FIVE or 10 years ago you were perhaps the talk of the town, being chased by countless women or men, but you had no interest in committing to any of them. After all, why commit when you have a slew of choices, and time on your hands to just live and enjoy your life? Then one day you wake up and the good looks are still there but you're still not married, you have to work much harder to lose weight or stay trim, the dates are available to you but the shoe appears to be on the other foot now, as for some reason which you are unable to figure out, no one is in a hurry to commit to you, and you've noticed a scattering of silvery hair on your head that seems to have appeared overnight.
Welcome to middle age.
Whether we like it or not, our partner prospect market value goes down with age, especially for women. Whilst we are quicker to overlook age with men over 35 who are just ready to settle down, for women in that age group who have not yet gotten married, it's panic time. The reality of their market value being a bit lower post the mid-30s sends a lot of men and women into settling mode. Most people do not want to grow old by themselves, but suddenly the clock seems to be ticking faster, so having a steady partner becomes high on their list of priorities.
Here are four major reasons why people are so quick to settle after 35.
It's not an easy pill for women to swallow, but it is easier for men than women over 35 to find a partner and marry, especially if they've accomplished something for themselves. While their virility may be winding down, men at that age are still considered prime prospects, but it's not necessarily so for women. Regardless of how attractive a woman is at that age, it gets tougher for her to be considered prime marriage prospect for men even within her own age range, unless the man already has children or it's not a priority for him. Notwithstanding, there are some exceptions where men will opt for some older women because they are simply high value based on what they bring to the table. In general, though, the partner pool becomes smaller for a woman once she gets to her mid-30s, and therefore sometimes older women find themselves in relationships where they end up switching roles with their husbands/boyfriends, and carrying the greater share of the expenses, etc. Often, she is willing to take care of the man and the household just to have a man of her own. She is thinking that time is going, and she needs companionship.
They are just tired
People who have gone through a cycle of failed relationships eventually get tired. They are tired of the disappointments, the hurt, the unmet expectations, and the emotional highs only to be brought low again. The emotional seesaw that they have experienced sends them into relationship retirement mode. They are just ready to SETTLE, as in 'forget the ideal, just give me someone I can tolerate'. They resign themselves to the thought that they will never find true love, so they are just about ready to settle with somebody 'mi spirit tek'. When a man or woman reaches that stage, they are usually ready to compromise on the things they would not have compromised on when they were younger. These are the unrealistic expectations that many of us have of the people we get into relationships with. When someone gets into relationship retirement mode, they begin to gradually dismiss the image of that ideal man/woman they dreamed about in their 20s, but probably overlooked because they had so many other choices then. This is sometimes the reality check many people need because one of the main reasons relationships do not work is because we are imperfect people, but we seek perfection in our partners.
Being in church
Christians are taught that sex outside of marriage is fornication, and fornication is forbidden. The fact though is that the men and women in the church are also normal human beings with needs, including the need for companionship, love and sex. To avoid stepping outside their Christian principles, many people in church will marry young, thus the pressure to settle down can be very high once a man or woman reaches a certain age and is still unmarried. Some churches help members find partners within the church, but for those who do not find someone, panic bells may begin to go off and they become desperate and decide to settle. This is why there are so many 'strangers' in the church who are sharing bedrooms. People get married because it's time, and for religious reasons, it's the right thing to do.
We might not want to admit it, but there are situations where people decide to settle because they need someone to take care of them. Their health may be fading, and perhaps they are affected by a lifestyle illness and are unable to 'run road' anymore, so they decide to just settle with somebody who can take care of them at this crucial time.
Marie Berbick is a communications specialist, motivational speaker, ordained minister and founder of the women's ministry Sisters United for Prayer, Healing, Empowerment & Restoration (SUPHER). Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @MarieBerbick. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.