Believe It Or Not, Most Women Eventually Marry

Statistics Show Most Women Eventually Marry

If you believe marriage is in decline, think again. A new government report has found that 8 in 10 women will get married by the time they turn 40, a figure that is virtually unchanged from the 1990s.

82 percent of high school graduates will marry by the age of 40 and 89 percent of college graduates will as well.

“The idea that marriage is on the decline and fading away, that picture is misleading,” said Andrew Cherlin, a demographer at Johns Hopkins University.

“Lifetime marriage is far lower today than it was during the peak years in the 1950s, when more than nine-tenths of the adult population married at some point in their lives. But the new report suggests that the decline may have stopped in recent decades,” Mr. Cherlin said, as lifetime marriage rates have changed little since the 1990s.

The real changes in society aren’t that marriage is somehow obsolete, but rather that:

a) Divorce rates are still high because people marry too quickly based on attraction rather than values.
b) Women are having kids at epic rates outside marriage – 50% of women between 20-30 give birth out of wedlock
c) People get married much later than they used to.

But, no matter how you slice it, most women do eventually marry. According to the report, 82 percent of high school graduates will marry by the age of 40 and 89 percent of college graduates will as well.

So for all the noise created by the fiercely independent “I never want to get married” types who criticize my advice for assuming that most people are looking for marriage, guess what?

Most people are looking for marriage.

If you’re not, you’re the exception, not the rule.

Read the full New York Times article here and share your comments below.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Fusee

    @ Evan #28: My quote is definitely not a reflection of your advice, I agree! Everything I read before finding your blog was “game playing” nonsense, including the notion of “withdrawing benefits”. Thanks goodness for your sensible approach.
     
    However beyond silly game-playing which I do not condone, there is some wisdom in matching level of intimacy with level of commitment. It’s not about withdrawing benefits but more about making sure we are on the same page before taking  the next significant step. For a lot of women, cohabiting, or simply going into the second or thrid year of dating implies moving towards marriage. It is simply not true for many men. Evan, when you met your wife, you were looking for a life partner and had the project of creating a family, and each additional month/year with her was a step into that direction, even if you were still figuring out a lot of things and not quite sure yet (let me know if I got it wrong, after all I do not know you). It is sadly not the case in all relationships. Some men enjoy dating a woman for years and it does not mean they want a real life commitment, although they might make her/themselves believe that they will at some point. That’s why it is important to discuss relationship goals to stop making assumptions and going into emotional debt by giving more than you would if you knew the real potential of the relationship.
     
    I agree it’s nonsense to pressure people or be too rigid. Who enjoys being pressured? I simply advocate for more openess about one’s goals and being okay when you learn that there is no match. When the other person is on the same page, it’s not threatening to do so, and it does not mean that marriage is “expected” (how could it be when you do not know one another very well?). In my case I choose to date people who have already figured themselves out, who know they are looking for a wife, and know how important this is to look at values and compatibility beyond attraction. It shrinks the dating pool, but it increases the odds in the high-quality that is left.
     
    Your advice about giving the man the best girlfriend experience is priceless. In my 20s I was so critical and needy. I really had to develop my character and become more accepting, more patient, and more fun. Now I know how to assert myself and yet be an aweosme girlfriend all at the same time. My man FEELS loved, accepted, and so so so lucky. You’re right, this is what matters, and this is what true love is.
     
    @ Lynn #32:
    “So when I read Evan’s advice I take with me the most important parts: let the guy lead, let him shine, just be fun, show him what an incredible woman you are to be with. And all the other “date several people at once” advice… I kinda ignore ”
     
    I agree!
     
    Of course there is no need to obsess about marriage/be fearful of not being married when monogamy is the social norm, and when everyone values LTRs!
     
    I still do not obsess about marriage, but given how so many men in the US can date a woman for years without moving towards marriage (where marriage is still necessary for meaning of the relationship and benefits), I have to take some precautions in my dating life and make sure I’m quickly considered as wife material and not as “ongoing girlfriend” material. As Evan said, giving the best girlfriend experience to a man who is looking for a wife is the royal way to life commitment (if he gives me the nest boyfriend experience as well : ). The best girlfriend experience is one part of the equation, Making sure he is looking for a wife and willing to progress at a reasonnable pace towards making a decision in one way or another is the other!

  2. 32
    Lynn

    @Tom
    You are right. I’ll go back to my sad corner now ;-) 

  3. 33
    helene

    @ Tom

    On the issue of statuys, having been married for many years and now being single, I can definately say that I have experienced a loss of status. As the original topic of this blog points out, MOST people are married, when you get to a certain age, and simply being out of ther mainstream means that you are considered rather maerginal to society by a lot of people. Even though I have been single for 8 years now, am quite a confident assertive and atteactive person and have a high status job, I actually feel slightly embarrised a lot of the time about being single – like it makes me in some way deficient. There is still that aura of “no one wants you” about being a single woman – sure my close friends know that there are plenty of people who “want me” (it’s just that I don’t want to date THEM) but you can’t go around explaining that to everyone you meet!   I find that one of the most noticable areas where my status has changed is in the priority people give to seeing me, or coming to my house for dinner or just to visit. When I was married, if I invited people to my house they would usually come – but now I often get…”I’ll have to see what we’re doing, we were thinking we might go to the in-laws that weekend”. Coming all the way to my place just to have dinner with ME just seems like something married friends aren’t prepared to do – a whole evening, just to see ME?? Instead, I get invited to tag along to whatever they happen to be planning instead.

