Stop Quizzing couples about children and marriage

Asking A Couple ‘When’ They Are Having Children Is Rude. Fucking Stop It.

‘How’s the sex life?’

‘Is your marriage actually committed?’

‘I hear impotence starts to become a problem at your age, how is that going?’

‘You’ve only know each other 2 years, is that not too soon for marriage?’

Can you see a theme here? These questions are rude, intimate, private and really none of anyone’s business. Not acceptable to ask over the dinner table. Too intrusive. Most likely it would cause serious discomfort and a swift telling off.

Here’s another few that should be considered just as offensive:

‘When are you having children?’

‘Don’t you want to get married?’

‘When are you giving your kid a sibling?’

‘Do you worry about the age gap between your kids?’

These questions are just as personal, private and for a lot of people, extremely hurtful. Yet people still ask them. Why, still, do people not understand that the private life of a couple is not appropriate dinner table discussion?

That’s not to say that these topics are off limits. Of course, people want to share their life, concerns and aspirations with others. But the key here is who holds the power. The only one placing their life up for debate should be that of the couple, not the ‘well meaning’ relative or friend that decides their view or plain nosiness on a couple’s life is enough to justify cornering a person whilst asking them about the activities of their reproductive organs.

We owe no one any answers, yet we are made to squirm and think fast of an answer that will shield either our self or the absolute numpty asking why my daughter has yet to receive a sibling. I wasn’t aware it was a ‘have one, have a baby as a play thing for the first’ kind of situation. As far as my situation went, it was have one, have a complete mental breakdown which threatened my life, my relationship, my friendships and one that destroyed everything about me, left to be rebuilt in therapy, the doctors office and countless days and nights of crying, needing comfort and support from my partner. Shall we discuss that at the dinner table? Coz I am, truthfully, game to take you down that dark path. Tell you exactly why neither my partner or myself was quick to place another bun in the oven, not wanting to upset the balance of peace we work at, still, to create.

But that’s not very P.C is it? Not civilized. Not what people want to hear. So you shrug it off. Let people away with stepping over your boundaries, making you feel uncomfortable. Making you upset. For myself, each time I was asked about having another child, I would have an internal mental replay of the last few years of my life. Pangs of sadness and fear combined with the strong longing to have another baby, yet being terrified to even have the conversation with my partner. The birth of my daughter and the depression that followed was severe enough to push my very strong wants of a baby to the side in favour of not wanting to revisit that dark place. Not wanting to drag my equally as anxious partner back down that path. The one that made him believe I was becoming psychotic and would harm myself. That dark place that caused a couple to live in two separate minds and homes, while being under the same roof. When I hear that question of ‘when (not will, but when) will Jess have a sibling?’ I find it incredibly intrusive, belittling and just plain fucking rude.

I understand why people ask these personal questions. We all want to be part of our friends and families life. I do believe most people ask out of wanting to be included, share the joy of life. There are of course, the arseholes that ask for comparison, dick measuring reasons. But overall, people mean no bad intent. However this does not mean it is acceptable to ask these questions. Most of society has been raised according to a time line, so we perceive that others will follow that timeline, therefore it’s ok to ask. Courtship, marriage, children. When people go against this, we tend to get a bit nosey, wanting to know to whys, ifs and whens. The reality is, there is more than likely a reason for their path, and one that is not for us to force out of a person. Even if there is no reason, it is not anyone’s place to ask, to question a relationship status, to inquire why the couple of 10 years STILL haven’t had a child, meanwhile you have papped out 2. It’s just really none of your business and it can be incredibly painful to be asked these questions.

There’s another thing that bothers me, especially in relation to children. Parenthood is rough. It’s fucking wild. Overall, it is amazing. I cherish every single day of having a child. She drives me batshit insane to the point of needing to be in another room from her, but when she’s asleep (best time of the day) I tuck her in, each night, and kiss her cheek. I know these days are numbered and she will soon not be mine to steal a kiss from. BUT this does not detract from the absolute fuckery of parenthood, pregnancy and life changes. So when people look wide eyed and full of ecstatic excitement and ask ‘When are YOU having children?’, I kind of feel like they are full of shit. I wonder if they love it as much as those insane eyes suggest. And maybe they do love it, all day every day. I doubt it. It’s been 4 years and I’ve yet to come across a parent that doesn’t have at least one universal parent complaint. The more truthful question is ‘When are you going to go through one of the most relationship testing, mentally draining, life altering and displacement of you that anyone can endure? WHEN??’

