What If I Don’t Want To Marry and Have Babies?
Modern woman. I think I am one, and I’m sure that many of you reading this think that you are too. But are we really?
Where does this idea of the modern woman come from? Society of course. We listen to our family and friends, we watch shows on TV and we read articles in magazines; all of which portray what the “modern” woman should be. The idea of the modern woman really hasn’t changed that much over the years. If you watch Mad Men you see modern women of the 1960’s venturing out into the work force, seeking independence from men – all while trying to land the right one to marry so they can settle down and not work anymore. Flash forward to Sex in the City in the 2000’s and you see Carrie Bradshaw expressing her modern womanhood. Working and writing about the trials and tribulations of a single girl, living and dating in New York City. Through all her modern ways and desires, she still wants to find the right man and so do her friends.
What about the woman who doesn’t want to get married or have children? It seems that even in 2013, she’s an oddity. Women are allowed to be modern, just as long as they still fit within the idea of the societal norm.
In my twenties the idea of getting married and having children wasn’t on my mind, at least not in the sense of, “Oh how complete my life will be to have a husband and then a baby.” I felt quite the opposite of that and I endeavoured to put all serious thoughts of marriage and having babies on hold until I was thirty. Surely by thirty I would have my career set and would have found a serious and committed relationship to settle into.
Before I knew it, the impossible thirty arrived. Impossible because when you’re twenty, thirty seems very far away – old even. When you actually are thirty (now I’m almost thirty-five) you see just how ridiculous that is! For one thing, thirty is not old and for another I wouldn’t go back to being twenty for anything, except maybe for my tighter abs.
At thirty it seemed that all my friends were getting married and I was the single girl at the dinner party. I began to feel like I was part of a dying breed.
I tried to get into weddings and have fun with them but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t dream of wearing the big white frilly dress or of weeping happily in front of a hundred or more of my nearest and dearest friends and family. I didn’t dream of marching down the long aisle, leading me to my ultimate happiness. What is the ultimate happiness anyway? It seemed to be images the media filled the airwaves and magazines with: happy families and married couples.
I started to cave to my well meaning friends and family who asked why I hadn’t wanted to get married before and why did I not want to have children. I was affected and suddenly it seemed I had purpose! I was going to find myself a man, get married, have a child or two and conform to society. It couldn’t be that bad, everyone else around me seemed to be doing it and they were managing alright. So in quick order I ditched my commitment phobic, late night booty call “boyfriend” and I began the search for my future husband and in no time it seemed, I found him. I turned a flicker of a flame into a full blown house on fire and in less than two years we were married. At 31 years of age (old enough to know what it was I wanted, or so I thought) I walked down that aisle towards my ‘ultimate happiness’. Everything would be great because we loved each other and we had potential! But, it wasn’t great and in less than two years we separated. Now he reminds me of “somebody that I used to know.”
It seems like a lifetime ago that I sent him packing and I sat in the house that I had bought on my own and cried. How stupid I had been. All the signs had been there before we were married but I refused to acknowledge them. Our demise was as much my fault as it was his. I was at fault for forcing something out of nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I did love him, it just wasn’t the kind of love that should have resulted in a marriage. I believe that my ex loved me too, but he wasn’t ready for the commitment and reality of being married or of having children. He talked a good game but never had any follow through. He talked about wanting to get a better job to help support us but it was me working a full-time with an extra job on the side trying to keep it all afloat. My ex sat home day after day playing video games, working a part-time job and building debt that I didn’t even know about until it was too late.
My stress steadily increased and we argued constantly. I kept hoping that it would get better and until it did I would hold it all together because that’s what women do. I would work two jobs, keep the house, keep the man and have kids. I plugged ahead, until one day I just couldn’t do it anymore. I wouldn’t do it anymore. Enough was enough and my life flashed before my eyes: stressed out with bills mounting, barefoot, pregnant and trapped with a man who loved playing games and spending money without regard for anyone else. My marriage ended the day I walked in from work and he wouldn’t even stop his game play to say hello. He was too busy and the game was too important. He was after all, almost to the next level. I, on the other hand, was already at that next level in my game of real life. Before he knew what hit him he was out the door, on his way back home to his Mom and Dad.
What was mine before marriage became “ours” and what was my ex’s (including his hidden debt) also became “ours.” Every step I made to make things right and not lose everything resulted in his gain and my loss. I was forced to sell the house – it was the “matrimonial home.” It was the one thing that made me feel that I had earned something, that I could do things on my own. I felt like a failure but I moved forward – It had to be done.
Never to be one to stay negative for too long I began to think of the positives. While I had lost a lot, I did still gain back myself and I discovered what it was that I really wanted all along from a relationship: a partner. Someone who would stand by me through thick and thin, washing dishes, health scares, financial woes, and episodes of Coronation Street.
Three years on, I have found my partner and though he may not openly admit it, he enjoys watching Coronation Street. He puts a good face on about it anyways, just like I do when we watch football. That’s what it’s about though, give and take. He is his own man and I am free to be as modern a woman as I want to be.
If I had known that I would live happily ever after as the childless, common-law wife of a separated man with two kids (teenage girls no less) I would have done it long ago.
I am a modern woman – hear me roar!
By Tara Leitch
Tara Leitch has been down a winding road that has seen one marriage crumble and a stronger relationship form. She battles thyroid cancer and supports her mother as she wages war on Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In her spare time she writes and is an aspiring children’s author. A positive attitude, a lot of hope and a glass of wine in hand is all that Tara needs to carry on.