Dating Advice #110 - What's the Rush?
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Dating Advice #110 - What's the Rush?
Dating Advice 110

Dating Advice #110 - What's the Rush?

She can't understand all the commotion about a ticking clock.

by

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am 36-year-young woman, and until recently, I was feeling pretty decent about myself. I finished graduate school, got a good job, and for the first time in a long time, felt emotionally secure. However, I am so upset about the articles that are being written (in "Dating Maze" and elsewhere) about women who have entered my age bracket.

I don't consider myself old, nor do I look it. I am told frequently that I am very attractive. However, there have recently been some highly publicized articles about women's declining fertility (that are not written by fertility experts!) that the general public seems to be accepting as the word of gospel. I have seen my mother, my sister, and other women in this age range give birth with no complications to healthy children. I never felt that stereotypical desperation to "get married and have children" the way that others have. I assumed that I had some time, but not forever.

However, I feel so devalued, passed over, and "confirmed as sterile" by a dating pool and by over-generalizing statisticians. I am also disturbed that men who are older than me -- who have taken the time to look for a partner, due to "not being ready or emotional immaturity" -- are under the delusion that they can have any woman they choose. In addition, I feel that it is making me look like a less desirable date.

I have always been healthy, and sincerely doubt that I'll have difficulty conceiving. (My sister got pregnant on her first attempt at trying at ages 35 and 38.) However, I am depressed that these articles consign my life to be over before it has even started.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on all this.

Stephanie

Dear Stephanie,

No matter how young you may look and feel, the fact is that fertility does decline for women in their late 20s on up. For every woman who has had an easy first conception after age 35, there are many more who find it difficult to become pregnant. That's a simple truth, as is the fact that men who want to have families prefer to marry women who are more likely to be able to have a couple of children; e.g., women in their mid-30s and younger. We're not passing judgment on this preference -- we are just stating that it exists.

We have known this fact long before the recent spate of articles publicizing the decline in women's fertility. In our work with hundreds of single women, we have seen the difficulties that older women face trying to conceive, and we read a tremendous amount of material on this subject than have most of our readers.

Women who have always expected that they would get married and have a family at some point in their lives (but never quite knew when that day would come) can't take that life choice for granted. We know that many career women in their mid-30s look and feel young and wonderful and believe that they have plenty of time to marry and begin a family. However, that is not the case. It isn't just because of declining fertility rates; it's also because the longer you remain unmarried, the more entrenched you become in your lifestyle and the harder it can be for you to open up to someone else.

The reality is that as each year passes, it becomes harder for a single woman to find a good marriage partner.

It can also be hard for some older singles to make a transition from being a self-sufficient adult with a well-ordered life, to someone who is one half of a whole. Even though many singles are kind, compassionate and concerned for others, the longer they spend on their own, the more difficult it can be for them to get accustomed to the idea of a "we"-oriented lifestyle, rather than "me"-oriented life. This fact alone impels many singles to delay the "loss" of their independence a little longer... and a little longer... making it more difficult to achieve the goal of marriage as time goes on.

What can you do to help yourself to break out of this cycle and focus on attaining your goal of marriage and family in a reasonable period of time? You may want to start by reading the book, "What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us - Why Happiness Eludes The Modern Woman," by Danielle Crittenden. It gives a number of well thought-out reasons why women who ultimately want marriage and family should focus on these goals now, rather than later.

A second book, Shaya Ostrov's "The Inner Circle" (Feldheim.com), examines the challenges that older singles face when they want to date for marriage, and suggests useful ways to overcome them.

After you've read these books, we encourage you to sort out your priorities and your long- and short-term goals, since finding a future spouse begins by looking for someone whose values and goals are compatible with yours. To narrow down your search, we suggest you identify four qualities that you possess that really define who you are, and then think of four (and only four) qualities that you feel are most important for your future husband to possess. Look to date men who have 3 or 4 of those qualities, and let the people who set you up know about the four important qualities that you possess.

We also suggest that singles learn how to change their style of dating from one focused mainly on enjoyment, to one that builds toward marriage. We discuss this process in our book, "Talking Tachlis," and in a number of prior Dating Maze columns that are archived at http://www.aish.com/dating/advice.

We also recommend that you develop a network of friends, co-workers, relatives, etc. to help you meet marriage-minded men who are suitable for you, and also find a happily married person to be your dating mentor.

We've made these suggestions because we have seen them work for hundreds of men and women. Many of the post-30 single women we have worked with do get married and have families. Without exception, they have focused on achieving their goal with the same seriousness and effort they would use to find a good job.

We hope that when you decide to do the same, you achieve success very soon. All the best,

Rosie & Sherry

Published: January 19, 2003


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Visitor Comments: 9

(9) Anonymous, April 15, 2008 2:46 AM

Delayed motherhood is not always a choice!!!

I am a 35-yo single woman that has tried EVERYTHING dating-wise that Rosie & Sherry have suggested. Are you going to advise trying less hard in that case in order to seem more nonchalant and not desperate? Yeah, I've tried that, too. I have been ready to marry and have kids since I was about 27. I was dating a guy for 3.5 years who broke up with me and devastated me right after I turned 30. Since then, I have tried to hold my head high and "get out there," but with minimal luck. Anyone even remotely in Stephanie's situation knows that men overlook women in their 30s because they perceive that they are themselves entitled to a prolonged adolescence because of course when they turn 45 and deign to consider the possibility of participating in the commitment of reproduction, they will have access to younger women who can still (statistically easily) have kids. Yes, I could marry a desperate man who is almost my father's age (you laugh, but I shudder to tell you how many people have actually suggested that to me), but, frankly, I am an attractive, intelligent woman, and I deserve better than that! (Plus, it creeps me out - I already have a dad!!) That there are both single men and women in my age bracket that want to have children, and that only the women feel any pressure (read: responsibility for fertility), shows the damage that this gender inequity is doing to the prospect of healthy families today. Women should just suck it up and marry men 15 years older than them so that the men can indulge their selfish little Peter Pan/Hugh Hefner fantasy for as long as possible? Hmm, let's see - all the burden of the family is on the woman who needs to put herself completely aside or else the family won't survive? Here is how you adjust, woman; do this, and that, and that, and work harder, and then you can have a baby. Sounds horribly familiar (1950s anyone??). Or maybe today's men can grow a set and take some responsibility themselves!! Give Stephanie a break. You seriously don't know what it's like until you've been there.

