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.

0
1

Join 8 Million Readers

And the thousands of women I've helped find true love. Sign up for weekly updates for help understanding men.

I hate spam as much as you do, therefore I will never sell, rent, or give away your email address.

Join our conversation (149 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 61
    Karl R

    Fiona said: (#62)
    “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”

    Option 1 (which Evan and I recommend)
    You give a man enough time for the infatuation to fade. He decides that there’s not enough connection to sustain a marriage. He breaks up with you.

    Option 2 (which you recommend)
    You marry the same man before the infatuation fades. After the infatuation fades, he decides there’s not enough connection to sustain a marriage. (Possibly after reproducing.) He divorces you.

    Would you rather be repeatedly dumped, or would you rather have a series of short, unhappy marriages? As Helen implied (#64), the men who dump you aren’t the men who are going to spend decades married to you.

    Soul said: (#63)
    “Sure, you do not want to be BLIND to hormones, but you still need some kind of hormonal ‘high’ for life to thrive.”

    Are you saying that the hormones are necessary for successful fertilization? If so, you’re wrong. You can get a happy, healthy baby from artificial insemination using two parents who don’t give a rat’s ass about each other.

    Or are you saying that the parents in the family need the hormonal “high” in order to thrive and feel alive in their marriage? If that’s what you believe, you’re going to have a series of short marriages. The dopamine, oxytocin and seratonin levels return to normal in three years (usually much sooner). If you believe that you and your husband will be exceptions, you’re engaging in magical thinking.

    Soul said: (#63)
    “Your strategy needs to be in accordance with your values, your objectives, and your dreams.”

    If your strategy isn’t in accordance with reality, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

    While many married couple stay together longer “for the sake of the children”, they’re miserable doing so. Either you choose a spouse that you can happily grow old with, or you set yourself up for divorce.

  2. 62
    Clare

    I think you make a very good point, Mia. I would imagine it is not a pleasant thing to be facing that kind of time pressure, racing against the biological clock if you will, not just for the man, but especially for the woman. It would be more ideal if women could start the process of seriously evaluating potential spouses in their early to mid twenties.

    And yet the irony is that many women that age have a more laid back approach to their love lives, are studying or building their careers, having fun with their friends, and also are perhaps not the best judge of whom to marry as they still have growing up and self-exploration to do.

    What is a good compromise? I think late twenties is when we should be making finding a serious partner top priority.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Helen @ 64 though. I think the best way to find yourself married, to say nothing of happy and satisfied, is to cultivate love, not by any combination of forcing or allowing. The problem with women who want to lay down their timelines and use this to “encourage” men to step up is, as Evan is often saying, that they have no leverage.

    Whilst oxytocin, dopemine, seratonin and the other feel-good hormones which are present in the infatuation stage are great and it might be tempting (if you were so inclined) to “take advantage” of these, you might be missing that there is an even greater bonding agent which comes with time: attachment. Two people who have invested in understanding each other and becoming close over time are less likely to leave each other than those under the spell of those infatuation feel-good feelings.

  3. 63
    Fiona

    Helen @64 – I don’t want to control men nor do I just want to use them for their sperm. I would like to be a loving wife and a mother but at 37, if a man needs to take years, I am afraid that I can realistically probably only be one of those things. I don’t think a relationship that lasts for years at this time of life could end in a happy marriage anyway unless neither party wants children. No matter how reasonable it may be for a man to take his time to be sure, I think it would be hard for a woman to marry someone willing to let her clock wind down until it stops without resenting him. If the man also wants children then she also runs the risk that he leaves anyway and finds someone who can.

    Mia@65 – That is a good question – it isn’t a case of choosing to wait too long so much as it just didn’t work out. I always wanted a husband and children, and have been actively trying to meet the right man for at least the last 10 years, thinking I’d met him, watched him leave, then had to recover from heartbreak before being able to start again. I have changed my approach a lot in the last year. However, it hasn’t worked out yet (another 3 month relationship bit the dust last weekend) and time is starting to run out. It really kills me to say that I am seriously looking at going down the artificial insemination route with a gay friend but it may be my best chance to be mother although I am still hesitating a bit because I really would rather have children out of love. As for men preferring a woman that isn’t in this situation, I agree – I am sure that most would.

  4. 64
    Soul

    @Helen, #64:

    Who’s talking about “forcing” a man? I have never forced anybody and literally all my boyfriends wanted to marry me (except the current one, who does not believe in marriage…still I love him….and we are starting a family….oh, yes!!! I’m French ahahahaha).

    I did not picture my life with my previous partners so I chose to keep looking despite my age, because I have faith in the future… this is just who I am, I have always been optimistic (Mia, i hope that answers your question? some of us just choose to keep looking until we find the one!! Unfortunately you do not really decide when it happens, or even if it will happen!!!)

    Helen, what you are saying corroborates what I said: people who want a family, and not only a husband will not make the same decisions as people who only want a husband (the way I am phrasing this is awkward, but by “family” I mean including children) . For me, both are inseparable and I do not picture my life with only a husband, nor do I picture my life with only children… I want both (God willing, of course). 

