Jan 25, 2010

When is the Right Age to Get Married? Have Kids?

For whatever reason, my biological clock started ticking loudly. I'm now 26 and I'm not getting any younger. While part of me wonders if I'll ever be mature enough to have children, I'd like 3 of them, and a house and stability and all of those adult things. I feel terribly young -- way too young to have a husband or kids -- and yet I know so many people who are my age or younger who are already packing in a full house. (This article argues that you should get married in your early 20s.)

I started Google searching things like "when is the right age to have a baby?" and "how old should i be when I get married." More often then not, I find people recommending marriage in the 20s, and popping out kids by 35 (and later and there's a higher chance for defects).

My boyfriend and I have been together over 3 years. We both know we're going to get married -- one day -- but he's convinced that he needs to finish grad school (well he needs to start it first) and obtain a career in order to get married. If he starts grad school next fall, I'll be 29 before he's finished with his MA. Then there's the PhD he may want to obtain... I'm not getting married until I'm 35 at the rate things are going.

I'm not marriage obsessed, I just wonder now that I'm 26 why I'm not getting married. I guess the way I see it is either my boyfriend and I will get married OR we won't and I'm wasting my time with him now when I could be out dating while I still look somewhat attractive. What if I get to 30 and he decides he isn't ready, or worse, wants to break up?

Given my health, having children is going to be extremely difficult and expensive anyway, and I don't want to put it off too long. At the moment I'm somewhat stable in my career -- somewhat as in I'll probably need to switch jobs this year -- but I've learned how to save and I'm starting to feel financially mature. I honestly could give two shits about being married, it's having children that is what's on my mind right now. I don't want kids now, but I do want them fairly soon, in the next 5 years. Maybe I should break up with my boyfriend and date a guy in his late 30s to make sure this will happen.



14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is a magic age to have kids or get married. I think it is when you feel it is right for you. I don't think you have to be married to have kids but I would suggest at least a relationship that is committed as it is tough on the kids when the parents aren't together. I had all my children by the time I was 24 (3 well 2 were twins so it was kind of a package deal) and was then married at 25 to their father. I did it all backwards but that was because I knew we were committed and would probably get married someday if not live together forever. Now my youngest is 15 and some of my friends are just starting, I get jealous because I miss the baby stage and really do have much more patience now then I did in my 20's but then again I have tons of freedom compared to my friends. Each to their own. I think you just know when it is your time.

Jason@LiveRealNow said...

I'm 31, with a 10 year old, a 3 year old, and an 18 month old. I don't recommend having a baby at 20, but I can tell you, without a doubt, that it is much less physically draining to have a baby at 20 than 30.

Anonymous said...

I once heard that if you are going to wait to have kids until you can afford them, you will never have kids! IT's a trade off. Having kids younger may be financially harder, but it's a lot easier physically (you have more energy and are better able to handle the stress and lack of sleep, etc that comes along with being a mom). Waiting may make it financially easier, but it will be a lot harder physically - and I can personally attest to what a difference just two/three years makes physically! I was amazed at how much harder it was physically to keep up with the needs of the second and then the third baby! I was 23 when I had the first, 25 for the second, 28 for the third. I'm 33 now and can't imagine doing the whole pregnancy and baby thing now. and let me tell you, I have NO IDEA how women in their 40's do it!!

Personally, it sounds like your bf is intimidated by you. Maybe he feels like he'll be less of a man if he marries a woman who makes more than him? Well that's just immature (thank heaven I found a man who doesn't mind me making 3X what he does!) Either that, or he's just making excuses b/c he doesn't want to commit.

I think there's also a cultural difference. I got married at 21. Everyone thought we were babies - b/c we live in an area where everyone is so devoted to their careers that they refuse to get married until they're 30 or older! Let me tell you, I am living proof that you CAN get married, have kids, AND a career. People who don't think it's possible are just lazy/wimps.

Anonymous said...

oh - and tell your bf that careers are easier to obtain AFTER marriage. It's because married men are viewed as being more stable. For the most part, employers view single men as more risky hires b/c they are more likely to up and leave to another city.

And that feeling terribly young to be married feeling....I'm not sure it ever goes away! I still feel like I'm too young to be married (12 years!) with 3 kids sometimes - and my oldest is ten!

Investing Newbie said...

I think you should definitely sit down and have this discussion with your BF as soon as possible. After finances, kids are another big reason why marriages are destroyed. Whether it's raising them or even deciding whether to have them, it is one battle that nearly every couple has to face. Hoping that he'll change his mindset is not a good idea. I also don't think it is a good idea for you to ruin what seems like a perfectly stable relationship. However if he is pretty sure that he isn't planning on marrying or having kids within the next 5 years, then yup, its time for you to go.

Sallie's Niece said...

Oh this is a subject that is recently on my mind a lot as well as I'm experiencing some health problems, but I'm 30 and about to get married. I used to think I wanted to be married at 27 and my first kid at 29. Obviously that didn't happen but I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for anything. Besides when I was 27 I was dating the wrong guy for me and now I'm finally met the right one. Anyway, I understand wanting to plan everything and worrying about conceiving (both things I think about a lot) but you can't rush yourself.

