Bachelorhood versus Marriage. There is no contest.

It’s interesting sometimes to consider the things people say. Often we roll around interacting with others without really thinking too much about what is actually being said, what is actually being thought. On Christmas day I visited my sister. I wouldn’t usually visit, seeing as my sister isn’t the kind of person I think it’s healthy to spend much time with, but it was Christmas day and my sister is recently bereaved so I wanted to make sure I showed some support. I may not like my sister but she is at times when it suits her, there for me, so I reciprocate, when it suits me.

My nephew turned up with his step son. His step son is about 9 years old and for the second time in a few weeks he said this to me.

‘It’s about time you got married and have kids. You’d be a lot happier than living with your mum’.

Now, for the record, I don’t really ‘live with my mum’. If and I say again if, I get a work contract in Lancashire then I sometimes and I say again sometimes, stay with my mother. Sometimes I stay at my father’s, but I do admit my mum is getting a bit older and I do like to try and stay with her when I can because I can help her do things like lift heavy shopping. My dad needs less help so I do lean towards my mother. If I get a work contract in Edinburgh/London/Bristol/Birmingham, then I rent a place in Edinburgh/London/Bristol/Birmingham. To say I ‘still live with my mum’ is quite a bending of the truth when in all honesty, my time in the same house as my mum has constituted about twelve months spread over the last fifteen years. Bearing in mind I spend about six months of every year living abroad. Saying I live with my mum is like saying David Beckham was famous for playing for Paris Saint Germain. Focussing on a mere 6 months at PSG and conveniently ignoring many years at Manchester United.

The ‘living with your mum’ comment is very significant because it is wildly untrue and carries obvious negative connotations. Why would someone want to paint an incorrect picture of me that has negative connotations? Is it possible they resent my position in someway and want to create an environment whereby I am ashamed?

Now, I realise that what causes a nine year old boy to say that to me was not his own curiosity; he was undoubtedly simply repeating what he had over heard some adults saying about me behind my back. So from the comment I understood the following:

Some people in my social circle are angered by my lifestyle choice and this little boy has inadvertently alerted me to the situation.

I just responded with a ‘Let’s see what happen then, it’s just very expensive getting married’ or something to that effect, to seemingly agree with his sentiments and keep the conversation light and fun on Christmas day, but not make any promises that anything will be changing.

There are other things that have been said recently, I won’t go into those. I’ll just use the kid’s comment and segue into my post.

I’m 36 and unmarried. I am for the moment a contented bachelor. In a small, provincial Northern English town, that’s out of the ordinary. By 36 I should have a few kids to different women; I should be on my second wife.

It did make me think though, how it is that my nephew, his wife and I can be so ideologically opposed. For them, and most of my family, it’s unthinkable that I am not married, but for me, I couldn’t think of a worse move I could make.

I am not doing a blog post considering why I don’t, for example, collect stamps. It just seems to suffice that it’s not expected that a person should necessarily collect stamps. For some reason though, there does seem to exist a weight of expectation that a man should get married. So my question then is, despite it being something that is seemingly an absolute necessity, why do I not start a family?

One big drawback is expense. I currently live minimally. I spend as little as possible and bank as much as possible. I store up wealth and every year that goes by my future looks ever more secure. (Currently, every year I work, my post aged 65 tax free pension increases by £83 per month). I can’t afford to marry and raise kids yet because if I did it would destroy my future security. I imagine I’ll be financially able to have kids, if I wanted, by the time I’m about 45. Until then, marriage and kids would eat my savings, restrict me saving and I would also have to get full time work for a steady pay check and it would restrict my ability to commit to minimalist living.

Just as an aside, a contrast to my fiscal responsibility, I remember when my nephew had his child; he actually included the Government welfare he would get as an income stream when he (fleetingly) considered if he could afford kids. Think about that for a moment. Further, this guy is always short of money and having to borrow off others and by others, I mean me. In short, he can’t afford kids, yet he had them anyway and simply forces the cost burden onto others by virtue of taxation.

You have no choice, you must want!
You have no choice, you must want!

But the main reason I don’t want a wife and child is… I just don’t want them. There is this set in stone default assumption that all people must get married and raise kids. But I don’t want to. This may change sure, but currently, I don’t want to. I don’t see anyone insisting that I must want a classic paisley painted VW camper van with a pancake machine in the back. Why the absolute insistence that I must want to get married and have a family?

