‘Must Be Fertile': Single Men With Procreation Clauses


Is fertility on your dating checklist? Should it be? Mary Beth Bonacci advises single men.

A few months ago I wrote about how I occasionally run across statements in online profiles that baffle me, and thus began a series entitled “Profiles: Things That Make You Go ‘Huh?’” 

In the first installment, we discussed single parents who indicate that they have children who live with them part-time (presuming they live with their other parent the other part of the time) and yet are willing to live anywhere. Which, to my mind, gives the impression that these parents are willing to move far away from the children – or conversely, to move their children away from their other custodial parent. Either of which, to my mind, seems very problematic.

I was in that case writing about profiles by both men and women, despite protestations to the contrary that implied I was somehow “targeting” men. But this month, I want to pick the theme back up with another Profile Thing That Makes Me Go ‘Huh’ that is directed specifically at men.

It happens, as do many profile puzzlements, in the “seeking” section. In this case, I see men who are specifying that their future beloved must be fertile. I’m not talking about the phenomenon, which I have already discussed, of the much-older-man-seeking-much-younger-women, which clearly implies that he is seeking fertility. No, these are cases where they flat-out say “she must be fertile.” 

 

Fertility 101

I don’t see this a lot but enough to think perhaps it needs to be addressed – not just for those few men but also for the thousands of others whose future progeny are dependent on the mysteries of female fertility and yet understand very little about it. 

And since today is Mother’s Day, it seems like an apt time to reflect on motherhood by providing a brief, non-specific, non-biological discussion on female fertility.

Here it is: No woman can ever be certain that she is fertile.

That’s it. 

That’s all you need to know.

There is no test, no exam, no doctor’s opinion that will guarantee a woman’s fertility. Some women (for instance, the post-menopausal or those who have had hysterectomies), can be absolutely certain that they are not fertile. But the positive cannot be proved. There are women with no detectible medical problems who spend their entire married lives trying unsuccessfully to conceive, while others with multiple obvious issues get pregnant over and over. Some can get pregnant but have a very difficult time carrying the pregnancy to term. Others have one or two children and then inexplicably are unable to conceive again.

Women’s fertility also decreases over time, with most women losing the ability to conceive well before the onset of menopause. In fact, I once read that only about 50 percent of women are still able to become pregnant by the age of 40. 

40, Single & Childless

Even a healthy young woman can’t independently be described as fertile. She is only half of the equation. She may be fine medically, but unable to conceive if her husband’s fertility is compromised.

 

Here’s the problem

So laying down a fertility condition for your future wife is meaningless at best. It is also dangerous, especially as something you post on a public forum. 

Why? 

Because in doing so, you are essentially handing that future wife the keys to an annulment. You are invalidating your future marriage. The Church is clear that the self-donation in marriage is to be unconditional. You can, of course, choose any spouse you’d like. (Well, any that will have you.) But once you make that choice and stand up on that altar, you are accepting them as they are, for better or for worse, till death do you part. 

Too Old To Become A Mother

If you have announced, for all the world to see, that your spouse must possess a trait that cannot be proven until after the fact, there is a very real possibility that you have invalidated your own marriage. It doesn’t matter whether she turns out to be fertile or not. The fact is that you didn’t accept her unconditionally. Annulments are regularly granted on the basis that one spouse rejected the other on the basis of infertility. Those marriages would be just as invalid if infertility had not been a problem. The problem is in placing the condition at all.

Marriage is not about attempting to stack the odds in favor of procreation. It is about placing ourselves in the context of the type of self-donating relationship that God uses to bring new life into the world, and leaving the final outcome up to Him.

We’ll all be a lot happier if we can remember that.






22 Comments

  1. Tessa-694373 May 13, 2012 Reply

    Maybe this explain why there are soooooooo many divorce men on Catholicmatch…they brag how great they are and would make a great husband…my thinking is if you are so great why are you divorce…

    • Paul-858743 May 21, 2012 Reply

      Nice!

