Women who want to have kids should make it a high priority in their early twenties to find a partner. This week’s Newsweek cover story, Marriage by the Numbers, says is okay to wait until after 35 to get married. Newsweek is revising the saying that a woman has more chance of getting hit by a truck than getting married after age 35.

But the article ignores one of the most pressing issues facing Generation X: Infertility. No generation of women has had more trouble with fertility than this generation who received the terrible advice, “Wait. You have time. Focus on your career first.”

In fact, you have your whole life to get a career. This is not true about having a baby.

Even if you are past your early twenties, or not heterosexual, if you’re single and want to have kids with a partner, you need to find one now. Take that career drive and direct it toward mating because your career skills will outlast your ovaries.

In case you think you’re waiting for “the right time,” there is no evidence to show when in a woman’s career is best to have kids. At any point, she is thrown off track. At any point when a woman has kids, statistically she will start to earn less money even if she takes no maternity leave whatsoever. There is no evidence to show that it’s easier to take time out of the workforce at a certain point in a career. People just plain don’t know.

Phyllis Moen, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, told me in an interview, “Don’t wait until the right time in your career to have a child or it will never come.”

However there is lots of evidence to show that a woman’s biological clock takes a nose-dive at age 35. I know, because that’s when I started having kids. The geneticist showed me and my husband a graph of Down’s Syndrome and we nearly keeled over when we saw the cliff at 35. We had no idea. That Down’s Syndrome cliff, though, is a stand-in for everything, because a huge percentage of fertility statistics get bad at 35.

There is also lots of evidence to say that having kids at least two years apart is best for the kids. However there is a distinct advantage for first-born kids. They are richer, smarter, and as if that’s not enough, year after year 90% of Harvard’s incoming freshmen are first-born. You can mitigate the impact of birth order on your second child by having three years between kids.

If you start when you are thirty-one, you can have two kids, three years apart, before you’re thirty-five. But this plan does not take into consideration that about 20% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. This means you have almost a 50% chance of having to go through three pregnancies to have two kids, which means you should start when you’re thirty.

If you want to have babies when you’re thirty, then you probably want to be married when you’re twenty-eight. This is good news because if you marry very young you’re more likely to get divorced, but the statistics get much better if you wait until you’re twenty-five. For a healthy marriage, experts think people should be married two or three years before they consider having children. A reasonable expectation is to meet someone, date for a couple of years, and get engaged with almost a year’s time to pull off a wedding. So you need to meet the person at age twenty-four.

So this means that it may make sense for men to work full-speed ahead on their career in their early twenties, but women cannot afford that. Women need to make time in their lives to search for a mate in the same systematic, focused way that women have been searching for careers in their early twenties. And don’t tell yourself you’re waiting until you know yourself better. Getting to know yourself is a lifelong process, and after age twenty-five, waiting to get married won’t decrease your chance of divorce.

The good news here is that a large body of research shows that you will gain more happiness by being married than by having a good job. Yes, you should not have to choose between a good job and marriage. But this column is not about what is fair or what is just. It is about what is real.

You have a biological clock that does not pay attention to issues of social justice. You cannot control your biological clock and you cannot control the workplace. But you can control where you spend your time and energy, and you should look hard for a husband early on. Line up the marriage first, then the career.

 

349 replies
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  1. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Just found your blog through Ev Bogue. I have to say, between this post and the one about grad school, I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit. Both of these issues are ones I’ve talked about frequently with the people in my life. So glad I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness. Keep it up, Penelope.

  2. Lollipoppx
    Lollipoppx says:

    this is one of the dumbest thing that a supposedly intelligent person wrote. Eg – as with having a kid, or even more so – careers that make $ require the youth and energy (investment banking,  big law – corporate lawyer… ) the opportunities aren’t the same when you are 35 versus 25. You can always adopt and that way you would have more money and stability and be able to provide more for your children if you put career first….

  3. arthurave.
    arthurave. says:

    Although it is a serious mistake to live one’s life by statistical ideas, I think that if you took all the numberish (numbers+gibberish) out of this article, you’d have something pretty sound.   Our mothers told us to focus on our careers.  I, personally, followed that advice.  It was bad advice.  I normally say, “except for that segment of the population that is extremely driven, very alpha.”  But Penelope is one of these.  And she is saying the same thing.  I think you’re more-or-less correct P.

  4. Monicafdez83
    Monicafdez83 says:

    “Yes, you should not have to choose between a good job and marriage. But
    this column is not about what is fair or what is just. It is about what
    is real.”

    The only real thing here is that getting married for the sake of your career is a big, big mistake. I think it’s pretty sad that you are talking about when to get married, but didn’t mention the word “love”, or anything like it, even a single time.