  4. 34
    Tom

    @ Soul
    “what a strange comment and illogical answer”

    Sorry, you’re right I didn’t make that point very well at all. I meant to say that I was under the impression that polygamy was relatively common in South Africa, as epitomised by the elected head of state who has many wives; which is at odds with Clare’s insinuation that South African men are more inclined towards committed monogamous relationships than American men – I could be wrong though. I suspect there a lot of cultural phenomena there which I’m totally ignorant of.
    @ Lynn

    My smiley face to you didn’t work the last time :)
     
     
     

  5. 35
    Ruby

    Tom #33
     
    I do think that society in general views still married women as more “normal” and “complete” than singles. Even older unmarried men are viewed as a bit “odd,” and as commitment-phobic. It’s interesting that the study in question only analyzes people aged 15-44. Why not those who are older? I know very few people marrying in the 15-17 age range anyway, so why not look at people aged 18 to 48? What about those over 45? None of my friends married before the age of 28, anyway, and those who did were soon divorced.
     
     

  6. 36
    David T

    @Helene 37 These books will help you maintain your confidence and not feel embarrassed. This first one is excellent:
    http://www.amazon.com/Single-Being-Satisfied-Fulfilled-Independent/dp/1593371543
     
    I have only just cracked this second one. Doesn’t look as lighthearted and fun and is missing the great little exercises that pepper the first book, but it is pretty good.  The first chapter documents “singlism” (like racism.)
    http://www.amazon.com/Singled-Out-Singles-Stereotyped-Stigmatized/dp/0312340818
     
    Both books point out the absurdity behind a very common assumption: that everyone wants or should want to be in a coupled relationship and if you don’t it is only because you are depressed, afraid or generally a negative person. These books are good for anyone who wants to be happy as a single, whether they are looking for a partner or not.
     
    I also bought a book called Single 101 with 101 reasons to celebrate being single.  I have only glanced at it. It takes a  negative view, pointing out both minor and important annoyances in relationships that a single person does not have to deal with. I won’t be looking at that one much. I recommend it only in small doses unless schadenfreude is how you like to live. I bet my son’s mother would call it empowering and enjoy it. :->

    1. 36.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      David – I’m not a fan of the author of your second link. She sees hatred towards singles when there’s only indifference.

      Fact is: married people who care about you only want for you to be HAPPY. If you’re happy being single, then none of us can judge. If you express that you’d really like to be in a relationship, we give advice and hope that you find love. That doesn’t mean you can’t be satisfied being single, but rather that you aspire to coupledom. These are the true feelings of married people. We’re way too caught up in our own relationships to spend much time worrying about yours.

  7. 37
    Fiona

    Helen @ 37 – I hear you. I also find that my married friends are like that and my relatives are even worse. I therefore built up a network of other single women and gay men who do visit me and make me realise that I may not be married but Iam not alone. I also have some friends who have divirced and remarried and find them to be more understanding of my situation, I also understand what it is like in the office. I now work from home which is a huge relief because literally all anyone at work would ever talk about that was non work – related was their kids. Don’t get me wrong. I know that people are going to talk about their kids but I knew more about them than I did about my own niece. Efforts to turn conversation to anything else at all whether it be sport, current affairs, travel, films, opera were futile. in the end I just started avoiding them.

  8. 38
    Clare

    Hi Tom

    You are perfectly right. The fear of AIDS has probably contributed in large part to the unwillingness to sleep around here. It’s just simply a little too risky. However I stand by my assertion that it’s also because we’re a more conservative society. People who have slept with many people are not regarded kindly, and there is a strong social approval of being in a committed relationship. It seems to reflect what most people want, as I have observed. I can’t remember ever hearing someone say they would rather be dating or having sex with multiple people, than being with the right person.

    As to your point about polygamy, you are perfectly right. Our president has 6 wives, 4 of them official. But bear in mind, there are 2 parallel and completely different cultures here. We have white, Western culture which is very much the same as European/American culture, except with a conservative past, and the push here is very much towards marriage and monogamous relationships.

    Then you have African culture, in which polygamy is widespread and legal. (It is only legal in an African cultural context. I would not be able to marry polygamously.) African women who do choose to marry polygamously are completely accustomed to this set-up and are afforded substantial financial protection under the law.

    Sorry for the long post, but I hope this clears up what you were asking.

  9. 39
    Christine

    Thanks for the input everyone–I’m still working on my mindset. I’m trying to learn not to internalize it so much and take it personally when men want younger women. I did get a lot of encouragement from this article, that so many women in my cohort are somehow finding men who want to marry them.

