It’s easy to end up with a very long list of values and attributes we look for in ‘Mr Right’ – if I’m honest I wouldn’t date half of my exes if I met them now. Which probably explains why I’m currently single.
So a new book which argues that if you are a single woman over 30 who wants to have kids you should stop waiting for the perfect man and marry the first half-decent one who likes you has really made me think.
The book is based on the author’s own experience and research conducted among 30-year-olds. Underlying the entire premise is her conviction that they all long for conventional family life.
There are so reasons why I can decide that a date isn’t suitable: their occupation; their height; their aversion to cats; their shoes…. By the time I finally met someone who ticks most of the boxes, it is highly likely that I’ll be well past child-bearing age. Though having seen friends reduced to exhausted shells of their former selves as a result of motherhood I’m not wholly convinced that I want children anytime soon (see my post on freezing eggs!).
I suspect sales of ‘Marry Him: The Case For Settling For Mr Good Enough’ by Lori Gottlieb, published here next week, are going to be very healthy as it hits upon a dilemma that many 30-something women face – do we bite the bullet and settle for someone ‘ok’ or hold out for ‘Mr Wonderful’ who makes us weak at the knees, when a) we may never meet such a man or b) we meet him when we’re 50, suffering hot flushes and starting to invest in support underwear.
Bella DePaulo, author of ‘The Living Single’ blog on the internet, has called Gottlieb’s ‘husband-fixation’ ‘tragic’ and considers comments the author made to be ‘nakedly and proudly regressive’. Ok, some women truly are happy being single and child-less – I can find many recently-published paperbacks by thirty-something women on the joys of singlehood in the bookshop. But in my opinion most women do dream of finding someone to share the rest of their life with, and I think our quest for perfection and increasingly high standards in so many aspects of life poses a real threat to some of us ever settling down. Now, onto Amazon for my copy…
A new book claims that marriage should be viewed as an economic partnership which couples should expect to stop working when the emotional and economic benefits begin to wane. ‘Changing Relationships’ by Malcolm Brynin argues that people only stay together when it is to their individual advantage. It follows figures from the Office for National Statistics revealing that the number of marriages in the UK in 2007 fell 2.6% from the previous year, to 270,000. The 2007 data shows that the average length of marriages which ended in divorce was 11.5 years.
Brynin and other researchers in this area, including Michael Buchanan, the twice-divorced (!) author of a new book called ‘The Marriage Delusion’ argue that the natural duration of a marriage is around 11 years. Isn’t this all a bit mercenary? What happened to promising to stick with each other ’till death do us part’?!
We are fast becoming a nation of singles. According to demographic studies, there will be 16 million singles in the UK by 2010, compared with 14 million in 2007. And we have a housing shortage in London now! Property is set to keep growing in value, despite the current economic meltdown, as the number of people living by themselves soars.
But study after study shows that being in a long-term, happy relationship is beneficial in so many ways – it increases your life expectancy, reduces the chance of heart disease, stress, depression and numerous other health problems. The government should be doing more to promote marriage and the family. It would benefit society and the economy hugely, as well as make housing more affordable!
A government sponsored report from the Economic and Social Research Council released this week suggests that although there are tentative signs of recovery in the economy, unemployment levels are likely to continue rising. It goes on to suggest that this will lead to a record number of divorces over the next two years.
However, I was surprised to learn that the UK divorce rate is currently at its lowest since 1981. And there is growing evidence that as the recession bites, with people losing their jobs, their homes and having to give up extravagant lifestyles, people are getting “back to basics” and investing more in personal relationships and in building a home.
A survey by NOISE (New Outlooks in Science & Engineering) last year found that just 4% of teenage girls interviewed want to be engineers in future (no huge surprise there!) but 12% dream of being housewives. There seems to be a resurgence of popularity in the 1950’s way of life, with women learning how to bake the perfect apple pie from Nigella Lawson and how to clean and tidy our homes properly from Anthea Turner and those two ‘How Clean is Your House?’ women on TV.
My generation of women (I’m in my early 30s) were sold the “having it all” idea – going to university, enjoying a successful career, making decent amounts of money, and having a happy marriage and children to boot. But we’ve found out that in reality, opportunities aren’t always perfect – IVF is at its highest rate ever, and lots of women in their late thirties/ early forties are finding out, after much expense and heartbreak, that they aren’t able to have it all.
Might we see an increase in marriage levels and a decline in divorce as people get nostalgic for all things domestic and put a greater emphasis on building a strong base at home rather than trying to be Miss Career Woman with the latest designer handbag?
According to the Office of National Statistics, marriage rates are at their lowest since records began in 1862. The Labour government has stripped away many of the tax benefits of marriage and the average age at which people marry for the first time has risen – 30 for women, 32 for men. Perhaps by promoting marriage and “back to basics” (with or without reports of Tory MPs sh*gging their secretaries), the Conservatives will help turn this around.