes effort, whether you meet your spouse in college or not.

  • Women- Hunt For Your Husband While In College

Oh my – NO! This point Patton makes I disagree with. Talk about pressure on women by women! While in college not only are these young women to work hard and be present in their education, experience independence from their nesting home, experience socialization, be attentive to their personal mental health and physical health and wellness, participate in extracurricular activities- the message now is to find a husband! Come on now. That is over the top is it not?

Certainly I agree with Patton that there is a larger pool of men while in college to choose from since there are so many men all in one space. That absolutely does not mean a young female is ready nor wants to choose who the man she enjoys spending time with right now (if any) is the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with.

Bottom line, this relationship expert’s advice is: listen to your inner voice. Don’t go on the hunt for a spouse in college, do enjoy college, if you fall in love do not be closed to it, if you do not fall in love know you will find your love when the timing is right for you.

  • Find Your Intellectual Equal

I agree with the inference of Patton’s article that it may be easier to find someone of similar intellectualism while in college. I vehemently disagree that just because a man has similar intellectualism that means you will have a happy and successful marriage. This messaging is degrading to couples, to men, and to women. Again though, advice comes from where it comes from.

There are couples who are considered quite different from one another in their intellectual styles and interests and have a happy long term marriage, and there are those who are not happy in the same circumstance. Then there are couples who are similar in terms of their intellectualism and are happy, and there are those in the same circumstance who are not happy.

“It will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you” says Patton.

As a relationship expert I disagree. This statement is true for some and not for others, as there is way more to a relationship!

  • Two gold rings - reflected candlesMarry Young Vs. Marry Older

A woman later in life who is unhappy in her marriage who married young questions if perhaps she didn’t choose a man when she was “young and immature” that perhaps she would be happier now. It is those women who think; “If I just waited till I knew myself better”. It is these women who think if they were more grounded and accomplished as an individual that would have been better.

A woman later in life who is unhappy in her marriage who waited till post her college years to marry who are unhappily married often look back and wonder what life would be like if a different choice had been made. Specifically it is these women who wonder if they had married their first love, their college sweetheart, or found someone in college, if then perhaps their life would be better, if their marriage would be better.

For some, finding love in college is fabulous, for others finding love post college is fabulous. Ladies- the point is not to go on a man hunt in college holding the philosophy that would be the only way to find someone who is the right fit for you. Different strokes for different folks.

  • Successful Marriage

Dr. Karen's Marriage ManualMarriage is what you make it to be. It takes two people- husband and wife to put in the effort each day to have a happy, healthy, and long term successful relationship. Regardless of when you meet.Water the plant of marriage’ – is the message I pass on to my clients in my office, in my book; Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual, in my marital workshops, and in the media (TV, radio, print). If you desire practical tips and do-able proven techniques to enhance your marriage at any phase and stage, I invite you to take a sneak peak into Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual so you too can live a happy, healthy, successful marriage.

I met my husband my Freshman year of college in SUNY Buffalo. Not because I was looking for a mate, for a boyfriend, for a husband – far from it actually. I was all about socializing, loved my classes, enjoyed being independent and away from home, was passionate about my extracurricular activities. Never the less, I met a young man. I think back now and he was just a boy and I was just a girl. I know we refer to the 18-21 year old age group as “young adults”. It is true by term, they are, and it is also true that 18-21 are kids becoming adults- right in the journey. My husband and I instantly became friends. We quickly became best of friends and fell in love with one another. We are now 42 years old and still together after all these years. Yes, we are a success story. But, not because we met in college. To advise women to hunt down and find a mate in college is putting undo pressure and fear into women that this is their only opportunity for future happiness. Never make a relationship decision based on fear!

  • Couples Who Grow Together Vs. Grow Apart

There are couples who meet at a young age and over time grow apart. Just because you enjoy being with a young man in college doesn’t mean the qualities you find agreeable to you then are the same qualities that will be attractive or agreeable to you years later. People grow in different ways. If your man is supportive of your personal and professional growth and you of his, then even if you grow differently, you do not grow apart. If there is a lack of emotional support, a lack of interest in one another’s achievements and interests then you grow apart. A man and a woman can be quite different in many ways (yes, intellectually included) and value and respect one another deeply – thereby contributing to marital success.


In conclusion, Patton has a point Ladies – college is a great time to meet men, perhaps even great men. I do not disagree with this, who would right? Perhaps the style upon which she communicated this point is offensive to some if not many, understood. As to whether advice from the 40 somethings to the 20 somethings should be; get em’ while their hot, well, I would not send that message per-say.  Rather I would state that each young woman is ready for someone special and committed in their life at different times. To put that kind of pressure on a female to take on the Patton philosophy; find the man you want to marry while in college – I would not advise as such.

So, ladies, as you head off to college know this; if you find yourself in a relationship with a guy you like – that’s wonderful, and if you are not in a relationship with a guy in school – that’s just as great. What is your opinion?

FOX News Channel’s America’s Newsroom With Dr. Karen Ruskin

As this topic continues to be of interest to the many, check out my appearance on FOX News Channel’s America’s Newsroom with anchor Martha MacCallum including guest Michael Graham (Radio Host- The Natural Truth) aired LIVE on April 1st 2013. Princeton mom’s advice is to snag Ivy League husband before graduation.


Letter to the Editor: March 29, 2013

By Susan A. Patton
Guest Contributor
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Published: Friday, March 29th, 2013
Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had

Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out — here’s what you really need to know that nobody is telling you.

For years (decades, really) we have been bombarded with advice on professional advancement, breaking through that glass ceiling and achieving work-life balance. We can figure that out — we are Princeton women. If anyone can overcome professional obstacles, it will be our brilliant, resourceful, very well-educated selves.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Women and Leadership conference on campus that featured a conversation between President Shirley Tilghman and Wilson School professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, and I participated in the breakout session afterward that allowed current undergraduate women to speak informally with older and presumably wiser alumnae. I attended the event with my best friend since our freshman year in 1973. You girls glazed over at preliminary comments about our professional accomplishments and the importance of networking. Then the conversation shifted in tone and interest level when one of you asked how have Kendall and I sustained a friendship for 40 years. You asked if we were ever jealous of each other. You asked about the value of our friendship, about our husbands and children. Clearly, you don’t want any more career advice. At your core, you know that there are other things that you need that nobody is addressing. A lifelong friend is one of them. Finding the right man to marry is another.

When I was an undergraduate in the mid-seventies, the 200 pioneer women in my class would talk about navigating the virile plains of Princeton as a precursor to professional success. Never being one to shy away from expressing an unpopular opinion, I said that I wanted to get married and have children. It was seen as heresy.

For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.

I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal — just not that many of them. And, you could choose to marry a man who has other things to recommend him besides a soaring intellect. But ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you.

Here is another truth that you know, but nobody is talking about. As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men. So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women to choose from. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys when you were freshmen?

If I had daughters, this is what I would be telling them.

Susan A. Patton ’77
President of the Class of 1977
New York, N.Y.

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