  5. Guest
    Guest says:

    This article brought to you by the year 1954, the producers of Leave it to Beaver, the Council to get your Pretty Little Self back in the Kitchen.

  6. Guest
    Guest says:

    This article brought to you by the year 1954, the producers of Leave it to Beaver, the Council to get your Pretty Little Self back in the Kitchen.

  7. Julie
    Julie says:

    1. The most pressing issue facing this generation is not infertility, it’s overpopulation. 
    2. Breeding hurts (if not sabotages) an adult’s career. And it seems to me that if someone is set on breeding, they should have the career to PAY FOR THE DAMNED THING!
    This article is full of bad advice. 

  8. NotBornYesteray
    NotBornYesteray says:

    Does this mean that the $^%&*@ “You can do IVF/You don’t need a husband nowadays/Have one BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!” comments directed at me will STOP already?
    I’m 46, look 32, and am not having sprogs. If other women are stupid enough to follow this advice, fine – less competition for me!
    @1ac1df35c6f850286ab0b45947dcd6cf:disqus 

  9. NotBornYesteray
    NotBornYesteray says:

    Does this mean that the $^%&*@ “You can do IVF/You don’t need a husband nowadays/Have one BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!” comments directed at me will STOP already?
    I’m 46, look 32, and am not having sprogs. If other women are stupid enough to follow this advice, fine – less competition for me!
    @1ac1df35c6f850286ab0b45947dcd6cf:disqus 

  10. Mary Kay Bianchi
    Mary Kay Bianchi says:

    I can’t disagree more!  I think it was Betty Friedan who said “You can have it all…. You just can’t have it all at the same time.”  While there may be physiological benefits to having kids earlier than 35, the benefits of waiting are equally compelling.  My pediatrician was the 5th out of of 6 kids and was born to a 43 year old mom.  My obstetrician consoled me that 40 wasn’t old to be having a baby (several years ago) the average age of her clientele was 50 – mind you they weren;’t getting pregnant without help at those higher ages.

    Waiting also allows prospective parents to build up leave time, build up a savings account, and achieve greater pay, greater value to your employer,  and greater flexibility in their careers and skillsets which come in mighty handy when the kids start needing some intense non-scheduled mommy time.

  11. La Loca Trippy
    La Loca Trippy says:

    I agree with the general point being made here, but what’s up with all the math???  My God, you’re making my head swim!  Can’t we introduce faith into this picture?  

    Getting married and having babies is not just about probability and statistics.  The rant about age range, divorce rates, and risk factors only helps to make single women with a ticking biological clock more neurotic than they already are.  Please.  You’re not helping.  

  12. Jane
    Jane says:

    I totally agree with you. I should have made finding a husband my main priority like my older sister and others i know did. Now I am 47, single and have been out of work for over a year. I am too  old to have children. I just thought things would fall into place but no they didnt. I live in canada. The older I get the harder it is to find a good man, the men I dated in my 20s were much nicer and has less problems than the ones I am meeting now who had kids and ex wifes and lots of baggage.

  13. Bittersweet
    Bittersweet says:

    Dear Penelope,

    After reading your article and comments I decided to share my story too. I am 29 and have two kids aged 4 and 1. I recently just had a miscarriage at 12 weeks with baby no.3 and its been a very hard and painfull experience both physically and emotionally. I apologise for my writing skills its gone downhill since ive had the kids, i am 3 exams away from getting my university degree in chemistry and im really lost. I want another baby for i feel that it will help me grieve but then im scared about miscarrying again. Im scared im nit going to ever work in a job related to my field of study. I feel hopeless, worthless and just a failure. A failure in career and motherhood.

    Please write back… Give mevsome advice

  14. wallies
    wallies says:

    I absolutely agree with Penelope. If a woman wants to get married and have children, she does in fact need to treat it like a job. It is a numbers game and as soon as you start counting the better. Women cannot make a man love us or propose. All we can do is increase our chances of meeting men to the highest of our ability at a time when we look and feel our best.
    I wanted to get married since I was 19. I am 32 and it never happened (not even close.) I never really had the desire to have children, however small consolation that may be. Furthermore, I don’t understand how my peers are bringing kids into this world. I don’t see a viable economic future for most people. Since the average couple can’t afford a child without working full-time, who takes care of the baby? I don’t find daycare acceptable (even pre-school is questionable in my opinion). Although marriage and children seem like it won’t happen for me, I’m wondering (hoping) in the next 5-10 years or so, I will look like the smart one, while they struggle in poverty to pay their bills. Although I’ve fallen in love several times and each time ended up brokenhearted, being single does keep life simpler.

  15. 5 mistakes
    5 mistakes says:

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  16. Tom Lemon
    Tom Lemon says:

    I didn’t see anything in this article about the BIGGEST reason to get married before 30….

