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Women Are Getting Incredibly Honest About Why They've Chosen To Wait To Get Married Or Have Kids, And It's Sparking An Important Conversation

"I want to be happy in my own right before I share my life with another person."

The tradition of getting married and/or starting a family at a "young" age is, for the most part, outdated. While nothing is wrong at all with wanting to become a spouse or parent early in life (or at all), more and more millennials seem to be going a different route.

A married couple's hands touching

So I asked the BuzzFeed Community for some of the reasons why they chose to do just this — and I honestly felt a wave of emotions reading over the responses, which ranged by quite a bit. Here is what some of them had to say.

1. "For me, it’s not so much that I decided to wait on marriage and kids — as it was that I decided to prioritize developing a career that would fulfill me and be a base on which I could build my life. I chose to go to law school and dedicated myself to my studies. If a serious relationship had developed during that time, I would have been OK with it, but I didn’t actively seek it out, and it didn’t end up happening. Now, I’m in my late 20s and have a career that I love. While I’m not in a relationship, I’ve reached a point where I’m financially secure and have a great work-life balance that allows me to pursue hobbies and spend time with family and friends. I’d still like to find someone to spend my life with and dream of having kids one day. But I’m happy that I focused on myself in my 20s because I know more about who I am and what I want from life."

—Julie, 28

2. "I wanted to be financially sound, own my home, and have an established career. I wanted to be sure I was secure enough that none of these would be too significantly impacted by having a baby. This meant I didn’t have my son until I was 37, although this was about five years later than planned — and we had some problems. On the contrary, I actually wouldn’t have waited so long if I’d known the difficulties we’d face."

Women outside of a house for sale

3. "I can't speak for anyone else but I delayed getting married and having a child until well into my 30s because that's the age I was when I could afford to have a baby. My mother was married, owned a house, and had children almost 15 years earlier than I did because she could."

noimpillagingeverybody

4. "I worked so hard on my career in my 20s, with the idea to settle down and have children in my early 30s. My husband and I married when I was in my late 20s, and we eloped to avoid a big wedding. Now that I’m at a peak in my career, I couldn’t think of anything worse than having children to look after as well. I make a lot of money, and my husband and I want to travel the world and spend our money on ourselves. I do have moments when I feel really selfish, but then I just take a nap (because I can!)."

—Vicky, 30, UK

5. "I didn't even consider having a child until age 33, and even that felt rushed. I stopped birth control, and boom, I was pregnant in two weeks. A year later, the pandemic happened. I don't regret it, but it was a HUGE shift while I was still actively trying to build my career. Trying to secure a promotion while you have a toddler during a pandemic? I don't recommend it if you value your mental health. But I'm finally happy with where I am now, a year later. I can finally afford daycare (which costs more per month than our mortgage). My husband and I got married when we were 28 and 29, respectively. We both had decent full-time jobs by then, so we spent a solid three years traveling as much as we could. Yeah, we racked up debt, but it was worth it."

Kids at a daycare center

6. "I'm 29, and I've decided not to focus on marriage and kids in my 20s, and probably for my early 30s as well. One reason is I spent most of my youth not thinking marriage and love would be a possibility for me. I’m a lesbian, and marriage equality didn’t become a reality in the US until a year after I graduated college. I also wanted to follow my passion, even if it’s not particularly lucrative, without having to worry about providing for a partner and kids. I want to be happy in my own right before I share my life with another person, or give a lot of myself and time to potential kids. I want the freedom to go to the jobs and schools that are best for me without worrying about someone else. Self-actualization is so important for healthy relationships."

"I don’t want to spend my life regretting that I didn’t follow my dreams, being sad that I never got to answer the questions I have about the world, wondering what I could have contributed to my field, wondering how I could have grown and what I would have learned. I worry that having those regrets will lead to unhealthy relationships with my partner or kids. I want my potential future kids to see me following my dreams and know that they can do the same. I want them to have stability: emotionally and financially. Finally, I grew up as the 'good kid' with lots of expectations from other people that I had to fulfill. I’ve craved the freedom to make mistakes and run my own life since I was a kid — constraining my life for a partner or kids is not something I want to do right now."

—Anonymous

7. "There’s no way we could’ve afforded [having a baby] when we got married. We also lived in my mom’s dining room on a sofa bed! When my husband finally got a job and we found a one-bed flat, I was offered a promotion at work that involved a four-year degree. It was the final year the degree was being run in that format, so there was no option to defer. It was pretty much decided for me. By the time I got pregnant almost six years after we got married, I was fully qualified, earning twice as much as when we got married, and could afford to save enough to be on maternity leave. And I was able to have a decent amount of money left at the end of the day after paying nursery fees."

klmy

8. "We couldn’t afford to think about having a baby until we had significant career advancement. Early career jobs barely pay enough to support yourself, much less have a baby. My entry-level, just-out-of-college job paid nowhere near enough to support a child and didn’t offer health insurance. And my then-boyfriend, now-husband was piecing together freelance work to pay the bills, and also didn’t have health insurance. The medical bills alone would have broken us — not even including the cost of food, diapers, clothes, daycare, crib, and car seat."