    In the end, I think it all comes down to people’s personality: some people are risk-avoiders and news to plan things ahead, take their time and waiting for a long the suits their need (those people ar often on the conservative side btw); on the other hand, others are more of the spontaneous type and trust their feelings, make decision pretty quick but are still attuned to their needs… both can make mistakes, and both can form happy families for life. I deeply believe, however, that if you d not adapt your strategy to your personality you are doomed to fail….

  5. 65
    Fiona

    Karl @67 – if I were ten years younger or ten years older I might be OK with this proposition but right now, if I am going to be left, I would rather take the risk of being left holding the baby than left grieving the loss of being able to have babies. I don’t see how that means that there would be a series of short term marriages afterwards – the biological clock issue would disappear and there would be the luxury of time.

  6. 66
    Mia

    Fusee, I guess you have a good point about dating advice encouaging women to be too cool. I really have no personal experience to go off of here, because, while I had four long term relationships fom 18-25, I was too young to be evaluating anybody for marriage potential, and in the few years since then it’s just been a few short term things that never led to exclusivity. But I do hear a lot about how women should NEVER mention marriage, never question the progress of the relationship, and this would seem to put women at a serious disadvantage.  At the least, I wonder whether women should maybe wait a lot longer until becoming exclusive with a man – maybe even 4 months or longer – so they don’t end up wasting time with people who are clearly not going to step up and who aren’t ready or compatible. Still, a certain amount of time is needed.
    I thought I met my soulmate at age 21, and he became one of the closest friends I’d ever had, but after six months of dating he abruptly ended things and changed as a person. At the nine month mark in other relationships, I realized it probably wasn’t going to work. Even after a year you probably still don’t know enough about whether you’d grow bored with each other or have what it takes to form an enduring bond. I also detect no real pattern in how a guy will treat me or how into me he will be based on how good looking he is, how much he makes, whether we were friends for a long time first or just met on a blind date or online,
     so how exactly do you find these men, Fusee, who are from the beginning marriage minded?

  7. 67
    Soul

    @ KArl, # 67 

    You said: If your strategy isn’t in accordance with reality, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
    While many married couple stay together longer ”for the sake of the children”, they’re miserable doing so. Either you choose a spouse that you can happily grow old with, or you set yourself up for divorce. 

    Many married people stay together for the sake of  “staying married” as well, and they are nonetheless miserable. 

    There is no such thing as ONE reality. There has never been.

  8. 68
    Jane

    How is advocating women to be mindful of their biological clock, IF they want kids, and especially IF they are older has been equated to forcing men to do anything?  This seems like an unnecessarily extreme and exaggerated proposition.  Fusee & Soul have already expressed it, so I won’t re-invent the wheel.

    But I want to address what you asked about Mia.  I agree with you that this process should start earlier, and I think it is happening now.  And I liked how others have described the varying personal reasons that can leave a woman in that situation.  But I want to take a more macro look at what could have happened.

    This seems to me most akin to the U.S. job crisis. in the   Technology isn’t the only thing changing at such a rapid pace, many aspects of culture are as well. In terms of the job market, many later boomers grew up understanding that you commit to a company, you get a pension, the end.  Gen xers didn’t, so as the economy radically left that paradigm, it was just more of the same.  And millenials, seeing the playing field, have an entirely different mindset.  Did this hurt everyone?  No, some people already had careers that mimicked the new climate, some others did end up working for companies that more or less fulfilled that agreement.  But many found themselves w/o a job, and without immediate coping strategies to acclimate to the new standard.

    It’s not exactly the same, but it’s similar.  Part of that “you can have it all myth” was the idea that you could focus on your career when you’re younger, and then have your family and career in your 30’s.  And we’ve not only seen the results of that, but discussed it recently (via the Atlantic article).  But in terms specifically of child-bearing, how often were women told that you can just do it in your 30’s?  The increased difficulty was not publicly discussed until recently.  And while menopause is often talked about, we still hear very little about perimenopause, which can also seriously affect your ability to procreate.

    But what’s also changed is the sentiment that actually initiated the article [I was so taken aback by people encouraging older women who wanted children to vet a man for years, that it focused my response attention].  But no, I don’t think most people get married.  Not anymore.  If people were still getting married, the percentages would shift, age up accordingly, but the very end percentages would stay about the same.  They don’t.  More people aren’t marrying, ever.  This is very different from what our boomer/greatest gen parents grew up with. You can see this especially in the chart Paragon posted, but I’ve seen CDC numbers that specifically focus on never marrieds, breaks down across time, by gender, ethnicity, and the entire age spectrum.

    In speaking of ethnicity, I think it is also helpful to look at some of the smaller subsets of the group, because things are not equal.  In the CDC chart, when they do a general snapshot, not broken down by age, the never married rate for ’06-’10 is 38.2%.  But when you break it down ethnically, for U.S. born latinas the never-married rate is 49.3%, and the african american rate is a staggering 55.1%.  Now they don’t further break down the numbers according to age, but I have seen those; the numbers for african american females in their late 30’s and early 40’s are still noticeably low, and far lower than the 8 in 10 average cited at the head of the article.

