KATRIN BERNDT COACHING

A Marriage- and Child-Free Relationship: What’s Different?

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From day 1, there is talk about future wives and husbands. The person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. The mother or father to your children. Basically, we are looking for someone who is going to be our person until the day we die. But what is it like to be in a long-term relationship where neither marriage nor children are on the horizon?

I have been hesitant to make a post like this for some time now. Why? Because I have a very subjective view of our relationship vs. more normative relationships. I’m afraid that if I share all the benefits and perks of living life the way we have chosen for ourselves, it will come across as if you’re “doomed” to be miserable if you do want marriage and kids haha.

Of course, that’s not true. Because if you end up with those things you (hopefully) wanted it. Which makes a huge difference. But nevertheless, I want to say that this post is written from my perspective, a person who absolutely does not want kids or marriage and has therefore spent years thinking about all the benefits of that decision.

I’m not sure if this will be helpful to anyone, but if it’s not, perhaps it will just be an interesting peek into a kind of relationship that is different from your own.

Tiny bit of backstory: I realized I don’t want kids (and my boyfriends agreed) when I was 25. We met when I was 21. So we spent at least 4 years of the relationship assuming we would get married and have kids one day. So I’m not a “childfree since birth” kind of person, which allows me to have the “switch” perspective. I can see the difference in our relationship before and after.

We always get to be who we want to be

I know you’ll want to argue with me on this if you have kids but what I mean is that we never have to come second in our own lives. We never have to adjust our own wants and desires to accommodate someone else. We get to keep all our hobbies and interests. We get to spend our time and money exactly as we want. We get to be selfish!

I understand that having children and creating a family is a kind of growth journey. You become new versions of yourself. And I’m very grateful that my boyfriend and I get to decide our growth areas on our own and not have them “forced” upon us by having children.

It’s not for no reason that a lot of mothers describe losing themselves and their own identity after having kids. That they’re “just” a mom at that point. And for some, that’s all they want to be and that’s amazing. But for others, it’s not. And that’s okay too.

Being able to be who we want to be also includes doing what we want to do in life even if it’s a little “crazy.” I have some dreams of living in different places for a month here or a month there (dreams that my boyfriend definitely does not share haha). Perhaps studying in a different country for a summer. Just do random stuff that wouldn’t be possible or as easy if we had kids. Now I feel like we can do whatever we want because the worst that can happen is that we do long-distance for short periods of time in our relationship.

I’m just glad that in our relationship, we are just two adult individuals who are choosing to be together and we are both allowed to do whatever we want and be whomever we want to be at any point in our lives. And no other little human needs to be taken into consideration.

No arguing “on behalf” of the future

This is a big one for me personally. Because during the 4 or so years when we did see children in our future, my brain was constantly scanning for problems.

“This might not be a problem now, but it will be the day we have kids.”

Sound familiar?

My brain did this all the time. Things like my boyfriend’s gaming were huge sources of frustration and concern for me. Not because I had a problem with gaming in and of itself, but because it would be a huge issue the day we had kids. I really doubted that he would share the responsibilities 50/50. And when you’re with someone and at the same time, you’re looking for the “parent of your children” in that person, that puts a special kind of pressure on the relationship.

There were also other areas of our relationship where I kept thinking that it’s not a problem the way it is now, but if we add a kid or two into the mix it’s going to be horrible. Like me choosing to be responsible for the majority of the cleaning. Am I supposed to take care of two kids AND clean the home all the time? Hell no.

Looking back, I can see now that I always viewed the kid(s) in those scenarios as a huge burden and I got no pleasure out of it whatsoever. I just didn’t understand that I had a choice. So I would grump around being annoyed with my boyfriend’s gaming and habits “on behalf” of future me who has to deal with annoying kids all on my own.

Today, I am incredibly grateful that I don’t have to put that kind of pressure on my relationship. I don’t have to judge my partner based on some kind of future family scenario. I don’t have to worry about what it’s going to be like the day we have kids. It’s a huge relief and it eliminated SO many problems (for me) in the relationship.

