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Running our happy marriage without kids

It seems that every tale of romance goes the traditional route. First comes love, then marriage, then children. What if you deviate from this norm—when you don’t want to have children so soon, or end up in a childless marriage either by choice or due to other reasons? Grace Wachira @yaa_grace Peter Musei and his wife, Muthoni Musei walked down the isle in a beautiful ceremony last year. The young couple is happy to know they have each other’s back, a shoulder to lean on and a soul mate. At the moment, they are concerned with helping each other achieve their professional and life goals. “For us, our union is about helping each other grow. At the end of the day, we want to see each other succeed. I want to see my husband achieve his goals and the same goes for him. We have so many aspirations and everyday is an opportunity for us to become better,” says Muthoni. The society, however, has expectations from newlyweds. “When are you guys planning to expand your family? Any baby on board? Don’t you want to be a mother soon?… the questions keep coming. “For us, it’s not such a big deal because at the end of the day it’s all about us and not what other people want. We are the ones living together and have a plan, our plan,” she says. Fortunately for the Museis, most of their relatives respect the way they lead their lives. “We thank God because our parents and siblings have not at any point brought up this conversation,” Peter says. Marriage not defined by kids “We are living life a day at a time. Building our family and careers. One day a step at a time and there is no hurry. Children will come and when they do that’s within God’s grace and will,” he adds. Muthoni says society should not pressure couples to have children. “Sometimes these questions can be insensitive. There are people who are going through some personal issues, which they can’t share with everyone and anyone. Let’s stop subjecting people to questions or situations that can be a pain to them. Instead, give them their space,” Muthoni says. But in a society that venerates motherhood and children, it can be extremely difficult to be part of this super-select club. Children provide a family with emotional fulfilment and increase social status in the society. When members of the community see that a woman has not become pregnant after an expected period of time, rumours of infertility may begin to fly around. However, James Mbugua, a counselling psychologist, says children are not the only way to define a successful marriage. A lot of things go into the making of a union work. “Marriages are institutions where each partner has to put in the work. Children are by-products of the union,” Mbugua says. Additionally, he says times have changed and people are working towards becoming stable financially, in their career, among others, before they start getting children. “Couples have different plans. Some may want to know each other better, or spoil one another with love before children get in the picture. Others have goals to achieve. The times too are tough economically and this may be a factor. In some instances, a couple maybe trying to conceive, unsuccessfully. Whatever, the case, third parties should not interfere,” he says. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel pressured or judged due to not having children, handle it as you please. If you don’t wish to talk about your personal life, simply say so. If you choose to speak out about your life choice, do so in an assertive manner. Perhaps the best way to cope with pressure is to know yourself and to have a solid understanding of why you have chosen your path. If you’ve considered options and decided to not have children, have a full awareness of your reasons for this. Take time to write these reasons down. Your list may include the things you’d have had to sacrifice if you had become a parent as well as your overall life goals and passions, and what you instead have devoted your time and energy to. If you’re childfree by chance, or even due to circumstances beyond your control, focus on the positives of this situation.

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