    Well, I wonder if there really is such hatred towards singles. After all, doesn’t everyone (including married people) at least start off as single? And everyone can always become single again at any time (through divorce, break-ups, death of the partner, etc.) Everyone is single at one time or another, for some portion(s) of their lives. So in a sense, wouldn’t people hating singles also mean hating themselves? I’m still trying to logically reconcile that one…

  10. 40
    Henriette

    @Christine44  I think that you overstate the “hatred” that married people feel for us singles.  In all honesty, the people who treat me as somehow “lesser than” because I’ve never been married are the same people who were threatened by me when I was slim & fit; dismissive of me when I put on weight; jealous of my million$; rude when I decided to leave the Rat Race and snide when I broke up with my decade+ relationship. 
    In other words, the small subset of folk who think less of us for being single are also the same kind of judgmental, narrow-minded folk who would think less of us for any life choice/circumstance that feel beyond the real of “normal.”  And for me, those people’s opinions matter not in the least. 
    I hope you’ll get to this point of not caring so much about the censure of a few unpleasant people, too.  Even though I’d love to be married, I also realise that being ashamed of being single would not only make me unattractive to potential partners but would also cast a shadow on my current life.
     
     

  11. 41
    Tom

    Thanks for the clarification Clare – I didn’t realise that the two cultures were treated differently legally.
     
    I find it very interesting that Helene, Ruby and Fiona sense a difference in status between married and unmarried people. I have never noticed this before but that’s probably because the majority of my friends and colleagues are yet to marry. Is there a difference in status between a married couple and a couple just in a ltr?
     
    Like Fiona and Evan have said, most married people I know are so caught up in their own situation and children that they’re indifferent rather than dismissive towards singles.

  12. 42
    Karl R

    helene said: (#37)
    “I actually feel slightly embarrised a lot of the time about being single – like it makes me in some way deficient.”

    During my late teens I came to the conclusion that awkward moments were an unavoidable part of life … but I could choose not to feel/act embarrassed about those moments.

    Most people will take their cues from you. If you act like you feel deficient, people will believe you’re deficient. If you act like you’re their equal, they’ll treat you like their equal.

    helene said: (#37)
    “Coming all the way to my place just to have dinner with ME just seems like something married friends aren’t prepared to do – a whole evening, just to see ME??”

    Believe it or not, the world doesn’t revolve around your marital status.

    If you put 2 women and 1 man in the same room for an extended period of time, the conversation for part of the time will be some form of “girl talk”. When you had a husband, the men could escape together. Now the man can’t conveniently escape. (Or do you keep a man-cave at your home?)

    And “girl talk” doesn’t become more interesting if the women are both married.

    Fiona said: (#42)
    “literally all anyone at work would ever talk about that was non work – related was their kids.”

    Single parents are just as bad about that as married parents.

    If parents are talking about their kids, does the conversation become more interesting if the parents are single?

    Boring conversations are boring, regardless of the marital status of those involved.

    Ruby asked: (#39)
    “It’s interesting that the study in question only analyzes people aged 15-44. Why not those who are older?”

    They’re from a generation where there were stronger stigmas against remaining single, so an even higher percentage of them (about 95%) got married.

    Henriette said: (#45)
    “the small subset of folk who think less of us for being single are also the same kind of judgmental, narrow-minded folk who would think less of us for any life choice/circumstance that feel beyond the real of ‘normal.’  And for me, those people’s opinions matter not in the least.”

    Well said.

    Of course, that does pose a difficult quandry for the singles who think less of themselves for being single. It’s probably harder for them to ignore that opinion.

  13. 43
    helene

    @ Christine

    I didn’t say I thought there was a hatred towards sigle people, just that we don’t command equal status. When I was married, it was common for me to go to dinner on a saturday night with another couple. Now, its rare for me to get invited out to dinner with a couple, especially on a saturday. I do have some couple friends who are honorable exceptions, but others simply don’t invite you – and if you invite THEM to meet in a restaurant on a saturday you get the vague “I don’t know what we’re doing” thing, as though this is not a good enough plan to commit a saturday night to. Oddly, since I’ve been single, saturday night is generally the quietest night of my week – unless I happen to have a date.  

    Evan said “…  We’re way too caught up in our own relationships to spend much time worrying about yours ”

    I think that is a key part of the issue - other single friends may have an awareness of the fact that if you’re not seeing anyone right now, saturday night is likely to be a bit of a low point in the week, but I do find my married friends just don’t seem to quite take this in – they’ll invite you out for a quick drink on a thursday, but tend to forget about you at christmas, or at weekends. Its the same sort of phenomenon that childless people experience when their friends have babies – suddenly they just drop way down the hierarchy of importance. People who I have known for years, and have supported through so much seem to have forgotten what its like to be single (or they don’t want to remember!) Also, I think that those who were, say, single in their 20s think they know what being single is like, but its a very different ballgame in your 40s – no large groups of party people your own age always organising all sorts of stuff to do… in your 20s, most people are single, so although uit has its down moments, on the whole its ok to be single in your 20s – you’re one of the crowd, you;re not a misfit. This is very different later in life.

    1. 43.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Helene – You can’t have it both ways, my friend.

      Married people get married for the companionship, to build a family, to provide safety and support to each other. Almost ALL married people build this bubble in some regards.

      You have the choice to do the same – to immerse yourself in a relationship.