    After 30 men don’t want to marry you. (women hate to hear this)

    Men are very smart about this (women hate to hear that too)…men realize that a woman who hasn’t prioritized marriage by the age of 30 is probably not going to be a pleasant wife to live with. The good ones marry early. And, women like marrying older men, so there are always tons more women coming on the marriage market.

    Men control the marriage decision, by which I mean, there are many more women who are eager to get married than there are men who want to get married, and a good man with a decent income can take his time and be choosy (women really, really hate to hear this.)

    So if you as a woman want to get married and have kids — and frankly, most women DO want this (even the ones who lie and say “I never wanted to have kids”) — then you need to ignore all the feminists who have been spewing lies for the past 40 years, and get going.

    This is what I tell my 2 lovely and brilliant daughters. When they go to college and encounter some lie-spewing feminist (as will inevitably happen) I will make sure to keep telling my daughters the truth. Get married and have kids, that will make your lives twice as happy as working in some damn job. Start at 25, find a high-quality hubby, and flaunt him in front of all your unmarried failure girlfriends.

  17. jammy
    jammy says:

    As Gail said above its all god wish, my elder cousin sister got married at the age of 25 and her husband was 27. Its been 20 years now, they don’t have any kids, they tried everything they could. So much for the age and kids. There are millions out there who married young but no kids. What the researchers have to tell about that, iam sure they have scientific theory for that also but can they explain why it happened only to them. As they say its all gods wish, so don’t plan, live life as you like to live.

  18. tagesgeldkonto
    tagesgeldkonto says:

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  19. Sofia
    Sofia says:

    I was one of the lucky ones who internalized this reality about the dating marketplace at a young age. I majored in Fine Art, never wasted time w/guys my own age, and made marriage my priority at age 20….realizing that the life of a starving artist wouldn’t be my cup of tea. A doctor financed my college years and within a few weeks of breaking up w/him I met the man of my dreams, a high-IQ, charismatic and extremely virile lawyer. Married at 26 and trying for a baby. Never stopped producing art, but it could take years to establish myself in the art industry (if ever). It’s nice to have a comfy safety net in the meantime.

  20. SG
    SG says:

    Just stupid to try to plan love…

    Fell in love at 15 w/fellow student at boarding school. Been together since (married when he graduated college at 20 & I was 19)–had 2 children when he was in grad school & doing a post doc while I went undergrad part-time & worked nights as a checker at a grocery store.

    We were broke but made it happen! It was our greatest joy to raise our children (homeschooled them, too).

    But we were on a very tight budget (1 car; husband rode bike to work w/a sack lunch I prepared). Bought clothes at Goodwill. I also homeschooled a couple other children w/my own.

    Saved money for their college (but they both got full rides undergrad & graduate studies for academics to Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt, & SMU law school). Husband has a Ph.D. so I’m sure his genetics helped.

    I, myself, dropped out of college in the middle of my junior year to focus on the kids. No TV. Lots of parental involvement & books & spending money on experiences & traveling–living life! The best times of our lives (husband & I now are 58 & 57) were raising our children.

    But daughter has been married to a lawyer for 8 years & she decided to follow her dream of being a law prof after practicing for about 6 years & now is very happy & successful at that (They live in neighboring states as he made partner & she got a job offer at a law school in the closest state). Most weekends they spend together, but she has honestly evaluated their lifestyle & concluded that they would not be able to parent adequately.

    Her husband wants to have children, but she knows that he would expect her to curtail her career & she doesn’t think she could be an adequate law prof & mother.

    She clerked for a Federal Judge for a year after law school & saw a brilliant judge who had 2 children who were parceled out to nannies, assisstants, etc. (husband was a busy lawyer) & my daughter didn’t think she could do both career & parenthood to the best of her ability simultaneously.

    She said I set the bar too high on being a mother! I respect her decision. I think she would be an excellent mother, but I also realize her strong drive to excell in all areas of her life would make her feel inadequate as a mother & always feel torn between career & motherhood (which is not a “hobby” to be taken up lightly).

    So, still have a 30-year-old single son who may decide to marry &/or procreate!

    But when we get together we have such good times & so many laughs! For my husband & me marriage & parenthood have been the highlights of our lives (oh yes, he has achieved greatly in his career–but coming home to me & having a beer & conversation is the highlight of his & my day).

    We are very lucky, I realize.

  21. rgoltn
    rgoltn says:

    I think the more important point you make is about marriage.

    Having kids is great. I have one and she is amazing. However, what I relish even more than my daughter is my wife and our family. We are 45 and have been married 17 years, been together 20 years.

    Being married is hard work. Raising a family is hard work. Staying together is hard work. So many people today are products of divorce and do not place high value in marriage; it is sad.

