ARCHIVE: You Better Shop Around

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Lost in the Supermarket: The Today Show’s Janice Lieberman reviews those aisle encounters and other vital consumer info when she comes to Long Branch this Wednesday night for a Girls’ Night Out in support of her new book HOW TO SHOP FOR A HUSBAND.

By DIANA MOORE (First published on Red Bank oRBit June 29, 2009)

For more than ten years now, Janice Lieberman has served as the Consumer Smarts correspondent for NBC’s Today Show — advising us on the intricacies of shopping for such high-ticket items as jewelry, electronics, beauty/ fitness services and cars. So it stands to reason that she’d eventually turn her eagle eye to one of the most significant selections of a woman’s life — a subject that she covers with genuine insight, gentle humor and common sense in her recently published book, How to Shop for a Husband.

It’s a topic that, surprisingly, hasn’t been addressed anywhere near as much as the rules of dating or “modern” relationships on the best-seller list — but in How to Shop, the regular contributor to Readers Digest and frequent presence on Fine Living Network points out that, as consumers, we make shopping lists when we go scouting around for groceries, gifts, and clothes — but we also need to carry that same savvy attitude and keep the list in mind when shopping for a mate, a “considered purchase” not as easily exchangeable as other, impulse-buy items.

“You don’t want to go into a relationship and need someone to change completely,” says Lieberman. “But a few minor alterations are OK, just like that classic little black dress. If it needs a hem, that’s fine, but if it needs major re-altering, leave it on the shelf.”

On Wednesday, July 1st, Lieberman visits Avenue/ Le Club at Pier Village on the Long Branch promenade for a special “Girls’ Night Out” event in which she’ll be reading from and signing copies of her book. It’s another presentation by Book It! Events, the literary-minded producers of personal-appearance excitement who’ve brought Robert WagnerJoyce Carol Oates and other notable people to venues all over eastern Monmouth County.

Book It! founders Jacquie Fiorito and Kim Widener — who are in the process of rebranding their business as BookMark It Events — recently established their own home venue at The Grove at Shrewsbury, where on July 8 they’ll be hosting journalist Kelly Corrigan for an appearance in support of her personal memoir The Middle Place. More on that event later.

Red Bank oRBit spoke to the busy Lieberman by phone late last week. Continue Reading to find out why men are like yogurt — and why you should only date someone who’s uglier than you.

RED BANK ORBIT: A lot of women make the mistake of shopping for a husband and then experiencing “buyer’s remorse,” taking him back to the store with complaints. So what are these women doing wrong — what should they really be looking for?

JANICE LIEBERMAN: For someone who’s on their first time around, who never had a husband before, there’s a tendency to be way too picky. They’ll have a list of things to look for in a husband, that’s crazy long.

It’s okay to be choosy, of course, but not crazy picky. You need to establish some goals; you have to be in the market for things that are not just superficial — but at the same time there definitely has to be that electricity, that spark. And you don’t want to be priced out of the marketplace.

You definitely have to decide what’s truly important to you. One woman who reviewed the book said that she wasn’t sure she wanted to marry a man who already had kids, but that she put those thoughts aside and it turned out to be the best decision she ever made.

Another woman didn’t like the way her guy ate — it wasn’t healthy enough for her, and they went their separate ways. Then after he had gotten back into the dating scene, she read his online profile and realized that this was everything she had been looking for. She was being crazy just concentrating on that one thing.

I’ve read some of your pointers about shopping for a spouse. What would you say are some of the more important points you’d want to share with the audience?

Find somebody who’s just a tad uglier than you (laughs). Really; there’s a UCLA study about this — you might as well be the princess in this relationship!

How he gets along with the other people in your life — your family, friends, co-workers — is very important also. Pay attention to how he treats people — if he’s nasty to the waitress, he’s going to do the same to you sooner or later.

It’s also important to get engaged right away! Don’t fall into that trap of ‘I can change him!’ You have to keep things fresh, and you can’t waste too much time waiting for him to come around. Nobody can give you back the time you wasted — so treat your relationship like it has an expiration date — and toss out that guy like old yogurt if things aren’t moving forward!

My husband and I dated for more than seven years before we finally got married — I was kind of getting tired of celebrating dating anniversaries, so I had to give an ultimatum, in a nice way.

It’s perfectly okay to say Honey, I want something more serious. I gave my husband, who I met at Torah class, the ultimatum in a ladylike way, without any hysterics and crying. He actually left for two weeks and came back! If he didn’t come back, well, then I guess he wasn’t ever going to come back anyway.

In your opinion, how important are sex and money when you’re searching for husband material in the real world?

Sex doesn’t have to be drop-dead hot sex for a relationship to be healthy. The day may come when the fact that he does the dishes is more important to you than great sex!

As for the financial factors, well, you’re probably not going to want to support him — you want a worker, not a loaf. But these days we really have no way of knowing who’s financially okay in the long run — things have changed fast, and for that reason it really should never be all about the money.

The big apartment, big car — they’re not as important as you might think. So change your list up — you don’t need the luxury vacations and the expensive handbags; you need to adjust to the times.

Does that Prince Charming, fairy-tale mentality still exist? Are there still way too many women out there waiting for some impossibly perfect man to come sweep her off her feet?

There have been stories of meeting Mr. Right in line at the Shop Rite, but really, don’t just go around thinking that it’s going to happen for you this way. You need to make a more concerted effort. You need to go where the men are — go online.

Women need to think about how they’re presenting themselves — are they coming off as too promiscuous? Too stodgy? Maybe it’s as simple as new hair, makeup — or maybe you need to seek the input of a psychologist, a therapist, or a friend; you know, how am I coming across to people? Get a guy’s perspective if possible!

What if your friend isn’t entirely honest with you about how you come across?

That’s why I mentioned seeing a therapist — if you pay somebody they’ll be honest!

And it’s also something you’re going to need to do on your own. It’s not fun to shop by myself, but if I was out shopping with a friend, and we’re both the same size, and we both have our eye on this dress and there’s only one left — there’s going to be a fight!

Would you say that your book is less about any radical new theories in the science of relationships, than it is about losing your unrealistic expectations, and opening yourself up to some common-sense wisdom?

There’s a lot of stuff in the book that you already know, deep down, whether you want to admit it to yourself or not. But these are things that have been proven to work — and when you see them in writing, you say, you know what? She’s absolutely right!

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