LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A recipe for a failed marriage?


As three Princeton alumnae — sisters, no less — married to three Princeton alumni, we feel uniquely qualified, and even compelled, to respond to Susan Patton’s Letter to the Editor.

Our parents, apparently, hit the trifecta. What was our secret? Was it our mother’s etiquette and decorum classes? Our father’s admonition to earn a return on his investment? Our own desire to make Reunions that much more fun?

Sarcasm aside, we are dismayed at Ms. Patton’s suggestion that finding your life’s partner can, or should, be orchestrated. It’s one thing to be open to finding that partner and quite another to set it as a goal. We were each obviously open to it – probably thanks to having had the good fortune to witness our parents’ healthy marriage — but we each married a man we met at Princeton, not a Princeton man.

Ms. Patton’s advice strikes us a recipe for a failed marriage.

Finally, we are embarrassed by her elitist tone and aggravated by her decision to identify herself as “President of the Class of 1977,” with its implication that she is speaking for the class. At least one of us can assure you that she is not.

Catherine Tiedemann Morra ’77
Elizabeth Tiedemann Maass ’78
Charlotte Tiedemann Petersen ’82


15 thoughts on “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A recipe for a failed marriage?

  1. Pingback: SPECIAL SECTION: Responses to Susan Patton ’77 | The Daily Princetonian

  2. Ms. Patton tone does not seem elitist to me; it is a tone of pride. Probably due to the fact that she was the child of immigrant parents, first generation to go to college, much less Princeton. We must look a were someone is getting their perspective from. Her background is clearly different from 3 sisters who all went to Princeton, regardless of who they married.

  3. to the sisters three, you wrote: “Sarcasm aside, we are dismayed at Ms. Patton’s suggestion that finding your life’s partner can, or should, be orchestrated. It’s one thing to be open to finding that partner and quite another to set it as a goal. ”

    i disagree with your opinion. in my opinion, it is absolutely right and correct to orchestrate your own life and be in the driver’s seat. it should be a goal that if marriage is your goal that you should take an active and PROACTIVE ROLE in that effort. the message i get from susan patton’s well reasoned and speaking from an observant perspective is basically to date like a man. you should date more than one person in your lifetime and you should take the reins of your love life. this is an unpopular opinion because it takes women out of being a victim and actually being in charge of her life, like a man is.

    I did not do this and i am still single and it doesn’t really bother me now. but i am encouraging women to take a proactive role in their love life by multi-dating. this is the way men date and they have the power in their life by doing so. they may get rejected but they still get more dates than someone who never bothers to ask for one. and they have the ability to end the relationship first rather than the man ending it first. like when you get bored or realize after your data gathering he is not the one and move on. you should date a different man every week if you can work it into your busy schedule, if not, at least once a month, you should circulate and date around. this is also a good way to build social skills. something you need to know to get ahead in the work world.

    i must point out to you, that men who take a proactive approach to dating, are also more likely to marry the woman of their choice. the men who date multiple women are in fact the best men to marry. they are the ones who are serious about marriage. all of the men i dated who dated other women while going out with me at the same time, ended up marrying, even if it wasn’t me they choose. they all married within 6 months of going out with me. maybe i am their trainer.
    resident spinster

  4. As the fourth Tiedemann sister (not a Princeton alum – Georgetown and UPenn instead), I also feel a need to weigh in here. I take great umbrage at Susan Patton’s assertion that “the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry”. I chose not to marry until the age of 37 and I find the concept that my happiness for the first 36 years of my life was compromised by being single offensive. Although I love my husband and would not trade my daughter for the world, my life prior to marriage was both happy and fulfilling.

    My happiness prior to marriage was due to the richness of my relationships with my friends and family, my ability to entertain myself, my continued quest for knowledge, and my creation of a warm and nurturing environment in my home. Unlike some of my friends, I learned how to fix things in my house, change my own oil, and plant my own trees. The satisfaction of being able to rely on myself has given me a sense of strength that is irreplaceable. Unlike what Ms. Patton seems to believe, there is life outside marriage and career.

    I will not be giving my daughter the advice Ms.Patton suggests. Instead, I will support and encourage her to make her own path so that if and when she decides to spend her life with someone, it will be a choice, not an obligation.

    Susan Tiedemann Bickel

  5. First, Liz met Robb in junior high swimming, not at Princeton; he was the only guy she ever dated. Second, your parents didn’t have a happy marriage … your dad yelled a lot, and your mom cried constantly. Third, did your husbands marry students who happened to attend Princeton, too? Three of the four sisters married almost immediately after graduating; it was the secure thing for women to do in the 1980s, and they were all encouraged to do it.

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