    I see women all the time who put off relationships for career and are now characters in SITC and cannot find a guy anywhere.

    I also see women that possess a mile-long checklist the guy has to meet with 100% compliance. They stay single too.

    My wife and I are so different than when we were 28. We were “green” and had no idea about what it took to be a couple. Having a baby then adds complexity. I was 31 and clueless. Now at 45, I have a teenager and I am STILL clueless; but I have some knowledge and my wife and I are more in love and committed than ever.

    Life is a path; a work in progress that is NEVER finished. People need to enjoy the present and not take for granted the little things. It passes by so fast. You have no idea.

    One day your baby is crawling around the floor and the next, she is complaining that she is the “last girl on the planet without an iPhone.” Life happens.

    I have had careers highs and lows and when you endure the lows with someone who loves you and has yoru back, the highs seem so much better.

    Great article, great blog.

  22. Kay H.
    Kay H. says:

    I absolutely love your blogs! :)

    I wanted to see what your advice would be….

    My husband and I met when I was 18 and he was 19. We got engaged two years later, and was engaged for one year. We got married at 21 and 22 and have been married for almost two years, we really do feel like we are each other soul mates/best friends.

    I am currently going to school to become a Physician Assistance and he wants to pursue music. We are both really supporting to one anothers career goals. I want to be done with PA school at 28 and he wants to see where his music goes for about three years and then he has a back up plan to be a correctional officer and rise within the correctional system.

    Where do you think we should fit having kids in? We both agreed on 2, maybe 3 depending on finances and being able to spend time with them and alone time.

    Should I wait until I am done with school at 28 and have kids? Or should I have kids while in school? I was worried about getting pregnant and then maybe prospective employers will not want to hire me?

    We both really want kids but are really happy with our career choices and the direction life is going in, we are trying to make this a nice transition.

    Any advice would be great!!

    Thank you,

    KH

  23. Shkl
    Shkl says:

    Idk, if your main priority is finding a man to get knocked by, I think your odds of divorce increase. Your priority should be about quality rather than a biological clock ticking. I would much rather be financially independent and secure before counting down the days to force marriage upon myself because of the year I was born. Ever wonder why divorce rates are so high?

    Ps. My mom was 35 when I was born and I don’t have down syndrome.

  24. Dilys
    Dilys says:

    THis article is first-rate! I so wish I had read it when I was in my early 20s. I had no knowledge or understanding about fertility – I thought I would live forever and be forever fertile. I only woke up in my 40s – but too late – 5 IVFs and 4 miscarriages later, I stopped trying after 9 years. I still haven’t quite got over that time altho’ I am in my 50s now. I will always be childless now, and I will always regret that no one educated me about female biology when I was growing up. This article should be required reading for all teenage girls!

  25. Carrie
    Carrie says:

    this is so true.. in theory. but it seems too me that most people who want kids over 35 do get to have em without too much hassle. ironically i spent my early 30s lecturing my friends on why they needed to get their 2.2 kids out of their bellies before they hit 35. i knew about the Down’s cliff as you call it, i knew the risks.
    and i met Mr sort-of-Right and married him asap and had baby no.1 at 31. baby no.2 was a miscarriage, baby no3 was a miscarriage.
    there was no more pregnancies…there was 3 ivfs, all failed and 2 IUIS before i was told my tubes were busted. and that i should have no more ivfs as i was now a poor candidate. i just turned 40 and many of my peers are still pumping out babies! so i guess im in the tiny unlucky minority. it pains me that i tried my best to have 2 kids under 33 and few of my friends did. they put their careers first. they still managed to have 2 kids post 35. and only one of them has a kid with special needs. and still my friends advise me that if i ‘stop stressing’ i will get pregnant and carry a child to term. they just dont have a clue about sex biology. they dont understand that two busted tubes = no egg fertilisation. One friend even told me to ‘put my name down for tubal doner’. and these stupid cows are breeding like crazy……!

  26. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I wouldn’t take too much what Penelope says to heart since she got divorced 2 years after this was written. What a waste of 20’s focusing on settling instead of enjoying life and marrying the right guy.

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    percetakan says:

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  28. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    Feel free to send me your hate mail…

    You can have it all with the right support network. Of course finding a career path in your 40’s is harder, but having children in your 40’s leads to all sorts of problems statistically even if you personally or know a friend (of a friend) who hasn’t had any problems having a second child at 40. Notice I said SECOND child, you’ll have much bigger problems having your first child at 38-40 than 20-25 or even 28-30.

    If you’re out of school by 25 (Masters Degree and All). Once you find a job; The career path takes care of itself, all you have to do is your job and show up on time. Sure you’ll move up faster if you brown-nose, do overtime every time they ask and all that sh*t but then you’re not interested in any sort of work-life balance either.

    So you work 9-6 or 10-7 every day and then they ask you to do overtime, what’s that? An hour or two, so you’re home by 9-10pm? What man will tolerate a woman that has no time for them? The type of guy you end up divorcing a few years later.

    Here’s the reality about women, age, beauty and children.

    Peak beauty happens at 22-23 years old. I don’t make the rules, so don’t shoot me. This is when you should be looking for a long term relationships. Yes you got mid-terms and finals, so what. If it takes 100% of your focus to pass class something else is wrong. You also shouldn’t be trying to date the other men on campus, they are largely not interested in settling down. Go find a guy about 28-30, he’s ready, as most men 28-30 are, again I don’t make these things up so don’t shoot me.

    Gosh what stroke of luck, you’re in your mid-20’s good time to have kids too… A mature man will wait for you to finish your studies and start your career. He will not be spending time at the bar with his buddies either. He would be working and preparing the home for the future children.

    Women both here and in the UK just don’t wanna hear their value drops as they age. While you can find plenty of women usually connected to Hollywood or the Glamour business that look good for their age and while 30 is not that old, its still not a woman in her mid 20’s and all men know this.

    A man that marries a woman in her 30’s is a guy that has been waiting for 2-3-4 years for a woman worth asking the big question. He was hoping for somebody about 25, trust me.

    Yes some men no matter how foolish like women around their age. My friend is a good example. He has the right to be concerned he was burned once. He worked to put his ex-wife through school so she could be a doctor. Once a doctor she became Ms High Post (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=high-post). The marriage fell apart and now he wants an older woman because MEN KNOW OLDER WOMEN will settle even though they won’t call it that.

    The truth is a woman about 35 is gasping at straws, time is running out on her fertility and she’s not as beautiful as she once was.

    I really wish women in their 40’s wouldn’t message me on dating sites. Just because I’m 41 (never married, no kids) doesn’t mean I don’t want kids (I express this explicitly). In Western Culture I’m forced to pick between Single Mother #1 and Single Mother #2 70-80% of the time, terrible.

    I’d give it consideration if they were attractive, younger and intelligent. But they generally aren’t and somewhat poor. Early to mid 30’s, early to mid 40’s, “A Few Extra Pounds” and just a mess overall.

    This is why I have to go to South America or Eastern Europe. I know most Western Women hate this, but the truth is its much easier to find a woman in her mid to late 20’s in those countries ready to get married, career be dammed, look great and CHILDLESS.

    Raising another man’s children is never a man’s high priority, he just didn’t want to hurt your feelings or the truth his he just wanted your pu**y, thems the breaks.

    What I find on dating sites? Mid 30’s career women, every last one of them want a carrer guy so they can become Helicopter Parents.

    Maybe if they started paying couples to get married and have children like they do in Russia maybe that would improve things. Nothing gets asses moving faster than M-O-N-E-Y.

  29. Jim Lemon
    Jim Lemon says:

    It’s always so funny to me when women say “I want to get married, but I don’t want to have kids”

    Wow, that’s just idiotic. Here is the real-world translation:

    “I want some man to spend the rest of his life taking care of me and being my daddy, but I have no intention of giving him anything in return.”

    Forget it, you selfish idiot western women. If I am going to get married and sacrifice my freedom in the state of marriage, there is only one reason to do that: if my wife is choosing to make a similar sacrifice, by having my children…if she proves herself worthy of my sacrifice, by taking on the thankless and draining role (but ultimately, the most important role on the planet) of raising healthy young minds to tackle the challenges of the future.

    Otherwise, I will just stay single and avoid having 80% of my income going into the pocket of a wife (that is the average amount of a man’s salary that married women spend).

    Amazing, amazing, amazing to me how many women (and men too) are so completely batshit crazy that they can’t understand the simple and enduring joy and power of family and children. Truly amazing, truly frightening.

    Mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, a hundred generations of them going back into prehistory, have been fighting and sacrificing to move the human race out of the mud into civilization, step by painful step. Now after those thousands of years of women’s great sacrifice, they are now rewarded by THIS? This generation of infinitely selfish, neurotic, horrid young women? Barf.

    • Kaye
      Kaye says:

      What year do you think this is? 1950?

      Marriage is not just for children. And you know what? People have children for many selfish (and stupid) reasons. I find marriages without children are usually stronger than marriages with them. Nobody is selfish for not having kids. In fact, no one is selfish for having them either.

      I pity any woman you marry and any children you have. She will have married a guy who is stuck in the early-to-mid 1900s and probably won’t even realize it. It sounds like you consider women nothing more slaves and children nothing more than trophies.

      And FYI, the reason many women want to have a career before marrying is so they can be INDEPENDENT and take care of themselves. That sounds a lot smarter than having kids and relying solely on a spouse’s income.

