Ask the grumpies: anything you wish you’d done before marriage and/or kids?

yet another pf blog asks:

Is there anything you wish you had done before you were married? How about before you had kids?

#1:  One of us doesn’t have kids so the point is moot over here. (#2, got anything?) What would I have done differently before I got married? I can’t think of anything. Being with my partner has made the rest of my life easier and more fun.

#2:  Hm, I got married young.  I can’t really imagine single life before marriage.  I mean, I did date some losers in college, mainly because I didn’t know how to say no and a small amount because of the novelty of guys thinking I was amazing.  Those are not good reasons, so it was a huge relief in grad school to be able to stick my hand up and point to the ring when loser guys hit on me.  So definitely not dating other guys (or other people, more generally– I used to think I was DH-sexual, but now I’m fairly sure I’m… what was that word I discovered on captain awkward?  I can’t remember but it’s the one where you have to really get invested in a person before you find them physically attractive, so it seems like asexuality, but it really isn’t.  That’s what I am.  Except younger Pierce Brosnan– he’s still hot, but who knows, maybe I just liked Remmington Steele.).  Everything else I can do while married, I think.

Before kids we didn’t have money.  Now we have money.  Perhaps I wish we had money before kids?  Though getting money at the same time as kids was pretty useful and caused our standard of living to go up instead of down, so maybe not that.  Yeah, I got nuthin’.  I’m not big into regret… maybe it’s time spent in LA with the constant message that everything happens for a reason.  Or maybe it’s just the sunk cost moving forward training in economics.  I guess I wish I’d published more!  But I wish I’d published more after kids too… it’s sort of a never-ending thing with an academic career.

Grumpy nation, is there any day seizing you wish you’d done in the past?

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14 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: anything you wish you’d done before marriage and/or kids?”

  1. yetanotherpfblog Says:

    #2: I think the word you’re looking for is demisexual.

  2. First Gen American Says:

    I thought of a few things but then I was like, oh I did that.

    Here’s my list of thing so i knew I wanted to do before kids:

    Live overseas
    Travel overseas
    Backpack around Europe
    Drive across America
    Climb a big mountain
    Get out of student loan debt
    Buy a house
    Find a career path I enjoy. Try lots of different jobs.
    Try lots of new sports (as I never got to do them as a poor kid)

    I didn’t want to resent my kids for preventing me from doing stuff. I make choices now that keeps me from progressing in my career but it also is for me too. Many jobs above me aren’t great from a quality of life standpoint, so kids helped me treat myself better too.

    At some point I’d like to start a business but probably won’t happen til I near retirement financially. I haven done it yet because I m super conservative with money, not because of kids and spouse.

  3. slnoonanj Says:

    Like First Gen, I would have done significantly more travel. But I married at the end of grad school for my husband, and we had our first kid at the end of grad school for me (I started after him), so we didn’t have any money for that before those events. We’ve managed to travel quite a bit with the kids (thank you Fulbright Commission!), so it’s possible.

  4. jjiraffe Says:

    I did a bunch of things before I got married and had kids that were bucket list item-y. I lived in London, traveled a ton, focused on my career, paid off my debt, etc. But the thing I wish I had done was figure out how to deal successfully with anxiety. My anxiety lessened my enjoyment of what I was doing, and I really only figured out recently how to get in under my control.

  5. SP Says:

    Same as #1, marriage has only enhanced my life and I don’t think there is anything I wish I would have done first.

    We’ve done a lot of stuff before kids, but mostly because we didn’t feel ready for kids and so life kept going on and we of course continued to do stuff – travel, buy houses, go on lots of hikes and adventures. We probably wanted to wait for T to finish grad school and have a “real” job. I suppose I wanted to set up our life to be feasible on one income (even though that isn’t the plan) before kids, but that is more because we can do that. If we could’t we’d still try to have kids.

  6. Anu Says:

    I wouldn’t have minded a few more solid travel years. When I was in grad school, I didn’t have a) much money b) much time off that wasn’t spent going home and visiting family in another country c) a green card (which made entering and leaving the country a lot more of a hassle). Now we have all those things but also a kid. But it’s fine, we’re off to Barcelona next week and I’m sure we’ll find ways to travel anyway.

  7. Lisa Says:

    I also got married really young. While there are good arguments against this, it’s worked quite well for us, so I wouldn’t change that. We then waited a long time and did a lot of things before we had kids (grad school, first jobs, first house, some travel, living in several cities across the US).