    • Richard-595743 June 11, 2013 Reply

      If your husband is chronically cheating on you, unapologetic about it, unwilling to participate in marriage counseling and then files for divorce, how responsible would you be for the dissolution of the marriage and fact that you’re a divorcee? Moral of the story: you need all the facts before judging (and rarely, if ever, does one have all the facts). If being divorced should carry a stigma, then so should being single. In my view, we should not be pre-judged for such things.

    • Michael-780154 October 14, 2014 Reply

      Ouch!

  2. Sherrill-anne-13557 May 14, 2012 Reply

    This is an important blog.

  3. Ramona-652361 May 14, 2012 Reply

    You wrote “Marriage is not about attempting to stack the odds in favor of procreation. It is about placing ourselves in the context of the type of self-donating relationship that God uses to bring new life into the world, and leaving the final outcome up to Him.

    We’ll all be a lot happier if we can remember that.” I say Amen

  4. Lucia-551179 May 16, 2012 Reply

    It’s about time this issue was discussed. I have always wondered if my age was going to work against me. My family history is very much a mix of possibilities when it comes to procreation, so I can’t guarantee my anything regarding fertility. I’m blessed that my CM fellow understands this and is very at ease with it. Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

  5. Donna-83441 May 16, 2012 Reply

    There is also no guarantee that the man himself will be fertile.. And I have seen cases where there was no child born in the first marriage but the woman got pregnant in the second marriage.. Only God knows…Some years ago my ex-husbands youngest brother became divorced from his first wife.It was a complicated marriage with no children. I heard she eventually had a couple of girls in her second marriage.. When my BIL re-married again there were no children and eventually they say an infertility specialist. It was found that while my BIL had a low sperm count, his wife had blockages so severe that no pregnancy would ever result.. She became depressed and withdrew from him severely. Eventually they divorced because she said she was keeping him from having the family she thought he deserved. She would not even consider adoption. A few years later he married a single mother with 3 preteen kids and he has been the best dad to those kids! There is more than one way to be a dad..

  6. Lynn-189934 May 16, 2012 Reply

    There is no guarantee anyone will be fertile regardless of their age.

    • Stacey-101742 May 25, 2012 Reply

      Exactly , who can guarantee fertility in any given month ? Men or women ? Faith and looking up for Gods will , that is most important . Good article though .

  7. Dawn-758914 May 16, 2012 Reply

    This is something that needs to be discussed because it is causing a lot of anger among women my age when men of the same age bypass us. They claim they reject us based on the fact that we may not be fertile (and btw, I’ve read that it’s far more than 50% of women at 40 are fertile)without knowing that they might be infertile or that the hot 23 year olds they are approaching might be infertile. They themselves might be infertile.

  8. Jacqueline-198 May 18, 2012 Reply

    Amen to that Mary Beth!! ‘Bout time this has been discussed!! What I find find most disturbing in reading some profiles is how the person has a laundry list of ‘must have’s’ in what they are seeking but add ‘I want God’s will for me’ Uh…no…if you have a laundry list it is not leaving it up to God’s will, to truly be open to God’s will means trusting in the Lord and knowing He has it all under control, after all he knows the desires of our hearts better than we do. ‘trust in the Lord in all you do and lean not unto your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths’ Proverbs 3:5-6

  9. Lucy-86674 May 18, 2012 Reply

    For God nothing is impossible, just remember about what happened to Zachary’s wife.

    “Just as minute he told Gabriel, are you telling me an old man, that my wife who has been barren over the years, that she, an aged woman, is going to conceive a child? ”

    the angel Gabriel told Zachary not to be afraid for “your petition had been granted.” What is the angel telling Zachary? Elizabeth and Zachary had been praying for years that God might bless them with an offspring. There prayers were finally being heard. Our deepest fear arises from our doubt in God’s providence. I repeat, our deepest fears are caused by our doubts in God’s providence. By divine providence we mean that God is constantly, every moment, providing for our needs. Of what are we afraid? Our prayers, lets hear it, our prayers are always heard. God always hears, God knows best when and how to answer our prayers. There is no such thing as an unanswered prayer.