Here is a list of the things I want to avoid most in life (aside from obvious disasters like disease, death and imprisonment):

  • Irreversible obligation
  • Expensive long term commitments
  • High costs of living
  • Being fixed to one geographic location
  • Lots of work
  • High taxes
  • Legal and financial risk.

A wife and kids would immediately expose me and necessitate all those things.

Here is what I currently want in life and note, they would all be stopped immediately by a family.

  • I like freedom to travel and travel as much as possible with different people, whenever I want and for as long as I want.
  • I like to work as little as possible. My time on this planet is finite and I am almost halfway dead. I love working, but not 12 months a year. I want to work about six months a year. A family would raise my cost base and necessitate I earn more and thus need to work more.
  • Low taxation. Taxation currently prevents me from working too much. As soon as I hit the higher tax brackets it becomes significantly not worth my while. I end up spending 4 days working for the Government and one day for myself. The cost benefit analysis doesn’t exist for me in this situation. A family would bring further taxation in the form of full time employment and also other costs such as property taxes. As long as taxes are so high I will work less because as I said, it takes away the cost benefit.
  • Low cost base. I like to spend as little money as humanly possible and when I do spend money I like to spend on things that are an investment. If there is one thing that would raise my cost base it’s a wife and kids.
  • I like to have lots of interesting girlfriends and I like to change them regularly. I don’t really want to spend the rest of my life in monogamy with another person. Or at least, I haven’t yet met someone who has made me change my mind. Currently, at 36, I have never experienced so much interest from women of all ages. Why would I lock myself out of a market at the very moment I seem to have a high value if I don’t see my value plummeting any time soon?
  • Freedom from legal risk. This is the big one. All the others may become less of a priority for me as I get older. But as long as the law is like it is in the UK, then I cannot and will not ever sign that marriage/kids contract. As soon as I marry then I am at the behest of the court and my ex-wife if ever things went wrong. In the event of divorce I’ll likely be taken for everything I have or at the very best, half of what I have regardless of my wife’s contribution. Somebody else will decide what’s right and I will have little say in it. My wife would only have to allege domestic violence and I would be thrown in prison by default. Allege. Not prove. Allege. I have seen this happen to several fellows and one gentleman I know got very, very lucky that there was a witness to prove the allegation was false. The couple’s young son saw through the crack in the door that the mother, at the opposite side of the room to the father, leapt on the floor screaming ‘he hit me, he hit me’ and proceeded to call the police. Without that witness, this man would have been in serious trouble. It’s just a great way to win ground in a divorce battle, allege abuse. At the very least it gets the guy out of the house for a few days while the locks are changed, the gold is taken from the safe and the items of value are sold off. With kids it’s even worse. My God, the Government could step in and take my kids away from me at any time and for any reason and I’d be powerless to stop them. They have done this to other people. They will remove your kids if they don’t like the political party you voted for. Laws on emotional abuse against spouses and kids are now very, very woolly and I assume designed to allow as much leeway to the courts as possible.

Marriage and kids is like signing a contract with no defined terms that can be amended after the event and at whim by an external party (the courts). It has never been agreed up front that sending my son to bed without supper is child abuse or refusing to buy my wife a new car is emotional abuse, but a court could retrospectively decide that is actually the rule, after the event and impose this expectation retrospectively. These are extreme and unlikely examples I am giving but the fact of the matter is, it is extremely dangerous to sign contracts with no defined terms which the other party is free to define after the event but which I am not.

On a separate issue, I have applied for a foreign passport on ancestral grounds because it’s getting too expensive to live in the UK, so once I get that and I am judged in a different jurisdiction then maybe the ground work would be in place to remove point 5 if I do get the urge later in life.

But until then, why on earth would I choose to do something that would bring me:

1) All the things I most want to avoid

And cost me:

2) All the things for which I have striven

And in return give me

3) Something I just don’t want?

It would be like telling someone: ‘Hey, if you surrender your electricity and hot water for the rest of your life and give me £10,000, well in return I’ll give you an extensive collection of novelty yo-yos and a box of rubber bands’.

Give me things you value and you can have these!
Give me things you value and you can have these!

Well this answer is a firm no because that deal costs me things I want, makes me have to suffer things I don’t like and returns me things in which I am not particularly interested in anyway.  Even if I met a girl who I never wanted to leave and even if I desired kids, even if I DID want to get married and have kids then there would still be some serious implications and restrictions for me to worry about. I really can’t see where I win in the ‘marriage and kids’ equation, yet a lot of people I know insist it’s compulsory and are seemingly very angry when I won’t comply.

The reasons why are very much worth a blog post, but that’s another story.

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