Originally Posted: 2002-09-10 1:44pm
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favorite this post RE: Almost 35, Unmarried, Depressed hide this posting unhide

This is in response to the woman who asked if it was normal to be depressed when one is the oldest of 5 kids, almost age 35, not yet married and childless.

As the never-married, almost-36-year-old oldest of four (with one sister married, one sister to be married in December, and one gay brother), I can tell you that it is COMPLETELY normal.

But having had an extra year and a half to sort out these feelings, perhaps the wisdom I gained will be of comfort to you.

First, please realize that you don't need to be married to be happy. Some of the most wretched people I know are married; many of them people who, in my opinion, freaked out because they were getting "too old" to be single. (BTW, I have seen the threshhold where "young enough" becomes "too old" range from 25 to 50.) Now, some have since divorced. Some are still married but feel stuck -- wanting to divorce but shit-scared of the prospect of being single again. Others (including many who have had kids) feel completely stuck -- they love their kids and want to keep the family intact even if it means sacrificing their own happiness with their partner.

Some of this, of course, is just whining. Plenty of people with terrific marriages feel stuck for some reason or another when they reach their mid-thirties.

But I believe a happy home is the key to happiness in life, and a happy home starts with a happy you. I know you've probably heard all the crap about "developing your passions, becoming an interesting person in your own right etc. etc." (A little too much pressure if you ask me!) But there is gem of an idea in the pile, and that is developing a baseline for your own personal happiness. It doesn't mean you're going to be happy all the time, or quell the urge find a husband, but what it allows you to do is establish a minimum happiness level. One in which you can be fairly secure. So, when you meet someone you could possibly marry, you can ask yourself: Does this person make me happier than I am all by myself?

Because once you're married, you might just wake up one day and go: "Now what?" (Or, "I can't believe I married a guy who refuses to play Scrabble, or insists on meat at every meal even though I'm a vegetarian, or who won't go see foreign films because he says it's too much work to read the subtitles.")

And secondly, remember that you don't have to be married to have kids. You can get artifically inseminated, or have your eggs frozen, or adopt, or just get yourself pregnant. Plus, with fertility drugs etc., it's getting easier and easier for women to have babies far beyond their late 30s or even 40s. Sure, it's easier with a husband, but there are plenty of single mothers who seem to do all right, especially those who are single mothers by choice.

Thirdly, remember marriage and/or kids are a big commitment and should NOT be entered into lightly. Examine the reasons why you want them, and imagine the ways -- big and small -- your life will change as a result. Sure, age is a factor (especially when it comes to bearing children), but if that is your primary reason, it's not good enough.

And finally, keep in mind marriage is one thing but having kids is another. I personally believe that those who can choose should not have kids until they are ready to stop living their lives for themselves. This doesn't mean you must become a martyr mom, you just need to remember that kids come first. (This is the reason I don't have kids -- I still think I'm a bit too selfish.)

Hope this helps!
Caroline

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