      And yet all I hear from the “why do people hate singles so much” crowd is either “I don’t want to be married” or “I can’t find anyone good enough”. If you don’t want to be married, you can’t be too upset that you’re single and that married people aren’t reaching out to you. And if you do want to be married, start dating a guy a week, choose a man of character who is kind and consistent, and you, too, can not care whether your friends are single.

  14. 44
    helene

    @ David T – thanks so much for the book recommendations – very thoughtful of you, and I think it would be useful for me to read something like that

  15. 45
    Honey

    An amusing anecdote re: the status issue.  I had been with Jake for 6 years prior to our wedding.  Until we got married, EVERY TIME I talked to my dad, he pretended that he didn’t remember his name.  Since getting married, he not only uses the right name, he addresses emails to me as if they were to both of us and has several times mentioned he thinks Jake looks like Tom Cruise.  I was astonished.

  16. 46
    David T

    @Evan41, 49  Thank you so much for your opinion of the second book.  I have not gone too much into it yet.  The first pages of the first chapter did look more like documentation and analysis than something helpful for me, so your eval will save me some time. Glad I bought it used.

    I think Judy Ford’s book is helpful for anyone who aspires to coupledom (or not) but is feeling unhappy being single or has self doubt to the point it impairs.  After all, how will you be a fun and relaxed date attract if you are not confident and happy? If Helene finds satisfaction and contentment with being single and still remains open to dating, she will improve her odds of attracting someone.
     
    For some it won’t as simple just dating a stream of kind and consistent guys. You have to be internally ready too. I am in curious place mentally/emotionally right now. Part of me does aspire to coupledom, and always will, yet in my dating I have found my heart closed to new women for many many months. I started to get excited sometimes, and I should be excited over the women I was meeting and going out with and enjoying company with. They were quality dates! Invariably, I would have one or more dates and never develop any sense of being drawn to them. I worked with a counselor on this all this year and now accept that where I am now I am not open to finding a new relationship. I have some inkling as to why, but it is not something that I have been able to change.
     
    One friend suggested some level of physical intimacy like making out is needed to develop that attachment, but that is not something I can do with only friendship attraction (and I have tried that). I do still feel physical attraction, but acting on that with someone I am not feeling romantic about is a dissonance I can’t accept for me and is misleading and hurtful to them.  This is the way I am wired now.
     

    I seek and have found peace and contentment as a single with friends of both genders. I am building what I can of  that bubble Evan spoke about without being part of a couple, though I know it will not be the same or as intense or as reliable.  This is part of preparing myself for the very real possibility that my last gf may have been the last one I will ever have, and to be happy with that.

    So why am on this blog?  I am still compassionate.  I am interested in learning how people work and I like the idea that I might be able to help someone get what they want.

    There is also that small part of me that reflexively says “Go ahead and be playful.  Flirt with her and get a date.” Part of me still hopes and wants which means eventually I might find myself open again. I won’t be going on a date a week, because that is too much disappointment. I will dip my toe back into dating from time to time to see if anything has changed within me, and this blog is good prep work.

  17. 47
    Jane

    I’ve commented a couple of times, but I usually just lurk and read as much as time allows.  But I’m going to add this to my list of few times. It’s funny how the ensuing  comments are bookended by beliefs which stupify me.  A woman who is in her early 40′s should wait years to see when the man will decide, when the sand in her biological hourglass has virtually run out?  So often I hear exhortations of being practical, or rational, or merely stating facts here.  Well, here’s an absolute fact: you can’t have children forever.  If you’re in your 40′s that time is imminent.  If you’re in your mid to late 30′s, it still becomes tough.  That’s the time many women enter perimenopause, and while you can still give birth then, it is harder, and is prone to risk and/or complications.  Frankly, this is true for men as well, it’s just that it just keeps degrading for then, not ceasing outright.
     I have heard all the great stories of women who have given birth later, and much later in life (and thank you to everyone who has shared them here!).  But I have also heard stories of women who were limited to 1 child because either they entered the change, or kept having complications until they reached that point.  Or some women who never had children; it was too late.  Or even some who had them, who really wished they were younger, and feel the toughness of raising a toddler at an advanced age.  21 yr. olds get tired!  Now if someone doesn’t want kids, or is happy with the differing alternatives from being a step parent, to adopting, to just being a more metaphoric mom to a neighbor or god child, then feel free to ignore everything I just said. 

    I don’t think anyone is saying to force men to do anything; I know I’m not.  But a wise man, if he knows the woman’s age, would know that by waiting years until he figured out if he wanted to marry her is seriously compromising their chance of having a baby, if that is a desire.  And so it would be prudent for him to make up his mind sooner than later.  But if he doesn’t, and the woman is in the twilight of her childbearing years, and she wants children, then she would be wise not to accommodate herself to the man’s schedule when her ability is at stake, not his.  So advising women in their early 40′s to wait years when they would very much like to still have children, if possible, seems a kind of madness.  At best, lay the pros and the cons of both sides out, and let them decide.

