Q: I'm in my mid-30s and have never been married. I have been dating a man for the last few months. I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and cannot have children. At what point in our dating relationship should I share that kind of information? It is a very emotional situation for me. Thank you for your advice.
Jim: First, I'm sorry to learn of your inability to conceive. At Focus we often hear from women who have struggled with infertility in various forms, and we know how difficult it can be.
I ran your question by our counseling team, and as for when to reveal this information to your boyfriend, the consensus was clear -- the sooner the better. If you're in your 30s and have been dating several months, I'd be surprised if the subject of marriage hasn't been raised already. Although it may be painful to talk about, this is the type of information your boyfriend needs to know. It establishes and open and honest relationship, too.
Although the desire for children is an important consideration for couples considering marriage, it doesn't have to be a deal breaker. There are a number of other important factors for each of you to consider during this phase of dating, including one another's character, families of origin, and so on.
Also, it's important to remember that NO married couple is guaranteed biological children. It just doesn't happen for some people, despite their strong desire to have kids. But couples who are deeply committed can weather the storm of infertility and look into other options, especially adoption. May God bless you and your boyfriend as you work through these questions together.
Q: I am single and having a hard time finding someone in my age range -- 25-35 -- that wants to have a loving, committed relationship. It seems that most men I date just want to date casually. Eventually I would like to get married and have a family. Do you have some advice for me?
Lisa Anderson, manager of young adults: Your question reminds me of that song by the Supremes, "You don't really love me, you just keep me hanging on." You're absolutely right that there are many single men out there who are suffering from some form of Peter Pan syndrome ... they refuse to grow up, to commit, to be men. Probably hundreds of books -- some of them helpful, some not -- have been written on this phenomenon, and there is reliable social science data to back it up.
Be that as it may, it would be a mistake to stereotype all men this way. There are still some good guys out there. Rather than resorting to the "men are pigs" mentality, I'd encourage you to maximize this season of singleness.
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, one of our bloggers at boundless.org, has written on this subject. (She's now happily married, but it took a while!) She recommends developing and deepening your own character traits while single, including contentment, perseverance, humility and spirituality. In her own words, "Getting married and staying married isn't easy, but solid character is a good foundation for both."
You should also find friends you trust who can be on the lookout for solid, healthy matches for you. Those who know us and love us are the best matchmakers, and they can be good gatekeepers to keep out the riffraff!
Finally, check out boundless.org for the wealth of great content it offers young men and women in your position -- and mine. The bottom line is that the desire for marriage is natural and good, but singleness doesn't have to be a death sentence in the meantime.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.