Of newly-wed couples and the pressure of having kids
In Pakistan, a newlywed couple goes through a number of trials and tribulations, not least of which is being asked about kids. Not a month into the wedding, and they’d be expected to announce that they are going to become a ‘real family’ in nine months’ time.
This pressure of having kids by relatives after marriage is faced by almost all newlywed Pakistani couples, be it couples who reside in Pakistan, or those who live abroad. Then the couple would be getting weekly phone calls asking them, nay, demanding them for ‘khushkhabri’ (good news).
Here are five reasons why a couple may decide not to have children in the near future, and what they have to go through to retain this right.
THEY WANT TIME TO GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Since the majority of Pakistani marriages are arranged, the husband and wife are almost strangers to each other. They don’t know each other’s habits, likes, dislikes, etc. All of this has to be learnt after the wedding. So the initial years of the marital period are spent getting to know each other properly. Hence, this introductory period strengthens the husband-wife bond.
If, during this time, a baby comes along, then the couple’s entire attention is diverted towards this new human, and its needs. They get next to no time to spend only with each other, and what little time they do get, is spent discussing the baby. This may lead to a rocky marriage later on, where the couple stops being a ‘couple’, and only remain ‘parents’. A friend of mine once related to me, that after she and her husband had had their first child, she felt as if they weren’t marital partners anymore, but only two strangers who’d been given a baby to take care of as a project, and that’s all they’d ever talk about.
THEY WANT TO BECOME MORE FINANCIALLY STABLE
Sometimes a young couple is still during the phase where they aren’t as financially stable as they’d like to be. To bring a kid into such a situation can be quite stressful to the both of them. But relatives hardly ever understand this argument. For them, it doesn’t seem to be a problem for the couple to establish themselves after they’d had a baby. Really, so what if the stress leads the husband and wife to getting grey hair before they cross 30? At least, they have a child and its constant needs to keep them happy.
THEY WANT TO CONTINUE WITH THEIR EDUCATION
Many times, the couple, or one of them, wants to continue with their education. In such a phase, if a child comes along, then it becomes quite challenging to dangle both education and a baby. And in case a child doesn’t come along, then it becomes quite trying to dangle both education and the in-laws.
THERE MIGHT BE A MEDICAL PROBLEM
Many a times, there is a medical problem that hinders the two becoming three. The wife is usually blamed in such a case. She is the one who has to keep visiting doctor after doctor, in the hopes of improving her prospects. And God forbid she suggests that the problem might be with the husband. There’d be a mob of angry in-laws with pitchforks after her before she’d be able to say “not me!”
THERE COULD BE A NATURAL DELAY
Sometimes, the couple themselves wants to have a kid, but, due to whichever reason, cannot. Such a scenario, where the couple is dealing with a form of constant disappointment, they have to manage the badgering of the relatives as well, may lead to mild depression.
Most people don’t understand this issue. They would rather make a mountain out of mole than to realize the situation the couple is in. Here are five ways in which in-laws and relatives make it a living nightmare for such couples to survive.
COMPARISONS AND TAUNTS
The situation worsens when another couple, who had been married at around the same time, has a baby, and you don’t. The taunts and looks increase tenfold, making the couple wish they could migrate to another planet.
When the people in the couple’s social circle keep having kids, and the two don’t (or won’t), then the main topic of discussion at parties is usually children. Add to that the constant beleaguering, and they decide it’s better to decrease their social circle.
“BETA, AAPKI TOH UMER BHI ITNI HOGYI HAI”
Ah, the age-old age argument; a particular favorite among in-laws. The moment a woman crosses 30 –scratch that, 25 – she needs to have kids as soon as humanly possible.
QUOTING ISLAMIC TEXTS
Another favorite amongst relatives is quoting Islamic texts at the supposedly criminally-childless pair. And it is absolutely futile to tell them that one should apply logic in everything, since frantic cries of “tauba tauba!” ensue at that.
CALLING THEM SELFISH
Among other things, a couple who prefers to remain childless for a period of time is tauntingly referred to as ‘selfish’. Apparently, to put their hopes and dreams before children is really selfish. After all, isn’t the couple depriving their relatives of a tiny being to play with by choosing not to have kids?
In a nutshell, the decision to have (or not to have) kids, should rest first and foremost with the husband and wife. None but the couple should have a say in making this life-changing decision. Because having a kid is a complete upheaval of your life. Your priorities shift. You then become someone who has a whole being on your hands to take care of. This means that everything related to your own self takes second place.
So sure, it is God who makes the ultimate decision, but, as far as humans are concerned, none but the couple involved should bear the responsibility of making a choice on this account. And it is high time, the ‘phuppis’ and ‘khalas’ realize that.
About the author: Eyesha S. is a Karachi-based writer who likes to doodle about all things under the sun.