The Life You Don’t Want…Until You Do

Let me get this out of the way first: I am NOT ready to get married yet.

I don’t know if I want kids.

Sometimes I think I’d prefer the ring over the husband.

I’m open to the idea that I might “change my mind about all of this in a bit,” but right now, I’m good!

Previously, when I have drifted away from my normal subject matter of life and freedom towards the rocky road of writing about relationship stuff, my posts have been directed at just the ladies.

But can I just say out loud that I don’t care if you are rocking a set of testes or a pair of ovaries, thinking about all of that “LIFE” stuff is kinda scary?

Guys, today, just for me, can you step up and say that despite your lack of biological clock, this LIFE shit gets scary to you too?

Okay, phew. Thanks. Continuing on…

Single, and (finally) ready to mingle?

Every Sunday I read the Modern Love column in the New York Times. The topics range from relationships gone bad, to relationships born out of strife and wonder, and they usually all resonate with me in some way, but the post this week scared the hell out of me.

Writer Laurie Sandell wrote about how she had hit 40 with no partner prospects in sight, and a realization that her egg count was decreasing by the day. Her friends set her up with a 50-year old, single Dad.  She lamented that if the relationship worked out, she might be able to pop out at least one kid who would luckily have an older sibling by default.

When I read that line, my mouth dropped and I tossed down my friend’s i-Pad.

It freaked me out that the author was fantasizing about how a relationship with this guy could be totally convenient to fit her needs before she even met the man.

It freaked me out that instead of wondering about the perfect first date, the author was wondering if he could be a potential mate.

And it freaked me out that in a “practical” kind of way, (while  it’s creepy)  it made total sense.

“I don’t want that,” I told my friend. “ I don’t want to be 40-years old praying that my date fits my specifications because I am so desperate for a child.”

But the next thought I had was of how I’m not ready to stop being selfish independent. I’m not ready to figure someone else into my plans.

The little family house I MAY want someday?
The little family house I MAY want someday?

Why aren’t we talking about this?

I don’t know the authors background, so I won’t speculate as to why, or how, she ended up childless at 40, but I know that it happens…A LOT.

And I think the fact that we don’t actively talk about it, don’t include this discussion of the particulars of when you should make such huge life decisions, and how much you have to sacrifice personally to do it is crazy. 

Instead we either go all Sheryl Sandberg and try to make raising kids and having a career look freakishly easy, or we end up evaluating dates for sperm potential once we realize we might have put it off a weeeee bit longer than we really should have.

Either way, something is amiss.  And the fact that we don’t talk about it openly with the men in our lives for fear that they will go running for the hills, or with our girlfriends because we are afraid to get caught in a game of “Whose Life Is Better?” is sad.

What will it take for us to open up?

To say that yes, marriage is kinda scary.

To wonder out loud, “When are we too old to think marriage is scary?”

To say maybe I want it, maybe I don’t.

To ask if we have to put as much thought into dating as we do our careers?

And to say openly and honestly, that even if we aren’t sure about what we want AT THIS MOMENT that we still need to feel as if we can be open with our experiences in the name of helping each other.



  1. GsmMoore says:

    im not sure im so against the natural progression of life. marriage…kids is kinda like high school college, and not saying if you dont want it there is something wrong but i do think that it goes against the whole be fruitful and become many thing. and because the whole point of society is to make the society grow of course there is pressure to be a member that is adding to the numbers and stability. 
    I think that any choice you make is a sacrifice if you stay single and marry your career you sacrifice having a partner if you get married you sacrifice some freedoms. in the end you have to choose the less of the two evils. 
    i also dont have a problem with a women wanting to split bills with someone…its basic economies of scale. id rather for someone to have a real tangible reason than to get married because shes loves love…sometimes love is just not enough.

    • amberjadams says:

      GsmMoore “Sometimes live is just not enough” and sadly I feel as if we don’t hear this truism enough. Miss you being near! How’s the south treating you?

