October 18, 2006

Married and Childfree

Recently my husband and I celebrated our 9th anniversary. We've been married long enough and are at the age that most people probably look at us and assume that the reason we don't have kids yet is because we're not able to have them. We've learned over the years to keep our mouths shut and let the assumptions fall where they may.

I do wonder if being childfree would be such a big deal for me if I was single. In Christian circles, if you're single/never-been-married, the assumption is that you wouldn't have children. But if you're married, you're expected to have kids at some point. There seems to be more pressure put on married couples than on singles.

The flip side of the coin is that if I was single, I would probably feel societal pressure to marry. It seems to be everywhere - dating and match sites, sitcoms, all putting out the idea that if you're single you should be looking for a mate. I'd be interested to hear what experiences you've had, whether as a single or married childfree person. Is there more pressure to procreate if you're married? Or does it seem to equal itself out?

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Tiara Lynn said...

As relative newlyweds (we celebrate our first anniversary on Sunday), my husband and I have been sort of okay about the level of pressure until recently.

My husband's family joked when we got married that no one would "bother us" for one year. And, like clockwork, it has begun, hardcore. Family dinners are consumed with discussions about the school districts where we want to live, what religion we're going to raise our kids as, and how I can "retire" when my husband finishes school and start a family. We get it from the outside, too, but the family is brutal, and there are many reasons why I've chosen to keep quiet thus far.

I am judged quite a bit, by childfree folk as well, about my decision to not tell them we're childfree yet, and I do that for a number of reasons. The point is that YES, the pressure is there, and when you're in the middle of it, it's difficult. My own family is fine with the decision and they know we are childfree; although they hope we'll change our minds, they have accepted it and are okay. It may be a matter of being a people-pleaser, but if anyone were in my shoes dealing with my in-laws, the way they are, they'd have a hard time with it too.

Robin said...

Given that I am not yet married and my boyfriend already has a child (that he can't see) we don't get much pressure. I'm not sure how it will change when we get married.

alpahgirl said...

when I was married, the pressure started soon afterward. My ex-husband and I would address it with "How could you be interested in anything so personal?" That would put a stop to things quickly. Worked like a charm each time. We were polite about it, but we meant business at the same time.

People will be intrusive/impolite/ignorant, etc. only if we allow them to.

kT said...

I'm resolutely single at this point in my life. In general, people tend to assume that I will change my mind about children "when I get married," hence making another asssumption -- that I intend to get married.

To be honest, I truly dislike kids most of the time. I have no intention of having them, ever.

It bothers me that people assume to know what I want for my life, as well as that they care so much. How, in any way, does it hurt anyone else if I choose to remain single and not have children I don't want?

alpahgirl said...

I could not agree more! I was divorced years ago, and have been unapologetically single ever since. It annoys me to no end when others say "When you meet the rigt person, you'll want kids." Uh, no. the right person for me doesn't want kids, either.

I've never really been a kid person, and people seem to take that so personally. I've always told them they need to shift their focus away from folks like myself who don't like kids all that much and who won't go out of their way to be around them, and instead focus their vitrol on those people who like kids a little too much and who would do anything to be around them with the sole intention of doing them harm.

I had a very heated conversation along those lines with a colleague once. "Stop focusing on people like me who aren't into kids, and instead take a closer look at the scoutmaster or coach who goes a little too far out of their way to win your kid's favor and to be around them. Could be nothing, or it could be really serious. Prioritize."
She left me alone after that.

Anonymous said...

This blog couldn't have come at a more appropriate time for me. :D

The *noise* regarding my single status and childfree life choice has reached a feverish pitch because I will be 40yo in a couple of months, coupled with the engagement announcement of a close friend last weekend. This has pretty much thrown family, friends and even co-workers into a frenzy about getting me hitched and *knocked up* (if you will), because I'm the *last one.*

I usually laugh it off, but this time, I told them to mind their own business and stay of my mine. I have had it with people telling me what is right for me and my life, implying that there is something *wrong* with me because I've chosen to live a childfree life and actually be happy and totally content in it. Heaven forbid!!

I applaud all the PurpleWomen here and everywhere, for standing up for themselves, in the manner they see fit.

alpahgirl said...

Good for you for standing up to nosy people. They only get away with it because others allow them to. May you have a "noise-free" 40th and beyond!

Anonymous said...

I am 33 at the end of the month hubby is 33 in January and we have been married for 3 years and about 5, nearly 6 months.
It didn't take long!
I'd never had many people ask about kids until I was married!
It makes it harder that I am a teacher. Yes, I love kids. No, I don't want to keep working with them, I want to work with only adults again in the near future. No I don't want my own. I may love babies (SOME babies) but I don't love the idea of being pregnant and I certainly don't like the idea of raising a teenager!
My husband is Muslim so of course even MORE expectation we will have kids but fortunately both our families are fine about us not having any.
He said to me (yesterday) our nephew "is really noisy! Hum Du Lay, you understand what I mean?" cos family were with him. I knew EXACTLY what he meant. Our nephew is really noisy. Thank you God that we don't have any of our own!!!
Fortunately people in Egypt (we are on holiday there now) don't ask when or why not.
It's worse in London UK at my teaching job!!!
Who'da thunk it?!

Anonymous said...

I just HAD to add this.
When my best friend was engaged I was SO happy for her. She was not even 20 when she married. Like my cousins, one married at just turned 19, the other at just turned 21. Well, during her engagement party, my (then) best friend's dad turned to me and asked me in front of everyone including people who were strangers to me! "So, do YOU have a boyfriend?" knowing damn well that (then) I didn't. As if to gloat MY daughter is getting married. YOU are NOT. Yes, well, YOUR daughter's marriage didn't last very long my dear! Now she and my two cousins are all divorced. So much for that!

Anonymous said...

And finally I love babies but I love a whole lot of other things a lot more.
Like sleep, money, freedom, energy, time!! Etc!

Dsrtrosy said...

alpahgirl said:
It annoys me to no end when others say "When you meet the rigt person, you'll want kids." Uh, no. the right person for me doesn't want kids, either.

Yes--that's been my reaction precisely. Now I'm old enough (37) to cut people off at the pass. When well meaning people say they'd like to "fix me up", I make it very clear that the potential man had better be a committed childfree individual.

Unfortunately, as a woman in ministry at a church, being single has been a drawback. I'm fortunate that the denomination in which I work doesn't push the "have babies for the Lord" doctrine that's so prevalent everywhere. Honestly, I would like to be married. Equally honestly, I'd rather be single than miserable. I'll hold out a little longer. If that great tall Christian childfree man is out there, he'll have been worth waiting for. If not, I've had a total blast with the rest of my life!

Anonymous said...

I must say this is an awesome website! I'm divorced, 34 and have no intention of having children, must to the chagrin of my grandmother. Yes, my grandmother. My mom and my dad are both ok with me not having children but my grandmother always says 'when you meet the right persoon you'll want a baby'. Nope, not a chance. As previously stated (very wisely as well) my 'perfect mate' won't want kids either. He also, hopefully, won't want to be married. Been there, done that and didn't like it. I'd rather be single, life is much more fun this way.