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Dating Advice #99 -
Dating Advice 99

Dating Advice #99 - "The Ticking Clock"

At age 31, she wants to finish her education before getting married. Is that a mistake?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 31-year-old woman who is in graduate school pursuing my MSW. Recently, I was introduced to a 47-year-old Jewish man through a mutual friend. We spent much time getting to know each other on the phone, had one date (which we both agreed was a wonderful time), and continued over the next few weeks getting to know each other via the phone (he lives 200 miles away from me). During this time, we discussed many important topics such as marriage, children, future goals, etc.

Just the other day, he made it clear to me that the "age" difference was a problem for him. He is in a rush to get married and have a family -- and I am not. I explained that these were things that I did want, but that my first priority was to finish my education.

He didn't agree with this, and ended our courtship.

I feel that because he is 47 years old, there might be some desperation on his part to "rush" and have a family. Do you think I was being unreasonable?


Dear Michelle,

We are not sure if the man you describe was pressured or rushed, but in answering your question, we'd like to take a step back and try to help you see the bigger picture.

Every week, we receive letters from women in their mid-30s who are desperately searching for a future spouse. Virtually all of these women sound wonderful; they have great jobs, are active in their communities, are emotionally "together," physically fit and economically well off. The problem is that they all have found that the longer a woman stays in the "mid-30s (and up)" age group, the more likely it is that she will not get married.

There are several reasons why this is so. First, many men in their "mid-30s and up" want to have children, and they understand that women in their same age group often have fertility problems. So they look for women who are a number of years younger than themselves.

Next, there are many more marriageable women in this age group than there are marriageable men. For every attractive, interesting, "together" woman who would like to get married, there are several men who can't commit, aren't emotionally mature enough to marry, are dysfunctional, have decided that they want to wait a few more years before settling down, or who need to do some serious work on themselves before being capable of marriage.

We guarantee that if you were to ask each of these women who write us what they would do if they could go back to being age 31, every single one of them would answer that they would try as hard as they could to find a good marriage partner and marry him.

This is why we hope that you will take some time to reconsider the future you have mapped out for yourself. If you had the choice of getting your degree -- and possibly forgoing the opportunity to marry, have a life partner and raise a family because you waited too long, or of building a good relationship, marrying earlier than you expected and working harder to combine your studies with married life and a career, what would you choose?

In reality, getting married before you finish your master's degree is not as difficult as it might sound. Both of us went to graduate school, and obtained our degrees, while we were married. Sherry even had a child while she was in law school, and Rosie had two children while she was accumulating enough experience to obtain her clinical certification.

Almost any married woman who is determined to obtain her degree, and has the emotional support of her husband, can achieve her goal.

Of course, there are many many factors that come into play, and we are not looking to condemn you to a life of loneliness! But we do worry about what will happen to your goals if you delay thoughts of marriage a few more years. As far as we're concerned, if you are fortunate enough to meet someone with whom to work on a courtship that will lead to marriage, it would be a big mistake to forgo what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Please spend some time re-thinking your short-term and long-term priorities and goals.

We hope this has been helpful, and wish you the best of success,

Rosie & Sherry

January 19, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 20

(20) Bruce McClelland, October 25, 2002 12:00 AM


My response is geared more to some of the comments made rather than concentrating the experts response.

Each response is somewhat selfish and self serving seeking to rationalize their life choices rather than actually help Michelle's.

Rosie and Sherry's advice is solid and worth considering.

(19) Cheryl Richmond, June 25, 2002 12:00 AM

31 is NOT old - finish your education!

I must respectfully disagree with Rosie and Sherry's advice on this one!

Clearly, Michele's education is very important to her and her "boyfriend" (regardless of his age or desire to marry), should have been supportive of her committment to finishing her degree.

With so many marriages ending in divorce these days, her education will be something she can always fall back on. Frankly, I would be far more distrustful of a woman (or a man) who simply wanted to get married, have kids and coast through life on the fruits of their partners hard work. Hello! This is 2002, not 1947 folks.

