If you’re close to or over 30, it’s inevitable that you’ll be asked when you plan on settling down. Every social event is now your very own press conference, where you get to field questions about getting married and having kids. If you don’t have plans for either, things can get a little awkward… for other people. You should never have to apologize for your relationship- and child-free lifestyle.
You don’t have to make your relationship “official” in the eyes of God, society or your family. If you have a boyfriend, maybe there’s pressure to make your relationship “legitimate” by following religious customs or social standards. Your parents may be disappointed or embarrassed by your unconventional ways, but getting married is an adult decision you get to make for your own adult life. People might not like it, but it’s your life, so who cares?
Your decision to be child-free isn’t sad, it’s empowering. It seems like the only acceptable way a woman can be childless is when it’s the result of a negative outcome, and usually one that’s out of her control like an illness, sterility, etc. Why can’t your decision to be childless come from an empowered and informed place? A woman can have a healthy and functioning reproductive system and not use it for baby making. Why is this a problem?
Having a husband doesn’t mean you get an upgrade. I know this sounds harsh, but just because someone’s your husband doesn’t mean he’s your better half or whatever else we’re led to believe about spouses. He’s the same man you’ve been dating for years. You don’t need to get married to improve your relationship. If you want to make things better, work on it every single day. A piece of paper isn’t going to change anything.
It’s nobody’s business what you decide. You’re not responsible for the expectations and pressures that family, friends, and society at large put on you, nor are you responsible for the disappointment and disapproval they exhibit when you don’t live the way they want. You don’t owe anyone an explanation or apology for your choice because there’s nothing wrong with it in the first place.
You don’t need a marriage or family to make you feel successful or happy. Women are pressured to become wives and then mothers. That’s because society and religion extol these paths. The idea that a husband and a brood of kids are the recipes for your success and happiness is not only ridiculous, it’s untrue. You control your own happiness, and any external factors can only add to what you create for yourself.
Marriage isn’t a milestone in every relationship. The relationship you have with your guy is an ongoing journey, like most other relationships. You don’t need to make a pitstop at the altar before you can proceed with the rest of your life. Things keep going whether or not you say “I do.”
You can still positively impact children without being a parent. Raffi, Louisa May Alcott, Dr. Seuss and Beatrix Potter all contributed beautiful art to children — and guess what: none of these artists had children of their own. You can also support children not by being a mother but by being the best version of yourself that you can be. Maybe you won’t be a platinum selling recording artist like Raffi, but you can be the best aunt, friend, teacher or volunteer possible.
Not every little girl grows up dreaming about a white wedding. It isn’t just the hyped and expense of weddings that deter many women. It’s the latent sexism and patriarchy they perceive underneath all the taffeta and bouquets. Think about it: a woman gets handed off from one man (her father) to another (her husband). Of course, it’s symbolic and most women in today’s modern society have made the free choice to marry, but why don’t they come up with a more symbolic gesture to represent that? If it’s not your thing, that makes total sense.
You don’t want a divorce. This might sound like a cop-out, but if you get married and it doesn’t work out, you’d have to get a divorce. Marriages come with the expectation that your loving commitment is forever and a divorce is a slap in the face to that supposedly eternal bond. When you decide to be together because you love each other and not because you’ve placed unreasonable expectations on each other, a breakup can still happen but at least it’s a bit less excruciating.
Being a parent or spouse isn’t an initiation into adulthood. Child-free and husband-free women can seem like carefree and even flippant individuals — you know, the ones you can’t tie down, which is a ridiculous idea in and of itself. But that’s beside the point. What’s important is that there are plenty of responsible and conscientious women who commit and contribute to society without having to become wives and mothers.
The world is full enough. Your choice to be child-free may stem from a belief that the world is over populated. Instead of bringing more people into the world, you chose to live your life as best you can and support those who are already here. Not a bad idea, to be honest.
Having children is an option, not an obligation. As a woman, your body is biologically set up to co-create and carry other human beings, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed or destined for motherhood. It’s your choice, not a burden you have to carry. Other women can choose to marry and have children and that’s perfectly okay. What’s not okay is when child-free women are stigmatized because they’ve dared to have a uterus and not use it.
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