Do I want to be in a relationship? Do I want to get married? Do I want to have kids?
I thought these would be easy questions to answer, but the more I think about them, the more complicated the answers get. It’s hard to separate what I was raised to think is important and what a lot of society is telling me will make me happy from what my real desires are. It’s always been what I imagined my future to be, both in the Unification Church (UC) and afterward, but maybe I’ve been suffering from a lack of imagination.
In the UC, getting married and having kids is literally your purpose in life. Single first-generation church members are almost non-existent and childless couples are pitied. It’s even believed that Jesus and Mother Theresa didn’t achieve their full potential because they neither of them married. I know it would be a major disappointment to my parents if I never get married or have kids, possibly even harder on them than me leaving the church. What if my main motivation for dating is that I’m afraid people will judge me for being single and childless, rather than because it’s something that is actually important to me?
To add to the confusion, part of me wants to prove to my parents that it’s possible to lead a happy, fulfilling life without ever getting married or having children. I want them to see that just because someone isn’t married or isn’t a parent doesn’t necessarily mean there is a gaping emptiness in their life or that they’re secretly longing for the relationship they never had or for the children they never had. But if I’m living in a way to prove something to my parents, it would still mean I’m not in control of my own life. I’d be doing these things solely to spite my parents and not making choices that are important to me.
I’m lucky I have the chance to think about these questions. If things had gone just slightly differently in my life, I might have gotten married in the Unification Church and would be trying to force a relationship to work, even though part of me knew it wasn’t right from the beginning. Maybe I’d have kids already, hoping they’d improve an unhappy marriage, but instead I’d end up feeling increasingly trapped.
I wonder if I’m overthinking all of this. It’s not as if the first relationship I get into has to be permanent. I can date for a while, and if I find it’s not for me, I can take a break, or stop altogether. I just want to be sure that I’m making my own choices for my future, not because I’m afraid of disappointing my parents or afraid of being a spinster. I want it to be my decision to make, for better or for worse.
4 thoughts on “What do I really want?”
Unfortunately the following cliche comes to mind: you will know what you want when you find it. And unfortunately it is true, frustrating, but true. I too have a parent who is convinced that I will have a fullfileld life when I marry and that the reason for living is to have a family. Like you, I am trying to prove to my mom that being single is not that bad. I remember thnking along the sme lines that you do, I honestly considered once to get back with an ex just so that my parents will be happy. Thank goodness I didnt!
I whole heartedly believe that when you (and me for that matter) find the right guy, we will know the answers to your questions. I’ll leave you with a saying that my friend always says “if you have to ask, the answer is no”.
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It can be so frustrating when our parents’ expectations of us don’t line up with what we want for ourselves. I have to remind myself that my parents really do love me and want to see me happy. Parenting is hard and they’re trying their best to do it well, but they’re human too.
Great blog you have here! I stumbled upon this entry when scrolling through, and I can tell you that those parental expectations – explicit or implicit – don’t stop at any stage. Almost a year before my fiance and I got engaged, my mom was already making mention of “if you two have kids.” Now there’s a subtle “when” replacing the “if” when she refers to kids. I’m sure we all know that our parents mean well and truly want the best for us, and because they believe the best is to marry and have kids, they want us to experience that. But I can relate to the frustration of not wanting to disappoint your parents while simultaneously not being sure if what they or society thinks you should want is what you want.
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Thanks, I’m enjoying your blog too! I know I’m not the only one whose parents subtly (and not so subtly) put pressure on them, but it’s still nice to be reminded that it’s not only me!
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