    These numbers are interesting too when you look at the most recent article about single vs. married moms.  Less than 10% of OOW births occur with women who hold a bachelor’s or higher, while those with a diploma or less is 61%.  So if we are talking about degreed women, for them, no marriage, no child.  But then when that marriage doesn’t materialize, and you are at the end of your fertility, it does create the need for tough choices.

    And much like the analogy above, this didn’t affect some women, and possibly even many, but there was a portion of women who were caught in the vice of a changing social scene, or one that was advocated, but never truly materialized.  And I just don’t want them to give up yet, if it’s important to them, and if they still have some time.

    @ Karl: “Which client? Evan has talked about dozens of his clients.”
    This is long, so I may not get to all the responses I wanted, but I wanted to at least highlight this one here, since it concludes what I was saying.

    I was referring to the “Become the Woman that No Man Can Ever Leave” thread; the one that caused a dual issue when some people weren’t thrilled about the age difference, and others were concerned about the man being a possibly ambivalent father (what you brought up, actually).  Here are some snippets:

    “But all relationships have their challenges, and Mark and Michelle were no different.  The elephant in the room for this couple was that Michelle very much wants to have kids, while Mark never really anticipated that he’d be a father again in his 50’s.”

    “Most importantly, from our work together, Michelle knew that her future husband wants to be a dad, and thus, she had no regrets about walking away when she did.”

    “After spending a year and a half together, Mark realized that he couldn’t imagine life without her.”

    “Know that this is within your grasp and that true love will find you sooner rather than later – as long as you prioritize your love life like Michelle did.”

    This is all I’m basically advocating, just with a slightly streamlined timeline.  Just like Michelle knew her husband was going to be a father, and was ok walking away when he changed his mind and didn’t want children, so should an older woman feel, if that is what she really wants.  And just like they spent approximately  1.5 years only before tying the knot, it’s not such a leap to imagine that this can be determined in a year.  

    At no point have I argued that this was easy.  Both men and women put off marriage.  But when men reach similar ages, many do simply decrease their range to the 20’s to early 30’s; their female contemporaries?  Pretty stuck.  Younger women, seeing what’s going on, won’t have the same problem.  But  I know the numbers are not on the older women’s side.  But like I said, all you need is one.  So why not give it a chance?  Worse case scenario: you look, no one’s there, and you enter menopause.  I mean, maybe you even do it at an earlier that usual age.  Then you can just switch gears, look for a partner, and take the more cautionary time frame that is being advocated here.

  9. 69
    Karl R

    Fiona said: (#71)
    “if I am going to be left, I would rather take the risk of being left holding the baby than left grieving the loss of being able to have babies.”

    Then take the option Lori Gottlieb did. Go have the baby. You don’t need a man in order to start that.
     
    Fiona said: (#69)
    “As for men preferring a woman that isn’t in this situation, I agree – I am sure that most would.”

    Especially if they’re aware of the risk of divorce associated with rushing.
     
    Fiona said: (#69)
    “I really would rather have children out of love.”

    Women get sole custody 66% to 75% of the time (depending upon whether the custody is contested). In the case of a divorce, men run a significant chance of ending up not raising their children.

    If you knew that a divorce was likely to result in you losing your children (as well as your spouse), would you be willing to take a chance on a hasty, risky marriage?

  10. 70
    Fiona

    Karl @75 – unfortunately I am probably going to be forced to do just that and lead half a life unless I can find a man willing to take a chance who realises that I am actually someone worth taking a chance on.

    You cannot assume that, if I do, the man will be miserable for life or desperate to divorce me either (or vice versa). However, the man prepared back to stand back for 3 years and watch me break my heart over infertility is not my future husband as he is showing that he isn’t the kind of man prepared to make compromises to adapt to the reality of a situation that I can’t change and worse that he really doesn’t care about what I want at all. 

    I am not sure that taking all the 35-40 year old women that want children out of the marriage pool while they raise children alone wouldn’t leave a lot of lonely unmarried men out there.

  11. 71
    Soul

    Fiona said: (#71)
    “if I am going to be left, I would rather take the risk of being left holding the baby than left grieving the loss of being able to have babies.”
    Karl replied: (#75)
    Then take the option Lori Gottlieb did. Go have the baby. You don’t need a man in order to start that.

    I have never been comfortable with black or white thinking….The duration of the courtship/dating phase before tying the knots (I’m summarizing the idea) is not the sole predictor of a good/bad marriage, far from it actually (there are other determinants: for example, age is a stronger predictor… how does that enter the equation here?  I hang out several times a week with university profs who do scientific research and present their results all around the world on those subjects…if people are old enough, there are many successful marriages where people got married in the first two years….  there is TON OF SCIENTIFIC PROOF for that…don’t be shy, just do a google scholar search and you’ll find it). 

    This blog is for Strong, SMART, successful women…and a smart woman/man is nuanced in her/his arguments; it is obvious but you can have A & B being true the same time.

    Speaking of nuance…..We do need and want a (good) man to start a family. Like most women, (I suppose) Fiona does not want to have a baby by herself; she wants to have a family. However, in the worst case scenario, i.e. should her marriage fail, she stills prefers to experience the joy of being a mother while she can. There lies the nuance….. Is this hard to grasp ? it is not only about being a mother. But you have to adapt to the situation/variables. 

