Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Can a marriage with no kid(s) survive?

In the past 3 weeks, I had this discussion separately with 3 groups of folks - my mum, my fellow Las Vegas travellers, and a peer from grad school.

The grad school friend: "You should be wary if she doesn't want kids. She might just walk out on you, demand half of your assets and scoot off with another guy with your money." (With reference to the 'hordes' of mail-order brides in China/Vietnam.)

Unanimously, they all said no. In the Sg blogosphere, I already know of two prominent married but childless couples dissolving their unions. Of course, having children (a painful process for the womenfolk) does not guarantee a marriage will survive. Then yesterday I came across this post, which mirrors the arguments put forth to me earlier.

I hope to be able to find a life companion, but I am not sure if I want to be a parent. "Then why marry?", asked my mum.

What do you think?


On a sidenote, my professors broadly fall into two groups:

The first is so totally devoted to his/her research that they remain childless. Usually their spouses are as equally career minded; if they aren't they are divorced.

It is typical for them to chide their grad students if they get married/have kids during grad school, as has happened to a friend. Everyone else sent him congratulations, but his advisor emailed him - "I hope you don't slack off else you won't get your PhD from me."

They drive their students hard, and will be in the lab with them on weekends/public holidays. If you want to make it big in academia, these are the professors to work for. Just don't expect to get hitched while being a lab rat.

The second will settle down and start their families upon getting tenure. They are unlikely to be promoted to the Full professor rank, and most will retire as Associate professors. Their students generally will have an easier time compared to the first group.

My present company ain't much better; the divorce rate is higher than the (US) national average given the constant tight deadlines most groups have to meet every quarter.(Read: Overtime)


sunny flowery said...

Aiyah few capable and financially independent girls will marry because of the possibility of scooting off with half the man's assets. And mail order brides might walk out even if they have kids, you know.

I guess your mum said what most women would have realised sooner or later - why marry if a couple doesn't want kids - or HDB (hah!)?

Sans kids, dating is way more fun than marriage because you work harder at keeping the relationship interesting. If one or the other wants out because you aren't growing together anymore, or because there's someone else, breaking up is less tramautising than divorce.

I suspect the marriage institution used to protect and provide for the woman because she wasn't independent. But now, it's the man who need marriage so that there's someone to provide him comfort.

Right. I'm going to get flamed. Haha

HRH Eileen the Idle of London by the Bow said...

Noticed the same of career driven folks in the business sector.

imp said...

i'm of the view: don't marry if i don't want kids. i rather live together in our jointly own apartment.

beyond the tenets of religion and social norms, there is nothing that the institution of marriage offers that living together or owning a property together can't.

when it comes down to it, love, commitment and partnership is beyond the marriage contract. i have no illusions about wearing a wedding gown.

Major said...

Firstly, of course the answer is yes. If the purpose of having kids was to "survive" a marriage, then there clearly are bigger issues to resolve within the marriage.

Secondly, if having kids was the only reason for marriage, then why get married at all? You can have lots of kids without having to be married.

I disagree with the point about scientists doing well only if they neglect their family resulting in breakups, primarily because my lab is filled with role models who disprove your claims. Success in science is not just about spending zillions of hours in the lab. And spending those hours doesn't buy you success either. It's about asking the right questions. So I don't see how this would not leave you with time to actually take breaks and enjoy some family time. Yes, you can't spend every waking moment with your family, but I doubt this would be any less than the time most other working professionals can afford. Fragmented families and broken marriages, if attributed to time spent in the lab, is what I consider to be a farce and a mere excuse for deeper problems buried within.

testtube said...

I haven't observed the two broad groups of professors at my university (which is a "top ten" in my field). The vast majority of them are married with children. Even the workaholics who stay in on weekends. There seems to be no correlation between seniority and having children.

takchek said...

Funny, but in my original post, I never mention that my university's professors are typical of all professors.

Read the first sentence after the asterisks break.

Of course, short of doing some kind of national/international statistical survey on professors with/out kids and/or failed/successful marriages, we are all basically blind humans feeling up the different parts of an elephant.