February 2, 2009

Married Without Kids

A few weeks ago a young couple moved into the area and started attending our church. Last night, we had them over for dinner and they mentioned that in the three weeks they'd been to our ward, multiple people had told them, "You definitely need to meet Bart and Janssen. They don't have any kids either." We joked last night with them that, with something like that in common, how could we not be terrific friends?

Fortunately, we turned out to have many more things in common with them than just the no children thing, and it was a lovely evening. I think we'll be good friends.

And yet, it is so funny that to many many of the people we know, our lack of children is our defining characteristic.

When we lived in Utah, all of our friends were childless; it was kind of a shock to move here and be basically the only people without children. We had to adjust our social strategies and it's worked out beautifully.

We call up our friends who have children and invite ourselves over (people laugh when we tell them this, but we're totally serious). They put their kids to bed and we stay up laughing, watching movies, playing games, and generally enjoying it. We babysit for other people's kids on occasion, we go to visit them and their new babies in the hospital, and we go camping. Sometimes we go out to dinner or to a movie. Our friendships are richer and livelier because of our friends' children, not despite them.

Someday we'll have kids too, and I hope that people who don't have kids don't feel like we are too different to be friends or that our kids make it impossible for us to hang out with them.

On the other hand, it was really really nice to be able to have someone come over to our house for a change last night.

24 comments:

  1. We don't have any kids either. I want to invite cool couples who have kids over to our house for dinner, but I don't know how on earth to entertain kids. We don't have any toys at all, so I'm a bit intimidated that the kiddos will get bored or something.

    I never thought of inviting ourselves over...that's a good idea. Maybe we'll invite ourselves over and offer to cook or something...

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  2. We hear ya! Our friends had all just started having babies when we left BYU and here in Harlem most of the women I meet have at least one. It's weird when they want me to come to Playgroup to hang out. I love their kids and it's fun but it's hard sometimes to be in somewhat different stages of life!

    I wish you lived in NY. I think we'd be fantastic friends. :)

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  3. I can't really relate - but I love you and just thought I'd voice that.

    xox

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  4. We used to do quite a few things with couples who were childless. Some of our best friends were never blessed with children. The couples with and without children went to each others houses all the time.

    Now we are empty nesters. We don't even have grandchildren that live close. However, many of our friends still have (rude and obnoxious) teenagers at home and/or have older children back living with them. The problem is that the grandchildren (for the most part) are just dumped on the grandparents and are not disciplined for anything by anyone. This makes inviting these people over difficult and makes going to their houses very stressful.

    Now for the first time we prefer couples without children around.

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  5. We'd kill for some kidless friends. Trying to figure out whose kids are going to sleep in a port a crib at whose house is terrible. Take advantage while it lasts!

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  6. I LOVE friends without kids for the very reasons you mentioned. Especially because we can have them over after our kids are in bed! For how much we like it, you'd think we'd get around to actually doing it more often... I guess we're bad at planning. (How have we only had you guys over once?!?!? Huh.)

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  7. Until we got married, I never thought about this, but it seems to be something everyone in our ward knows about. There are the childblessed and the childless.

    We are childless, but actually prefer the company of childblessed. Why? Because we don't feel the need to hang out every night past 10pm anymore. In fact, doing something with other people more than once a month is almost more than we can handle (I attribute this to my husband being out of town Monday-Thursday most weeks, so I like to have him to myself on the weekends).

    There is a couple in our ward that was SOOO excited to have us move in because we don't have any kids an d they are always like "We stay up until like 1 am even on weeknights." The problem is they are talking to the wrong couple. You see, we feel happy when we are in bed by 10 every single night, weekend or not. Last night I went to bed at 7:30, it was awesome.

    So I guess the reason I am writing this is to say, don't choose your friends based on their kids. Choose them based on who they are.

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  8. Good post! "The couple without kids" seemed to be one of our defining characteristics for awhile, too. When we lived in Houston, I honestly felt like we were the only ones around that didn't have kids, but I think it goes back to what previous posters have said about where you're at in life. What we've found throughout our marriage is that our closest friends tend to be those people that we would have been drawn to in the first place, regardless of if they/we have children or not.

    I always think that is the beauty of hanging out with people who have common interests (i.e., books, anyone?!), and then like you say, the children enhance the relationship rather than dictating it.

