Last night I had a couple of hours to hang out with one of my close friends, Sara. As I have mentioned before, Sara has two young sons, so our time together is limited. Whereas (prior to her having kids) we used to see each other once or twice a week for stretches of several hours, we are now lucky to see each other once every 2-3 weeks for about 2 hours max.
We sat on our couch and chatted for 2 hours and caught up on all the latest. At one point, we were talking about parenthood, and she confessed to me that she misses her husband. She told me that since they have had kids, their entire life revolves around caring for the kids and there is very little time left for she and her husband to be together. She said they talk about this sometimes and tell each other how much they miss each other - how much they miss going on dates, spending time together, talking - just the two of them. She admitted they are no longer first in each other's lives. She lamented that this just the way it is when kids are young and all couples with kids go through it. She expressed optimism for the future when the kids are bigger and don't need so much constant attention.
Although Sara is one of the rare moms I know who truly seems to love being a mom, whenever I am with her I am filled with a renewed gratefulness for being childfree. I wouldn't trade places with her in a million years. I love being #1 in my hubby's life, and making hubby #1 in my life. Nobody comes before him. I love having his undivided attention and I love giving him mine. I love that the level of conflict, stress and chaos in our marriage is minimal and I am keenly aware that this is primarily due to being kid-free. I love that our recreational time belongs almost exclusively to US and we can spend our time doing things that we find enjoyable and fulfilling. I cannot imagine spending my evenings and weekends running kids to soccer games and Chuck E. Cheese, to birthday parties or (gag) "play dates". As someone who enjoys cooking, I love that I can whip up sophisticated dinners that please our adult palates and not have to pander to demands for chicken nuggets and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese.
I don't miss my husband because he's fully present in my life. Isn't that what marriage is supposed to be about? I could never imagine sacrificing that to the alter of childrearing, but to each her own.
Sara sure is an example of why research tells us that the level of marital satisfaction for parents increases once the kids leave the nest. I have seen lots of parent couples who, when they become empty nesters realize they did not tend to the marriage enough while raising the kids such that when it became just the two of them again, they either had many issues that were not dealt with along the way, now reared their heads and were not always resolvable, or they just couldn't find their way back to each other.
I have also seen parent couples who Do put their marriage first when they are raising the kids -- it is totally possible to do this -- and they are better for it down the road. ~Laura http://lauracarroll.com
This is my #1 reason for being childfree. My husband is my best friend and I could never give up spending quiet evenings on the porch, drinking a glass of wine with him. That's my peace.
Great post! I never understood the saying "my kids come first!" No, your spouse did. And s/he should continue to be your the priority in your life. Kids should be secondary.
In talking to the person who is organizing our class reunion, a good percentage of the class has been divorced. Common theme--every one of them have one or more kids. Coincidence?
You've just said all the things that I think every day. Hooray for childfreedom!
This is so true! Although I do miss my husband sometimes since we are both working full time and going to school, it is still not as bad as if we had kids.
Awesome post, as always! I think of this often and am eternally grateful for it.
You also touched on something else that I regularly think of & am thankful for: meal prep. I can have an adult meal with sophisticated ingredients without worrying about making kiddie cuisine OR I can eat pancakes for dinner all week. I love being an adult and not having to be a good example! :]
Thank you for posting this. I've been saying the same thing for years! I'm glad to see someone else sees it the way I do (other than my husband!).
I read this post yesterday afternoon. Then last night, my husband and I went to a party. One of the men we met was telling us about his favorite thing in the whole world to do with his wife - go to a Dodgers game. He's a true blue fan, and described being at a game with her as his "his heaven".
But, he said, they can never find time to go anymore because (all together now) of their children. He went to elaborate about the impossibility of date nights with his wife, and how hard it is to make time for one another.
I'm not around a lot of parents these days, after moving to downtown LA (mostly young professionals and creative types around here - very very few families), so it was a really stark reminder of the delineation in lifestyle between his and his wife's life and our own.
A big, beautiful, wonderful-to-look at delineation.
My husband and I left the party soon after that, met up with some friends at the monthly art fair, and ended our night with breakfast at 3am at our favorite greasy spoon. When we got home, we stayed up until five just talking and laughing.
If we had children, last night would have instead consisted of some combination of the following: diaper changes, baths, Barney videos, crying, bottles, homework assistance, kid-friendly dinners, and an early bedtime. I barely would have had time to interact with my husband at all, much less enjoy his undivided companionship all night.
I don't miss my husband one bit. =)
Great blog, once again. It also sums up exactly how I feel. I am happily child-free (for dozens of reasons), and this is precisely one of the reasons why. I work shifts, often nights and weekends. My husband usually works Monday to Friday, so we only have a few days off together. I don't want those precious few to be taken up by demanding screaming brats.
The one close friend of mine that has a child came over on Mother's Day with her husband to show their toddler son the baby opussums that I am currently rehabbing for release. This normally happy, smiling friend looked more down-trodden and depressed than I have ever seen her. She proceeded to tell me how much her husband is drinking and hanging out with his neighborhood drinking buddy just to avoid coming home and taking care of their son, who is definitely a handful. She went on with a litany of how he never does this or that, helps her do anything and is very disintereted in assisting with child-rearing activities. This couple was once the envy of our circle--they had a very good marriage and were devoted to each other. It has totally digressed to one-up-manship regarding who does what around the house/with the child. They now mostly avoid each other and complain about the lack of time/resoures to do anything. All of this coincided with **shocker** the arrival of the baby!
During the conversation she asked about another fried who is recently married and she and her husband are committed to childfreedom. She asked me how they were and I elaborated how they just went on a trip for their anniversary to a B&B and all the fabulous things they did. She just sighed and despondently replied, "Yes, I guess there really is something to be said for being older (she's 43), married and without kids." BINGO!!! It took all I had to not say "I told you so!!!!".
My live-in boyfriend and I had a nice, smug laugh over this one later on that day. I LOVE being chldfree!!!
This reminds me of the article that was in the NY Times several years ago. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/27/fashion/27love.html The author says in regards to her kids: "But I'm not in love with any of them. I am in love with my husband." So few parents feel this way! In proof Mothers were so outraged the author ended up on Oprah defending herself. Lovely post!
I think making your spouse a priority depends on how long you've been married before adding children to your family. My husband and I were married for 10 years before having kids. Our family consisted of just the two of us (with whatever rescued dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs we'd happened upon) for so long, we have a very good grasp on our special relationship apart from children. Our lives with children aren't too much different than our lives without children. Having that decade together just the two of us really helped us understand ourselves and our marriage, so that we could make a place within in our family to include children--not establish a family around children. Many people who choose to have children, do so within the first 4 years of marriage--at that point you barely know who you are as a couple. I think it's rather natural that kids would take over and your family would be designed around them in that scenario.
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