Babies and children are wonderful, yes, I do know why people are so keen that everyone have one. But they are also hugely challenging. From infertility, loss, birth trauma, responsibility, raising a human in a very pressure driven world, it’s hard. Let’s not gloss over this fact and demean the journey into parenthood, and the ride there after. Let’s not excitedly ask couples when they will be connecting those reproductive organs and entering the joyous world of parenthood. You are setting them sail down that bullshit river of false parenthood that we see all around us. I’m having another child, I’m not a child and parenthood hating, burning child effigies, crazy lady (yet). But I’m also not an advocate for bullshit. I wouldn’t try to sell parenthood to anyone. A couple know if they do or do not want children. I’m not going to ask them. I’m not going to pretend I want them to have children because I have children and feel that all-consuming love that has made us have another, in spite of our past. Everyone’s story is different. Not every couple can take the strain of children. Not every mother gets post-natal depression. Not every mother makes it through post-natal depression. Not every parent loves their children. Not every parent wants to sacrifice. Not every parent endures. Not every parent will face the same thoughts, struggles and strains. Parenthood and all that it entails cannot and should not be summed up in one question towards unsuspecting couples that are just trying to enjoy some social time.

Questions about relationships or children almost make the receiver feel less than, lower in the hierarchy of life than those asking the question. It is usually those that are married or engaged that ask myself and partner (of 14 years. Far outweighing the relationship length of those asking the question. But here we are getting our commitment levels quizzed) when we will be getting married, or why we haven’t married. It is usually those with children, bouncing a baby on their knee or wiping a smooshed biscuit stain from their top asking the childless couple when they are having a kid. People seem to get a sense of authority on a subject once they have been through it. But this authority is misplaced and extremely niche. You only really have authority and understanding of yourself, your own circumstances. The path you walked. I fell pregnant instantly, twice. I know nothing of the heartache and strain of infertility. I would hate to ‘put my foot in it’ while asking a couple ‘when are you having children?’. It is no one’s place to make another person feel inferior, upset or uncomfortable, whether you mean it or not. We don’t get to ask questions purely because we have decided on a certain path and wonder if or when others will follow. We don’t get to make people feel as if they need to explain themselves purely because our nose twitches and we ‘need’ to know about their personal life.

Just because something is perceived as socially acceptable, doesn’t mean that it is acceptable. These types of questions are most certainly in the unacceptable question bucket. They are highly sensitive and personal, please stop asking, especially women, about children or their relationship. It is just as rude and intrusive as asking a couple how often they have sex. Not only is it rude, but we have no idea of what discussions and heat arches are going on behind closed doors. Many couples experience, in silence, miscarriages, still births and infertility. It is the couple’s prerogative IF they wish to share this, not the well meaning flapping eyes of a relative that wants to know why he hasn’t been made a grandpa yet.

We need to respect the intimate life of others, in the same manner we do with a whole host of other topics in society. There’s so may ‘taboo’ topics that we don’t speak of, which maybe we really should. Looks directly at mental illness. Diving nose first into the life of a couple, without their consent, should be placed on the taboo list. It is not okay. It is not just something to talk about in a group of people. It is not a friendly joke at family gatherings. By all means, if a couple wish to discuss their life, be interested, show them support. But don’t prompt questions out of the blue, don’t make relationship and child status an acceptable topic of chat when the couple have shown no signs of talking about it with you. It’s really not hard to wait until a person says they would like to have children, rather than ask them. We have no idea what is going on behind the scenes, so don’t step over that boundary.

Also, this view isn’t exclusive to questions. If you drop remarks such as ‘you are next’ while rubbing your engorged pregnant belly or ‘next time, it will be your wedding’ or ‘see, Jess would love a little brother’ or, now this is my fucking pet hate ‘Kirsty is a girl, she definitely wants to get married’, then get yerself in the fucking bin. These are just as offensive, just as upsetting and just as invasive as any question.

So if you do drop one of these questions or remarks out, be sure to brace yourself for the judgement of the ‘victim’. Maybe we won’t be in such an entertaining mood that day. Maybe we will go for your jugular and question some of the choices you’ve made in your life. Because, clearly it’s a free for all when you decide to comment on the life of another. If you don’t want to hear about my birth story and how traumatic I found having my torn placenta suction punched from my body, while we eat a Sunday roast, then don’t question when we are having more children.

K x

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