  12. 72
    Fusee

    @ Mia #72: “…so how exactly do you find these men, Fusee, who are from the beginning marriage minded?”
     
    Mmm if I knew of a special fishing spot and if I disclosed it to women, I would have many friends, wouldn’t I? ; )
     
    Since I do not believe that such men hide anywhere special, I simply avoid places that attract a disproportionately high number of players/lazy men/non-committal men, such as bars and online dating sites. Serious men are there too, of course, but in much less density, so it’s less likely to run into them in those places compared to in real life where all populations are more equally represented.
     
    I’ve indeed always met men in person because I do not do online dating, blind dates, etc. I’d rather rely on the magic of two people being brought to the same place at the same time. Yes it might not be the “most effective”, but how natural it is! It respects natural rythmes and natural ways of interacting with others. It allows our natural intuitions to kick in. A screen and a keyboard will never replace these subtle energies.

  13. 73
    Mia

    Fusee – I agree that online dating has its limitations and I do not rely on it exclusively. However, meeting people in even the best of real life situations has not protected me from men who will hurt me. The last man who really disappointed me, I met through a friend. The man who hurt me the most in my life is a guy I met in a meditation class. I met a guy in kind of a cute way at a sports bar, and we went on one date and he didn’t call me (he wasn’t particularly cute or special, but it was annoying, as we’d had a really good conversation). Another man who hurt me was just a bald, average looking, really fun guy that worked in the same place and we’d frequently go out for drinks together. I’ve met several other guys through friends recently and we became very close platonic friends who hang out together constantly, so there was no big loss that we mutually didn’t feel attraction. Anyway, I just find it difficult to discern upfront whether people are marriage minded and are going to be into me for a long time – for the most part, these guys don’t come off as slick, suave players that girls are banging down their door for. They’re just normal men.

  14. 74
    Karl R

    Soul said: (#77)
    “The duration of the courtship/dating phase before tying the knots (I’m summarizing the idea) is not the sole predictor of a good/bad marriage,”

    I agree. But time gives us the opportunity to get to know our partner better. And with that knowledge, we can better understand whether many of the stronger predictors are present.

    According to one marriage therapist, “The number one predictor of divorce is the habitual avoidance of conflict.”

    How do you expect to find out if your partner habitually avoids conflicts unless you take the time to find out? If you have a partner whom you generally agree with (someone with high compatability), you’re probably not having disagreements regularly.

    And if you’re still infatuated, you have a high tendencey to ignore the other person’s faults, so you’re less likely to be having arguements.

    The “Seven Predictors of Divorce” by Focus on the Family all relate to how the couple resolves disputes.

    I had been dating my fiancée for more than two years before we had our first significant dispute.

    Soul said: (#77)
    “for example, age is a stronger predictor…”

    Can you find any data that predicts that a woman married at 40 is less likely to get divorced than a woman who gets married at 26? Every study I’ve seen lumps those women together. Over the age of 25, nobody considers age to be a sufficient predictor to bother collecting data on.

    According to one Ph.D. marriage counselor:
    Getting married at 16 gives you a 90% chance of divorce.
    Having one or more negative ways of fighting gives you a 85% to 90% chance of divorce.

    On par with those two were “Putdowns and Discounts” and “Looking for evidence that you are not okay.” (The latter being common to people with abandonment fears.)

    And finally, “Major Cultural and Religious Differences,” which you would think would be immediately discernable. However, “People living next door to each other and going to the same church may have equally pronounced differences in their families.”

    That’s four additional predictors which are nearly as bad as getting married at 16 (which most people consider foolish). And all of them can be detected in advance if you take enough time getting to know your partner.

    According to Dr. Gottmann, the following traits are a 94% predictor of divorce early divorce (on average, 5 1/2 years after the marriage):
    Contempt:  statements made by one partner to the other from a position of arrogance and superiority (the number one predictor).
    Criticism: stating one’s complaints about their partner as if they are a character defect.
    Defensiveness: self-protection in the form of moral indignation and victimhood.
    Stonewalling:  stopping communication with your partner by withdrawing emotionally.

    Again, these are not traits that appear early in the dating process.

    Soul said: (#77)
    “there are many successful marriages where people got married in the first two years….”

    True. But if you get married early, you don’t know whether or not you have the traits that lead to divorce. You’re gambling … and sometimes luck is with you.

    Sometimes it isn’t.

    Fiona believes the risk associated with waiting is worse than the risk associated with taking the gamble. That’s likely true for her. It’s not necessarily true for the men she’s meeting. Of course, some men are more willing to gamble than others … but gamblers and risk takers might not be ideal husband/father material.

    Jane sees one man who was willing to take a chance at 1 1/2 years, and believes that means there are men out there who would be willing to take a risk at 1 year. Heck, there are probably men willing to take a risk at one week, but I think you’ll find the numbers drop as you speed up the time frame.

    If you’re hunting for a smaller pool of men, it usually takes longer to find someone.

    1. 74.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Right on, Karl. My wife and I got engaged before a year and a half because a) I was a dating coach with LOTS of previous experience and b) I was anxious about childbearing. My wife pressuring me certainly wouldn’t have helped any. Every other close couple I know (my five best friends) took 3 years before getting engaged, including ones with wives in their late 30’s early 40s.

