I am a 38 year old young woman who has never been married and does not have any children. I was raised in a Christian home in NC. I’ve obtained a graduate degree and made a good amount of money in previous jobs. However, I can’t help feeling like a failure in the area of marriage and children.
I value marriage and leaving a legacy but it seems the men in my generation don’t appreciate my traditional values. Lots of men are meeting women using online dating and are perfectly content not choosing from the thousands of women available to them via their phone. In addition, it’s creating more men who don’t know how to have a conversation unless they can “text” you.
I’ve started devaluing my career and education as I get older because a family of my own is what my heart desires. What advice does the Bible have for me and lots of other women in my situation?
What a painful period in your life this must be. We would like to offer four suggestions that we hope will be helpful, but before we do so we want to make a few comments about your letter.
Like a doctor telling his patient that he has put on too much weight and instructing him to lay off the French fries and ice cream, those able to help us occasionally have to tell us things we may prefer not to hear. So, know that we write to you only with a deep desire to hear back from you soon with news of your happy marriage.
That said, we noticed that you describe yourself as a 38-year-old young woman. Now 38 is not by any means old, of course. But, neither is it young. We think most 38 year-olds would have written, “I’m a 38 year-old woman”. Taken together with your description of “the men in my generation…” Danielle, we worry that you are perhaps ruling out men of a certain age. You see, men of your generation, men of 38 are just not dating women of 38. They may be dating women of 24. We feel that you may need to adjust your thinking here a bit. You are probably looking for a slightly older man than you currently envisage. He may even have a marriage behind him. In fact, given a choice between a never-married 47-year-old man and the same man widowed or even divorced, we might even put the never-married at the back of the line. Please don’t shoot us, Danielle. We’re just the messengers bringing you accurate information about how the world really works.
Moving on, you wrote that you are devaluing your career and education. If we may say so, that is a mistake. You cannot undo the past years and the choices that you made. Your accomplishments are what they are and an important positive part of you. If you start resenting them you will only add bitterness and negativity to your personality; something that is highly unattractive.
That doesn’t mean that you made the best choices when you were younger. It sounds to us like you may have unfortunately prioritized education and career above marriage in your earlier years. All of us, when young, have trouble seeing down the road.
The fact that you are educated and accomplished gives you great credibility when you talk to younger women and share your story. Without preaching, you can provide a counterpoint to the message society gives them that professional achievement should precede marriage and family. Let them know how the same heart that desired certain things at 25 feels very differently at 35 and that opportunities for marriage and family aren’t the same at all ages. Using your experience to help others is a gift you have to offer.
Now on to some recommendations for you:
- Become professional about finding a life partner. Make a comprehensive list of friends and community leaders and speak to them individually. Let them know your dreams and ask them to keep you in mind as they meet potential mates. Treat this with the seriousness that you would if you were searching for a job.
- It sounds trite but it is true that if you want something you’ve never had, you will need to do something you’ve never done before. This may include dressing differently, participating in new groups, and actively expanding your social connectivity.
- Go outside your comfort zone. Attend a different church sometimes and make sure to introduce yourself to as many people as possible. Volunteer for a charity—and it won’t hurt if it’s one that attracts Christian men. While we are not big fans of electronic communication in male/female interactions, don’t be dogmatic about what you will and won’t do. Perhaps a Christian dating website might even be a good idea. Think outside your box.
- Finally, find another woman in the same situation and pray for each other rather than each of you praying for yourselves. As you pray for the other woman’s pain to be alleviated, in a wondrous way, your own situation can attain a higher status in the Divine scale.
Praying to hear wedding bells ring,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin