Indian society will never be happy with a woman’s choices in life. Whether she chooses to marry, have a career, be a housewife, divorcee, single parent, have one child, have more than two children, people are constantly judging her. Starting from parents, in-laws, relatives, friends to even neighbours, everybody wants to have a say in the way she lives her life.
Couples in our society are influenced so much by their extended families that every small or big decision they make is, at times, under the pressure to keep everyone’s happiness above their own.
But a few millennial power couples today are standing up for themselves. For it is their life alone and certain decisions will only be theirs to make. Having kids is one of them. Yes, procreation is one of the main purposes of marriage. But times have changed and so has the outlook of the younger generation towards marriage and relationships. For couples, marriage is now beyond an excuse to procreate and have a family. It is about relationships, sharing life with a loved one, but not at the cost of sacrificing one’s career or killing dreams and ambitions for the purpose of settling down.
No, they have it very sorted. There is no denying that having a child is a responsibility and a big one but couples today do not want it in exchange for their career, health, or relationship. And I think that is not selfish. Putting yourself first is not selfish. Knowing what you want from life and your relationship is a clarity very few people have in life. We spoke to a few couples to know what made them make this choice.
Terese & Aditya, Bangalore
Terese, 36 years old, is originally from Kanyakumari and raised in Chennai. She works as a creative lead/senior graphic designer at a design studio in Bangalore. Her husband Aditya, age 34, is originally from Kerala and working as a Senior Consultant at a US-based consulting firm.
They have been married for 5 years and decided mutually to not have children. Terese is a very career-oriented woman. For her, a child is a responsibility and she doesn’t believe in getting a nanny for help, etc.
“We prefer the space we share and are big on traveling frequently”, says Terese. “The expense for bringing up a child is also a major factor. The growing population in the country doesn’t seem to help the case as well”.
Convincing the family was not easy though they respect their decision. When it came to their relatives and friends reacting to this, “To be honest no one can really have a say in someone else’s choices”, says Terese. “We just lay down the pros against the cons. Some of them seem to disagree/argue but I feel a lot of that comes from demons they are battling personally.”
“Having a baby is a major decision since it alters your life forever. I would say just go with what makes you happy and comfortable. It is your life after all and only you get to live it with the consequences of your decisions.”
Terese and Aditya are however open-minded about their decision. They may even adopt a child if they feel like it in the future.
Preethika & Narayanan, Chennai
Preethika and Narayanan have been together for 12 years and married for seven. “He is an entrepreneur while I handle Sales for a media company”, says Preethika. Though both come from a traditional background, Narayanan had a stricter upbringing whereas Preethika was given a free hand at everything while growing up.
Her free-spirited happy-go-lucky wanderlust nature cannot handle the lifelong commitment of bringing up a child. She believes life is a constant learning experience.
“I don’t think I have had enough time for myself to learn, experience, and truly do what I want with my life”, feels Preethika. “Life is a never-ending experience and you are learning something or the other constantly. I don’t want anything to stop me from doing what I want to do. Also as a working professional, I don’t want to take a break because of my ‘ticking biological clock’. I will take a break when I want to.”
Narayanan however, does want a child but he totally respects his wife’s decision because it is her body so the choice should be hers.
“Whatever said and done, the contribution from a women’s side is any day much more than what men contribute. And that doesn’t work for me. I don’t mean that men don’t or have never taken care of. But we can’t deny that the women’s role seems more physically draining and is more of a full-time job. As a person, I am not ready for that nor do I want to be.”
They did have a hard time convincing their family but knowing Preethika’s rebellious nature and counter-arguments, they have come to terms with her viewpoint. Though her decision has been debated by friends and family they also agree that in today’s world, things are not as simple and easy as it used to be.
“Given the present sad state of the affairs and with all the hatred, negativity, diseases, environmental issues, etc that are present, I don’t feel like bringing a child in a world like this”.
Sakina & Vishnu, USA
Software engineers by profession and hailing from Chennai, Sakina is a Muslim and Vishnu is a Hindu. “We have been married for 11 years now. He is 40, I am 39”, says Sakina.
After trying for 5 years for a baby, they gave up on conception. “The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me or him, but they loaded me with so many pills which affected my health eventually. I started bloating and had unwanted facial hair growth. I hated the stress that I was going through and decided to stop taking medicines since the doctors couldn’t find the reason why I wouldn’t get pregnant.”
Vishnu definitely did not want a baby at the cost of Sakina’s health and well being. Their family was not exactly thrilled by them giving up on their medical efforts but they also respect their decision.
“Be very clear about your priorities and don’t make a choice for the sake of family or society”, says Sakina to other couples. “We just tell people that not having kids is our personal choice and leave it there for we don’t owe anyone an explanation or reasons.”
People blindly follow a pattern of life, a pattern, taught to us by our forefathers that we should complete the circle of life by reproduction. Many believe having a family is the way of living a perfect life, a formula to apply as and when you hit a particular age.
“The idea to live for someone else’s ideology is a farce”, adds Preethika. “I guess the decision should solely be the woman’s more than anyone else because she is the one to go through pregnancy, breastfeeding, and is the primary caregiver in the upbringing of the child. One life and I think it needs to be lived for oneself and not to be sacrificed for needs and wants of others or society.”