A woman sitting at a desk typing on her laptop

9. "Pretty much as soon as you decide to pursue a doctorate, particularly in the medical field, this is a decision you have to make. Can you have a kid in medical school? Technically, yes. Will it make your life even more of a stressful hellscape? Yes. It doesn't matter how much you would love a kid; you don't want to compound the stress of med school. And med school plus residency is seven years, minimum. Not even accounting for the mountain of debt you accrue in the US! Depending on what specialty and residency I go for, I won't even consider kids until I'm at least 30, but it probably won't happen until much later than that."

A group of medical school students looking at a laptop together

10. "I had been searching for a new job for the last couple of years because I knew that if I had children where I was, I would have been stuck in that job — needing to go back to work after maternity leave in order to afford childcare. (We were far away from family support.) My industry is very small, and you are essentially waiting for restructures or retirements. After two years of sporadic interviews with no success in finding either a better job or a job closer to family, we decided to start trying [to have a baby] to avoid putting it off for something that might never work out."

"We tried for seven months and nothing was happening, but I then found and was successful in getting the job I have now. We had to stop trying as I don't have full maternity benefits yet (and are in the process of relocating closer to my family). We'll be starting again after I've been here a year, which will be in October, but the downside is that after years of really not enjoying my job, I now find it really exciting, and they have made it clear that they will support me to develop. I want children now, and I'm reluctant to wait longer than the end of this year to try again, but I'm scared of setting my career progression back and not being able to recover."

—Anonymous, 31

Closeup of a group of business people having a meeting in a conference room

11. "I waited because two careers [or a double income] is necessary for homeownership and children — unless you are very lucky or inherit a large amount of generational wealth. Sometimes husbands pass away or are injured and are unable to work. It is very hard to live off disability, and kids make it harder. I wanted my children to come into the world with a leg up on being financially solvent and stack the odds in their favor for success. Money doesn't buy happiness, but somehow it's more comfortable crying in a Mercedes Benz than on your bicycle."

—Anonymous

12. "I chose to focus on my career because I knew I didn’t want to be in a long-term relationship or get married — and I do not want any kids whatsoever. I love my life too much and am way too selfish. I don’t like taking care of people, and I love my me-time. I do get a lot of it because I’m not in a relationship and I don’t (and won’t) ever have to worry about trying to find a babysitter for a weekend. I can just get up and go as I please and do the things that bring me joy in my life. They are simple things, yet that’s just who I am. People say that I’m married to the work that I do, and I really don’t care what they say, because they're not living my life for me."

A woman's hands typing on a laptop

13. "I was seeing someone in my early 20s, and we were set on getting married when I received an opportunity to study abroad. I had waited for him for two years prior while he was studying abroad; hence I thought we could wait a couple more years. He broke things off with me four months after I left and got married within the month after the breakup. It messed me up for years thinking I was not worth waiting for when I had waited and been loyal to him while he was away. In the meantime, I went on to earn a master's and PhD, and now at 40, I'm engaged to the love of my life. It was a long road, but I have no regrets. Had I decided to marry him and not pursue my dreams, I would not be where I am today and will always know that I compromised what I could have achieved for a man not willing to give me the time and support in return."

A person in their cap and gown at a graduation

14. "I got married after six years of dating, and we are now having a baby after three years of marriage. I wanted to wait because I was more secure in my relationship, so we could just be a couple — and do "couple"-type things. I also waited so we could reach more financial stability before bringing another life into the world. Parenting is hard enough today, let alone trying to make ends meet at the same time."

—Kristen, 32

Side view closeup of pregnant woman touching her belly

15. "I decided to put my career first because making sure that I can take care of myself in a future of unknowns is important to me. I never really dated in high school or university, and the few experiences I had with romance were underwhelming. I didn't want to become some man's live-in housekeeper, chef, and baby mama. I have nothing against women who do want that, but I don't want kids, and I don't want to take care of an overgrown child. The women I've looked up to in life all seemed to fall short of their potential because they had to take care of their children and husbands. I don't want my dreams to come second to a partner's. I want to fulfill my dreams for myself."

—Heather, 23

16. "I don't want to ever get married because I don't see the point of a piece of paper. My partner and I have each other named in our wills and so on, so we're sorted. But I always knew I didn't want to settle down and have kids young. I always wanted to go to university and wanted to have my own identity as an adult before having children, as well as being able to afford fun things like holidays and days out without the expense of children. I had an abortion a couple of years ago, and while I technically could have afforded a child at the time, we were stuck in a one-bedroom apartment, and I knew starting a family wouldn't have worked. I wouldn't have been able to do the things I have with my career if I had a child. If I do have children, I want to be more financially secure."

—Anonymous, 30

17. "I am married, but my husband and I aren’t emotionally or financially ready for children, thanks to the pandemic. Instead, I have gone back to university to study nursing. I already have a degree in a different subject, so it’s only since nurse training was made available as an apprenticeship that it became a practical option for me to pursue. I’ll be 35 when I qualify and intend to work for at least a year (probably more) before reconsidering having a family. I did not anticipate being childfree in my late 30s, but here we are, and now I’m not sure children are in my future at all."