    The one thing I would change is to have my third child earlier. #1 arrived at a great time, career-wise, and we have a ~2.5 year gap before #2. For a variety of reasons (not physiological), there’s a 6 year gap between #2 and #3. I kind of want one more (especially if it’s a girl, for superficial reasons of family symmetry), but I was 40 when I had #3 and am going on 44 now. I don’t think it would be physically impossible, but it’s risky at this age. And exhausting. So my biggest regret is timing of the kids.

    We’ve been able to do a lot of fun things as a family – we spent 3 weeks in Europe with two kids (7 and 4) and then another month with three (1.5, 7 and 10). Both were delightful (partly because it’s been so long I’ve forgotten the hard parts, which happens with any good trip).

    The one thing I feel I’m missing out on right now is a real sabbatical. I could blame it on the kids and their school, but really, it’s my partner and his job that make this hard. He makes a ton more than I do and somehow doesn’t want to take a year off. Obviously I would not have held up the marriage or kids for that, though. We’ll make it work somehow one day.

  8. undine Says:

    Don’t feel that I’ve missed anything. Backpacking across Europe, etc. was for the rich kids; I always had to work, so it wasn’t in the cards for me anyway. I’ve done more since being married and am generally braver.

  9. CG Says:

    We married young, too (23 and 24), but my husband is the person I most enjoy spending time with and trying new things with, so that hasn’t held me back at all. I wish we had gone to more stuff (concerts, events, etc.) before we had kids. We live in a really interesting town with a ton going on and I don’t think we took advantage of it as much as we could have. But we also had our first kid young (at 27) and then had two more so it’s not as though we had a ton of time. We also lived apart for four years of college before we got married, so if we had been in the same place I bet I wouldn’t feel this way. But that’s how it shook out. I’m planning on doing a ton of interesting things in our fifties when our kids are all in college!

  10. yetanotherpfblog Says:

    Answering my own question from the perspective of a not-yet-married, not-yet-childbearing person.

    Before I have kids, I want to get six-pack abs. Not for any particular reason other than it seems like it’d be an attainable but difficult physical challenge. Also maybe core strength will help with pregnancy? I also want to travel with my fiancé internationally since he’s never really been out of the country before and I figure it’ll probably be harder to do with young kids.

    Not so much a “before I get married” thing, but there’s a lot I wish I had done before I met my fiancé: I wish I had lived abroad or at least tried living in other cities. Our lives are pretty settled now and it’d be hard for us both to find jobs concurrently if we moved elsewhere. I wish I had tried flipping houses or started a business before I had mentally established a family unit to take care of and became more risk averse. I also kind of wish I’d dated more people for less time. I’ve had two long-term relationships, one one-off date, and six weeks of singledom since I was fourteen. I’m happy in my relationship so I don’t really wonder “what if?”, but I think it’d be nice to have silly memories of young dating awkwardness that’ll last me into my dotage. Is that weird? That’s probably weird.

  11. rose Says:

    More what I wish I had known: That I wasn’t ‘disfigured and deformed and stupid’ as my perfect older sister said. That I am smart. Who I am, and that I have value as a person. That I CAN, and life gets better after bad times pass, that bad times do pass.That no one knows the answers and we make our own answers. That I would survive.

  12. Leigh Says:

    I spent much of yesterday contemplating this. I don’t feel like I have regrets of things I wish I did before marriage. I am really glad though that I did:
    * Live completely by myself with no roommates (the main thing I miss sometimes about being single!)
    * Have my financial life together and understand the why’s behind some of my preferences (this helps to stand up for myself when we have different preferences)
    * Solo travel
    * Travel with friends
    * Didn’t marry anyone I dated in high school or college
    * Learn how to say no, this person is a bad fit after 1-2 dates
    * Feel confident in my desire to not have children

  13. chacha1 Says:

    Things I did before marriage include:
    travel to Europe
    make some interesting art
    move across country
    finish graduate school
    finish writing my first novel
    avoid getting pregnant
    avoid marrying any of the basically nice guys I knew before
    avoid marrying the guy I moved across country with who was not nearly as nice as I thought at the start

    Things I’ve done since marriage include:
    avoid getting pregnant and finally jettison my uterus altogether
    travel to Hawaii, Mexico, and Canada, and all over California
    become a championship-level amateur ballroom dancer
    make some interesting art
    write and publish three more novels and eleven novellas
    buy property in the Sierra
    become a gardener

    There are many things I want to do and wish I had done, but I have no regrets.


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