When it’s over it’s over

This is the main reason I don’t want to get married. Because when it’s over, it’s just over. If we decide to break up, done. No divorce, no signing papers, no kids involved (except our puppy I guess haha).

This might sound like an avoidant behavior and maybe it is. But I just feel so free in my relationship not being “tied together” by children or laws or anything else for that matter. We are simply choosing to be together because we want to. I don’t need or want anything more than that.

In Sweden, there are very few benefits to being married and even fewer when you don’t have children. I understand that in other countries the benefits are worth it, but here… not really. I can’t see any upside whatsoever. Most marriage perks can be achieved through additional paperwork without going through the hassle of getting married.

Coming to the conclusion that we don’t care about marriage was also a huge relief for me. The pressure I was putting on our relationship and on my partner (in my mind) just went away. And not having to plan a wedding and invite people you don’t even like and go through all that crap… ugh, thank goodness for that.

When it comes to marriage, I’m not AS hardcore 100% convinced as I am about not having children. I am quite sure, but if I’m 45 and end up getting married at that point, that’s fine. I don’t really care either way. It’s not as big of a decision as having kids and it can obviously be undone afterward if needed. So if I’m married one day and you’re like “what happened??”, I probably just changed my mind for some reason.

The downsides

So, this blog post was about the differences in our relationship and not only the upsides of choosing to live the way we do haha. Let’s take a look at the downsides (in my opinion) of choosing to be child-free and marriage-free. Bare in mind, some of these are pretty ridiculous. But it’s what my brain can come up with. Which is why I 100% believe I have made the right choice for myself haha.

Downsides of being marriage- and child-free:

  • More legal paperwork (when buying a house, wills, medical stuff etc.)
  • We don’t wear wedding rings (very attractive on both men and women)
  • Don’t get to experience all the attention from baby announcements, birth announcements, engagements, weddings, etc.
  • No wedding gifts 🙁
  • Birth control forever, knowing I have to go through an abortion if I get pregnant by mistake, boyfriend not having a vasectomy (yet), decisions about getting tubes tied
  • We don’t inherit each other by default
  • We don’t have “medical privileges” (decision-making, visitation rights, etc.) by default

Okay, I can’t squeeze out any more downsides than that. And I honestly don’t believe our choices have a negative impact on our relationship as a whole at all. There is nothing in our day-to-day life that is made harder or worse by not having children or not getting married.

At the end of the day, we just need to make the choices we want to make in life. Whether that’s getting married and having kids or not. I believe that we are 100% responsible for our own happiness regardless of what we choose, so no choice or path “guarantees” happiness without effort.

I just wanted to share this post to give you an idea of how my choices to be marriage- and child-free have impacted (and greatly reduced) my grumpiness without that much effort. Not saying you should opt out of having kids and getting married in order to get rid of your grumpiness… just saying that IF that is what you want anyway, it might actually make the grumpiness a little better. 😉

But regardless, I can help you reduce your grumpiness, jealousy, and relationship anxiety whether you’re married, have kids or plan on either in the future. Click the image below to read more about my program and submit your application today.

xo Katrin

Comments +

  1. Alice says:

    Thank you for this post, I found it really interesting 🙂 Just wanted to let you know, I work in healthcare and in Sweden, you actually don’t get any default medical privileges by being married either. If you’re admitted to a hospital, you decide who gets to visit you or who gets information (whether it’s a friend, a partner, a parent or whoever). If you’re ever in a situation where you’re not able to make medical decisions for yourself, decisions are generally made by your medical team, but if we need information from your next of kin to make decisions, we’ll try to get that from anyone close to you (if you’re living with someone, usually that person would be the first one we talk to, unless you’ve specified that you want it to be someone else). It works differently in some countries, but just thought that might be good to know 🙂

    • Katrin Berndt says:

      That is so good to know, thank you!! I have read some Facebook posts over the years where non-married partners were not allowed to visit and certain medical decisions were left to parents who weren’t even involved in the person’s life etc. But perhaps that was a special situation, I don’t know! No I don’t have to worry about that at least. 😅

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