The women in my family did things “backwards,” as my mother used to say. Born in 1930, she lived in an era when most women who went to college married upon graduation. She did not. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, she went to Radcliffe—where she received an M.B.A. From there she worked in both New York and Washington D.C., and ultimately landed back home in St. Louis, where she worked for years as a stockbroker.
Like the women of today, my mother’s education and career choices meant marriage and kids came later. She was 34 when she married my father, and my sister was born when my mother was 36. Two years later, I came along.
In other words, my mother began her “nesting” period long after her friends had begun theirs. And her mother did the same: my grandmother, who was born in the 1800s and had a college degree, had her first child at 29, and her second child—my mother—at 34. Ergo, the age gap between my grandmother and me, and between my mother and me, was significant.
In keeping with the women in my family, I too had children later in life. I was 32 when I had my daughter and 35 when I had my son. So there was also a large gap between my mother and my own children. All of this affected my daughter greatly (since she lost her grandparents early on), to the point where she insists she’s going to have kids earlier than the rest of the women in our family.
Here are 6 sound reasons women should get married earlier rather than later:
- It’s easier to get pregnant. Plus you’ll have ample opportunity to have more than the requisite 1.5 children.
- Women typically marry “up,” but men are happy to marry ‘down’—which means women in their 30s are at a disadvantage when looking for a husband.
- It’s better to make a decision about whom to marry when you’re not under the fertility gun. The number of women today who have to “hurry up and find a husband” in time to have children is great. The result is that many end up marrying men they shouldn’t have or otherwise would not have. It’s better to make a decision like that when the clock isn’t ticking.
- The popular idea of “having a lot of experiences before settling down” usually just translates to having a lot of baggage. It used to be that ‘sowing one’s oats’ was reserved for men. But the birth control pill and the sexual revolution changed all that; now it’s assumed women want to do the same. But the truth is, most women don’t want to ‘sow their wild oats.’ In fact, they want to get married as much as they always have—it’s just no longer “cool” to admit it. So instead they hop from relationship to relationship, bringing more and more drama into their lives. And all that drama tends to result in heartache and, eventually, desperation.
- Having babies first and careers later is far less stressful than trying to do both simultaneously. That was the approach of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and look where it got her! And I know if my mother could do it all over again, that’s what she would have done. Finally, here’s Indra Nooyi, COO of Pepsi, relaying the truth about “having it all.”
- Their children will know their grandparents. And women will have the help they need from their parents when their children are young.