    And a single person cannot expect her friends to come over for a nice Saturday dinner that she prepares?  That somehow you have to choose; that you can’t be single and expect to have married friends?  Whether you want a relationship or not is mutually exclusive to the desire for friendship.  And at least according to helene’s examples, if you can’t be bothered to show up at your friend’s house on the weekend either with or without your spouse, then how good of a friend can you really be?  And I think three sentient adults can come up with mutual conversation for a few hours for a dinner, or night/day out.  I’ve done it, as part of the couple, and as the single.  Is every single subject going to revolve around you?  No.  But then you don’t try and escape somewhere.  You listen.  And besides caring about, and wanting to know, the people your spouse cares about, isn’t that just basic level courtesy?

    I suspect though, that people are pretty firm in how they feel, so I just wanted to express my thoughts.  

    Thanks.

  18. 48
    Karl R

    Jane asked: (#53)
    “A woman who is in her early 40′s should wait years to see when the man will decide, when the sand in her biological hourglass has virtually run out?”

    This link may help you understand our advice.

    If having (more) biological children is an imperative for the man, he’s not dating women who are 40+.

    The men in your dating pool aren’t sitting around thinking “How can I help Jane get married and start a family?” The men are thinking “How can I find a terrific wife?” or “How can I start a happy family?”

    People won’t do what you want unless it’s in their best interest. If you want a man to marry you, he has to believe it’s in his best interest.

    Jane said: (#53)
    “a wise man, if he knows the woman’s age, would know that by waiting years until he figured out if he wanted to marry her is seriously compromising their chance of having a baby, if that is a desire.  And so it would be prudent for him to make up his mind sooner than later.”

    Alternatively, he can pursue a different woman … one who is younger.

    Furthermore, a wise man will be interested in providing a happy, stable home environment for his child(ren) … and that will require a happy marriage. Figuring out whether a man/woman will make a great husband/wife takes time. And if your ovaries are shriveling and your eggs are dying, it still takes the same amount of time.

    Jane said: (#53)
    “the woman is in the twilight of her childbearing years, and she wants children, then she would be wise not to accommodate herself to the man’s schedule when her ability is at stake, not his.”

    If she wants a husband, she will have to wait.

    If she wants a child, she should go ahead and have them without him.

    Jane asked: (#53)
    “And besides caring about, and wanting to know, the people your spouse cares about, isn’t that just basic level courtesy?”

    Last week my fiancée and one of her friends and I went to watch the fireworks together. The two of them spent at least 2 hours gossiping about mutual acquaintances (whom I don’t know). That’s well beyond what I wanted to know about their friends and even further beyond what I cared about.

    Since I had the ability to go off, do other things and talk to other people, I wouldn’t call their behavior discourteous toward me. However, I would have viewed the situation differently if the same thing occurred over a dinner at her friend’s house.

    I don’t expect my fiancée to care about every person I care about. I don’t expect her to want to know everyone I care about. If those friends put some effort into getting to know her, that process will probably happen naturally … but that’s outside of our control.

    If you expect your spouse to unilaterally care about your friends, you’ve probably set your expectations too high.

  19. 49
    Joe

    Jane,

    It has nothing to do with a wise man; any man knows a woman who’s 40 and wants kids is a ticking clock.  That doesn’t really change the timetable on whether or not he knows that he wants to marry her.  Does a woman with a ticking clock know any sooner that she wants to marry him?

  20. 50
    Hope

    Regarding others’ comments about feeling they are in less demand, socially, as a single person…I think it just comes down to the “third wheel” concern, not to any deep-seated hatred. I am 32 and not yet married, but  as someone who has been, and is currently, in a serious relationship, I’m conscious of the fact that I am less likely to invite a single friend to hang out with me and my boyfriend only because it seems unbalanced. It sort of feels like, well if Single Sally is MY friend, wouldn’t everyone feel more comfortable if I go out with Sally on my own?  So that neither she nor my boyfriend feels like the third wheel?  Problem is, most of my scarce free time is spent with my boyfriend, by choice, without much time left over for single friends.  I’m not saying this is very nice, or very socially skillful, but I don’t think there’s much more to it than that, when it comes to singles being “left out” by their coupled friends.
    Also, if Single Sally is equally a friend to me and my man, but we met her when she was part of a couple, and she is now newly single, I think this strikes even MORE anxiety into the hearts of most typical couples, because not only are we afraid she’ll feel like the third wheel, but neither of us feels quite right inviting her out alone, because we’re so used to having our partner and her partner there.  Again– as I write this I know how silly and unfair it sounds, and I know there are some couples who are totally socially at ease with single friends.  But, if you have a lot of coupled friends who don’t seem to invite you out as much as when you were in a couple, I would bet this is why, not because they think less of you as a person.

  21. 51
    Jane

    @ Joe:
    “Does a woman with a ticking clock know any sooner that she wants to marry him?”

    The best analogy, and admittedly not a great one, is a sale.  Maybe you’d like to have months to figure out whether you want to make a large purchase on something like, say, a car.  But there is a great deal you discovered, but the deal ends at the end of the month.  If you want to even contemplate that particular deal, you’d have to adjust your timetable, or forgo that car.  Everyone makes decisions based on the criteria that’s important to him or her.  So yes, if having a child is really important, then it should streamline the process in your 40′s in a way it doesn’t in your 20′s – and even that is not a hard and fast rule.  But, in general, I am of the opinion that as you age, you have a much better gauge of who you are, and what you want, so you don’t need as long to make a decision. 
    So do you make a decision in a day, a week, or even a couple of months? Generally no, but we’ve all heard stories of couples who have, married, and are still married.  And on a more fundamental level, you could spend decades with the person, and you’ll never truly know who s/he is.  But this is something that helene, and a few others have already articulated in the thread.  Clearly the majority here sees otherwise; I didn’t.

    @ Karl R:

    “This link may help you understand our advice.”

    Cute shirt, lol.  But I understand what is being said.  I don’t agree.  

    “If having (more) biological children is an imperative for the man, he’s not dating women who are 40+.”

    There is no need to talk for every man even in a particular state, let alone a country or several countries.  Even Evan, in his vehement disagreement didn’t do that.  He said most.  And sure, I’d agree most would not, but not all.  Even in that most, there may be some who would still be interested in older women.  And if their time frame matches, then great!  All you need is one.

    “The men in your dating pool aren’t sitting around thinking “How can I help Jane get married and start a family?” The men are thinking “How can I find a terrific wife?” or “How can I start a happy family?””

    You mean they’re not sitting around thinking about me?  I’m shocked!  I’m being tongue-in-cheek here.  But I never articulated that.  And the men around me are thinking all kinds of things, including a host of nefarious thoughts like, “What is the best way to be as vague as possible to get over on this woman, because I certainly don’t want an actual relationship!”  I was thinking hypothetically that if things were going well, and the man not just liked the woman, but loved her by then, then maybe he would decide to evaluate sooner than later.  I actually don’t see how this became such a radical thought considering this is the same advice one of Evan’s clients took in deciding to leave her boyfriend because she wanted children. It’s just she took as long as most of you are advocating, and I am just saying to shrink that time a bit, since your procreation time is shorter.
    And hey, if not, then at least honestly evaluate that, so that the two can part ways.  Which is why I ended with encouraging the woman to to decide what she values more.  Because, yes, the man is thinking about what is in his best interest.  So the woman needs to do the same, especially with something that ends.

    “Since I had the ability to go off, do other things and talk to other people, I wouldn’t call their behavior discourteous toward me. However, I would have viewed the situation differently if the same thing occurred over a dinner at her friend’s house.”
    I’m of two minds about it.  On the one hand, I think it’s discourteous either way.  You don’t even have to know the people in order to be included.  I have had conversations where two people were discussing mutually known others that I did not.  I would ask questions, they would fill me in with more details, and the conversations became robust, and sometimes even spun in different ways because I was a person outside the loop bringing a different POV.

    But other times I just listened.  I learned a lot about the people involved in both what they decided to gossip about, how they talked about it, what were their feelings on the information, etc.  I’ve done this with sports I know not so much about (because I actually do have a good working knowledge of sports in general).  I’ve done this in politics, where the people involved were discussing state races I had no clue about, since I didn’t live there.  In all those circumstances by listening to the back & fourth, I learned.  And it was that learning that made the conversation interesting.  But in a smaller dinner, I would expect a more balanced conversation, and a very intimate one-on-one, like the one you described, could be saved for when the two meet alone.

    “If you expect your spouse to unilaterally care about your friends, you’ve probably set your expectations too high.”

    Don’t think so.  I am not saying he has to like, or love every friend I have.  And I myself, have a small circle, and I am not talking about extended acquaintances, co-workers, etc.  But you care about the things your partner cares about, because s/he does.  If you and your fiancee see and do things differently, and it works for you, great.  It wouldn’t for me.  And if my good friend invited me over for dinners, maybe I wouldn’t take him all the time; I would go by myself, or with the kids, if we had any.  But sometimes, yes he does come over, because I care for her, so by extension he should, at least in theory.

    So to you both Karl R & Joe, thank you for your responses.  To even critique me, means you had to read it.  We just see things differently.

    Thanks.
     

  22. 52
    Mia

    Hope – your perspective makes me sad and disgusted, but I can’t really blame you , since most attached women think this way. All I can say is, how would you feel if your bf died in a car accident or dumped you? Would you go crying to the single pals  you ditched , since the couple friends won’t want to be with you since you’re single again? It seems like there’s no point in having friends anymore bc they’ll ditch you as soon as they couple up. I ALWAYS maintained an active life outside of dating in case of a breakup. I was reading about a 30s wOman whose husband died after six years of marriage, and she acknowledged having vanished from her single friends, only to now feel sad and alone bc it was so hard having a single social life. I thought, well, she got what she deserved for her insular selfishness. 

  23. 53
    Ruby

    It’s hard for me to imagine that a twenty-something would make a decision about marriage as quickly as a someone in their forties would. One of the ways we make decisions about who to marry is by comparing the people we’ve dated. Someone in their forties with much more relationship experience would find that easier to do than someone much younger. Ticking biological clock or not, someone 40+ has a much better sense of who they are and what they’re looking for than someone much younger.
     
     
    Karl R wrote: “Ruby asked: (#39)
    “It’s interesting that the study in question only analyzes people aged 15-44. Why not those who are older?”
     
    They’re from a generation where there were stronger stigmas against remaining single, so an even higher percentage of them (about 95%) got married.”
     
