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General Forum > Only in my head?

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Karen H's picture
Brunswick, Maine
Only in my head?

First, as a new member, I was happy to find this community, and I am hoping to find some likeminded people and much-needed support! Second, my apologies about the length of this post... if you make it through, thanks for reading.

In the last six months or so, I've started to feel as if my husband and I are being treated differently by some family members and friends because we have chosen to not have children. Let me clarify that I've always known I did not/do not want children, and neither my husband nor I are questioning this decision. I've never felt any different from people with children or people who want children; in fact, up until the last few months, I'd never really given it much thought. On the rare occasion it ever did come up in conversation, at worst I would be amused at the bemused reaction of whoever was asking me, their faces always sporting a "knowing" smile that gave away what they were thinking ("she'll come around"---what else?).

But now that I've recently turned 35 and my husband is approaching 40 and it's very clear we have arranged our lives such that a child would not fit well in the picture (I'm in graduate school in Europe while my husband lives in the US--we do not own a home or furniture and we spend all our free time and disposable income on traveling), the reactions I get are no longer bemused---they are now confused or concerned or straight out baffled. Friends who know our decision and whom we thought accepted it wholly now have no problem telling us we are missing out, we will regret it, we should stop living like we are 15 years younger than we are. They frequently snap "you wouldn't get it, you don't have kids." They get upset when we don't bend our plans to socialize with them or attend their children's birthday parties.

Family is worse--our sister-in-law, the only one to have kids, basically has tyrannical rule over the entire family who must meet her demands or she threatens to remove her kids from everyone's lives. Recently there was a very rare rift between my husband and his brother, and our feelings have been completely disregarded in the situation by family members. I think it's because no one wants to upset the sister-in-law.

I'm feeling a lot of this is because people are finally taking our decision to remain childfree seriously, and it's gotten to the point I am feeling defensive about my decision and angry towards loved ones. I've never felt this way and I feel awful. My husband thinks I am paranoid and won't discuss it. Are my perceptions crazy? And how do I go back to the confident, calm, nonplussed person I was? Sorry about the length of this post---I have no one close in my life who does not have children and (as of late) is accepting of my decision. Any stories or advise would be much appreciated!

Jacquelyn G's picture
Palm Harbor, Florida

Hi, Karen:

I am 46 years old, and my husband is 52. We have no children and always knew that parenthood was not for us. At least at my age, the questions from others about having children have subsided. To be honest, I have never cocerned myself about what others think about this issue. My husband and I enjoy sailing and traveling and spend most of our money on entertainment and travel related items. Sometimes, you may have to distance yourself from family members who do not support or understand your decisoin.


Vicki K's picture
Russellton, Pennsylvania

Karen: sorry u are going through this. It IS actually easier to be CF in your twenties and then again in your 40's. I'm 45, got married at 23, so been there. The 30's were tough for me. You are living life on your own terms, which is my personal definition of "success". I would ask you if you are willing to give that up to make peace? I hope the answer is no, because that won't make anyone happy anyway: it sounds like there is no pleasing these folks. I have found that most of my friends are either younger, older, and/or single. And I am ok with that. People my age , married or divorced are mostly parents, and expect me to work around their priorities..I quit doing that last year and have never been happier.a few sad days as I let go of some if these people, but I will just remeber the good times before they were parents. As for family, DH has the kids on his side. I am friendly and buy Xmas presents, but that's it.

Toria D's picture

Hi Karen. I am 32, husband is 38 and we are hitting the same situation as you are. I think 30'a are a particularly bad age (esp for women) as everyone thinks out body clock will go off and we will have a frenzied attempt at having kids. We get some really hurtful comments from people we thought were friends about this subject. I have chosen to ignore those people and move on, but I'm not one to harbour emotions. I don't speak to my family, not for this reason, but that's another issue! The in laws are really not bothered so from a family point of view we don't have a problem. The only advice I can give from someone in the same position as you is, as Jacquelyn said, don't bother with them and get on with your life and do the things that make you happy. You are number one in your life, so you have to be happy with your choices. Peer pressure is an awful thing. I've seen many people give in and have kids and regretted it for the rest of their lives. I can't begin to imagine how awful that must feel.

I wish you all the very best.

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