      Next, I was at Michelle and Mark’s wedding this weekend. They didn’t get engaged in a year and a half – closer to 2 1/2 years and the marriage was at around 3 years. The obstacle they overcame at 18 months was about kids. And, as it turns out, they decided NOT to have kids, even thought that was the original sticking point. Funny how people arrive at mutually agreeable conclusions when they love each other, communicate well, and take their time to figure things out as a couple.

      Finally – and I’ll probably write a newsletter about this today – I met a bunch of people at the wedding who learned what I did. And every single one of them agreed with my central premise – you can’t pressure men to do anything that’s not on their timetable. The attempts to do so will only backfire. You’ll tell yourself that he didn’t really want marriage/kids with you, but the truth is that he didn’t want to be pressured into marriage/kids with you. He will CHOOSE it with the woman who gives him time to do so.

  15. 75
    Helen

    Evan: what an interesting twist to the story. Best wishes to Michelle and Mark. It sounds as though they made the right choice, given their circumstances. Mark should know what a treasure he has in Michelle, making that type of compromise for his sake.
     
    About your last paragraph: it reminds me of a quote either you or one of your commenters wrote, “If you tell a man to do something and he does it, he is not a man.” It applies to women as well, and it’s not so much about being a “man” or a “woman,” but being an adult who knows how to make decisions independently. Of course, we might wind up doing something another person wanted, but it should be because we weighed the options and made the choice that made most sense. In any case, we want someone who wants to be with us, not someone we pressured into being with us.
     
    Karl: all points agreed with respect to conflict and handling it respectfully.
     
    Fiona and Soul: the good news is that men (and you) don’t necessarily need YEARS to make a decision, to be free of infatuation, or to have a conflict that shows each others’ true colors. So, don’t go into this thinking the worst. Stay optimistic, be real, and state what you want with a smile to men. Don’t be upset if they can’t give you what you want immediately. Playing it cool and pleasant often brings the best outcomes soonest.

  16. 76
    Fusee

    Thank you, Karl #80 for bringing up this useful information. I think it will enlighten many who are not yet educated on these proven predictors of divorce (and predictors of any relationship troubles I would add). A successful relationship is about character, and we not only need time to discover someone’s character but opportunities to let it show. There is no way you can have a decent relationship where contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling are part of the picture. Those are relationship killers, not just of marriage, but of friendship, of family relationships, of business relationships, etc.
     
    Rather than debate on timelines, which are going to be different for each individual, it might be more useful to encourage people to – despite chemical highs – take a serious look at their prospective partner’s character and develop their own character qualities further. Rather than saying that one year is enough, or that we absolutely need three years to make a wise decision, we could focus on what we do with our courtship time, and what our specific relationship needs before moving to the next level. It’s going to look very different between your relationship and mine, depending on how experienced you are, your personalities, how sensitive you are to chemicals, what opportunities to learn about your partner’s character you run into, and a variety of individual circumstances. As Evan said @81, his own circumstances led him to follow a different timeline for his relationship, and it worked out well for him and his wife because although he did not have the ideal amount of time, he did have everything else to make a wise decision.
     
    I applaud warning people about chemicals and predictors of failure. But making the passing of time the “be all and end all” of courtship is equally dangerous, as it encourages people to just “go with the flow” for three years while not necessarily working on their character and exploring their future goals and compatibility. More time sure is a great benefit but it is not sufficient either. It has to be used wisely by becoming a better life partner and staying on “evaluation” mode instead of slipping into a routine.
     
    If both parties feel the need for three years, great. How about they make their preliminary goal to have a pre-decision made at the 18-month mark, and then take an additional year to confirm it? At least they would really be working on something, and the most marriage-attached party will know that their partner is serious about marriage.
     
    @Mia #79: Relationships hurt. I’ve been hurt my fair share and I’ve hurt too. It’s not because the guy is marriage-minded or even has become your awesome boyfriend that you are not going to be hurt. Just two weeks ago I experienced the worst pain I had experienced in almost five years, simply by listening to my boyfriend’s perspective on something related to our relationship. And he truly is a good man and treats me with the utmost respect and love. He did not choose to hurt me, I felt hurt all by myself because of my own personality issues and attachments. I think that I’m quoting Karl R who said in another thread that if you want to avoid pain, it’s best to stay OUT of relationships.

  17. 77
    Jane

    What troubles me is the insistence I feel from both you, Karl, and you, Evan, that I am advocating that women pressure men to do anything.  So often Evan, you yourself have complained that people put words in your mouth, I I believe you are doing the same to me.

    If I want a job at a company, and health insurance is a priority for me, but the company currently doesn’t provide it, am I pressuring the company to suddenly purchase health insurance if I decide to not take their offer, and look elsewhere?  If I want to go to the movies, and so does a friend of mine, but it turns out we want to see different movies, and we can’t compromise, so we end up not going together, have I forced her to not go to the movies?  We both have the same choices: either person will see what the other wants, or both see something entirely different.  But if my heart is set on one particular movie, then it’d be best to just go find someone else who also wants to see it.