      And motherhood is not the “most important role on the planet”. Give me a darn break!

      I have a family. It consists of: my sister, my stepbrother, my parents, my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins and my dog.

      We will be civil when everybody stops being judgmental and criticizing others for their choices. Not having children does not affect anyone but the person who chooses not to have them. And if motherhood was truly so great, then so many mothers wouldn’t regret it happening (google “I hate being a mother”).

      I have nothing against those who have children. If that’s what you want, then have 20 for all I care. I do have an issue with people who think they have the right to criticize someone for making a choice that DOES NOT HARM ANYONE and believe that they have the right to shove their beliefs down someone’s throat.

      2012 is half-way over and 2013 is coming. You have a LOT of catching up to do!

      • Paul Neubauer
        Paul Neubauer says:

        Well, having a monopoly on the baby making equipment brings along with it also a duty.

        Of course no one can force you not to edit yourself from the gene pool, but it does mean other women have to take up the slack of bringing about the next generation who will pay for your loans.

        Marriage really is all about family and reproduction, it’s only recently has it become vanity.

    • KJC
      KJC says:

      So you think the only thing a woman could possibly give back to a man is children? That’s absurd. I do think raising children is one of the most important things in the world, and my husband and I do want children in a few years. But we would both say that the marriage itself is growing each of us into better people and providing a loving and supportive environment in which to learn. (I highly recommend Tim Keller’s book “The Meaning of Marriage” for more on this.) Furthermore, I (the woman) am working to provide for us while he is getting a PhD (which will take him about 7 years), and I don’t keep track of how much of “my money” he spends. That is just ridiculous. Just as I don’t feel the slightest bit of resentment for working now, I don’t expect he would act resentful in future, regardless of who is making more money or doing chores or rearing children. Marriage is so much more than a contract where we tally up who is giving the most. It is a covenant commitment to love and support each other, to sacrifice for one another in love. We are married adults, not adolescent roommates who keep score of who paid the bills and who did the dishes.

      • Paul Neubauer
        Paul Neubauer says:

        But you fully expect him to succeed at something, else you will be resentful. The man on the other hand entered the relationship expecting comfort and children. Well, unless he’s entirely a gigolo.

    • Melanie
      Melanie says:

      You sound like your convictions are set in stone, so you probably won’t believe me when I say that most women I know of my generation and younger (I’m 45) are working and contributing to the family finances, and in many cases are the “breadwinner” (like myself). My husband is retraining after an industry collapse in which his business died and we were forced to move continents. He is working hard and will re-establish himself at some point but as we have a loving partnership and not a superior/subordinate relationship, it still all works!

      PS We also have 2 kids, lucky to have the first at age 40 and exceptionally fortunate to have a naturally conceived, beautiful healthy second at age 45. There is no option that I won’t return to work – our finances and future are completely dependent on it. I am happy that my husband and I can depend on each other when we each need to. That’s what marriage is about.

  30. Kaye
    Kaye says:

    Well, I don’t want ANY kids and I’m actually on the fence about getting married, so if I don’t find a husband, it will not be the end of the world for me. I don’t have a “biological clock” and if I ever did, it must’ve imploded.

    Career first, then (maybe) marriage for me. Children? Not in this or any other lifetime.

  31. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Mother Teresa of Calcutta
    Louisa May Alcott
    Susan B. Anthony
    Jane Austen
    Emily Bronte
    Harriett Martineau
    Florence Nightingale
    Clara Barton
    Julianna of Norwich
    St. Clair of the Poor Clairs
    Queen Elizabeth I
    Sarah Orne Jewett
    Joan of Arc
    Amy Carmichael
    Gladys Aylward

    What if they had sat around on their butts waiting for Prince Charming? And having children, of course, because that’s the only way for a woman to experience true fulfillment!

    • Paul Neubauer
      Paul Neubauer says:

      Most of whom had bad ends which edited them out of the gene pool.

      Adventure works for men because we’re expendable and we get rewarded for success with mating opportunities. Adventure works against women because it comes at a cost.

  32. Charity Kountz
    Charity Kountz says:

    This post made me completely laugh out loud in delight. What a perfectly logical way to approach the dilemma. Why couldn’t I have thought of that? Of course, I tend to do things the hard way. I wasn’t going to have children, then ended up “accidentally” pregnant at 27, was a single mom for three years then found the love of my life, got married this April and am in the process of launching two careers almost simultaneously – a marketing career and a publishing career. Wow have I ever taken your very logical approach and turned it on its head! But I have to be honest, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Having my daughter taught me not only how to love others but more importantly, how to love myself (something I seriously lacked), how to have fun, how to let go of the control just a little bit. My career dissatisfaction has led me to find other ways of being satisfied in my career and given me the courage to forge my own path. And my husband, is teaching me all about family – loving one, being in one, being a role model for one – all the things I didn’t learn in my childhood. So while it’s not the most logical approach, I feel at 32 I’m pretty much ahead of my peers in my understanding of life, love, relationships, and career. But there’s still plenty more to learn.

