Dear Ms Peirano,

I am 35 and a doctor in my own practice. Last fall my husband left me relatively suddenly because he felt pressured by my desire to have children and we had a lot of arguments. Not just because of that, but it was a big topic. We didn’t pull together and that was very tiring. I’m actually just relieved that we’re separated now, and I’m now feeling very comfortable in my new apartment, meeting my friends more often and doing a lot more. I am also in a good financial position.

What concerns me a lot, however, is the question of how I can now meet a man with whom I can start a family. I’m just running out of time, and as we all know, men are also very cautious around women my age who want to have children.

My friends either already have children or are looking for a man and are experiencing one disappointment after another. It has always been my great wish to have a family and children and it is a terrible idea that the train may have already left for me.

Do you have any food for thought for me?

Best regards, Nora R.

I work as a behavioral therapist and love coach in private practice in Hamburg-Blankenese and St. Pauli. During my doctorate, I researched the connection between relationship personality and happiness in love and then wrote two books about love.

Information about my therapeutic work can be found at

Do you have questions, problems or heartache? Please write to me (maximum one A4 page). I would like to point out that inquiries and answers can be published anonymously on

Dear Nora R.,

This sounds like a very challenging situation you are in right now. As a woman of your age, you are at a fork in the road, so to speak, and you have to actively decide which path to take now. Perhaps it will bring some clarity to the situation if you have a gynecological examination and also a hormone level. You may have a lot more (or maybe less) time than you think.

Younger women can still tell themselves that they still have time, and women who can no longer have children are long past the turnoff. But you are right in front of it and you have to find your way, and that is of course a big responsibility.

I share your perspective that it might be complicated to find the right man to start a family with now. Having accompanied women in a similar situation, I have observed that there are many men who do not want to or cannot commit to anything. The majority of other men first want to get to know the new woman in peace and build a relationship with her, live childless everyday life, perhaps travel, go out, before deciding to have a child with this woman.

From the men’s point of view, this is understandable, because they are not under time pressure to take the fork in the road towards “having children” and often do not see the need to put themselves under time pressure just because their partner feels time pressure.

I can imagine that your (completely understandable) time pressure would leave you with the worse cards in a relationship. You know this scenario from your marriage, which ultimately collapsed because of it. That’s why I would like to invite you to open your horizons as much as you can in order to think about alternatives for your situation. And by that I really mean just think about it first and then evaluate whether any of it is suitable for you.

My suggestion would be to free yourself from the idea that FIRST the right man has to be there and THEN the family can be started. In reality, things are often completely different, but these scenarios have often not been planned.

For many women, a successful relationship only “works” on the second or third attempt. And the path to get there is often disillusioning, exhausting and hurtful.

When my children were small, about 25 percent of the parents were separated by the end of kindergarten. By the time the children had finished primary school, there were already around 40 percent, and around the time the children graduated from high school and moved out, many more sets of parents who had “held on” for the sake of the children separated. In addition, there are many unhappy couples who hurt each other, make each other’s lives difficult and often harm their children through their conflicts. Children of separation are also often burdened by the situation.

Of course, this is a very negative picture that I’m painting here, and I’m doing it intentionally to show them more differentiation and choice at the fork in the road in question.

At the fork in the road there is not only the path to the left towards “happy family with a dream partner and desired children” and the path to the right “childless and dissatisfied”. There are also many other ways to have a child and live parenthood or a family. Have you ever thought carefully about the alternatives? Do a brainstorming session, preferably with friends in a similar situation, and first put together a non-judgmental list of possible options for having a child and caring for it.

When it comes to caring for the child and the community in which you and the child want to live: What options can you think of? For example, you could live near your parents or siblings if they are willing to share responsibility for a child with you. Or living in a community with another mother and sharing responsibility, possibly supported by a household helper or babysitter.

My suggestion would be that you first play through these situations in your head and only then evaluate them. The assessment should include how a child and you might fare in this model of life. Compare this with the situation and emotional state of children who are in a similar situation (e.g. growing up fatherless because the father is unknown or has no interest in the child).

What or who would you need if you were raising a child in a model other than the traditional nuclear family? What do you think the child would need in order to feel welcome, to be safe and secure, to have reliable caregivers and to develop a good sense of their own origins? What kind of exchange or support would you need to raise a child?

Have as many conversations as possible with people who live alternative models, regardless of whether they planned this from the beginning or whether it came about as a result of a separation or a stroke of fate.

Through these considerations you would create more scope for a decision and thereby take pressure off your situation. And if you want to hold on to the idea that you would like to have a suitable partner and father for the child, you will gain time here.

Instead of rushing to find a partner who wants to have a child with you as quickly as possible, you could take care of the child first and then take your time to see whether you come across a suitable man. Many women get to know future partners and stepfathers in their children’s environment: the separated father from the same kindergarten or school, the attractive man whose son is on the same soccer team as yours, the committed father who lovingly comforts his daughter…

I hope that you will allow yourself to first think broadly and then look carefully and carefully to see whether you can imagine one of these other models for yourself.

Herzlich GrüßeJulia Peirano