    In fact, this is a good example, because the movie will be in theatres a limited time. So a person, say, could go see it by herself.  But if she really wants to see it with another human being, then she will avidly look for someone to see it with her.  If it turns out she doesn’t, then she’s back to square one anyway: watching it by herself or with someone else, but on tv – no harm, no foul.  But maybe that very week she finds someone who hasn’t seen it, or who has seen it several times, but loves it so much s/he’ll see it again.  She would have lost out on that particular experience had she just assumed she couldn’t find someone.

    The childbearing issue is the same, in this respect.  If, at whatever point she determines, the woman thinks a decision needs to be made, and he is not ready, then they can part ways amicably, and she can look for another man.  That’s it.  “Funny how people arrive at mutually agreeable conclusions when they love each other, communicate well, and take their time to figure things out as a couple.”  I completely agree with this.  What I don’t agree with is the specific, and narrow, time frame that’s being allotted here.  That can happen in a decade, and it can happen in a day.

    Karl R – If you’re hunting for a smaller pool of men, it usually takes longer to find someone.

    Despite the myriad ways in which this has been articulated, and the numerous people who have, I’ve yet to disagree with either of those two points.  This seems to be where the sticking points are:

    * When one is older and/or one knows him/herself better, the time you need to deliberate a potential match generally shrinks.  Because of that, a more truncated time, in lieu of what you want, doesn’t seem like madness.

    * Probability doesn’t equal absolution.  Give the woman her odds, and let her determine what is best for her, not try to dissuade her from it, because the chances are low, if it is what she wants.

    * Do not let a man determine your schedule.  Do not try to determine his.  Just keep looking until you find one who mutually feels the way you do.

    And all those can be boiled down to this:  if a woman still has the chance to procreate, and she weighs the pros and the cons, and still wants to try to find a man who would want a baby with her, go for it!

    But thank you for the clarification, Evan, on Michelle’s story.  I’ll drop it from my example here.  I hope you had a great time!

    To finish up…

    Karl R – Fiona believes the risk associated with waiting is worse than the risk associated with taking the gamble. That’s likely true for her. It’s not necessarily true for the men she’s meeting. Of course, some men are more willing to gamble than others … but gamblers and risk takers might not be ideal husband/father material.

    I hope you’re not equating all risk, and at that, all risk akin to gambling, or gambling addiction.  Not all risk is the same, you have to take in a variety of factors, along with people’s temperaments.  There is a big difference in taking a chance on love, and taking a chance at a slot machine.    And gamblers, when they get in trouble, are usually chasing the gambling high.  Being too cautious is not good either; you need balance.

    Karl R – This timeline is set by body chemistry. It doesn’t speed up for couples facing imminent infertility.
    We just have different premises here:  simply put, many can override a dopamine rush.   No one can override post-menopause.

    Like I said above, we have premise differences, and once you argue down to the differing premises, there isn’t anywhere else to go, unless one changes.  So I’m glad to agree to disagree.  Thanks for the specifics of your responses.

    @Helen – I liked the way you bridged the varying gaps, and tied everything together nicely. :-)

  18. 78
    Fiona

    Best of luck to Michelle and Mark. Everyone needs to do what is right for them in the  end. Different people have different priorities. 

    However, if Evan is correct about 3 years being needed, all I can say is that it makes very depressing reading for those of us in our late 30s that still want children because it seems that the only choice we really have unless we are extremely lucky to meet a man with a lot of dating experience or to be fertile in our 40s (which is by no means guaranteed) is to either find a partner or to have children but not both. Neither option is very palatable but personally the thought of not having children is not something I can bear.

     

    1. 78.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You make it sound like an either/or, Fiona. It’s not. My wife had Baby 1 at age 40. baby 2 will come before she turns 43. My best friend’s wife had her first at 41. I don’t think it’s ideal, but it’s certainly possible. If you think that getting sperm and raising your kid yourself without a father is a better course of action, I wish you the best of luck. I would sooner choose a good man who is serious about you and try to have kids together (and later adopt) OR choose a man who HAS kids, than to go at this whole mommy business alone. But that’s just based on my experience as a coach. Do what you have to do.

  19. 79
    Mia

    Forgive me if I’m being really ignorant here, but what is this fixation on HAVING to have biological children? If you are reaching the end of childbearing years and are under pressure, why not adopt? Do you know how many kids in Africa, China, India, or even the US are in need of a good home? Adopting them instead of having your own kids is far more of a service to the world, you can have the kid without a pressured timeline, and date in a more relaxed way into your late 30s. I am extremely mixed on having biological kids bc it puts me on a timeline I’m not entirely comfortable with, but this is another option I would be open to.

  20. 80
    Soul

    The body of literate on this question is huge, and many variables have been tested. In fact, the divorce rate has decreased compared to the 60s, and researchers are trying to explain why.
    For instance, after a 3-minute research on google scholar, I found this peer-reviewed paper : “Determinants of Divorce over the Marital Life Course Author(s): Scott J. South and Glenna Spitze, Source: American Sociological Review, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Aug., 1986), pp. 583-590. I can’t manage to upload  it but have a look for yourself…. and that was published in 1986…. You have plenty of other and more recent papers but I do not have time. To keep on looking, you can either start from theses authors’ own most recent papers, or have a look at their bibliography and do a (google scholar) search on the authors cited.   Actually, the divorce rate has decreased compared to the 60s, and researchers are trying to explain this trend.