(8) Anonymous, February 13, 2008 3:35 AM

Sorry ladies, but I think many of you are in denial. According to modern medicine, complications with fertility and pregnancies do multiply at an ever increasing rate as women reach middle age. Sure some women can have children in their 40's, but the probability that there will be complications is much higher. If you don't want to have kids or get married that's fine, but don't pretend that it is going to be just as easy to start a family at 40 as it is at 25.

That being said, read Rob Mahaffy's response. That pretty much sums up why men are "commitment phobes" in today's society. No fault divorce, laws stacked against men regarding divorce payouts, and the possibility of losing one's children in one of these debacles give most modern men serious pause before tying the knot. Most men today have at least one friend or family member who has been blindsided and destroyed by divorce court. In addition, most men, especially religious ones, are going to be weary of starting a family with a woman who views her career as the number one priority in her life, and has preferred to pursue that career at the expense of pursing marriage-oriented relationships. Family minded men are not impressed by an aggressive wage earner; they are impressed by a woman who will be a good mother and faithful, nurturing wife.

The angry responses from many older women here illustrate Rob's point regarding the bitterness that often increases with age in single women. Having been around the block a few times so to speak, and the attitudes that accompany that experience are simply not attractive to men and they never will be. Men like hopeful, idealistic, and enthusiastic; not cynical, guarded and tired. It has very little to do with looks.

As a previously unreligious Jew who is gradually starting down the path to observance, I am surprised to hear this sort of attitude from frum women. Don't you all know that God has specified different roles for men and women, and considers marriage to be an important life goal? Judaism is a marriage and family oriented religion, with well defined gender roles ordained by God to create stable and happy families. It does not mean you are worthless or unworthy if you are not married, but it does mean that you are missing out on a very rewarding and meaningful experience.

If you want to spend the most fertile and productive years of your life pursing secular, feminist goals of independence, casual sex and career, that's fine. Don't however dupe yourself into thinking that it will not influence your later years. It will affect your own attitudes, it will effect how men view you, and it will create challenges in forming a stable intimate marriage later in life. I'm not trying to be cruel to those who have taken this path, and I hope you all eventually find your bashert. At the same time though younger readers should know that putting off marriage for a career or an endless party does have consequences.
Life has trade offs, and you can't have it all.

(7) anonymous, June 20, 2006 12:00 AM

beyond disappointing, unfair and untrue

Search the net and you will find thousands who conceive and give birth to healthy child/ren. Miscarriage is for any age group. I keep reading about women in their 20 and 30s having miscarriages. ....and women in their 50s go on and find their soulmates. As time goes by the chances increase not decrease, look around, wake up!...

(6) Anonymous, October 20, 2002 12:00 AM

noithing

i think stephanie should get a life and stop worrying about what other peopl,e say

(5) Anonymous, October 17, 2002 12:00 AM

I am disappointed with Rosie and Sherry's answer

Rosie and Sherry, some of your points were valid (although not all), but I was more distressed by the tone of your reply to this woman. Why did you not commend her for finishing graduate school, feeling "pretty decent" about herself, and feeling emotionally secure?. All of these are among the most important things in life. Even if one's focus is marriage (which not everyone's is), a good marriage partner needs those qualities this woman mentioned: a degree and/or career path, to feel good about oneself, to feel emotionally secure. Why not at least write one paragraph or even one tiny sentence acknowledging that this woman deserves to feel good about herself, and not devalued as a 36 year old single woman (as she claims she is being made to feel)?

It is certainly true that many women can conceive well into their 40's. My paternal grandmother had my father at age 40. My maternal grandmother had my mother at age 41 and my aunt at age 45. All of the births and children were completely normal and uneventful. Her age apparently was not even discussed at the time.

Personally, I am also a woman in my mid-30's, also feeling better about myself than I have in a long time, and I will not allow the frum community (or any other community) to take that from me. To be honest, it is one of the reasons that I have distanced myself to some extent from the frum community: I don't feel as valued there as a single woman in my 30's. What is the frum community doing if it is alienating high-quality people (I am professional, intelligent, involved, made aliyah, etc.) from it? That might be an important question for those involved in that community, particularly for those in positions of influence, to ask themselves.

Fortunately, I do not have my heart set on marrying and having children, although I imagine I will marry since most people do marry at some point in their lives. However, I have seen enough of the world to know that people marry at all ages and at all stages of life. Not only in their 20's and 30's in order to conceive children. I am open to the idea of having a positive committed relationship with a man - be it marital or otherwise - at whatever point in my life it seems to be for the best for all involved.

In the meantime, I am enjoying being single. More accurately, I enjoy life and feel good about myself and my life. I hope that will continue whether or not I marry, and regardless of when I choose to marry.

I find it chaval that the Orthodox community does not see the value of having well-adjusted, kind, and intelligent people in its midst who make the choices that are right for them.

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