    Okay, but only 8% of 18-year-old women and 2% of 18-year-old males marry. I’m sure the percentage of 15-17 year olds is even smaller (not surprisingly), so I’m not sure of the value of studying people so unlikely to marry. It would be interesting to see how marriage rates have changed for an older demographic since the 1990′s.
     
     

  24. 54
    Joe

    Jane, the trouble is: there’s always another sale on cars coming along.

  25. 55
    Karl R

    Jane said: (#57)
    “I was thinking hypothetically that if things were going well, and the man not just liked the woman, but loved her by then, then maybe he would decide to evaluate sooner than later.”

    How much sooner? 1 year? 6 months? 3 months? 6 weeks?

    Evan and I recommend waiting until the infatuation (dopamine, norepinephrine, decreased seratonin) wears off. There’s a wide range of estimates about how long this takes, but they range from a few weeks to 3 years.

    This timeline is set by body chemistry. It doesn’t speed up for couples facing imminent infertility.

    The pitfalls of infatuation:
    “studies using functional imaging have suggested that brain activity in the prefrontal cortex – part of the brain that controls critical social judgement – lies pretty much idle when we are infatuated. It is only when the intense period of romantic euphoria wears off that our capacity for realism returns. Sometimes with dire consequences for the relationship.”see source

    “Your brain sets you up to be hyper-focused on what you like about this one person and to discount or ignore the parts you don’t like, in order to facilitate the ‘getting together’ part of the mating process.”see source

    Combining these two, it’s obvious how infatuation can set a couple up for a marital disaster.

    My infatuation (with my fiancée) started wearing off around the 9 month mark. It was completely gone by the time I proposed. But I don’t know when my fiancée’s infatuation wore off. Perhaps it hasn’t yet. While I’m certain that I’ve made a chemical-free decision to marry her, I can’t be absolutely certain that her decision to marry me was (initially) chemical free.

    By now I’m sure, because we’ve waited long enough to get past the infatuation point.

    Jane said: (#57)
    “There is no need to talk for every man even in a particular state, let alone a country or several countries.”
    “Even in that most, there may be some who would still be interested in older women.  And if their time frame matches, then great!  All you need is one.”

    There are 10.8 million single men between the ages 35 and 49. Do you have time to date them all? If you narrow it down to a single state, do you have time to date them all?

    If a woman is in her early 40′s, how many men does she have time to date before her “imminent” infertility closes that door? 100? 50? 25? Whatever number she has time for, she needs to find one in that group.

    The “All you need is one” strategy worked wonderfully for me … but I had the option to spend decades searching.

    Jane said: (#57)
    “Even in that most, there may be some who would still be interested in older women.”

    You’re also glossing over one of the more important points. I’m engaged to an older woman. I know numerous other men who are dating women in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

    But these men don’t want kids (or more kids).

    Let’s say a man (who wants kids) marries a woman in her early 40s (who wants kids). At that age, they’re likely to have some difficulty conceiving. There’s a substantial risk that she’ll go through menopause before having a child.

    You need to find a man who is willing to take the risk that they won’t have kids before menopause. The men most willing to take that risk are the men who are ambivalent about having kids.

    Jane said: (#57)
    “if having a child is really important, then it should streamline the process in your 40′s in a way it doesn’t in your 20′s”

    If having a child is “really important” to the man, he’s unlikely to want to take the risk of marrying a woman in her early 40s. If he’s ambivalent about having kids (and therefore willing to take the risk), he lacks the motive to “streamline the process.”

    But as you pointed out, “All you need is one” man …
    … who is willing to have kids
    … who is willing to to risk infertility by marrying a woman who is over 40
    … who wants to marry a woman he is still getting to know
    … who is willing to rush into marriage
    … who is willing to increase his risk of a failed marriage by rushing into marriage
    … who would make a good husband and father (even though you haven’t taken the time to get to know him fully)
    … who thinks you would make a great wife and mother (even though he hasn’t taken the time to get to know you fully)

    It’s possible to find a man like this, but you’re not likely to find one quickly.

    Jane said: (#57)
    “I actually don’t see how this became such a radical thought considering this is the same advice one of Evan’s clients took in deciding to leave her boyfriend because she wanted children.”

    Which client? Evan has talked about dozens of his clients.

  26. 56
    Fiona

    I am not convinced that it is a such good idea to allow a man to wait until his chemistry has worn off. That sounds like a much higher risk strategy for women than for men and a certain way to be repeatedly emotionally investing and repeatedly being dumped to me which is fine if you don’t mind having lots relationships with lots of different men which most women do not and certainly not fine if the biological clock is nearing the end. Dating is not fun for most women  - personally I feel all of my previous relationships were a total waste of my time because they have not resulted in marriage and children. Continuing to date now for a few years is not just risking yet more heartache if it ends but more importantly putting my ability to have children in other peoples’ control. I am seriously considering having children with a gay friend now than holding out. Obviously this is not the ideal but when the window to have children is gone, it is gone and no man can compensate for that. 

  27. 57
    Soul

    I, too, don’t think it’s a good idea to wait until the chemistry is completely gone. Furthermore, I don’t think it is a good idea to follow somebody who does not want children’s strategy (e.g. Karl) if you want to have children. The thinking processes won’t be the same and, according to me, the meaning behind such concepts as “love/family/couple/giving/hope/sacrifice/faith and confidence in the future/ purpose of life” won’t be either. Your strategy needs to be in accordance with your values, your objectives, and your dreams. 

