The anti- women fear-mongering "pundits" (you know who you are) are at it again. You only have to look as far as Susan Patton's recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. And what exactly is the groundbreaking new idea? If you don't meet and marry a man when you're in college, you're losing your best chance to marry at all. Well, I have news: In the end, facts are more persuasive than old wives' tales recycled by bitter divorcees. So let's set the record straight.
While researching my book about today's Alpha Women, I found that the reality is, the older the bride, the stronger the marriage.
Economist Dana Rotz, a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research, found that for every year a woman waits to marry, she lowers her risk of divorce. A woman who marries for the first time in her late 20s (27 to 29) is 15 percent less likely to divorce in a given year than a woman who marries in her mid-20s. If she waits until her early 30s (30 to 34), that risk drops by another 15 percent. "Marriages made when a woman is in her late 30s (35 to 39) are more stable still, and fully 46 percent less likely to end in divorce than those beginning when a woman is 23 to 26. Up until your early 40s, waiting to marry is associated with lower risk of divorce," she told me.
So, what is at issue here? What is the agenda of people who steadfastly ignore the facts in favor of a discredited, antiquated myth? Could these people possibly be trying to undermine women who seek fulfilling careers and marriage? Might these people be trying to keep women in their "place?" Hmmm.
And another thing: It's hard to imagine that anyone still adheres to that tired old saw: "Men won't buy the cow if the milk is free." Are women chattel? We thought that went out with the turn of the century -- not the 21st but the 20th. Why wouldn't a woman want to try on the merchandise before she buys it? Why wouldn't she want to explore her sexuality before she settles down? Sexual compatibility in marriage is important--any woman needs to know what she's getting.
As a therapist who works with individuals and couples, I can tell you: you have every chance of finding happiness if you're single in your 30s or 40s or beyond. College is a time to have fun, learn about yourself, and define your goals. Many women in their 20s aren't ready to pick a life partner yet. Don't worry: you have plenty of time. You are not a has-been at 30.
Traditional gender roles no longer operate for women or for men. That train has left the station, and it isn't going backward, toward the 1950s. Our society has changed, and, along with it, marriage. Nowadays women want education and careers, marriage and family. To women of all ages: This is NOT too much to ask. Nothing will be perfect--but why not take a shot at having the best you can?
Dr. Sonya Rhodes is the co-author, with Susan Schneider, of The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match: How Today's Strong Women Can Find Love and Happiness Without Settling (William Morrow, April 15, 2014). Follow Dr. Rhodes on Twitter @drsonyarhodes and @alpha_women