    PS: I just want to show that the problem is far more complex than “waiting 3 years instead of 18 months before getting married”.  However, I agree with Evan’s suggestion that integrity etc. are more important than chemistry if you want to predict the longevity of a marriage. 

  21. 81
    Soul

    body of literature.

    Sorry for the numerous typos in my different posts, my computer automatically corrects my mistakes but, as for the smart-phones, the changes are sometimes extremely weird, I should double-check before posting, sorry.
     

  22. 82
    Fiona

    Mia@86 People are different and for some that may be an option. Others (like me) feel a very strong need to play their part in the circle of life to feel that they have fulfilled their purpose as female creatures on this planet. 

  23. 83
    Fusee

    @Jane #84: I agree with you about how valid it is to consider the timeline towards marriage and children as a potential “must-have” and therefore deal-breaker if no compromize can be reached. Just as any other item that would be of importance to either or both parties.
     
    Anything can be elected as a “must-have” in a relationship. Of course the more “must-have’s” you think you need, the more difficult it’s going to be to find a compatible partner since you’re shrinking your dating pool further with each additional “must-have”.
     
    To increase chances, it’s most effective to restrict yourself to a very limited number of “must-have’s”. However if time is your main concern for whatever reason, then having the timeline towards marriage as #1 “must-have” is reasonnable. But you need to be aware of the dangers of choosing too fast, especially if you intend to bring children into your decision. If you are on the fast-track lane, you absolutely need all the other safety measures in place, such as experience, self-knowledge, excellent observation skills, good relationship management skills, and a mutual desire to explore in depth characters and compatibilities early on. You will not have much time for mini-golf outings and exotic vacations (they also increase chemistry so they should be avoided on the fast-track lane), unless you take your lists of questions and keen observation skills along.
     
    The happier you are in singlehood and the more time you give yourself to find your life partner, the more “must-have’s” you can afford to keep and the more relaxed your dating life will be… I found that it sure is a better place to find oneself into!
     
     

  24. 84
    Mia

    Fiona, I  know your opinion is shared by many women, but I’ve always found it to be rather self-indulgent to insist that we bring in more kids to an overpopulated planet while there are starving orphans who would make great children and, again, aren’t dependent on a woman’s biological clock. I have a 27yo friend who is positive she wants children, but has put no effort into dating for the last two years of being single and won’t even try online. Yet any woman who really wants kids should be putting massive effort in from age 25. if you’re still single by  the late 30s, you have to ask yourself the likelihood that you will find a guy at the low point of your attractiveness to men, in time to have the child. If you have the biological child on your own, you’re now even less attractive to men and will have a harder time meeting them as a single mom. Or you could wait for a guy and adopt. You are in a very tough position that may require more flexibility to find what you want. So do what you feel is best while understanding none of your options are perfect. 

  25. 85
    Fiona

    Evan, that is great news and I wish you all well too. 

  26. 86
    Tom

    Mia, I think your post #92 was very harsh on Fiona; it’s a perfectly normal and reasonable desire to want to have children and no-one should feel guilty about wanting to do so. It’s also very hard for us in our 20’s to appreciate being in that situation, so we really shouldn’t pass judgement.

    For what it’s worth Fiona, I think having a child with your friend is actually a logical and reasonable idea; it might reduce your anxiety and you would still have decades to meet someone. Two of my cousins were single mothers for several years and now they are both married (although not to the fathers of their children).  In this day and age there is no one solution for everyone and no stigma so considering all possibilities makes sense.
    Fusee
    I read in one of your earlier posts that you can ascertain a man’s attitude to marriage and his future within a few weeks of dating. I’m just curious to know how you do this, without coming across as pressuring etc.? 

  27. 87
    Karl R

    Fusee said: (#83)
    “Rather than saying that one year is enough, or that we absolutely need three years to make a wise decision, we could focus on what we do with our courtship time, and what our specific relationship needs before moving to the next level.”

    That’s covered by the last 6 1/2 years of Evan’s blog posts. And my posts are long enough without me summarzing everything I’ve previously said in every new post.

    Fusee said: (#83)
    But making the passing of time the ‘be all and end all’ of courtship is equally dangerous, as it encourages people to just ‘go with the flow’ for three years while not necessarily working on their character and exploring their future goals and compatibility.”

    Neither Evan nor I have ever claimed that time is the “be all and end all of courtship”. A lot of people are willing to be in a long-term relationship for years, even when they know that they’ll never get married to their partner.

    By the second week of my relationship, I started spending the majority of my nights with my girlfriend. We went through a high-stress situation together during our first year. (You can’t exactly plan for those, but they do allow you to evaluate compatibility like nothing else.) We discussed goals … all those things you recommend.

    Two years of living together (and even solving crises together) wasn’t enough time for me to be certain that we were compatible. It was getting close.

    Fusee asked: (#83)
    “If both parties feel the need for three years, great. How about they make their preliminary goal to have a pre-decision made at the 18-month mark, and then take an additional year to confirm it?”

