In this two-part episode for her younger listeners and expectant moms, Suri shares her philosophy on what to consider when you’re looking for love and thinking of building a family (or not).
- 🎧 Music: “Stars” by Emily Stahel
- ✉️ E-Mail your questions and topic requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 📷 Photo by Timo Stern on Unsplash
- Subscribe to my newsletter for personal updates, supportive letters and helpful tools.
- *May contain affiliate links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting my channel!
- Link mentioned: www.babycenter.com
Here are some self-help resources from the Marital Intimacy Institute, which I find interesting, if you prefer to self-study: https://maritalintimacyinst.com/lauras-resources/
Childless female trailblazers mentioned in this episode (both straight and gay):
TRANSCRIPT – edited for clarity
INTRO: Hi again, my dears welcome back to Doing Things on Purpose, my little podcast about empowering women to take charge of their time, health, relationships, and money by doing things on purpose. I’m your host Suri. Thanks so much for joining me again this week.
SURI: So today I wanted to make a special podcast to support my younger listeners out there, maybe women in their twenties or thirties who are either looking for love, with a long-term partner, or those who are thinking of building a family and starting out on their motherhood journey.
I’m going to share some of my personal tips that I would happily share with my two daughters when they grow up into young women. And as always, use whatever speaks to you and please leave the rest. All the resources mentioned will be included in the show notes of this podcast episode or on my website at suristahel.com/podcast.
First of all, I wanna begin by saying that in my experience, one of the most important things about building a happy family is to be true. To be true to yourself. To be brutally honest about whether or not you’ve truly found your person that partner, you 100% feel like you wanna spend the rest of your life with, and that’s all you have to know.
Yes. No one knows the future. No one knows how marriage, kids, parenting, and career changes will affect you or your partner.
That’s just a journey that you’ll have to discover together with time. But if you simply choose to begin with total honesty with each other, I think you are already light years ahead of most couples out there.
Know that all you can do is to give your best intentions and trust what your feelings and your intuition and your gut is telling you. In my life as a soft spoken young woman, getting into a relationship always felt uncomfortable to me. There was always something about the other person that bugged me, or I could feel the limited level of interest that that person had for me.
Of course you might get crushes on people because they’re the cool kids or they’re good looking. But there was this thing about me – maybe it’s just me… but I already saw at that time, how people reacted differently and gave special treatment to people who were better looking, more popular than the other kids.
And I was quite conscious, even at that young age, to realize when I’m getting butterflies in my stomach when the popular kid comes, and I really tried to control that. I really felt that, hey, I don’t wanna be influenced by other people’s opinion of this guy. I consciously tried to fight the influence of the outside environment, which looking back, is quite interesting.
Maybe that has shaped a lot of the ways that I develop relationships. And I think that probably helped me discover my own sense of self, who I was, and to be okay with being by myself.
I think in friendships, in any relationship, if you just pay attention, there are so many clues that you can pick up, on how interested or not interested they really are in you.
The more they talk, the more they show themselves… the more interested or uninterested you become. So if you pay attention to those clues, it already tells you what you’re supposed to do next. Maybe it means no second dates.
For me, there was always something, as I said, that didn’t fit. It reminds me of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Everyone felt too hard or too soft until I met my person who felt just right. Who eventually became my future husband.
We actually met by chance in Hong Kong where I was working at the time. I’m originally from Malaysia, so after a series of moves, I landed in Hong Kong and I happened to be with some friends at a bar, and my future husband happened to pass by with his friend and saw me at the window. They went in the bar and eventually, his friend introduced us.
And it was just this feeling you get – that you’re happy to see somebody you’ve never met. It’s very strange, but it happens, and I would love to hear other people’s love stories.
How how they knew the person that they’re with, were meant to be with them. Of course, I don’t know the future, as I said.
I remember the first time that my future husband stayed over – I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t experienced in relationships, and I rushed to the bathroom because I had the urge to wash all of my makeup off.
Which wasn’t much, but you know, it was still this cat eye mascara, I had concealer, lipstick…
Because I felt it was important that he didn’t see the “fake” me. I was obviously dressed up for the date.
I felt it was important that he saw the real me.
It probably was my own insecurity that I might not be good enough, but I want it to show the true me, not the dressed up me. Because I like this guy, and if my heart was to be broken, if it wasn’t meant to be, it should be broken at the beginning.
But guess what?
He didn’t leave. I didn’t scare him off and he didn’t scare me off. And after two years of still finding each other funny and not too annoying, our relationship blossomed and progressed. Eventually into our engagement and then into marriage.
When I look back, I can see that there was no second guessing. At least not on my part, and that’s all I can control.
If you’re looking for love. It’s a feeling that you can’t justify with facts and check boxes. Like “check,” he has a good job, “check,” he has a good family. And I think falling out of love is also the same thing.
It happens over time. You can have all your reasons to stay together or to be a part. All the logical reasons.
But all you really need to know is, you are in love until you’re not. And your partner’s in love with you until he or she’s not.
It’s very uncomfortable and heartbreaking to talk about these topics so bluntly, and we can keep pretending (in forever). But think about what you’re willing to risk, to be comfortable, and to just go with the flow.
To have the first date and not really being happy. You accept the second date, and the third, and the fourth.
By not being true to yourself, you only end up cheating yourself.
Eventually, you’ll find that there’s never going to be a right time. There’s never a right time for bad news, and ignoring that feeling in the pit of your stomach. Or letting things slide will only start to become a habit.
A habit that stacks up.
