September 11, 2006

Loving What You Have

When people ask me "Why do people choose to remain childless/childfree?" I answer:

'Many reasons' but, according to my survey of over 170 North American men and women, one the most compelling reasons not to have kids, for commited partners, is marital satisfaction.
No, it’s not just about the sex. It’s the intimacy, the time, the conversations, and the focus. The freedom to make the relationship a priority. It’s loving what you have. Even if it’s just the two of you in a small house with a cat and a hobby.

How rare is that? Increasingly, very rare. In our crazy society, the relationship between husband and wife takes a back seat to work, childcare, schedules, non-work commitments, and keeping up with the Joneses.

Reality TV shows like Super Nanny and Nanny 911 reveal that the greatest disservice you can do to your family life is to forget that your spouse can be your greatest ally and friend. The childfree know this. They value this…more than they value parenthood.


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7 comments:

Robin said...

I was just watching Supernanny the other day and I definitely noticed the lack of intimacy between the parents.

That is a big reason why I'd like to stay childfree...my relationship is so important to me and so wonderful as it is.

Maureen said...

And, of course, if the hobby that the couple wants to do with each other is 'parenting', then having kids is a great thing to do, to bring them closer together :D

In terms of relationship intimacy, having kids is no different than any other thing that the partners do that isn't 'dating' behavior.

If one of the partners is all about attachment parenting and the other is all about a different parenting method (or not even really interested in being a parent at all), the couple can grow apart.

If they are both attachment parenting together, studying it together, learning more together, sharing the work together, supporting each other for the common goal, then it can bring them closer together.

The same thing could be said, too, if one member of the couple, for example, absolutely *loves* civil war re-enactment, spends their weekends doing it, spends their weekday evenings planning for it, etc. While the other, is either uninterested in it or is more casual about the whole thing or has a completely different passion, say, Nascar (and all of the time-consuming & money-consuming things that go with that hobby).

That couple is certain to grow apart if they continue to pursue the passions that take them away from the other. -And-, if they share one or both of those passions, they are sure to grow closer together, as they pursue their interests.

I hope that every couple finds ways to spend wonderful time with each other in the world :D

Teri said...

I wonder if the mommy bloggers and daddy bloggers of the world dialogue much on the either percieved or real lack of intimacy. Let's face it, it can happen to any marriage. The honeymoon phase doesn't last forever, and there better be some baseline compatability or common ground to make it through the long haul.

Maureen - Welcome to PW&F. Thanks for this comment. I would hope that every couple would find these commonalities and discuss the big things before jumping in.

BTW, I have no idea what attachment parenting is. I would absolutely fail a trivia question about "methods of parenting" - LOL!

LauraS said...

Maureen makes a good point. If partners are on the same page, making the same effort, for the same objectives, parenting can be an intimate experience of partnership.I've seen it.It works.

If my husband decided to be a Nascar driver. I would have to re-evaluate our relationship. Do I want to spend every weekend grinding my teeth waiting for my husband to hit the wall? No.
Do I want to live in a moldy canvas tent in a civil war battleground in a corset in a muslin dress tending to fake wounds and boiling bandages? No.
Do I want to be a mom? No.
These are important questions.

Elise said...

Maureen,

I disagree slightly with your second paragraph.

If I'm working in the yard with my fiancee or painting the trim on the house with him or driving with him to the dump/recycling center (not exactly "dating behaviour"), we're not getting constantly interrupted by a 4-year-old's incessant questions, wondering about why the 16-year-old is taking two hours to drive to the corner store for milk, or having to jump and run after a two-year-old as he's about to take a header off the deck. It all allows for a *lot* more connection and intimacy --- even while doing mundane, every-day tasks.

Having kids is *not* quite the same as other non-dating activities!

Elise
who became a step-grandmother-once-removed last week (my fiancee's step-daughter from his first marriage, whom he raised as his own from age 4, just had a baby...out of wedlock, with a guy who calls himself a dad for now but is likely to become an absentee sperm donor very quickly...sigh) --- a close enough brush with kids for me, thanks!

Maureen said...

Ahh, but if you have both chosen to parent together, then a 4-yo's questions or worrying about the 16-yo driving aren't interruptions, they are part of the parenting that you both want to do. Does that make sense? :crazy:

Of course, parenting is an on-call 24/7 'activity', so it most certainly *can be* hard on anyone, single or partnered, and on any relationship. Believe me, I know :D My husband & I are split-shift parenting. He's got the kids while I'm at work. I've got them while he sleeps & works 3rd shift. We communicate throughout it all and catch-up as grown-ups after bedtime on his nights off. :whew:

Important thing is that we *both* want to be doing it, both want to be doing it this way and both respect the work that the other is doing in creating this family.

But, anyway :D I don't want any of you to think that I'm trying to convince you that *you* should have kids. I truly respect your decision to be childfree and the strength you have to fight societal expecations in order to live your lives as you see fit for yourselves & your relationships! As a person who takes great pride, personal satisfaction and joy in tackling the challenges of parenting, it makes me feel good to think that there are others out there who look at the job and say "Whoa! I could never do that!" :D Makes me feel good about myself :-p . Also, because I think that involved parenting is such an important element in the life of a child, I think that every kid deserves a parent who is 100% into doing a great job as a parent. If you know that you don't want to do it, then I'm glad that you aren't!

I'm just saying that parenting is not an automatic death knell for intimacy in a relationship. The problem, as far as I see it, lies in a lack of honest communication, mutual respect and shared goals.

alpahgirl said...

Teri-
Attachment parenting is in two forms: the healthy form, which teaches a young child that the parent is a safe, stable person that will support them unconditionally throughout the course of their life. Appropriate physical and emotional boundaries exist, and the child learns to become resilient, independent, and will grow into a person who can create healthy, loving relationships later on in life, due to the healthy relationship "template" created by the bond with his/her parent(s).

The unhealthy attachment parenting is when the parent fails to establish proper physical and emotional boundaries with their young child: nursing the kid way past the appropriate age, bathing with the child, co-sleeping when the child clearly wants to sleep by themselves, not allowing the kid to learn to control and modulate his or her feelings, etc. The bottom line to the unhealthy form is the parent is using the kid to fulfill unmet emotional needs that are best met in a more appropriate manner.

That's the nutshell description from my days as a Soc. major.
"attachment parenting" is just a trendy term for healthy parenting.

Cheers!