The answer to the first part of the question, “When is a man too old to marry?” is simple: never. The same is true for a woman. Committing yourself via holy matrimony to someone you love doesn’t have an age limit. Everyone has the right to be happy regardless of his or her age. I think it’s very special when senior citizens fall in love and marry.
But if you view marriage as the gateway to having children and raising a family, which I believe most people do, then age matters a great deal.
Let’s face it, the dating game is not fair to women when it comes to age. Men can (theoretically) date women 10 years their junior, while women often have to stretch at least as far in the opposite direction. The men I meet who are well into their fourth decade sport huge smirks on their faces. As one 44 year old man recently told me, these are the best of times for his dating pursuits. Life is beautiful for the Quadragenarian male!
I really believe that one of the major reasons why so many men who claim to want to be married remain single well into their forties and beyond is that:
1) They think they can continue dating women a decade or more (much more) their junior because of the scarcity of eligible bachelors, which is actually true, but only to a point. In order to merit the interest of the younger ladies the man has to either be extremely successful or super stable with an awesome personality and above average looks. In other words, he’s got to have “game” (as a Hollywood producer friend once termed it). Unfortunately for them, and for the women, most of the over forty crowd don’t exactly fit the bill.
2) They think that since biologically they can have children until a ripe old age, they’ve got nothing rushing them to settle up and marry (I know, the term is settle down, but I don’t want anyone to think that I’m in favor of settling for someone you consider to be “beneath” your standards).
Do men face increased risks related to child-fathering based on their age?
A study published in Nature finds that the age at which a father sires children determines how many mutations those offspring inherit. By starting families in their thirties, forties and beyond, men could be increasing the chances that their children will develop autism, schizophrenia and other diseases often linked to new mutations. “The older we are as fathers, the more likely we will pass on our mutations,” says lead author Kári Stefánsson, chief executive of deCODE Genetics in Reykjavik. “The more mutations we pass on, the more likely that one of them is going to be deleterious.”
While most of these passed on mutations turn out to be harmless, Stefánsson’s team identified some that studies have linked to conditions such as autism and schizophrenia. According to Stefánsson and other geneticists, although the study does not prove that older fathers are more likely than younger ones to pass on disease-associated or other deleterious genes, that is the strong implication.
The Nature article cites more studies that reenforce this connection between a father’s age and the increased risk of autism in particular and that fathers are four times more likely than mothers to pass genetic mutations.
Will these studies have any effect on 21st century dating? Will they open a floodgate of men in their twenties and early thirties racing to stand under the wedding canopy and start families as soon as possible?
There are many reasons why I think men should not wait until their late thirties and beyond to marry. I don’t think the fear of passing on genetic mutations is one of them. According to experts cited in the NYTimes, the overall risk to a man in his forties or older is in the range of two percent, at most, and there are other contributing biological factors that are entirely unknown. I don’t think that’s a large enough risk percentage to influence a man’s decision to marry.
Well gentlemen, wipe that smirk off your face and listen closely to what I have to say. It’s true that you have the upper hand in the dating jungle and you’re not facing the same biological clock issues that the ladies are. And let’s assume for a moment that you are successful professionally and you’ve got “game”.
But let me ask you one question: Do you want to be married and raise a family?
You say that you do but that she needs to be the right one, someone “special”. Of course you do, so does everyone. But do you really really want to marry and raise a family? Is it a priority for you…THE priority?
You see, in your exhaustive search for the “perfect” mate you’ve lost sight of the real prize: a family, children. Now you’re in your 40’s and counting, and still picking through women as if they were books on a Barnes and Noble shelf you were browsing through to find a satisfying summer read. While you’re browsing, flipping pages, feeling covers, and reading snippets, your vital years are slipping away.
True, you probably don’t have a childbearing clock but you do have an active-life clock which is ticking away faster than you realize. Do you want to be able to play ball with your kids? Do you want to see your second or third kid become a bar mitzvah? Do you want to see any of your kids get married? What about grandchildren?
Guys, the longer you wait to start your family the less likely it is that you will be able to enjoy them as fully as you will want to. That’s YOUR biological truth. Even if you get married tomorrow, whose to say that you’ll be blessed with children right away. You might have to wait a few years (God forbid). By the time you have your second child you might be well into your 50’s. Then…you do the math.
The time you’re wasting now chasing women beyond your reach and dreaming of the perfect woman who fulfills every single criteria you’ve fantasized about is precious time you could be using to build a family with a great women…NOW. No, no, no I’m not telling you to marry a woman who you aren’t attracted to and have absolutely no connection with. Seriously, you mean to tell me that you haven’t been attracted to any of the women you dated in the last few years (if that’s the case you might have bigger issues to deal with)? But she didn’t exactly fit what you feel you need…something just wasn’t there…I know the drill.
All you can think of is your dream of having six kids, which means you need a woman who is 12 years younger than you…meanwhile you have NOTHING, yet you continue to engage in your self centered pursuits, having the time of your life as you rack up your matches and dates, show up at singles events, and fantasize about that gorgeous, brilliant, saintly, 28 year old PHD/artist/aerobics instructor who you will definitely marry as soon as you randomly meet her on a subway platform.
While you’re playing the dating game, the rest of us get to look at the incredible smiles on the holy faces of our children and bask in the warmth of their unconditional love. That’s the real goal you should be aiming for…not the stuff your thinking of when you engage in your dating craft. Regarding the number of kids, that’s a decision that rests solely with God.
I know that was harsh, but the truth is harsh…I know from personal experience. I see my friends from college hanging out with their high-school and college age kids. They’ll be walking their kids to the wedding canopy while I’m changing diapers! My two year old goes to school with kids whose parents are about twenty years younger than me. I might have even dated some of their mommies (it’s possible but unlikely)!
Yeah, I think about this stuff, but it’s all good because I love my wife and my kids and am happy that I finally made it to this point.
I want you to make it here too, but you need to get on the ladder ASAP. Don’t wait until you’re too old to play with your kids. You owe it to them, and to yourself, to be vibrant and healthy enough to be the kind of father they deserve, and to live long enough to take care of them and watch them grow into adults.
Don’t waste another minute. The right woman is out there waiting for you to open your eyes and make a decision. Make your destiny happen. It really is in your hands.