    How would you initiate that discussion?

    Let me rephrase that. How would you initiate that discussion without sounding like you’re trying to pressure the guy … and without sounding like you’re desperate to get married?

    I would say that discussion is pointless, becuse any marriage-minded man in his 30s (or older) will be giving you clear signals long before the 18 month mark.

    My recommendation is to (mentally) take stock of the relationship every 3 months. By 3 months (if not a bit before) he should be acting like an exclusive boyfriend. Every 3 months after that, there should be noticeable progress forward in the relationship. (There may be daily or weekly fluctuations, but 3 months allows you to see an overall trend.) If the relationship has plateaued for three months, it’s time to discuss the situation (and be prepared to move on to someone else).

    My fiancée and I didn’t have a “preliminary goal” for expressing a “pre-decision” by a certain date. But around the 9 month mark, we agreed that it was likely we would end up married, even though it was far too soon to be sure.

    Jane said: (#84)
    * When one is older and/or one knows him/herself better, the time you need to deliberate a potential match generally shrinks.  Because of that, a more truncated time, in lieu of what you want, doesn’t seem like madness.

    Evan’s in his 30s. I’m in my 40s. Readers have referred to us as examples of “self-aware” men.

    Maybe some men in their 50s, 60s and 70s will tell you that you will be fine getting married after 12 or 18 months. I’m not sure how much “older” you’re referring to. But the two of us are saying that two years is risky.

    Jane said: (#84)
    * Probability doesn’t equal absolution.  Give the woman her odds,

    We’re not bookies. It’s a big enough risk that I’d advise my best friend against it.

    Jane said: (#84)
    “many can override a dopamine rush.”

    Really? How?

    That sounds like magical thinking. It’s like claiming you can override the impaired judgment that comes with drunkeness. I know some people who believe they can do it. I don’t know anyone who actually can.

    Jane said: (#84)
    “No one can override post-menopause.”

    I have two adopted siblings and two adopted nieces. I suppose your options depend on how badly you want children.

    Jane said: (#84)
    “Not all risk is the same, you have to take in a variety of factors, along with people’s temperaments.  There is a big difference in taking a chance on love, and taking a chance at a slot machine.”

    It’s called a risk/benefit analysis. If you spend more time evaluating how you and your partner get along, you can better judge the benefit of being with your partner, as well as the risk.

    Soul said: (#87)
    You have plenty of other and more recent papers but I do not have time.

    When you find the time, let us know what you discover.

    Fiona said: (#90)
    “If you are on the fast-track lane, you absolutely need all the other safety measures in place, such as experience, self-knowledge, excellent observation skills, good relationship management skills, and a mutual desire to explore in depth characters and compatibilities early on.”

    So you absolutely need self-knowledge. I know several people who clearly lack self-knowledge. None of them have enough self-knowledge to be aware of this flaw.

    The same applies to observation skills. The people who are oblivious just aren’t aware of that flaw.

    As an educated guess, I’d say it’s not enough for just one person to have those traits. Both members of the couple would need them.

    Fiona said: (#90)
    “Of course the more ‘must-have’s’ you think you need, the more difficult it’s going to be to find a compatible partner since you’re shrinking your dating pool further with each additional ‘must-have’.”

    You just listed five additional traits that your partner will “absolutely need” to have if you want to be “on the fast track lane”.

    See the problem?

    Fiona said: (#90)
    “You will not have much time for mini-golf outings and exotic vacations (they also increase chemistry so they should be avoided on the fast-track lane), unless you take your lists of questions and keen observation skills along.”

    How is that plan working out for you?

    In general, men marry the women whom they have dated. In general, men date the women whose company they enjoy. And in general, men don’t enjoy being interviewed, interrogated or answereing lists of questions.

    Of course, that’s just my experience, self-knowledge and observation talking.

  28. 88
    Fiona

    Mia, I respect your opinion about having children. However,  I am not personally responsible for the overpopulation of the planet or lack of contraception and nutrition in other parts of the world and I come from a country where the birth rate is falling so I do not feel guilty or self-indulgent about having a natural biological desire to procreate.

    Nor am I unattractive to men or not making enough effort. I had serious relationships that failed at 27, 29, 30 and 35. Anyway you are right that I am where I am and there are no easy answers.
     

  29. 89
    Helen

    Jane: Thanks. I try. :)

    Re: the discussion between Mia, Fiona, and Tom: I think we need to make a clear distinction (because it does exist in real life) between those who want to have children and those who want to have their own biological children.  There is some overlap between these two groups, but some people only want to have biological children and are not interested in adopting, and some only want to adopt and do not want to give birth to their own children. (Who can blame them, right? Pregnancy and labor can be tiresome to say the least.)

    Like Tom, I don’t think it’s our place to judge people for their preferences for biological vs. adopted children vs. no children at all. As long as they’re not hurting others by their preferences, it’s none of our business.

  30. 90
    Mia

    Tom and Fiona, I didn’t mean to be harsh, more was trying to convey that there are no ideal options in this situation and maybe more flexibility is needed. Definitely, if you know you want biological children, have them, but the timing seems tricky.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>