I got my first pregnancy talk from the dental hygienist after being in my current relationship for all of two months. When I moved in with my partner over the summer, my mother talked about how I’ll soon be ready to settle down and start a family. Upon my return from a couple’s vacation, my friend asked me if my partner had proposed. When visiting family over a weekend, my partner’s mother and my aunt each asked me, “So, are you two going to get married?”
Have I mentioned that I’m not pregnant? That my partner is not keen on kids and that I myself have never decided one way or the other? Like you, dear reader, I am in college, trying to find out what to do with the rest of my life. We have enough on our shoulders with school, bills, social life and world domination without having others add to the pressure by telling us that marriage and kids are what we need right now.
Dates are nerve-wracking enough without people putting pressure on your age, your womb and their values. Someone always seems to be asking, “So, meet anyone special?”, “You know, back in my day …”, “So when are you guys going to settle down and start a family?” There’s a clash of values between the generations, beliefs between religions, politician versus politician, hygienist against patient-who-can’t-speak-through-dental-equipment. Everyone thinks they know best about how you should be living your life.
When it comes to moving in together, for instance, everyone has an opinion. Some think marriage should follow immediately. Others constantly ask, “What if you break up?” For those who choose to move in together, there is so much more to it. It takes time to really get to know someone past the surface that everyone else sees. Rather than getting married while still discovering things they didn’t know about their partner, people these days are more and more often taking the time to get to know each other intimately by living together.
There’s also getting to spend more time together, rather than taking up extra time to travel between places. Money can also be a driving factor. By living with a partner, people can cut their living expenses in half. And at the end of the day, sometimes you just want to curl up with a loved one and have someone around to chase away the nightmares.
Moreover, each relationship is unique, because each individual is unique. Those putting pressure on the relationship have no idea what you and your partner are going through. They will have a different take on the relationship than you will. They are not experiencing your relationship in the same way you are. And what happens between a couple stays within that couple unless they decide to share, so whoever is outside the relationship doesn’t know all the factors going into your decision making.
Additionally, plans change and values change. Upon realizing that I would not, in fact, graduate after just four years of college, that I would need extra time to complete my classes, I only panicked for a moment before realizing that I would be fine. Knowing that I had more time made me feel less stressed, made me happier. I also thought more and more about making a career for myself, and maybe not having kids immediately, if at all.
My partner and I have all the time in our lives to get married; we have over a decade before kids become a yes or no question. When the time comes, it will be made between us, and no one else.