Planning for motherhood—eventually

November 21st, 2014

There is a growing trend of women in their thirties freezing their eggs in order to help ensure they will be able to have children in the future. It’s not cheap and can run from approximately $13,000 to $18,000. Many of these would-be Moms are single, others who are married want more time in their career or are just not quite ready to have children yet.

According to the doctors who perform this service, many women are having a hard time finding the right partner—and with the average age of first marriages going up, women are concerned that their fertility may not wait until he comes along. There are also all the often reported concerns about “older” eggs that are pushing women to help their motherhood years stand still or at least increase the viable and safe choice window.

Facebook and apple are now covering this treatment/option, which is probably very good for their bottom line as it will help them to both attract and keep female talent. It seems that guys are OK with the whole idea—after all, it could actually take some pressure off of them if the loud ticking of biological clocks could be quieted.

It all sounds like a great solution to a problem many women today are facing. However no one seems to be really talking about the inconvenient truth that we can’t stop or slow down the clock on our lifespan, and these future moms will be older and maybe much older than anyone had planned. Of course this doesn’t mean they can’t be great Moms, and theoretically they will have more resources, maturity and time to give their children. But they will have more age related issues and will not have as many years with their kids/grandkids as their peers who had children at a younger age. There are never guarantees and many younger parents live shorter lives and leave young children—it’s just that this has the potential to increase. Grandparents may not be as available or even still alive and the parents’ peer group may have moved on to a whole different lifestyle phase which can leave the parents in a kind of social limbo with much younger adults as the parents of their kids’ friends.

Again, none of these has to be a deal breaker. However anyone contemplating having kids in their late 40’s and 50’s may want to give it careful thought beforehand. There’s no such thing as having it all, all at the same time—we give up something to get something else. It’s a long road and we can’t quit just because we are tired. Science has allowed us many more choices and opened up new avenues for our futures. But the one thing we seem to never stop looking for is the fountain of youth. It’s never been found and this is because it (most certainly) doesn’t exist. Kids are an incredible joy and blessing and they change our lives in ways we can’t imagine before we meet ours. Just make sure you are willing and able to go the long and often challenging road raising a child takes you down—n o matter your age when you take the first step.

Marriage is down–remarriage is on the rise

November 16th, 2014

Once again the Pew research Center has come out with something that holds a few eye opening statistics. Four out of every ten newlyweds have been married before-that’s 40% folks. Many are divorced, some are widowed and some have been married multiple times before. This report sheds light on how marriage patterns have been shifting for decades—for instance, only 70% of adults today have been married compared with 85% in 1960. That’s a 15% drop over 50 years. The divorce rate is also much higher and this has contributed to the remarriage increase—apparently baby boomers have a higher divorce rate than any other generation before them.

According to Pew, it’s not that folks are necessarily flocking to the altar to remarry, it’s that there is a much larger pool of once married singles and from this group, we are seeing an uptick in remarriages. What is also interesting is that men are more likely and more motivated to remarry than women are. Apparently men enjoyed having a woman care for them in their first marriage and women who are divorced or widowed aren’t necessarily eager to take on another role as caregiver to a new man. What is not entirely surprising is that remarried men are likely to marry a woman who is at least 10 years younger, while remarried women end up with partners who are older or closer to their own age. 42 million adults remarried in 2013, which is 22 million more than in 1980. In addition 8% of these folks had been married three times or more. What’s also interesting is that older Americans are more likely to be in this remarriage group than younger adults. Those who are 25-34 have a 43% remarriage rate, while those who are older have a 50% rate of remarriage.

If you are an older, single adult who wishes to remarry, this is good news—especially if you are a man. If you are in the younger category with the same marital aspirations, you might be experiencing difficulty either finding potential partners for first time marriage or someone who wants to have a second or third try at getting it right. However, no one has to settle for becoming a statistic. How much success you have in finding and creating a healthy relationship continues to be related to your relationship readiness, how well you handle your own single life, your general attitude and what it tells others about you—and how much effort you are willing to put into it. Just remember that disappointment will come with dating and hopefully you will learn from it and develop the resources and tools that maximize your efforts and increases your chances of finding that right someone if this is what you desire.

