Constantly being questioned you about when you’re getting married?
Being told “your clock is ticking”, saying you better find a man and settle down?
It’s becoming more common these days to build up ideas and expectations about what we “should” be doing with our lives, particularly when it comes to marriage and having a family. Women, especially when they hit 30, are reminded by friends and family that their biological clock is ticking, and that they “should” be focusing on finding a partner and to settle down. Do you have a career? Maybe you don’t long for kids and can’t see that in your future. People expect that dedicating your time to a career, travel, friends, or simply embracing life without any other commitments is just not normal.
What if you’re not ready to settle down, or you haven’t found the right partner?
Being single in today’s world is portrayed negatively, not only on television through the array of “reality” dating shows, but also in research as well. People with a “single” status are often judged as being more miserable, lonely, less warm and less caring when compared to those in a relationship. This common attitude towards being single results from an ideology of marriage and family that is so ingrained in most cultures, we don’t even realise how much it affects the decisions we make.
In western society, many of us live with the expectation that at a certain age we are meant to have reached certain milestones, such as moving out of home as soon as we reach adulthood. There’s an assumption we will study, travel, have all our social fun throughout our 20s, find the perfect partner and the perfect job and settle down to find marriage by our 30s, and have a family by the time we reach 40.
However, if you are someone who has not ticked all these boxes so far, how can you be confident in your decisions when the people around all seem to be going down this path?
Here is what we suggest…
- Identify what is most important to you. These are your values.
- Set goals for yourself or ‘tick boxes’ based on the values you’ve identified
- Try not to judge yourself so harshly. We often say unhelpful things like “what’s wrong with me?” if we aren’t in a long-term relationship, married, or have kids by a certain age. You can make your own choices these days.
- Realise that not “everyone” is going down the same path. If you have a closer look around, there are people who have done things differently to what others expect of them. Everyone is their own unique self with their own path in life. This includes YOU.
If you want to feel more content about your decisions around your future, make a conscious effort to try these tips for your life. If you feel you have tried everything and find yourself still feeling alone, upset, or confused, it would be helpful for you to talk with someone who can guide you through these feelings. Making important life decisions and following through can be daunting and challenging, so we are here to help if you need it.
Written By Rebecca Deane – Principal Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au