  10. Elizabeth-753085 May 22, 2012 Reply

    Well said Lucy..tahnks for reminding everyone about faith.

  11. Jos-22128 May 30, 2012 Reply

    I’d like to know where you get that 50% of woman at 40 are able to become pregnant? I have lower figures, plus the chance of miscarriage is greatly increased.
    http://www.babycentre.co.uk/preconception/activelytrying/ageandfertility/

    I think it rather brazen for men to put it on there profile, but it is a reality that many men want children too, and if the woman is 40, the chances are low, thus you get turned down.

    Pax Christi.
    PS I see on plenty of profiles women rejecting the Churches teaching on contraception – that invalidates marriage just as Mary Beth said for fertility being conditional.

  12. Ruth-486776 June 4, 2012 Reply

    JOS,

    I work in health care, and the 40’s question is a myth. I personally know woman, my grandmother being one of them, who had NO TROUBLE WHATSOEVER having healthy, adorable, lovable children after age 40 (my dad was born when my grandmother was 43.) A woman at my church had no trouble conceiving her first child at 45. I have seen more women at age 40 and beyond achieve pregnancy, many times over, because they never used birth control, than I have these younger chics who starting using birth control as teenagers and into their twenties and thirties and are still miscarrying. We test women until age 60 for pregnancy before procedures, and it is probably higher than that, but we have to have a cut off for our propagandist society. If you cannot love a woman because she is approaching 40, how will you ever love your wife when she approaches 40?

  13. Patrick-859779 June 7, 2012 Reply

    Really silly article. A spousr can request fertility, at least in a probabilistic vein, but must accept nothing guaranteed. This article just 2 silly!

  14. Candace-587406 December 9, 2012 Reply

    Excellent points. I’m surprised any person would type something like that into their profile. Marriage is about accepting the other person without conditions. I guess if men want children that bad, that ought to adopt or volunteer with Big Brothers.

  15. Kwaku-654846 January 28, 2013 Reply

    A bit of a different angle:
    This article is a perfect illustration of why I’ve always been opposed to the “we get married to have children” notion, or “it’s not about love, it’s about children”. The purpose of marriage is the husband-wife relationship, the sharing of love…..children are a blessing that come from the marriage.

    That being said, children are a priority for most of us who have never been married before. If a woman said on her profile “I cannot have children” or, as is common on some other dating websites, “does not want kids”, I wouldn’t pursue her. For the same reason, I am not seeking women over 40 on CM.
    If I happened to meet a woman who is unlikely to have children and fall in love with her, I would definitely consider marrying her. I would love to have children, but children are not the be-all, end-all of this life. And as Candace said, adoption is always an option.

    • Naomi-698107 February 3, 2013 Reply

      The problem now is people have no understanding of what marriage is. It is a two fold formulae. It is procreative and unititive. Procreative = open to life. Unititive = loving.

      If marriage is just focussed on procreative, you get idiots like the ones with the “must be fertile” tag in their profile.

      If marriage is just unitivie, just about love, you get the abomination of “gay marriage”.

      IT must be both, if its not, its not marriage.

  16. Naomi-698107 February 3, 2013 Reply

    I’ve seen the “must be fertile” spiel in a few profiles, half the time I laugh, the other half I strongly consider PMing them to give them the facts, as it were.

    Not to mention, if you start hammering down fertility as a requirement, what about other issues, like possible genetic defects being passed along, or other conditions? There’s a lot of dyslexia, autism and aspergers syndrome in my biological mother’s family line, I myself am dyslexic, if the studies are true theyr’e all related, I have the very real, and probably statisticially higher probability of popping out a kid with autism. And I have no idea what bombshells lurk on my biological father’s side [I’m adopted].

    So then the quesion becomes, say one of these ignorant jerks manages to marry some nice fertile lass, and then finds out she’s very good at churning out children with Downs Syndrome or something? His character has already been publically noted, its probably likely he’ll just pack up and leave, not wanting his biological legacy to be a little slow. [if not incredibly cute and loving].

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