We are living in a very different world from the generation of our mothers and grandmothers... we can never again depend on a "guarantee" of one income being sufficient to raise a family and own a home, etc.

Why should Michelle settle for a man who is 15+ years her senior, simply because she *might* regret it later, and/or end up "alone" (i.e. not married)?

I am a 35 year old passionate and independent woman. I own my own home, have a good job, a loving family, good friends, a niece and nephew that I adore, two goofy dogs that make me laugh daily. I too went for the education, travel and life experiences in lieu of getting married and having the kids in my 20's (I was engaged at 22).

Do I regret my decisions? Absolutely not! My choices have made me the person I am today and have led me down the path I was meant to follow. IMO, I am a much better "catch" now as a confident & self-sufficient woman than I ever was as a fickle, insecure, flighty 20-something.

Yes, of course I would like to find someone whom I can share my life and my heart with. Yes, I do want to have children and yes, I do realize that my fertility decreases with each passing day.

Despite the difficulties of dating men my age (who typically want "trophy" girlfriends/wives who are in their early 20's), I still put myself out there in the dating world. I also keep my options and my heart open to the possibility that some day, with a little luck and with G-d's will, I will meet my life mate.

It might not happen until I'm 50. He might be 10 years older, or... gasp, 10 years younger (I should be so lucky!). But I'm not going to settle for Mr. Right Now simply because I'm 35. I deserve better and so does Michelle. We all do.

(18) Imasiku Mbumwae, June 5, 2002 12:00 AM

The Ticking Clock

I would like to disagree with those worried about the age difference between the two. Actually I've personally found marriages between couples whose age diffirences are 10 years and above to be more stable and long lasting. My advise to those who're dating is never to marry someone less than 10 years of your age. Women age so fast by the time you realise she looks like your mother. No wonder so high is the divorce in the Western Countries where it is a fashion to marry your graduation mate.

My advise to the woman is to rearange her priorities and get the man. 47 years cannot make someone so old he cannot grow to see his children graduate from colege as the others would like to believe. I doesn't mean that you can only improve on your education when you're single. Otherwise we would never work until we got our PHDs or so...

Also let this woman realise that once you're above 30 as a woman because of the body chemistry of women, it becomes very difficult for them to find Mr. right because at that age and above most women become shapeless. I am not saying all women, but the majority of them.

Good like and be considerate.

(17) Anonymous, May 30, 2002 12:00 AM

Red flags and considerations

I read this letter and response with interest. It seems that Rosie and Sherri's usually sage advice was slightly biased here. For whatever it's worth, I'd like to add a few comments for Michelle.

Firstly, education is something that no one can ever take away from you. It is highly valued both by society in general and Judiasm in particular. In your chosen field of study, social work, you are likely exposed to the grim divorce statistics as well as many of the issues that come up between couples. One of those issues is one of control. It sounds like this guy needs to control events in that he wants you to drop all your plans for him.

Secondly, if you haven't learned this previously, the ability to compromise is pivotal to any relationship, and nowhere more so than in a marriage. If this guy doesn't respect you enough to want to encourage you to finish your educational endeavor prior to marriage, then you should be prepared for a life where his agenda will dictate your every move.

The age difference is a concern - but for both of you. He is 47 and it appears that he is both rushed and pressured to marry, and SOON! One thing to bear in mind is that AN EMERGENCY ON HIS PART DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A CRISIS ON YOUR PART. If marriage is his priority right now, and after conversations, a wonderful date, and further contact he was prepared to just end things, perhaps that's a red flag for you. Don't do something you'll later regret. True enough, it's next to impossible to meet a really great guy once you're out of school, but that doesn't mean to throw yourself headlong into something as serious as marriage on someone else's agenda.

Best of luck!

(16) Anonymous, May 26, 2002 12:00 AM

I think this man is very selfish to want to start a family at the age of almost 50. Will he even live to see his children graduate from high school? They deserve a better life than that. How about adopting an older kid that needs a home instead of trying to rush a woman into marriage and make her feel like a breeding mare. Just my .02

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