Committed and making deliberate choices

By Victoria Fryer 

If there’s one thing that perhaps childfree people feel most acutely, it’s that life is a series of deliberate choices. Nothing has to happen just because the status quo says it should. We don’t have to fall in line with a life of meeting societal expectations.

A few years ago, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage—the follow-up to the famed Eat Pray Love, which I didn’t read. In Eat Pray Love, she accounts her experiences in coming to terms with her divorce. In Committed, she details what it was like to choose to marry again. She also talks about her choice to not have children.

In this way, I found the book interesting. I find that I can always relate to hearing people talk about their deliberate choices related to being a couple or having children.

Part of the deliberate choice of marriage is coming to the realization that the kind of love that lasts feels a lot different to the kind of love we experience, say, with our first love (not to say that first loves can’t turn into lasting bonds).

Of this, Gilbert writes, “Real, sane, mature love—the kind that pays the mortgage year after year and picks up the kids after school—is not based on infatuation but on affection and respect.”

And I think this can be really hard to accept for people who crave excitement and change. Sometimes I think I have some of those tendencies, and I have to remind myself that having a stable foundation is the most important thing for my life—and for my physical and mental health.

Accepting that stable foundation is perhaps even more important to the childfree or childless couple. Without the constant change and “excitement” of having children (and disregarding other copious amounts of drama many of us have in our families or among our close circles of friends), in the end, it comes down to having each other.

Gilbert writes, “There is no choice more intensely personal, after all, than whom you choose to marry; that choice tells us, to a large extent, who you are.”

As the discussion of marriage often leads into a discussion of children, Gilbert also writes about her decision not to have children—and speculating that, perhaps, women choosing not to have children is an evolutionary adaptation.

“Maybe it’s not only legitimate for certain women to never reproduce, it’s necessary. It’s as though, as a species, we need an abundance of responsible, compassionate, childless women to support the wider community in various ways,” Gilbert writes.

While I don’t know about the “necessary” part, remaining childfree certainly gives us an opportunity to “support the wider community” in different kinds of ways—and that’s a deliberate choice that I’m happy to make.

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

Childless and happy

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