Stories you tell yourself on top of other stories you tell yourself, and that’s just your end of the relationship – and your partner’s doing the same. Because I think when a relationship isn’t working out, both sides feel it. It just depends who’s gonna say it first.
So I invite you to choose a habit of honesty that serves you. Instead of one of avoidance that will only hurt you.
For my younger listeners, if you have found that person, I’m so happy for you. It is something to be treasured and nurtured.
And secondly, you have to then ask yourself and your partner if a baby and parenthood is truly something that both you and your partner want to be experiencing in your life together.
Yes, it’s possible to do it alone as a single mom. But in my experience, it’s just so much easier with two people on the same boat.
So forget about what your relatives or your friends expect you to want. You don’t have to want a baby.
I think the important thing is to be truthful to your partner. So that you can both know what you’re signing up for. So please talk to your partner and dream a little bit about the life you wanna build together.
- And I think, you can ask that question to your partner before getting married to put the conversation on the table.
- But I also believe in experiencing things and learning how you feel as you go along. Because you can think you want something, until you actually experience it.
And that’s on both sides. If you are putting your best intentions out there, you can’t control whether you’re gonna change your mind later on, through experience.
You might know things that you didn’t know before, so you have to just surrender to that and that’s okay. That’s just part of life.
At the core of it, if you really love somebody, all you wanna do is take care of them to make sure they’re safe and secure and okay, and they would wanna do the same for you.
So if somebody’s not making you feel that sense of security, but you enjoy being with them, you have no other options, and you’re satisfied – then don’t get married. Don’t have kids. Just live together and enjoy your time together while it lasts.
And what if you know you don’t wanna have babies? Because it’s a super big decision that I feel does not get talked about as openly as it should.
I mean, yeah, things are getting better. Women who feel sure they never wanna have kids, or those who wanna delay having kids are speaking up and owning their space in the world.
Sure, you still get comments from well-meaning relatives and friends. But you can find examples of other women who can give you strength, to live this life without kids.
There are so many, like Oprah Winfrey, Marie Forleo, Adriene Mishler, Paola Merrill or The Cottage Fairy, Amy Porterfield and Kris Carr.
They’ve all created wonderful things that serve the world without any kids in their lives.
So don’t be shy about communicating your needs and desires to your partner, choosing to spend your limited days on this earth on other equally meaningful pursuits.
What about if you are on the fence? Let me share a story.
I used to work with a wonderfully bright woman called Helen, and she shared with me that she never felt that she wanted to have kids. But every five years or so, she and her husband would sit down for a talk and discuss the topic of children again – just to be sure that they were both still on the same page.
So obviously, this only carried on while she was still in childbearing age. But for me, that’s a great example of putting systems in place or being mindful to have honest conversations and considerate conversations with each other.
So finally, to the women who know they want to have kids, or maybe you’re even expecting…
Congratulations on your pregnancy. It’s going to be such a big life-changing journey of you discovering yourself, your partner, this new being that you’re going to be creating and putting out in the world.
And as I said, oftentimes you can only know if you really want something once you already have it.
When my pregnancy test was positive, I remember the feeling coming up in me. I couldn’t tell if it was excitement or not. And then I told my husband and I was studying his face trying to decipher whether he felt excited or not about it.
Both of you kind of discover for the first time how you really feel about babies.
And I think we have to take out the stigma from it and to again, face it with honesty and say, “How do you feel about this?” Share how you personally feel as well, and go from there.
When you keep handling challenges this way – being curious and really not putting anybody in the blame, because we are all moving through life the first time… life gets much easier to move through. You become more flexible with the changing winds.
So again, if being pregnant makes you feel excited or fearful, please do consider paying attention to that. They are clues you can choose to guide you instead of ones that you choose to ignore.
So if you find yourself feeling happy and you know you wanna keep the baby your partner as well, the next step I recommend is to sign up for a very useful tool. A newsletter from the Baby Center website at www.babycenter.com.
It provides you with:
- a week by week update on what’s happening in your body through all three trimesters or 40 weeks of pregnancy – so now we talk in weeks when we’re pregnant.
- and the newsletter also shares developmental updates for your child, from birth up to the age of about eight.
I found them super helpful because as your child grows up and you see the pediatrician, there are some tests that they will run on your child to make sure they’re developing normally – and the newsletter already informs you ahead of time what to expect, and what games or activities your child should be ready for.
Again, these are just guides. You can choose to read it and do something else. It’s entirely up to you. I’ve realized there’s really no right and wrong way. Whatever you feel is best for your family is the best thing.
To close, I just want to share that everything is transient.
Just like feelings. They come and go and all the different stages you are as a mother: the breastfeeding stage, diapering, and then potty training and then showing them how to behave, how to have manners, how to be polite, how to go to school and listen to instructions… All of these things are part of the process and they’re all temporary.
You’re always moving through it, and I can say that by the time your kid is eight years old, they will seem like pretty grown up and independent individuals. You won’t have to be so invested in your time as a mommy anymore. And then you can start to think about other projects that you want to commit more time to.
But of course, this is just for those of you who are like me. Who enjoy spending the first few years fully involved in the family.
Next week I’ll share more of my pre- and post-birthing tips for expecting moms. So stay tuned if you’re interested or curious.
And if not, join me again two weeks from now.
OUTRO: So that’s it for me this week. Thank you so much for tuning in. This is Suri, and you’re listening to the Doing Things On Purpose podcast.
If you enjoyed this episode, please remember to subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts. Share it with a friend.
And if you have the time, please rate this podcast five stars or leave a review. It really helps.
You can also check out my website at suristahel.com. That’s S-U-R-I-S-T-A-H-E-L dot com. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll catch you next time.