Want to read the study? Click here

Marriage is good for your bottom line

November 2nd, 2014

For a number of reasons, it is just not politically correct today to talk about how important marriage is. We might offend women who are older and not yet married, or be accused of being “old-fashioned” and setting young people back in their educational/career aspirations. And to say that marriage actually leads to greater financial security/wealth—well, you know. Only gold-diggers think that way…

Well, it’s not just more conservative folks with an agenda saying these things anymore. There is a new study out that will hopefully open a dialogue about the positive aspects of marriage—getting married and staying married for the sake of all the individuals in the family. W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise institute; and Robert L. Lerman, the Urban Institute’s fellow in labor and social policy and a professor of economics at American University—collaborated on a study whose findings revealed that stable, two-parent families decrease the probability that people will end up living in poverty and/or in financially unstable circumstances.

In this study, titled; For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America—the research is broken down into five areas. However, I am only going to focus on the economics here. Their shocking economic conclusion is that the medium income of families that include children would have been 44% greater two years ago (2012) if the marriage rate had remained the same as it was in the 1980’s. So in the last twenty years the divorced and unmarried number of parents has risen significantly, and with it, incomes have dropped by 44%, which has a very negative impact on the parents and especially the children in those families. Essentially, many families now in the lower class could have risen to the middle-class had they had the structure, support and resources that marriage offers. It’s hard to argue with statistics and hard research, folks.

The researchers also found that the gap is worsening due to adults with less education and fewer assets choosing not to marry at all—while better educated and higher earning folks, are the ones getting married and planning carefully for children. Perhaps this is a major contributor to the frequent lament we hear today about how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Our individual choices DO matter—and that is good news because that is something we have control over.

I am not in any way implying that you should marry just for financial security. It is so important to choose wisely, with both your heart and your head. What I am saying is that staying in a relationship because you are “in love” with someone who doesn’t seem to have any interest in marriage could end up being a dead end for you—and lead to a future of greater financial struggle and insecurity. Finding that right person is first, finding someone who wants what you want is a close second. Compatibility and similar goals and Values do matter. Yes, this is practical—and ask any happily married person how they chose their partner. My guess is they would say it was a conscious and thought out decision, not just one based on intensity and biology.

The reality is that it is easier for some people to get an education, find a good job and enjoy the good life—but this is possible for everyone. It may take more work and determination for some, but not letting that get in the way means you too can have a piece of that promised American Dream.

Want to read more about this study and its findings? Click here

For professional success—choose a conscientious spouse

October 31st, 2014

Psychological Science has published an interesting study conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis that links career success with certain spousal traits. Somehow we have always known that who you choose to marry will play a large role in your future life—but now we know it can greatly impact your career success and therefore, financial security and lifestyle choices. Turns out that it is really important to choose wisely.

Their research studied the personality characteristics and careers of 4,500 married people. The test they used measures people on five traits—extraversion, openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and conscientiousness. They found that only one trait—conscientiousness– had a significant impact on their spouse’s career success. They defined success as level of income, steady promotions and job satisfaction. This study used Australian couples as they provided a significant number for the sample group.

The conclusions the researchers came away with are that a spouse’s behavior tends to rub off on their partner and over time we pick up on one another’s habits and strengths. Secondly, if one’s spouse has it together and handles a great deal at home and outside of work—their partner is freer to focus on their career and to put in the time and energy that leads to promotions and greater success.

What was very interesting is that they found no gender differences between the traits that helped a woman’s or a man’s career. Either one benefited from having a conscientious spouse. So take note both men and women readers out there. It’s great to love their beautiful smile, their positive energy, their smarts, and the interesting quirks that make them uniquely them. But if he or she is a slacker—you may be in for a life of long hours, low pay and thoughts of what might have been.

Women are better decision makers

October 20th, 2014

Now we actually have science to back up what many of us have observed throughout our lives—that women often seem to make better decisions than men. I’ve always thought of it as using their intuition better—that spidey-sense that lies somewhere between common sense and emotional reasoning.

However, it seems that neuroscientists at the University of Southern California and at Duke University have found that it’s about how the sexes operate under stressful circumstances that separates the men from the women—and according to them it all comes down to the stress hormone, cortisol. Apparently when under stress, men take more risks than women which often leads to a failed outcome. Women on the other hand, cut their risks when under stress, avoiding adding to their mistakes and instead, playing it safer.

Another fascinating outcome from one study was that when under stress, women demonstrated higher levels of empathy. For instance, if they were tasked with getting up in front of a large audience to do a presentation, their empathy for anyone facing the same situation went up. But men instead became more egocentric—if I did it, what’s the big deal?