      • GsmMoore says:

        amberjadams  hey amber! the south is making me soft…im busy calling people maam and holding doors haha. you know my friend and i were talking about how married women much like mothers dont tell the truth to single women because its hard to think you didnt make the most perfect decision. its crazy though as awesome as being married is; it def has its minuses and being prepared for the minuses makes the marriage last.

  2. shreyasighosh says:

    In my country people are phenomenally obsessed with other people’s marital status. If you’re married it implies you are an adult, a respectable individual. If you’re not so, especially by 27, then they’ll look at you with abject pity usually reserved for someone who had ‘missed the boat’. All your life you will be judged. Then there’s that added pressure of having children. Maybe that’s why so many smart, beautiful, nice and accomplished women I know convince themselves that they ‘need’ to get married to be happy, to earn everyone’s approval, to be socially accepted by all. Many settle for marriage and husbands because someone else has told them they’ll be worthless otherwise. If you voice your fears about marriage and kids, people will mostly not understand. If you don’t want to get married or have children ever, then you’re considered ‘abnormal’ or even ‘selfish’! 
    I’ve often wondered how one can married before even knowing one’s self, what one truly desires from life. How can one get married before learning to love oneself? 
    I feel if I want to put my career on the back burner for marriage and kids, it’s because I WANT to do so, because I KNOW it will make ME happy and not because I’ll be lonely and judged otherwise.  
    “It freaked me out that the author was fantasizing about how a relationship with this guy could be totally convenient to fit her needs before she even met the man.”
    This line just sums up what I feel. I can never do this to another man. A marriage of convenience now may result in a lifetime of misery later. 
    Thanks for this!

    • amberjadams says:

      shreyasighosh Totally! I’m pretty well versed in this particular aspect of Indian culture (have some friends going through this right now).  Isn’t it crazy that other people think they have every right to demand the way in which you live your life?

  3. NelsonwTrent says:

    As soon as I read ” I was tired of carrying the financial burden of my life alone”, I cringed, and wondered what was so wrong with …financially supporting yourself?

    I think women are constantly putting themselves in a victim role by claiming that they are worthless without a husband and a baby. That simply is not true. 

    I suppose my life works on a different value system; happiness comes first. I only needed one bad relationship to knock some sense into me; I learned that my happiness needed to come before any relationship. I also found that when I am happy, all of my relations run smoothly.

    I think the problem here stems from not being wiling to solve your own internal problems, before desiring babies, and husbands.

    If you’re scared, you have to find the source of that fear.

    I used to think I was afraid of commitment; I had been hurt in the past, and hated the thought of feeling left out, or limited in a  relationship. 

    But I eventually found that I wasn’t afraid of any commitment; I was afraid of all of the duties and responsibilities that specifically came with monogamy. 

    So, I made a level-headed decision to be open to all types of relationships, and also be very clear about my motivations and intentions with future partners.

    amberjadams  I love the new design!

    • amberjadams says:

      Word!  Finding the source of that fear….so right.  For me the source of my fear is thinking that I will have to put all of my dreams and ambitions on the back burner. That I won’t be able to just go, and do anymore. 
      And I would def say that the fear of thinking that I will end up alone crosses my mind from time-to-time, but life is made up of so many things. Anyone who wants company and love can find it. Romantic relationship or not.  
      Sometimes I think we only worry about these things because we are “supposed to”. I just want to be free to be me! 
      And thank you for the design compliments! I wanted to simplify.  Your site is nice too! I’m getting caught up on your stuff. We are totally like-minded!

  4. patricia_gene says:

