A few weeks ago, Brevard resident Mari Ainsworth put out a plea on her new blog, the frankly titled Husband Wanted (see it at ahusbandwanted.blogspot.com). The blog’s subtitle: “It takes a village to raise a child … and a city to find a husband.”
“It’s true … I’m definitely in the market for a man,” she wrote in an introductory essay about the kind of fellow she wants to marry (and to help her raise her 2-year-old). “But I’m not just looking for someone to take out the trash, carry the groceries up the stairs, assemble household items, or tell me what that mysterious noise is coming from the front of my car.”
A single mother who’s completing college and working to support herself and her daughter, Ainsworth hasn’t had much of a chance to meet single guys, and she’s tired of the online-dating scene. Hence the blog: “I’m just thinking this is one of those things that might need all the help it can get,” she wrote. “So I’m recruiting everyone I know … and plenty more that I don’t know. I leave it to you, Asheville … to find me a husband!”
What kind of man is she looking for? And does she really think a blog could be the path to marital bliss? To find out, Xpress sat down with Ainsworth, who just turned 26, for a lengthy chat at a local Waffle House.
Mountain Xpress: What made you decide to create a blog about your husband search?
I was standing at the stove one day cooking, and I was getting really annoyed that I had this huge meal and I didn’t know how to reduce the recipe. So I had to make the whole thing, and I was like, “Ah, this is what I need—a man. You know, to eat this food.” Then I was thinking and stirring this food and thinking, “What if, what if you just pitch it out into the world? What if you put it out in the paper? What would happen?”
My idea is that this is the way it used to work: Everyone knew everyone else’s background, and everyone knew who the single girl was, and they got her married off. So I started off with the “what if” and I kept adding to this piece I was writing. I was sitting at my computer, and literally, at like 10:30 at night, when I was sleep-deprived and probably not thinking clearly, I thought, “I’m just going to do it. I’m going to put it out there.”
Your first blog post got lots of comments. How do you feel about the feedback you’ve been getting?
It was really surprising, the first week especially. … Never in a million years did I imagine it was going to become this huge sociological sort of exploration between what men want and what women want. The initial response from men was, “You’re asking too much from us. Go easy on us helpless guys.” … And the overwhelming response from women was, “I’m with you, sister. I’m in the same boat with you. Put my name on there too.”
I don’t think I was ready either to face criticism. I hadn’t thought about it. I was ready to hear “you’re crazy,” which I could deal with—but to actually have people criticize what I wanted, or tell me that I should want something different, was really invasive. I had to rearrange my thought process to be able to include that. …
Then I started second-guessing myself. I thought, “Maybe I’m wrong, and everyone else is right.” I had to really examine, “Is this really what I said? Is this really what I want?” And the comments are asking me questions that I wouldn’t have asked myself. But I went back, and I know that that is what I really want. I really know.
Are you going to continue to update the blog regularly about your search?
Definitely. I’d like to update weekly. … Right now it feels like it’s already more than just me. I feel like there are people constantly commenting. My e-mail box is full, and now I’m starting to get guys offering themselves. People are pouring themselves into the comments.
You mentioned that you have men “offering” themselves. Have you found anyone you’d like to go out with yet?
No. I hadn’t had any offers until last night, and then it’s like “I’m 41, I have two kids,” or “I have grandkids, but maybe we could just go hang out.” I appreciate it, but is anyone hearing me? I mean, are you reading what I wrote? Am I going to have to get really, really specific here?
Do you think guys your age are scared to contact you because you have a child?
Sure. I haven’t had any responses to that, but I’m sure. Although it didn’t seem to be a hang-up on online dating. I had one guy tell me a couple weeks ago: “Yeah, I don’t think being a father would be that hard.” I almost laughed. I’m like, “Oh, you’re right.”
Realistically, what are your hopes? Obviously, you’re looking for a guy, but what do you see happening with your blog?
I see this as being at least a yearlong endeavor. Honestly, I’m getting to know the city (of Asheville). And I think that was part of my goal. … And I wanted to be writing. I wanted to be writing something that people were going to want to read. Something different than, “I got up today. I cooked breakfast. I took a walk.” …
I said I wasn’t ready for the reaction that I got, but I should have been, because it’s the reaction I’ve been after my whole life. I like the eyebrow-raising thing that no one else is doing. I like saying the thing that no one else will say, or stating the obvious when everyone in the room is pretending like it doesn’t exist. I’ve always been that person.
It is hard in this day and age. You don’t want to meet your husband in the bar. Ideally, it can happen. But it’s not where you want to go. So if you don’t work in an office, with 100 other people, where do you go? If you don’t go to church? You know, where are you supposed to meet guys? Why aren’t we acting more as a community when it comes to finding people spouses or even friends? It’s like we’ve completely lost that sense of community. We’ve become isolated.
I know you want a guy who fits certain criteria, but would you consider a man with children, who has had and is raising kids?
I’d prefer not. One of the things I really don’t want to deal with is someone who’s divorced. I’ve got huge issues with it. Because I come from a family with divorce in every direction, and I just don’t want to bring it into my life. So I know when I get married, it’s going to be forever. I don’t care if it’s miserable. (She laughs.)
If he’s not a good father, then he’s not the guy for me. You know, even if he’s really exciting and makes my heart get excited, and I like to hold his hands and go on walks and listen to music—those aren’t the things that make a marriage. They’re just not. They’re great things. They’re great for dating they’re great for having romance. But I don’t’ think marriage is necessarily all about romance. And I believe we chose who we fall in love with. I believe that is a choice. So why not pick the criteria you’re looking for and then let yourself fall in love?
One of the reasons your blog seems to resonate, particularly with other women, is because what you’re doing feels empowering. You’re saying, “This is what I want and I’m going for it.” Is that one of your goals?
What seems to be happening to me is 85 percent of the guys writing to me are saying, “Just have sex. You’re taking all this too seriously. You need to relax.” … And 95 percent of the girls are saying, “I hear you. I’m so glad you’re being picky or choosing.” …
My perception right now is, “Jeez, maybe it really does seem like guys have been able to get away with a lot.” The more sexualized our culture becomes, the more sex is in the media all the time, the more they think they should be able to have sex with as many women as they want. And the more they have that mentality, the more women are just following along and letting it happen. It’s time for women to become a little more empowered. It is time for women to say, “I deserve better than this. I deserve an actual marriage if that’s what I want.”
A longer version of this conversation is online at www.mountainx.com/news/2008/local_blogger_seeks_husband.