Is it ok to get married later in life?

If a person does not want children, but desires a companion, is it ok to get married later in life once the woman is past child bearing years? Wouldn’t this be exactly like NFP but on a larger scale?

If you wait to get married with the specific intent of avoiding having children, then yes, that is a problem. You are supposed to enter marriage with an openness to children, otherwise it is not a Catholic marriage.

Im not sure I understand the concept of openness to children.

If a couple just happens to get married late and past child bearing years by way of chance and not with the specific intent not to have kids, thats ok because at least they wanted it? Isn’t it hard to be honest with ones self about being open to life when one knows it isnt going to happen? The nature of a sterile couples relationship is by definition closed to life, but somehow thats alright as long as the intent was there?

Even if marrying late was purposefully done to avoid kids, it isnt placing a physical barrier bwtween the couple and there are no artificial elements, just like NFP, so what is the problem with that? Surely it isnt a sin to be single and to not have sex, right? Therefore, one isnt thwarting any ordered process, theyre just abstaining and then getting married later. A sterile couple is still ordered toward procreation, even if their union is closed to life due to sterility.

In your scenario the person(s) intentionally avoided marriage with the intent to avoid children. That is probably not a holy use of the sacrament. How would this even happen anyway. Two people agree to wait until barren to live together and be married? What an odd pact to make.:shrug: What a skewed and selfish view of the purpose of marriage.

Marriage isnt just about kids though, its about unity among the spouses.

Not a pact to wait, but what if one just starts to look for a wife later in life or to look for an older potential wife who has already gone through menopause, for example?

I agree with NSFrame.

Sounds like it would also be a relationship based on “me” and what “I” want, rather than a complete giving of oneself to the other as a marriage should be. :shrug:

In addition, no, it’s not like NFP “but on a larger scale.” NFP has been discussed enough on these boards and elsewhere, so I’m not going into all the details here. Suffice to say, the very question is based on a misunderstanding or lack of information about NFP.

Ask a priest about this.


NFP is based on refraining from sex during fertile periods.

Getting married late in life is refraining from marriage and sex during a (long) fertile period.

Btw, sterile couples can fully unite and give of themselves since their union is still properly ordered. So whats the problem again?

If your specific intention in choosing a partner is to avoid children then yes that would not be considered a good thing. If your happen to fall in love with someone who is past their child bearing years but wasn’t specifically looking for that as a requirement in a wife then it would be ok. SO if you 20-30 and intentional look for a wife 48 or older in or past medipause to avoid children this would be a questionable marriage due to intent. If your 40 plus years old and happen to fall in love with a women in medipause or through it and it’s wasn’t intended to avoid a pregnancy or children that would be ok. These are just meant as broad examples. Also if you happen to start your search later in life to avoid childrent that too would be questionable. My grandmother had a child at 46 and I’ve heard of woman as hold as 49 having a child though it is very rare the key is to be open to the natural process.

Even so, there is a requirement that the couple still be open to the possibility of new life, should God grant it to them. If we take that view, marrying someone only because you know they can’t have children is decidedly selfish.

So if the search was started later with the purpose of avoiding kids and that happens to be a questionable marriage, how would the couple legitimize their marriage at that point? Would they even be able to? Or would they have to seek an annulment?

Well, even sterile couples can be open to life allegedly. Whatever that means, I cant really see how, yet the Church still grants them valid marriages because their union is still properly ordered.

Is being open to life more a mentality than it is an action?

I can say Im open to giving you a trillion dollars if I should ever strike it rich and even sign a contract with you stating so, though with the knowledge that I’ll never have that kind of money, it doesnt affect me one way or the other. Something still rings of dishonesty, yet the Church still assigns valid marriages. What to make of it all :shrug:

It’s just my understanding you always have to be open to the possibility of kids in marriage. Check with a priest for clarification.

I think this is more of a mentality than anything else. It’s not impossible for people who were told they couldn’t have kids to end up having children later on. It depends on the cause of the infertility. (I once met a woman who had fertility problems, and was married to a man with a low sperm count. After trying several options to have children, they decided to adopt. They were just in the process of finalizing the adoption of their toddler son when they discovered she was pregnant. I met her in a prenatal clinic. She was 5 months pregnant and had their adopted son at home.)

How about someone opted not to marry when they could have children because they were not ready for children/didn’t want children/wanted to serve society like Christ did as a single person not as a parent. Then times changed, outlook changed/you served society like you wanted to as a non-parent and then opted now to marry, only it’s past child-rearing age. SOunds good to me.

Now that I think of it, to life is certainly an action too. If one doesnt use any form of birth control or barriers, that alone indicates an openness to life. So even if a person waited until late in life despite their intention to avoid kids, if they dont place any barriers during the conjugal act, it is by definition open to life, is it not? It isnt a sin that the body works the way it does, it is a natural process and nothing is being thwarted.

Besides, deeming a marriage invalid simply due to intent of waiting til old age leaves no room for belief in miracles, like with Abrahams wife right?

If the couple marries and is open to life when the vows are exchanged, then there is no issue. The fact that the couple married later in life to avoid having children is not a sin, simply because not having sex when one is not married is not a sin.

That was concise, thanks. So it matters what the intent is at the time of the vows. Makes perfect sense actually.

I just would like to mention that while having kids in a marriage is wonderful… marriage is not only about kids. Just feel like the focus in the answers is focusing on marriage is about popping out kids.

Personally I do not see anything wrong with your ideal. You are not preventing life with any kind of birth control except for abstinence. Waiting later to get married will also assist in helping you know and figure out what you want in your partner and what you want in yourself. It gives time to mature. I feel anymore that many people are pushing and are pushed into marrying at a young age and that may not always be the best choice anyway. I do not think you are selfish to wait until you are barren. Marriage is more than having kids and who says you do not want to adopt then. There are LOTS and TONS of kids out there needing a loving family and they feel unwanted.

I do not believe options are closed when it comes to children if you wait till you are barren to marry. I would say go for it if that is what you want. Nothing wrong with it (sinfully or not sin) and you are the one living the life. You could also ask for guidance from a priest and you can always pray about it.

I disagree with this. If, for example, you are living in an unstable situation and you are waiting to marry in order to make sure that any children born would not be in danger or poverty, then this is OK. But if you wait to marry to specifically avoid ever conceiving children to the point where you will only marry a postmenopausal or otherwise sterile woman, then this is not following God’s intent for marriage.

You are not supposed to enter marriage with the intent to avoid children, whether it be via the timing of the marriage or any other vehicle. They are not “open to life” at the time of the vows under this situation.

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