If we apply these finding to the interactions between the sexes, they help to explain a few things. For instance, men can be very unsympathetic to the feelings/struggles of a child while women are very tuned in to them. This can also be seen in male supervisors and managers at work—they often take the attitude of just do it, others have, I have, what is the big deal. Whereas, women who have been there get it and are usually supportive that it can be hard.

The next time you run across this in your significant other or even with a male at work—you may want to try a different approach. Explaining where you are coming from and asking in a close-ended and unemotional way for help or support from the male in your life may get you the best results. Logic, not emotion is a better way to reach them. While you are at it, remind yourself it’s biology, and not personal.

Cameron Diaz’s engagement body language

October 12th, 2014

Cameron Diaz is smiling a lot this week. She arrived at the Academy’s Costume luncheon last Wednesday with a noticeably dazzling diamond ring on her left hand. According to other luncheon goers, Ms. Diaz was twirling her hair with that hand, playing with the ring—and smiling from ear to ear. Later that same day she had dinner with friends, and again—the ring seemed to be taking center stage even though no conversations were overheard to confirm the probable happy news.

Ms. Diaz has been dating Benji Madden for a while now and their relationship is rumored to have intensified when they spent time with her family during the summer. Her friends and acquaintances all have been reporting that she seems happier and more content than her younger self in this relationship, and that he seems to be as into her as she is to him. It’s also been reported that Mr. madden moved in with Ms. Diaz a few months ago—so it sounds as though the relationship has been steadily gaining momentum. It’s also interesting to note that their friends report they are more homebodies now, spending time just hanging out together.

At 42, Ms. Diaz is known for a number of past celebrity hook-ups and relationships and as a woman who seemed content to remain single. Therefore, it’s unlikely she would take an engagement lightly, like many of her peers who have been through several marriages and divorces by the time they reach her age.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if someone with her celebrity status were to join the ranks of the very few Hollywood marriages that go the distance? Ms. Diaz and Mr. Madden—if you are indeed engaged—congratulations!

Showtime’s unique treatment of “The Affair”

October 11th, 2014

Tomorrow is the start of a new drama on Showtime titled “The Affair”. Before you start yawning and thinking, “next,” this version of an old story promises to be different. It’s set in The Hamptons—and if you are one of the few who don’t know where this is, it’s a well-known playground out on Long island, NY, for the wealthy and often famous. “Noah” is married with four kids, a wife who comes from wealth– and he is a professional with a comfortable lifestyle who is staying with his family at his in-laws manse for a summer vacation. “Alison” is younger (of course), and is a waitress in town. She does have a nice beach house that she inherited, so that sets her apart from the usual younger and penniless other woman stereotype.

This treatment of the topic promises to be different due to the secrets that its characters keep from one another and from the audience, their views on who came on to whom and got the affair going—and in its overall unique frame and handling of their relationship. Apparently there is more suspense and less focus on the usual hot and heavy sneaking around and instead is a kind of crime drama that is slow to be revealed.

The story unfolds in flashbacks—and is filled with he said/she said inconsistencies in the story. The viewer is left with trying to figure out who is telling the truth and which version is the real one. He is (predictably) in the midst of a mid-life crisis, and she has her own problems that are leading to her unhappiness but these are only hinted at. Secrets are everywhere and they add to the suspense and the show’s claim that viewers will find it addictive. If you enjoy “who done it” type mysteries, this might be just the show for you.

Many women have a back-up partner in mind

October 6th, 2014

In the movie, The Titanic, the aged version of Rose shared in a poignant moment that “a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.” It seems that a newly released survey backs this up. The Daily Mail conducted a survey with 1,000 women—and found that 50% of them have a back-up partner in mind if their marriage doesn’t work out or ends for some other reason.

If you are a woman you might be thinking, yeah I’ve kept tabs on so and so for years, just in case. Or perhaps you note attractive men in your day to day life and environment and think, he’s a possibility. Women have a bit of practice with this as they are the ones who read those steamy romance novels and go to chick flicks. Maybe it’s due to a practical side—always planning for the worst case scenario and not getting caught short.

This is interesting too because following divorce or death of a spouse, it’s actually men who couple up and marry quickly, not women. Maybe because these guys were part of some woman’s back-up plan and when they become available, they get snapped up quickly.

So who are these men that women keep in the wings? Ex-boyfriends, colleagues, ex-husbands (yes, his ex may still have her eye on him) and guys at the gym—and I would imagine church and neighborhood as well. According to the women surveyed, 10% said their back-up was someone who had already declared feelings of love to them in the past, and 20% stated that the guy they had their eye on would drop everything for her if she asked. Pretty confident, but I’m not convinced this is not just their over-active romantic side talking.