    Those people who explain everything by referring to hormones (dopamine, oxytocine etc.) themselves acknowledge that those hormones are released for a purpose: for people to mate and have children sooner than later. Sure, you do not want to be BLIND to hormones, but you still need some kind of hormonal “high” for life to thrive.

  28. 58
    Helen

    Fiona and Soul: Believe me, I sympathize and understand where you’re coming from. But if you don’t “allow a man” to wait till the stage of infatuation is gone, then you may be forcing him into a marriage that he doesn’t really want, and that YOU may not really want. You need to see each other clearly, with no fog of infatuation, to know if you’d be happy together for decades to come. (And really, are you in the position to say that you allow your man to do this or that? It sounds controlling.)

    Also, forcing a man into marriage before infatuation wears off isn’t fair to the man. It sounds as though one of the main reasons you want marriage is to have children.  Now, that’s fine, but it doesn’t sound as though it’s much about the man at all, other than ensnaring him for sperm.  Marriage is about the partnership of two people, with or without children.  If you look at him as a tool just to get something else you want (kids), can you blame him for being resistant?  No, you have to be happy with EACH OTHER, and not expect kids to make everything worth it.  The compatibility absent infatuation is crucial for all the rest of your life.

  29. 59
    Mia

    Isn’t the bigger issue why a woman at such a late stage of childbearing years has waited so long? Obviously, shit happens, things don’t always work out how you want, but for a woman who seriously wanted children and put serious effort from age 25 or even 30 into finding a spouse, wouldn’t she have found one before she was pushing 40? Or are these women who got divorced in their 30s and are now back out there? I don’t mean to judge, I’m just trying to understand what the reasons would be for waiting so late. I’m still a little skeptical of Evan’s 3 years to marriage advice, if a woman is older, but fairly or not, I’m sure a man who wanted children would prefer a woman who wasn’t in such a position.

  30. 60
    Fusee

    Hi Mia @65: Although I’m not in this situation (33 and a uterus that came with no clock) I can see how a woman could find herself in such predicament if she had followed routine dating advice or simply her naturally accomodating and easy-going personality of being “cool”, “going with the flow”, and “respecting his pace”. (Do not get me wrong, I find this advice priceless at the early stage of dating, but I believe that women also need “relationship” advice, not just “dating” advice). 
     
    Imagine a good woman who would experience two or three serious multi-year relationships between age 25-35. Each time she can reasonably believe that it will lead to marriage and children (her desire from the beginning) but the first time she realizes they’re not really compatible (still learning what true compatibility is), the second time the man ends up “not being ready” in his still early thirties after years of telling her he will “eventually” want to be married (still learning how to evaluate a man’s potential to become “ready”), and the third time, well one of the above happened again, or, well s*** happened. She is now 35+, not only slightly burned-out by the break-ups of three serious relationships where she puts lot of energy in, but now also rightfully worried about the passing of time.
    I could be in that predicament. I had a seven-year relationship in-between two (more or less) one-year relationships, all in my late teens and twenties. I ended all of them and never wanted children, so time has never really been an issue for me on that regard. If the men had ended these relationships while I was expecting marriage and kids, I could very well be in the sad situation so many women describe. Sure, some women wait too long to take their love lives seriously (we can sympathize with them instead of blaming them by the way), some remain involved with the wrong man for years (who has not tried “too hard” at some point in their lives?), some simply “allow” a man to take way too much time to become “ready”…
     
    Am I saying we need to rush and/or force men into marriage? Certainly not. Who wants a marriage based on such terms, especially if kids will be part of it? I’m suggesting to start from scratch with a man who is already ready to consider marriage and who knows what he needs to look for, and whose job will simply focus on evaluating you and the relationship, while you’re doing just the same. Men like that exist! They sadly have no clue on how to go from there, so they need a partner who does. It will still require time (no kidding, as Evan says, it’s a 40+ year decision!), but it does not need 3 years, unless you still do not know what you want and how to create it, you are very young, have a track record of poor decision-making in relationships, or are afflicted by these “chemical highs”, “hazes”, and “crazy infatuations” for more than a few weeks.
     
    I experienced these feelings once in my twenties and I understood their danger. They indeed made me stay in a relationship for longer than its expiration date. I now choose partners who do not make me go insane. The high with my current boyfriend lasted six weeks and it was still rather moderate. Just the delight of receiving attention from a good man after years of solo living. Since then I’ve been getting to know the very real him, with flaws, heavy conversations, conflicts, and all. The difference was that he was already open to talking about marriage since he was hoping to build a life-long relationship at some point in his life. He did not feel threatened by the M word. He did not equate “talking about marriage and its meaning” with “being coerced into marriage”. He understood that I was evaluating him as well, not just “waiting for a proposal since date #3″.
     
    Of course I agree with the concept of avoiding to make a “chemical”-based decision and with the concept of respecting the pace of the slowest partner. Let’s be careful, but let’s not make/accept new excuses to delay taking responsability.

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