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I always thought I would have kids. My husband and I planned to eventually start a family, but at the age of 36 I discovered my husband was a closeted homosexual. My marriage immediately ended and I entered the dating pool past my prime reproductive years. I knew it would eventually take time to have a healthy relationship again, and I definitely felt like my biological clock wasn’t just ticking but banging loudly like Quasimodo’s bells throughout my entire body.

Because I am over 35, some men view me as a lousy match if they want to have kids. I didn’t think it would be this bad, but in my age range I tend to find hook-up artists who never want to settle down, men messed up from a break-up or divorce, extremely socially awkward men with no dating experience and the men I refer to as wife shoppers. A wife shopper is usually the following:

Over 40

Never Married – No children

At the peak of their professional career

About to buy property or has just bought property

Wife shoppers are men searching for the future mother of their children. They make no bones about wanting to start a family, and many won’t consider women over the age of 35. Women do lose reproductive capacity after 35, and in health terms pregnancies in older mothers are deemed higher risk. Yet none of my extended or immediate family members have had to use any extraordinary means to get pregnant. In fact, most got pregnant almost too easily; my aunt and my grandmother both had babies in their forties. So do I have to print out my medical history and that of my extended family and bring it on dates? Should I put it on my online dating profiles? Something tells me that bringing up fertility on a first date would cause most men to bolt.

I have discovered most wife shoppers through online dating websites. Something about online sites just make it too easy for them. Men can sort of pick the traits they prefer: height, build, eye color, hair color, age, and if a woman wants children. On dates, a wife shopper will bring up reproducing almost before they have ordered their first drink. One of the habits I have noticed is something I call baby momma math. My date will look at me, ask me my age again, and then I watch them adding up how long we would have to date before trying to start a family, and they aren’t exactly subtle about it. I have also gotten questions right off the bat such as:

What neighborhood do you think you would want to live in?

Private or public school?

How much debt do you have?

How many kids would you want to have?

Do you have a good relationship with your family?

I don’t remember this ever happening to me when I was in my twenties. Maybe it’s something about the personality traits of any man who waits until they are at the peak of their career before getting married and having kids. In their mind they have a checklist and once they have done everything else they want to accomplish in life they move on to starting a family.

Having my marriage end the way it did has given me major trust issues to begin with, so the idea of running down the aisle with a man hell-bent on becoming a father is terrifying. Divorce is hell on earth and the thought of having another divorce — only the second time with children — is especially nightmarish. Rushing into a situation in order to have children with a partner I barely know seems like a recipe for another divorce.

Of course, women have been doing this sort of thing for ages. It is almost a cliché — the single woman over a certain age talking about eggs, biological clocks and running out of time. When I meet a wife shopper, at first I think it is a good sign because at least this man isn’t like the multitudes who just seem to want to get laid and nothing else. But then I start to feel like little more than a womb.

Keeping a healthy marriage together, especially one with children, is extremely difficult. The union between the two adult partners should be the most important thing — communication, lifestyles, goals, and temperaments must work in harmony before the added stress and pressures of children are added to the mix. I have accepted that having a biological child may not happen for me, as I would rather not bring children into a haphazard marriage situation. I just wish I could find something in between the hook-up artists and the men who think nothing of ordering up a wife they way they would a sandwich.

Follow Juliet Jeske on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JulietJeske

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