    Great post Penelope!

  33. Lena
    Lena says:

    Thank you so much for this article, this is EXACTLY what I’ve been needing to read…

    I’m an almost-27-year-old Navy veteran, and I’ve got a little over a year left before finishing my BS in Business Technical Management. That said, I’ll have slightly less than two years left on my GI Bill – plenty of time to get my MBA or MHRM (haven’t decided yet). My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly four years, own a home together, and have two little “fur babies” (ie. chihuahuas). I’ve been worried about where I’m at in my life. We aren’t engaged (though it will happen as surely as the sun rises, we’ve just had to spend a lot on our new house: roof, furnace, AC, new sprinklers for the yard…) and I don’t want a baby while I’m in school. My chihuahua drives me nuts when I’m trying to study, I can’t imagine adding an infant to the cacophony. I too, want to be married for a couple of years, start doing the baby thing at 30, and be done with it by 35. The problem is that I won’t finish my Master’s until I’m 30 or 31. What do I do then? Do I try to get a job, and then immediately leave because I really want to bea stay at home mom until my kids are in pre-school? I too, want my children three years apart, that’s like 6 or 8 years until I can get them into a preschool program and back to work! Is it even worth it? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll screw myself over in the long run, but at this point, I’d rather focus on family. If we can’t afford for me to leave the workforce to be a mom, I simply won’t have kids, though I desperately want them. I guess only time will tell, but I did enjoy the article very much. It makes me less guilty for believing family is more important than a career.

  34. Jaz
    Jaz says:

    Eh, I don’t know about this post. I did what this article said to do because it was how I was raised to believe/think. Got married in my early 20s, then focused on career/school. Well, things didn’t turn out the way they “should”. My marriage failed because I was so focused on my career. Then my career failed because I thought my life was over when I got divorced. I ended up having to re-do my life all over again after my divorce. I realized that I had put more emphasis on getting married than anything else in my life because that was what was instilled in me. That’s wrong thinking. And I never had kids but I want them someday so does that mean the window of opportunity is forever doomed because my biological clock is about to expire?

    In hindsight (and what I feel this article should be encouraging), I should have done things differently – go to school, start my career, get married, have kids. In that order. Yeah yeah, we are constantly learning, growing, getting to know ourselves and that’s not a good reason to wait for marriage. In the grand scheme of things, it’s actually the most important thing. Marrying young is hard. Really hard, especially if you’re BOTH young. You’re both growing, learning, finishing school, starting careers, and evolving into completely different human beings. This leads to disagreements, which lead to disappointments, which lead to unhappy endings. So what’s the rush? I feel like now, in my early 30s, I can have a healthy relationship because I am more secure with who I am, who I’ve become and who I will continue evolving into.

    It’s hard enough trying to figure out in your early 20s what you want to do for the rest of your life (career), imagine trying to live with someone, figure them out, own a home, have babies, whilst building a career for yourself and “finding yourself”. I say, find yourself first and the rest will follow.

    • KJC
      KJC says:

      I feel like either piece of advice, “Get married, then career,” or “Have career, then get married,” is too prescriptive. If you single-mindedly pursue one thing (marriage or career), you may make choices to further that pursuit that are not actually healthy of helpful. I don’t think it’s good to become overly obsessed and willing to sacrifice everything else to either have a career or to find a mate. Both are unbalanced and seem to inevitably lead to disappointment if that obsession doesn’t fulfill every deepest need you have. It seems best to be open to both when the right timing happens. If you are obsessed with the goal of getting married above all else, for example, you may marry someone who is not right for you just to “be married.” But if you swear off marriage until later life or become overly obsessed with the pursuit of your career, you may lose out on a great partner who you meet in your younger years. It’s not always within our control when we will meet someone great, so why try to obsessively control it? I don’t think life has to look the same for every person. Sacrificing something else great for that single goal you think you “have to have” is not ideal on either end of the marriage versus career spectrum.

