I'm a hard sell with romance, I know, and I think a big part of the problem is that I can't get behind a relationship if I don't think it's actually benefiting the people involved--I just don't think relationships are automatically good things.
Likewise--and this probably doesn't come as a shock--I don't buy into the notion that a woman's problems can all be solved by having some kids. In recent years, my sister had a couple of kids, and it's remarkable how much her life and career continued unabated--she did take time off when they were very young, but she also worked part-time, went back to school, and is now working only slightly less than full time in her new field. Children, while quite demanding especially when small, are not the eternal time-sink that people sometimes make them out to be, and having them is no substitute for figuring out what you want to do. Indeed, I would argue that if you are having children in order to avoid getting your shit together, you're probably going to be a lousy parent.
It's interesting because in older books and movies, characters do sometimes basically prescribe having children as a cure for a woman's problems--but some of the time, it's really obvious from the way the story is written that those characters are full of shit, so it's not like people in the past were all blind to the complexities of human nature or anything.
But I recently saw a movie--made well past the time where anyone would seriously recommend relationships and children as a panacea for women--where the characters themselves seem to think the whole have-a-relationship-and-have-kids thing is a solution. The female character is stifled in a dead-end job because she is afraid to move out into the world and figure out what she wants to do. The male character realizes the situation she's in, and his solution is to have her quit her job, move into his place, and . . . just kind of hang out all day. Doing nothing. Except having sex with him sometimes because she's got nothing else to do. And maybe someday all that sex will lead to kids, who will of course will fix everything.
It's very bizarre because the guy knows what the problem is--he's explicitly aware of it! He talks about her need to go out into the world! He just doesn't seem to see how this should apply to their actual life! It's like watching a movie about a brilliant doctor who correctly diagnoses a patient who has a particularly sneaky form of lupus . . . and then tries to cure the lupus by applying leeches. I don't get it.
Not shockingly, the relationship has! a! big! crisis! and the woman moves out of the guy's house and into the world to, you guessed it, try to figure out what she wants to do. It's a real blow to the guy, but it's hard to have sympathy for him, you know? Like, how did he not see that one coming?
More to the point, it was hard for me to be invested in the relationship itself when it was obviously precisely not what the woman needed. They did get back together in the end, but they never explicitly hashed out how they were going to accommodate the woman's ambitions to be an adult, so it was hard for me to care. I guess I was supposed to take it on faith that the guy finally made a trip down to the Clue Shop and got one, but who really knows?