Although my coworker has been married for ten plus years, he and his wife have decided not to start a family. The other day, he shared his views on families and parenthood. He argues that people have kids because they are bored in their relationship. And, not just that, they are being lazy, because when you have kids, you don’t have to focus on your marriage. You have your kids to distract from the marriage.
I’m not sure what it was about the conversation that got me thinking about it for days afterwards.
Initially, I was worried. My God, what if he’s right. What if I’m just bored with my relationship?? I had to really think about it and convince myself that no, that’s not true, that’s not what happened. His theory was thought provoking precisely because I couldn’t make sense of it. Why would anyone would want kids to fill a void in a marriage?
I realized that his theory troubled me because I can partially understand the dilemma. With children in the picture, it does take a lot more work to focus on your marriage. This is especially true when you’re also working. You work, come home, make dinner, give a bath, and tuck them into bed. It’s not until 8pm when you finally get some down time. And by that point, not only are you dead tired, you’ve still got lots to take care of (laundry, dishes, etc). When does the alone time with your partner really come into play? So while I disagree that people have kids to fulfill an otherwise unsatisfying marriage, I concluded that the inverse could be true. What if you end up having an unsatisfying marriage because you have kids?
I see all the fun things he does with his wife, like music festivals and lavish dinners and exotic trips. I know I can’t do the same things we used to, not until the kiddies are a bit older. There is definitely envy. But, if we were to decide not to have kids, I’d feel like something is missing. Kids aren’t there to plug up some kind of hole in the metaphoric (relation)ship. I’ve grown more as a person because I’m a mom than through anything else.
And I’ll tell you what. Growing old with someone is great. But creating a family that outlives you is part of the magic. You don’t have kids because you’re bored. You have kids to expand and deepen the relationship you already have. That’s what I think.