Anna said...

Why wait untill graduating to get married? *Why?* Please give me a good, logical reason. No "we should", no "it would be best", no "Grandma told me", no blablabla of the kind.

Marriage is for better of for worse - that means whether you have money or not, whether you have a career or not. Marriage is simply more important (at least to me). If BF loses his job, will he divorce you? Because he needs a career to be married?

me in millions said...

I want to get married now. Too bad I have no one to get married to :(

Anonymous said...

I agree that going to grad school is not a good reason to delay marriage (if that's what the both of you eventually want). Marriage is a public display of commitment between the two of you. There are plenty of married couples whereby one spouse is in graduate school and the other is the main breadwinner and supporting them though school. Why wait?

More Style Than Cash said...

I've read your post many, many times because I want to be clear in my mind in what you are saying. I truly understand about the biological clock ticking...when it happened to me everyone was shocked because I was NOT a maternal type of person. My husband and I dated for 3 years before and we married when I was 27 (actually a month before) and my husband was 29 and I was 31 and 34 when we had children. Both my husband and I agree that we would have like to start a family even a year or two earlier just because of the physical demands but on the other side our kids have kept us young because we have to be so active.

You boyfriend sounds like a very nice person who doesn't realize yet that time is marching on and he has to make some hard decisions very soon. In my mid twenties I really thought that I had all the time in the world and things would fall into place, a few years latter I realized that I was just drifting and the life I wanted could very easily pass me by.

I know you said that you don't care about marriage but think of it as standing in front of all the world and affirming "Yes this is the person I want to go through life with, this person and this person only". When you have children you will see the two of you bound up in one soul. Do you love him? or are you settling. Does he love you? or are you just convenient. In my opinion you really need to work out a time line and have a very deep talk with him with the knowledge that you can't give him an ultimatum, that doesn't work, but accept that you might be ending your relationship with him by the end of your talk.

SeeJaneGetRich.com said...

Okay, you hear your biological clock ticking?! At 26?! Are you kidding me?

Anonymous said...

I say don't rush marriage. Even if people think going to grad school isn't a good reason to wait, if he's not comfortable getting married now, and a lot of people your age AREN'T, don't rush it. If that's what he needs, accept that. If it's a cover for something else, you'll figure it out soon enough. My BF wants to wait until he starts his medical residency because HE wants to feel more secure, and I respect that. We're already 30, so I know we'll be pushing that 35 age when we have kids. Oh well. It happens. Both of our mothers were in their 30s when we were born, and they did just fine. Do it when you two feel ready, regardless of what others may tell you. Oh, and I say this as a divorce attorney; marriages will last longer if you jointly do it on your terms.

Rebecca said...

I am 29 (soon to be 30 in a couple of weeks) and my husband is 25. We have a soon to be 3 year old and one due in July. Most of my friends are married with children. My husbands' friends, on the other hand, are not married, nor do they have children. There are not even any that are engaged. Sometimes, we get jealous of the fact that they have more spending money, more free time, and seemingly more freedom. And then we sit back and think that by the time they do finally get married and have children (which they all want to do eventually) WE will be the ones with more free time. Because while they are going through the early years of changing diapers, feeding babies, and sleepless nights our children will be in school. No more daycare expenses (now close to $1,000 per month), getting up every 2 hours during the night for feedings, or the other things that go along with having children that are very young. By then, our kids will have friends and family members that they can spend the night with, be able to attend summer camp, and be more self-sufficient. (Although that's kind of sad, too. It does make me sad sometimes when my toddler doesn't want or need me to play with him.)

I agree with the person who said that there is never a good time to have children. When we got pregnant, I was American living in Wales and my husband was English. My visa expired and I had to leave England. He was just finishing school. Neither one of us had a job and I had to move back to the US. We had no money, no place to live, and he couldn't just up and move here because it's a lot more complicated than that. We would have NEVER planned on getting pregnant that way. And yet, it's one of the best things that has ever happened to us. now, 4 years later, we wouldn't change a thing. Now, we live in a nice house, have good jobs, and have some money. Yet, when we found out we were pregnant this time we STILL questioned whether or not it was the "right time." I don't think there ever is. But if you keep putting it off, thinking that there might be a "right time" one day, then you might just find that you're putting off things forever.

I'm not just talking marriage and children, either. Try watching that animated movie "Up" sometime...

dent debt daily said...

When I was 25, I knew that I was ready for a serious relationship that would lead me to marriage and family life. Luckily I met my husband when I was 26 and we had a child when I was 30. I'm turning 33 this year. I feel it all happened at a time that was good for me because I was ready emotionally and mentally. Financially we weren't but I believe in what old people say about that aspect of being a parent. We manage surprisingly. :)

I don't think I'd have had a family at the time that I did if I didn't meet the person who shared the same values with me. However, this is your life and your choices and values. What feels right--what your gut tells you--should guide you I believe. :)

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