“But you’ll have kids one day…right?” Asks every relative, friend, or old acquaintance you bump into at the supermarket. Whether you have been married for 6 months or 6 years, this is a question couples cannot seem to escape and the look of disappointment on the face of the one who asks when the answer is “no” or “we aren’t sure we want kids..” can lead to a multitude of emotions for the person who is being asked. It is as if suddenly you are doing something wrong, going against society’s norms even. You and your spouse may even begin to doubt yourselves and your choices. “Should we have kids?”, ”Is this the right choice?”, “Will we regret this?”
But here is the thing society does not tell you enough, it is okay to have a childless marriage! Here’s why:
1. Trust yourselves!
If you and your spouse have had discussions regarding children and have come to the agreement it is not what you want right now, or maybe even at all, then there is your answer. It does not matter if your parents, grandparents, or your closest friends think you should, what matters is the choice you and your spouse made together. Marriage is about trust and communication with one another, not others. If you have been able to have this discussion open and honestly and arrived at a mutual agreement, you should be proud of yourselves for tackling this topic successfully.
2. Raising a family is a lot of work!
The decision to have children is a big decision which should not be made lightly. Marriages change in various ways once children are thrown into the mix. Children will push boundaries, test your patience, and challenge you and your spouse in ways you have never been challenged before. If the decision to have children is made solely on emotions driven by society’s norms, this could pose as a potential stressor for you and your spouse which you may not be ready to manage yet.
3. Your values don’t have to be the same as your family and friends!
Your friends or relatives may value family as their top priority and there is nothing wrong with that! However, it is easy to feel that something is “wrong” when you are invited to your friend’s child’s birthday party, surrounded by other parents, and all you can add to the conversation is discussion around how your career is going, the vacation you just took, or how you are contemplating adopting a pet. It is okay to value your careers, free time, or each other more than the idea of starting a family. The beautiful thing about relationships is that they do not all have to be the same! So while your best friend is cleaning up after an undoubtedly hectic birthday party, you can go home with your spouse, kick your feet up, and relax in front of the tv. Guilt free.
4. It’s your life!
We get one life to live, so live it. If you want to advance in your career, do it. If you want to travel the world, travel. If you want to spend money on yourselves vs. spend money on starting a family, go for it. You are not being selfish, you are not terrible people, you are just choosing to live your life the way you want to. As long as you and your spouse are doing what you want to do, based on decisions you made together as a couple, that is the most important thing.
5. You can always change your mind!
Perhaps earlier in your marriage children were not part of the plan but as time goes by, you may change your minds. With the advances in technology and the various methods of starting a family today, the “biological clock” is not the sole driving force in starting a family anymore. If you and your spouse think you may want kids one day, talk with your medical professionals about options for your future family planning to ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Additionally, couples counseling is a great venue to discuss these decisions more in depth with a supportive, caring, and trained professional to help guide you along the way.
Starting a family can be the most wonderful event in someone’s life, but it is not for everyone. So next time Aunt Susie asks you and your spouse, “So, when will you start trying for a baby?”, with that hopeful look on her face, remember her happiness is important, but not as important as yours.