Married With[OUT] Children

I’ve stayed away from this topic on the blog completely – Not out of avoidance – I just haven’t had much to say about it.  But lately, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of opinions on this subject and thought “hey, I guess I do have some things to say about it.”

Today, let’s talk about being married without children.

When I was a senior in high school, the most frequently asked question to me was “Where are you going to college?”  When I was a senior in college, the most frequently asked question to me was “What are you doing after graduation?”  And since my first or second wedding anniversary, the most frequently asked question to me is, “When are you having kids?”

It’s in our nature to ask questions.  And we have societal norms, so we ask questions that are appropriate based on our perception of normal.  The traditional middle class American life order goes: college –> marriage –> kids… and so on.

I broke the order by getting married while in college, which was taboo enough, and I’ve been married 9.5 years and still don’t have children, so I’m just blowing stereotypes and norms all over the place.  I think my husband and I are bit of a mystery to some – and that’s ok.  After this many years, I’m used to getting asked rather personal questions like, “Can you not get pregnant?”  or “How’s your marriage?  Are you struggling?  Is that the delay in having children?”

Honestly, I don’t get mad about those questions, I know that the motivation behind the asking is making sure that I’m ok and that we’re ok.  I appreciate that people love me and love my husband and want us to be healthy and happy.  For the record, our marriage remains a beautiful partnership, and thanks for asking.  Also on the record, I feel so deeply sad for my friends who want to have children and cannot.  I can’t imagine being questioned when waiting, longing, and sadness are present – you are brave.

The reason that we don’t have children is that we simply haven’t felt called to have children.  It’s as simple as that.  My husband and I believe that parenting is an extremely high calling.  We celebrate and affirm that calling in our friends and family.  At this time, we feel confident that parenting is not our calling.  We believe that some callings are for a lifetime and others for seasons.  We have yet to determine whether this lack of calling is for our lifetime or for this season, but we will be faithful to our calling.

We don’t want to have children because it’s normal or expected, or to fit in with our other married friends, or to give our parents grandkids (sorry guys), or so we have someone to take care of us when we’re old.  We believe children are a gift not an expectation.  We believe that parenting is a calling, not an obligation.

We don’t not have children because we’re being selfish, as many seem to surmise.  We don’t have children because we haven’t felt called to raise them.  There have been a number of articles posted lately from couples who have chosen to not have children, and to be honest, some of the reasons for not having children sound rather selfish.  I would argue, though, that some reasons for having children are rather selfish, too.  We are humans and we are selfish.  Parental status doesn’t inherently negate or encourage selfishness.  Please don’t assume that all DINKS (Double Income No Kids) are inherently selfish.  Please don’t assume that all parents are inherently unselfish.

I have a lot of parent friends who assume my kid-free life is sort of easy and breezy.  I know they imagine me sleeping in wildly late on weekends, going to grown up concerts and movies at my leisure, eating gourmet candlelit dinners, going on extravagant international vacations, and getting to drink an entire cup of coffee while it’s still piping hot without interruption.

I giggle as I type this.

This doesn’t describe my life at all.

I have a lot of friends who assume that I don’t like children because I don’t have children and that I don’t respect the hardness of the job of parenting because I haven’t applied for that job.  They imagine that I don’t want to hang out with them + kids, or that I don’t want to hold their child, don’t know how to change a diaper correctly, or don’t want to hear about their battles over veggies.

I’m raising my eyebrows at this.

This doesn’t describe my life at all.

I have a lot of parent friends who assume that I am missing out on the deepest joy or that my life is sort of empty.  They imagine that I don’t know about selflessness, sacrifice, and mothering.  They can’t fathom me understanding the depths of the Father’s Love sans children.

I shake my head as I type this.

This doesn’t describe my life at all.

My life is rooted in contentment in this season.  I know what I am called to, and I find deep joy in living out my calling.  My life is brimming with relationships.  I am mentored and I mentor others.  I have sweet friendships.  My home is full more than it is empty and often the decibel level is over the top with laughter.  I know well how to cook for masses, sweep crumb-filled floors without complaining, soothe a crying soul, and give when I’m on empty.  I view this season of life without children as an opportunity that I am choosing to seize with intention.

I love this season of my life because I am living out my calling.  I celebrate with my friends who are in similar seasons and different seasons who are living out their callings with joy.  Together, let’s celebrate that we all have gifts and callings that we are sharing with others.  And let’s stop the assuming.  Let’s stop the fantasizing about the life we don’t have.  Let’s stop imagining our season to be the hardest or most noble or most fulfilling.  Let’s stop projecting our desires and dreams onto others.  Let’s instead celebrate our friends who are living out their callings in seasons.