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  9. We waited like 3-4 years before having kids. I think it's the smart thing to do. We're so not Utarded.

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  10. Oh, how we have been there. 6 years we were there, in fact. Relate, relate, relate.

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  11. A wonderful post. We love having friends over and do it as often as we can. Once the kids are down for the night, we can play games and eat for hours! Wish you could join us. (But you'd have to come over here . . . )

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  12. What I most dislike is the assumption that because we are married and childless that we haven't been married very long. No need to mention "leaving the newlywed phase" to us.

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  13. Amen. We didn't have kids for the first four and 1/2 years of marriage and we enjoyed spending time with our friends with kids or without- we make it work. I feel lucky now that we have a baby our friends still want to hang out with us- and we make an effort to find a sitter and do childless nights as well as nights with the kiddo in tow- thank you to my wonderful friends who love me with or without children. And children should not be your defining charateristic- they enrich lives sure, but it shouldn't be hang out with so and so- they don't have kids either- people did it to us all the time- luckily it usually worked out:) Keep being awesome and inviting yourself over!

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  14. We used to be the ones married without kids, but then we and all of our friends started to have kids. You and Bart can invite yourselves over here to play games and hang out anytime!

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  15. We filled the "no kids" role for a long time, and there was another couple in our ward that also had no kids so we were like a gang. We thought we were the cool people because we were childless (not really, we just joked about it a lot). Then both us wives got pregnant and we were too scared to tell each other because we didn't want to break the news that we wouldn't be child-free together anymore. We just about died when we had the, "I'm-pregnant-me-too" conversation. What a relief!

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  16. We are in the same boat as you (for now) and we also invite ourselves over to our friends-with-children's house. Sometimes I say, "I was hoping you wanted to bake a cake and invite us over for games later." And sometimes we bring the cake. Either way, I haven't found that not having kids has kept us from becoming fast friends with several couples that do have kids. In fact, our best friends in the ward all have kids and we seem to fit right in with them.

    We also get a lot of the "you must be young and very recently married" stuff because Sungti is still in school and we don't have children, but I take that as a compliment that we still look and act like young and fun people.

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  17. Seriously, we love that you will come over and it is so so so very sad that you are moving. I am glad you got along well with Allison and James, of course we are one of the people that told them they had to meet you! Mostly because we like you and also because maybe it would be nice for you guys to go out and do something really adventurous with people who don't have to be home by 9PM : )

    Speaking of...invite yourself over already. Sheesh. Going stir crazy over here ; )

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  18. Before we had kids and our friends were having kids it was like they had to "hang out" with people who "had" kids. Lame! I think it is fine if someone has kids and someone else doesn't...Good for you for "inviting" yourself over and hanging out! We should have done that back in the day...

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  19. And being single, you're married friends sometimes try and set you up (and not necessarily in terms of dating) with their other single friends, because of course, since I'm single and he/she is single, of course we'll be friends.

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  20. Great post. I agree with all your points. Being childless as well, we adore our friends with kids and friends with kids too. :) In fact it is the "golden rule" by one family that we always hold their baby twin girls at church. It is wonderful because we get to enjoy their sweet babies and they get to enjoy their other children during church.

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  21. We are a permanently childless couple with no plans to have children in the future. It worked for a long time, my friends in Florida were childless as well. Moving to Indiana, my friends here seem focused on having children. We still hang out though watching movies and playing games. When I return to visit in Florida, those friends now have kids as well. We are viewed as strange for not wanting kids. I view it as I get to be the fun "auntie".

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  22. I've been married with kids for a long time now, but I still haven't forgotten how annoying it was to be asked all the time "when are you going to have a baby?" GAH! That drove me nuts. Every time I called in sick to work, someone would think I had morning sickness. People I only sorta-knew at church would ask me if I was still taking the pill. SERIOUSLY? None of your business! Anyway, i love that you're so laid back about it. Have/not have on the kids thing shouldn't define your friendships!

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  23. Ya know, I've always been secretly glad to have a child among "single" couples (yes, we frequently slip and call no-baby couples "single") because our place becomes the default hang-out. Muahahaha! Love your blog, Janssen. I'm a frequent reader, though an infrequent commenter.

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  24. I like the idea of being married a few years before having kids - I don't think I'll be able to do that, because of my faulty uterus and ticking clock, but there is always Grandma's house!

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