    Life shit gets scary for me too! I’m engaged – which signifies a general readiness for marriage – but that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared and he’s not scared. Girl, we’re scared. But we move on despite our fears because we’re in love and we do want to be married to someone who fits the bill of “partner in life.” The fear we both have and expressed openly is connected to our choice to marry each other – have we chosen the right one? Am I his one? Is he mine? These are not really questions that can be answered with 100% certainty – I am following my inner guide on this one, as far as I can tell, he’s doing the same. Let’s not even start about the prospect of being a stepmother to a teenaged stepchild and then having children of my own!! But if I listened to my fears I’d never get anything done! 
    Also, I don’t think Sandberg makes having a career and kids sound freakishly easy. I think she makes it sound like it is doable despite what some other women might say – and I appreciate her message of being able to have it all, but not all at once. I also appreciate her message of fully expressing yourself in your career, instead of holding back because you know that down the road you’d like to have a family (she calls it “leaving before you leave” I think).  I haven’t read “Lean In” yet but I saw her interview on OWN, and (as an example) going to bed at 9:30 on a regular basis and staying up late with your boss when your kids wake up at 5AM doesn’t sound easy to me!! 
    I think one problem many of us have is that we don’t apply certain principles that we’ve use to be successful in our careers to our dating life. I don’t think you can go after a mate the way you go after your career but there are some things that are universal, such as asking for what you want. For most of my life I didn’t think marriage was for me – not until my mid 20’s, and even then I was still a bit skeptical. Shortly before I met my fiance I had this sense that marriage was the right direction for me, and I asked the universe out loud to show me what i needed to be ready for marriage. And the universe delivered by putting me in the direction of a giveaway pile that included this book “Simple Secrets of a Great Marriage” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend (recommended!). I read it and few months later, on my second date with my fiance, I asked him if he wanted to be married (not to me, but in general!). I  put it out there because I wanted to see if he was where I was on the topic – wanting marriage to be an eventual outcome. And he was. If he wasn’t he would have been fun but not something to put too much energy into…because despite whatever fears came up, I had a vision of what I wanted for my life, and I would have to move on if he didn’t fit.

    • amberjadams says:

      patricia_gene Thank you so much for admitting that you are scared! That is the honest dialoge I really hope we can all get to. I’m afraid to get married, yet, I’m also afraid of NOT getting married. Crazy huh? 
      I totally agree with thinking about your dating life as strategically as you do your career. Check out this post I did for the Levo League:
      The thing I find interesting about Sheryl Sandberg is that I don’t feel as if she does a good enough job holding companies accountable for the policies and practices that they have that make it so darn hard for women in the first place. Really good article about this here:
      I think it’s a totally fair review of her book.

  5. utsavazur26 says:

    Woah. Big topic!
    Let me begin by saying that it is important to realize that marriage is a major responsibility and commitment. 
    Of course, it is scary, but the scary part is mostly in terms of the anxiety that sets in when you think about the expectations parents, friends and society at large have from you, and how exactly those would be met. 
    This is especially daunting in a (relatively) conservative place like India, where gossiping about the salary, job and other intimate details of prospective grooms and brides is commonplace. 
    Luckily, my parents are pretty cool, and have pretty much given me a free rein (or given up on me) regarding finding a potential marriage  partner. I was in a wonderful relationship for the past 5 years, which recently ended. I have no regrets, and no plans for marriage, at least till I am 30, and have finished post graduation. 
    Our generation has access to better healthcare. People are living longer, and also, compared to previous generations, women have more economic freedom. This means that all the rules that applied to the previous generation regarding marriage, dating, everything changes.  We have to work towards finding a new balance. 
    However, there’s no need to be afraid. Life’s an adventure, and we learn the most about ourselves by how we react to the scary parts! I have no idea what’s going to happen next, but I look forward to it, with a firm belief that its going to turn out alright:)!

    • amberjadams says:

      utsavazur26 Big topic, I know!  I’m pretty familiar with the pressures that Indian kids sometimes come up against in regards to this topic, so yes, your parents are pretty cool. I think it’s great that you have the freedom to make those decisions on your own. 
      I totally think the standards and definition of marriage have changed so much for our generation.  We have so much more to think about. 
      I agree. Life is an adventure. Sometimes I just want to forget all of these things, and just “be” you know what I mean?

      • utsavazur26 says:

        amberjadams Yep. I know exactly what you mean. What helps me “be”: Reading a book. Walking on the beach. Singing my favorite songs out loud. Watching the sunset. 
        You’ve got a great project going here, and it is always inspiring to read! Thanks for making us really think about the important questions in life.

        • amberjadams says:

          Thank you so much! That really makes me day! I’ll try to keep the thought-provoking inspiration coming!

Comments are closed.