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15 thoughts on “Married With[OUT] Children

  1. Allison I love that you wrote this. I know this feeling. For so long I saw everyone having children, every female in my immediate family has had a baby in the past two years and many many of my friends. I have heard these same questions so many times. Part of me wanted that, I always figured I would have a kid or two by now, and have always loved kids and wanted a big family, but the other part of me was like it’s just not right for you in this “Season”. I knew God was saying wait, but i didn’t understand why and I never had that peace to make a conscious decision to try and become a mother. Now God has led us in this other direction (fostering) which is in a million years I would have never seen my life taking that route or ever being comfortable with it, and He gave me peace to go in that direction. So keep following your calling you never know what God has in store for you and your husband. The only thing that matters is that your honoring him.

    1. Thank you for sharing this Meg. I really love and am encouraged by this! I love that you were intentional, and that you were listening, and that you were open. I worked in foster care and believe that fostering is a high calling. I’m here to support you guys in this amazing non-traditional version of parenting you’re embarking on. It’s beautiful. I celebrate your obedience to your calling!

  2. Great post, Allison. I love you, people.
    I love when you wrote, “I view this season of life without children as an opportunity that I am choosing to seize with intention.” I know this to be true because you and Adam especially touched my life and I’m not sure with y’all having children y’all would’ve been able to in the same way.

    So well-written. I love you, girlfriend!

    http://merisue.com

    1. Thanks Sue! I love you, too! I don’t think we could hang out with our college friends nearly as much if we had our own kiddos. And neither is good or bad. But we LOVE you all so incredibly much and can’t imagine life without you all. So we’re faithful now and we will be faithful. Love how you’re being faithful in your season!

  3. I enjoyed this post, Allison. I’m not usually one to leave comments on blogs but I often read them. This one struck a cord. I will freely admit to selfishly entering motherhood. Our marriage was so rocky that I falsely believed adding a child would bring us closer together as we exchanged our titles of spouse for parent. How immature and naieve of me. Having Brenden was the BEST thing I’ve ever done. That boy made me a mama and I couldn’t be more grateful. Despite my fierce inadequecies, God has allowed me the privilege of stewarding he and his siblings. A task I do not take for granted. But, make no mistake- God redeemed the scenario. He infiltrated the heart of a selfish woman who longed for love from things and not Him. I entered motherhood selfishly. For what having a child would do for me… not what Jesus thru me could offer this child. So when I read your post and you said, “Not all DINKS are selfish and not all parents are unselfish” all I could think was – NO DOUBT!!! B/c I was the most selfish new mother of all… Thank God for his grace!!!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing so vulnerably, Chelle. Thank God for His grace is right! And thank God for his redemption. I really appreciate your honesty. The world benefits when we share the truthy truth, right? Love you and your heart!

  4. Dear Allison, Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to write your blog. Though we are separated in years by a generation and in miles by time zones, I always find that your writings touch me at some level. Usually, I am thinking “Yes!” sometimes, “I need to think about that”, and this time, “I needed this in the 70s!” By choice, we were married for more than eight years before we decided that we wanted children. It was always “if” not “when” for us. I am so thankful that we had that time to grow and mature, and then make a decision that was right for us. Because of my own experience, I never ask couples about their parenting status. As a teacher, I too often wanted to ask a disconnected parent, “Why did you have children?” So, thanks again. I applaud and respect your seasons and your thoughtfulness as travel through them.

    1. Bette, I love when you wager in. We should have spent more time together when we lived in Monterey! Thank you for sharing your story and your intentionality with not asking questions of others.

  5. YES! I relate so much to this, especially this line: “I view this season of life without children as an opportunity that I am choosing to seize with intention.” I do hope to have kids some day but since I haven’t married yet, I get questions of a different variety. I would love for us all to get to a place of celebrating people where they’re at, instead of where we think they should be.

    1. I love the idea of us all getting to a place of celebrating people where they’re at. In different seasons of life that is harder for me. For me, it’s easier during seasons of personal contentment and confirmation in calling than those blasted insecure and anxious seasons.

  6. Thank you for sharing this! You put in words everything I have been thinking. I too married during college. I have been married 10 years to my husband. We are happy and he is my best friend. The first time someone asked me if I am able to have kids I did get upset. Actually they didn’t as much ask as they stated their assumption. They couldn’t fathom that someone would choose not to have children. (I am not say that I wouldn’t ever… just haven’t gotten the calling. I feel like we might be called to adopt one day.) I don’t get upset anymore by these statements or questions, but sometimes I feel like my husband and I are the only married couple to choose not to have children. I guess that comes with being middle class in the south. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone.

    1. Sarah, I have gotten a whole lot of “me too’s” today. You aren’t alone. I’m not alone. I wonder if we are part of a category that just doesn’t talk as much about our season and the reasoning for our choices. I’m feeling inspired to keep talking about this. Who knew there were so many people in this season?

  7. As always, great writing. I was a little disappointed to read that you don’t sleep in, enjoy a full cup of coffee without interruption or go to any adult concert you want. I got the same feeling I get when I see someone with a full, thick head of hair, shave it off.

    Anyway, I love your perspective! Keep making a difference!

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