So is this a bad thing? Some would say yes, as women might act on these fantasies when they are going through a rough marital patch. Others would say it’s good to be pragmatic and always have a back-up plan for everything important in your life. Does this mean all these women are unhappily married? No, I don’t think so. I think this fantasy is part of their escape from reality. When their relationship is hard, they escape to what might have been or what could be. It’s probably pretty benign unless they really do believe he would drop everything and count on this during a desperate or challenging time in their lives.

What are your chances of ever getting married?

September 30th, 2014

The marriage rate is down, but what is interesting is that there are those groups that are only delaying it and the ones who are deciding against it altogether. The Pew Research center has come out with yet again another revealing study—this one on the decline of marriage in the U.S.

In 1960, almost 90% of mid-twenties to mid-thirties adults had already been married—today it’s 50%. While the trend is broad and cuts across all demographics, there are notable differences when they are viewed more closely. Well-off, well-educated Americans are only delaying marriage—usually into their 30’s, when their rate is close to past generations. They are also still less likely to have kids out of wedlock and less likely to get divorced. It appears money is an important variable here.

For those who are poorly educated and less well-off—many aren’t getting married at all. There is a percentage that is marrying later, but many have kids out of wedlock and their divorce rate overall is higher than their more affluent counterparts.

The following statistic reminds me of one that came out years ago that said a woman who had reached 40 and was still single, had a greater chance of being killed by a terrorist than of getting married. In other words, this one could be very difficult for young women to hear. Pew estimates that one quarter of people today who are between 25 and 34 will never marry, or at least not before the age of 55- well past child-bearing and the younger, building years of their lives. This statistic can be and is challenged by some, as it is not a hard one but is deduced from other data and is only a projection of sorts. Take a deep breath young ladies out there.

It is certain that folks are marrying later, but the majority eventually do—at present 70% by the age of 35. This is down, but it is still the majority. I know, you are worried about being in the other 30%, and that topic is for another blog.

If you are older than 35 and poorly educated, your chances drop even more significantly. So having a college degree makes you better marriage material, according to the statistics. Maybe there is something to the old joke about the “Mrs.” degree. What is interesting about this study overall, is that income is the most important factor in when and if folks marry and go on to have children.

78% of women surveyed said it was “very important” for a prospective spouse to have a steady job. This was their highest ranked requirement. Their feelings about this are reflected in the number of men with a steady job and those without—those with, have a higher marriage rate.

Bottom line—if marriage and family are your goal, work on getting a good education and becoming financially stable. Money matters in dating, marriage, the decision to have kids and the divorce rate.

Want to read the study?

#BadPageantTalents

September 16th, 2014

Can you imagine a world where men would be made fun of following one of their popular contests? Men traditionally compete around their strength and endurance, athletic ability, smarts and professional achievements—and yes, their attractiveness and success with women. Everything from body builder contests to The Bachelor—men show what they are made of, and show it off, too.

The Ms. America pageant is an institution in this country. Regardless of how it has been viewed recently—it once drew and large audience and the winners went on to further schooling due to winning scholarships and to a variety of careers that follow that kind of exposure. It was a way for women to use what they have to get a leg up—after all, don’t all of us identify then maximize our talents to achieve success?

Now women who compete in these pageants are ridiculed. They are criticized for allowing themselves to be objectified—please…. The talent part is something that people are really having fun with as is evidenced by #BadPageantTalents. It’s the top trending topic on twitter today. Interestingly enough, women are doing most of the making fun of… so much for sisterhood.

Isn’t true choice about making life decisions that we believe are best for us—without being held back, ostracized, criticized or sabotaged for our choices? The feminist movement was supposed to have been all about that—however, things don’t seem to have changed that much, or enough. There have ALWAYS been women professionals, business owners and community leaders. Yes, once upon a time, they were few, but they existed. Now women can be found everywhere–on space missions, the battlefield and in the Chairman’s seat in the boardroom. If some women choose to be stay-at-home moms, to enter beauty pageants, or to work in fields that are traditionally dominated by women, so what? It’s their choice.

Oh, and all you women out there who are criticizing other women’s choices–take a closer look at what motivates you. Is it really disgust, a fear these women are hurting the cause, or just plain old-fashioned resentment towards women who follow their own path and don’t look for anyone’s permission to do so? Want to support women making their own life choices? Avoid judging and try competing only with yourself.