Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When is it your business to ask?

Do you ever notice how much advice everyone has? It seems like every single person you run across in your life is dying to give you advice. I never really noticed that until I got married. I actually had a coworker tell me that I would be happy the first year of marriage and then the newness would wear off and I would realize that marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be. He was divorced. I received advice from another friend, who swore that we needed two bedrooms - because after a fight, we would need somewhere to sleep separately. He was also divorced. Twice. Let me just enter a side note here. I know plenty of divorced people (who doesn't?) and they tend to fall into two groups. One group are the divorcees who got divorced for whatever reason - maybe a good reason, maybe a really stupid reason. Whatever the reason, they learned from their mistakes and have better relationships because of it. The other group are people who got divorced for whatever reason - and learn nothing from it. They still think they know everything there is to know about marriage, and they want to tell you all about it. I'm really sorry if anyone thinks that is narrow-minded but those are the two groups I have always seen. Fortunately, I can only think of about three people that fit into the latter group.

I guess most people think you are supposed to pop out a baby after a year or so of marriage. I can't even remember when we started being hassled about children - that's how early it started. And I know tons of other couples who were going through the same thing (Jennifer wasn't very reassuring, as her and Matt were still going through that and they had been married longer than us). We are so fortunate, though, that neither of our families were the ones asking what our plans were. It was coworkers, church members, friends of the family that we would see once a year. If our families had been ramming it down our throats, I might have murdered someone.

When we started trying to get pregnant, we were determined not to tell anyone. The only people we told were Jenn, and my mom and dad. We knew that if people knew we were trying, we would be interrogated constantly. And truth be told, we weren't in that big a hurry, we weren't rushing anything, we were just trying. And whatever happened would happen.

But then nothing happened. Over and over again. And before, when people would nudge and wink and say, "So when are you guys thinking about kids?" I would laugh. But after a while, I would just grimace. Or roll my eyes. Fortunately, because we were trying, but not devastated to be having no luck, it was just irritating, but not really hurtful. But I don't think people realize how many couples try to have babies - not for months - for years with no luck. I couldn't tell you how many people I have found out over the past year are on fertility drugs, going to treatments, spending thousands of dollars on doctor bills and fertility clinics... and then someone comes up to them and says, "Aren't you going to have kids anytime soon?"

I realize that people don't mean any harm by asking this question. But I am curious to know - at what point did it become okay to question people about their sex life? Because that's essentially what you're doing. I know that if people realized the stress and pain that so many women go through every month, this topic would not be up for public discussion. This comes from a blog of a friend who has been trying to get pregnant after a recent miscarriage:

"Relax". That word sucks, in case you were wondering. As if telling me to relax will cure our problems. As if by taking a deep breath I will suddenly become pregnant and stay pregnant. The next person who tells me to just relax had better be prepared for a swift and painful kick in the shin.

So, I am stepping off my soapbox. I just want to say that I really didn't write this to offend anyone. And the people who have really frustrated me don't read this blog, so don't worry about that either. And of course, I want to be sure and point out that there is a difference between saying:
"So, are you guys thinking about having children at all?" - see how that is polite, well-meaning, not pushy?
and saying, "So, you've been married 3 years. It's time for you to have a kid." or "What are you waiting for?" - Can you imagine how that feels when you've been trying for months to get pregnant? Thanks for rubbing that in someone's face.

I've just seen a lot of people hurt with "well-meaning" comments, and I just think it would be refreshing for everyone to think first before bringing up sensitive topics. I realize that for most people, the pattern goes straight from marriage to children. But did you know that over 6 million women are infertile? And 25% of women go through some phase of infertility - whether it's 3 months or 35 months. So I beg you, think of what someone may be going through before you open your mouth. And not just about children. Think about the circumstances someone might be in. Before you rant about your husband snoring, think about the woman standing near you who lost her husband 6 months ago. Before you rant about your phone bill, keep in mind that not everyone can afford to keep their phone turned on, and at least you can make your payments. I learned that from experience. Just be more mindful.

/end rant.


Gail said...

Whew!!! I could write a blog on your blog. First, I have seen both sides - divorce and marriage. I think marriage is wonderful and expect it to get better each day. Next, I've been married 4 years and will be real upset if someone ask me when we are planning to have a baby, and Jeff will probably shoot them. Seriously, I agree with your blog.
p.s. I'm going to be an aunt!!!

Ken Loyd said...

Amanda, I am so proud of your empathy and compassion. You'd make a great vice-president. Or choir director. Or whatever you want. You've already been a great daughter, sister, and cousin, among other roles. What an advocate you are!
P.S. I didn't know Gail was expecting. :)

Amanda said...

Gail - I wish you would write a blog on my blog? Are you looking to start a blog anytime soon? (Wait.. that sounds a lot like the "kids" question!!) You are definitely one person who I believe has the marriage "thing" down pat. I am so happy that you and Jeff found each other and now you get to have the fun of spoiling grandchildren together - so much better than kids!! :)

Dad - I'll definitely choose choir director over VP! I don't have the patience a VP should have! Thanks for your words - they mean so much to me!

jennifer said...

I'm the only person in the room, but I'm giving you a standing ovation for this post.


The Air Force Wife said...

You're adorable I just want you to know that!!

And I absolutely love this post.

You have no idea how much I hate that question!! I hate constantly being asked have you started trying yet?, don't you want to have kids?, and anything else anyone else has come up with at this point.

And honestly I just don't answer anymore because its uncomfortable for me to say I can't have a child of my own or sometimes I just say we've decide to adopt instead (which always throws people off).

Which we had planned on adopting a child once we conceived one of our own but it looks like adoption is our only option in the future which we're still totally thrilled about!! But we won't start the process until we're back in the states because you can't adopt from foster care overseas.

we've decided to adopt out of foster care because there are more children in need here in our own country and once a child hits about three its really hard for them to get adopted and they may stay in the system forever as well as a sibling group so those are the children we want to give a forever home too!! So we totally can't wait to come home from Italy and start our own family!!!

Good luck with your little bundle of joy!!!