A woman looking over her homework assignment

18. "I spent my 20s working full time — but I was so broke I had no social life, no heating and hot water at times, and didn't always eat. I was a graduate, and I lost a decade of my life to poverty. By the time my 20s came to an end, I was still single as I had not been able to afford to date, and I'd developed fertility issues. With the state of the world as it is, and with no network of family to help support my child in the future, my forced decision to delay starting a family has now regrettably turned into a decision not to have one at all."

—Anonymous, 34

19. "My career got off track due to making the decision to live closer to my now-husband, and to move to support his career. He makes a lot of money at a very demanding job. I don't regret that decision, but I told myself I was never going to sacrifice my career again. I didn't complete three degrees to not have the career I want. But I know in my bones that if we have children, I will get stuck being the primary caregiver. That is exactly what happened when we got a dog. I love our dog, but I don't love always being the one who has to run home immediately every day to let him out, or take time off work when he needs to go to the vet. I have missed out on some important things at work because I am basically a single dog parent. Costs associated with doggy daycare and dog walkers are laughable."

A woman sitting at a desk working on her laptop at home

20. "I decided I wanted a PhD in biomedical science, and it is just about impossible to do that and be a parent at the same time. You are paid below minimum wage, expected to work 40-plus hours a week, and required to travel for conferences and training. On top of that, my large university did not provide health insurance for family members. It would not have been practical or fair to dump a child in the middle of that. I got an IUD and never looked back, but I acknowledge that it was a tradeoff — and I am rapidly running out of time if I want multiple children."

—Allyson, 34

21. "My mother didn’t have a ‘career’ until I was 15. And I when I was 18, I decided that I did not want to put my career on hold to raise a family. So at 18, I told myself that children would not be a part of my life until I hit my 30s. When I joined the workforce, I was with girls a few years older than me (not even 20) who were pregnant. As I approached 20 and began studying, I wanted to put my studies, my job, and myself first. I realized that it’s always the mother who has to put her life on hold for the children regardless of how much input the father has. The mother has to put her life on hold for basically a year, not to mention the sacrifices both parents must make over the next 18 years. Call me selfish, but I like doing whatever I want whenever I want. I am now 23 and have a career that could last me a lifetime. I think that kids would mess that up."

Three female friends laughing together

22. "I decided to wait to have kids when I became the primary breadwinner for myself and my husband. He's a contract employee without job security. I can't rationalize going down to part time when I'm what's keeping us afloat."

—Anonynous

23. "I put off having kids because I don't make enough money. I've always wanted to be the mom I never got due to neglect and emotional abuse that I'm only now getting through in therapy. That being said, I also knew that growing up so poor sucked. I told myself I wouldn't have kids before $60K —which is a decent salary where I live — but with the recent inflation issues, it's becoming difficult to even imagine it. I also have a ticking clock, as my gyno told me I shouldn't have kids after 30 due to hormonal migraines, which drastically increase my stroke risk."

—Bee, 25

24. "I went to a small Christian university. My boyfriend and I were hassled so much about when we were going to get married and why we weren't engaged by the end of our senior year. Neither of us felt the need to rush into marriage. Instead, we graduated, got jobs, and began to figure out post-undergraduate life without having to also navigate being newlyweds. Now we are engaged and planning our wedding, and it is far less stressful because we are already established in our adult lives. My fiancé is now in grad school, and we plan on waiting to have kids until he is finished with school because we want to give both school and our family the necessary amount of focus without having to struggle to do both."

—Anonymous

A woman in the kitchen with a man looking at bills

25. "I’m already a mother of one and a licensed therapist. I had been telling my boyfriend I was ready to get married and have another child; we tried once and it didn’t happen, but I was very depressed this past winter. Because of this, my boyfriend told me it was OK to hold off on everything and focus on myself. So we stopped trying. I don't feel like getting married, and now I'm focusing on my health — I have chronic health issues — and my job so we can bring in more money."

—Anonymous

26. "A really bad breakup led to my delay. I was with my ex from the age of 18 to 31. My ex kept promising a life together, but I found out he cheated multiple times, and I suffered a miscarriage while with him. Even though I've started to date again and am on this wonderful journey of self-love in my 30s — I'm currently 34 — I'm lucky that I didn't have children with my ex. I am more emotionally intelligent and aware of how I want to be loved than before. I want to be a healthy mom both mentally and physically for my child. I've actually started the process of freezing my eggs and plan to start having children around 38–40. I'm a supervisor at my job and have only three loans left to pay and a mortgage."

"Being financially safe and smart is important as well. My parents struggled when I was a kid, and my mother grew resentful of us. I want to be prepared as much as I can, and I'm thankful that I can be. Nothing wrong with waiting. There's nothing wrong with being a single mom. And nothing wrong with searching for a partner who shares the same goals and morals as I do — we all deserve that. Good luck to every woman on her journey and every family as well. ❤️"

—Anonymous

What are your thoughts on marriage and/or starting a family? Share in the comments below.