  35. Ghioca
    Ghioca says:

    Tens of thousands of women in more than 127 countries have naturally conceived and are now proud mothers they never believed they could be. The best part is, they did it without drugs, over the counters and without risky surgery or any side effects…

  36. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I have just recently stumbled on this blog and have been reading it for the past several hours. For the most part, the advice is very good. I like the common sense and research focused aspects of it. But people can’t always live their lives that way. Look at Penelope-how much she struggled with her past, her illness, first and second marriages etc. She is a brave and admirable woman, sure. But clearly she is someone who has a lot to learn in life-hence her research. I never bought into the whole career obsession thing for many reasons and was on the marriage and baby track at 25. It led me to a man who physically and mentally abused me. I got out thankfully after less than two years. I have continued to make getting married a priority, yet it is a goal I have not yet achieved. I am now 34. Internet dating, advice books, friend sets ups, singles scene, meetup groups: been there, done that, still doing it, still not working. Some women will struggle with careers regardless of whether or not they have children. Some of us, like myself, have trouble finding a life partner. This is a great blog from an older women to help her younger counterparts avoid generational mistakes. But some things we just can’t help. Despite all our best efforts, best advice etc. And I think it’s sad that even such a great blog can easily make us Gen X single gals feel like failures even as we tried so hard to not fail. The only comfort I can take is that I know had I married and procreated with this abusive man (or any other not right for me) any children I had would suffer from my unhappiness. God knows there are enough unhappy kids already. Gen Y women, even with the best advice will still make mistakes and have regrets. Only a small portion of people ever get the right balance, the right timing. It’s called luck.

    • KJC
      KJC says:

      100% Agree with the above anonymous post. As a person who got married at 23 and is very happy in my marriage, I still don’t look at my mid-30’s single friends and say, “oh, I must have done something better than you to be married when you are not.” No! The right person came along at the right time. But it could have gone just the other way, without any regard for my own efforts, and I could be single too. More often, I look at how beautiful, talented, and open to a relationship my single friends are and marvel at how I, who have half of their grace, really lucked out in the circumstances that led me to meet a great partner earlier. It’s not about one group of women being successful and the other being a failure. Not everything is within our control. Some things are, some aren’t. Being single is not inherently a personal failure. As anonymous alluded, life throws some people curve balls, and I think it is better to be single than to be in a bad marriage.

  37. vera
    vera says:

    hello every one there. AM faith, I found a great spell caster on line who helped me to get back my husband who has left me for pass 3 years. we where married for 8 years without a child and my friend introduce me to a real spell caster named Dr.cool which i never believe it exist but after the meeting of this spell caster my problem where solved and now i am with my husband who left me for pass three years my life and my entire family are now happy now i have two kids with the help of this great spell caster. thanks to doctor cool and i will advice anyone in need of help to contact him with this email:AgumaguSpellTemple@gmail.com

  38. Lily
    Lily says:

    what i wanna know is, how do i go about “systematically searching for a mate”? all the dating books tell women to let the man lead, let them prove their commitment to you. the way i see it, we have no control when a guy will show up who gives us the full treatment.

    basically i don’t see a way to “search for a mate” without losing some self-respect and dignity, and therefore desirability.

  39. Kat
    Kat says:

    I’m glad I stumbled onto this site.I found this topic after I posted on another topic. I think your advice is valid Penelope, but I would rephrase it a bit. As someone turning 50, never married with no kids, I wanted a career. Well, guess what? My career kind of sucks. I never realized how difficult it would be to succeed. I’m probably at the same success level as a thirty-year-old. My best advice to someone would be to seize an opportunity as it comes along. If the career works out young go for it. If you meet someone special, go for it. If you want kids, know your time limits. Turning down an opportunity because it didn’t fit in with my plans is probably one of my biggest life’s mistakes. You really can’t control everything. Our lives are interdependent with each other. Our decisions effect more than ourselves.

  40. jennifer
    jennifer says:

    Hello am Jennifer from UK i wanna thank Dr Paloma for what he has done for me at first i taught he was scam but until i just decided to follow my mind.i told him that my ex lover which i loved with all my heart left me for another all Dr Paloma did was to laugh and said he will be back to me in 3days time i taught he was lying on the 3rd day my ex called me and said he wanna see me,i was shocked then he came over to my place and started begging that he was bewitched,immediately i forgives him and now we are back and he his really madly in love with me.All thanks to Dr Paloma he indeed wonderful incise you wanna contact him here his is private mail palomaspelltemple@yahoo.com

  41. Annei
    Annei says:

    This is very depressing, Im 30 and single. No even a boyfriend :( This makes me very sad and I dont know what to do,

    • J
      J says:

      Start being happy and feeling good about your life as you are valuable, too :). I am 34 and single, and not in a rush to get married at 35. This article says getting married before 35 is a great way to ensure you have kids when you are young enough, but it fails to mention how younger marriages up your statistics of divorce, and some women end up marrying men who do not help with the child rearing responsibilities. So it is better to wait for the right person and to be happy in your own situation, than to become an overburdened mom. Yes, I hear a lot of moms at the store complaining about how they have to work, cook, and clean, so it is better to find someone who shares responsibilities, not just hit a milestone to do it.

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