Monday, October 15, 2012

Manners Monday: Asking about Marriage & Babies



I originally had a different topic planned for today's Manners Monday post but after seeing the reader response on Facebook, I thought going into further detail was a good idea. If you follow The Classy Woman community on Facebook, you'll see that today I posted a Classy Tip of the Day (something I started doing a few weeks ago a few times per week) about the importance of not putting people on the spot with personal questions that they may not be prepared to answer or even know the answer to themselves. This is what I wrote:



"A lady doesn't ask couples who are dating when they're getting married. Similarly, she doesn't ask married couples when or if they're planning to have a baby. A classy woman knows that while she might be really curious about the answer, it's never polite to put someone on the spot. Instead, she waits until the couple brings the topic up themselves."


While there are always a few conversation topics to avoid in many venues, some of them we've previously discussed HERE, I think asking a woman or couple when they are planning to get married or when they're planning to start a family are two of the biggest no-no's. In this day and age when many women are at the peak of their career, are having children later in life, are unsure in this economy how they'd afford an elegant wedding or of how to raise a child, or are perhaps struggling with infertility; these well-meaning questions can actually make the woman or couple feel rather uncomfortable and at a loss for words. 

As a woman who has been married for six years but has not yet had a baby, I get asked when I'm going to have children or if I want to have children A LOT. Whether I'm at a backyard BBQ, a dinner with other ladies, or meeting someone new at a wedding, I can almost guarantee at least one person will ask. They usually begin talking about their own child or pregnancy and then say, "So, do you think you and Paul will want to have children?". I recently had someone tell me they just assumed that we had decided not to have children since so much has passed as a married couple. Ouch.

If you find yourself getting asked these questions, here are some quick suggestions on how to tactfully and cleverly answer even the most nosy person and silence your critics.

How to Answer Questions about Marriage & Children:

Question: "So, when are you guys getting married?"
Answer: "I will get married when the time is right."

Who can argue with that answer? Nobody. It also allows you to take ownership of yourself and not use the term "we" or "us" pulling your significant other into the equation or making any promises that may not happen.

Question: "When are you going to start a family?"
Answer: "We're way too busy enjoying this honeymoon time together (or enjoying this time just us two) to think about that yet!"

Who can put a timeline on how long the honeymoon phase is or the importance of just spending time together as a couple without children? Again, nobody. If you're a spiritual person, another great answer is: "We're leaving it all in God's hands, whatever he has planned for us."

Although these questions can be rather annoying after hearing them several times, try to just laugh it off and remember that someone is taking an interest in you. What I've come to realize is that for some, this is how they make conversation-they may not have a lot of interesting things going on in their own life so they pry and make the focus about other's life milestones not realizing that it is rude. I think these conversations can lead to gossip if not careful which is another reason why it's good to avoid asking these questions.

I want to hear from YOU! What are your thoughts on this topic? Has anyone (other than your mother) pressed you for details on when you're getting married or having babies? How did you respond?

XO






*photo credit

28 comments:

  1. I have one child, almost 2. However, in my community it is not uncommon to have children VERY close together. I get asked on a fairly regular basis when we're going to provide a sibling for little T-Bone.
    This used to be a sore subject for me, since I lost a baby earlier this year, then I realized that people really do mean well. I generally just tell them that God must have other plans for us right now, and we'll have a baby when we all feel like it's time.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Annicka! It sounds like you've found the perfect reply. :)

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  2. When I first married--only months ago--I got a lot of questions and comments about children. It annoyed me because I want to enjoy married life first and I already have the nexplanon birth control implant in my arm. My parents were married 5 years before I was born and from the photos it looks like they had a lot of fun as a couple in those years.

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    1. You're so right, Kayla. After being married for 6 years, we've also found that we've had a lot of fun, traveled to many countries and all around have enjoyed life just as a couple. It's an important time to be savored for sure. Thanks for sharing your story. :)

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  3. I think this post is right on, Karla especially with the responses. I am sure early on, I was guilty of asking such questions, but no more.

    Great post.

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    1. I think most of us have been guilty, at one time or another, Leigh. ;) I myself have probably asked the question a couple times when I was much younger just in excitement but not anymore. Thanks for always taking the time to stop by and comment!

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  4. Love this post. I know a couple friends that I need to send it to. You have a fabulous blog and I am a new follower. xx

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    1. Aw, thank you Erica for your sweet words and for becoming a new follower! :) I'm so glad you enjoyed this post and were able to share the message too.

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  5. I am not married, nor in a relationship, but get asked when I am getting a boyfriend. It's annoying because I really don't have THAT much control over when I get a boyfriend. I usually just say, "Oh, not for another ten years or so." But maybe I'll start saying, "When the time is right." I love the Manners Mondays posts!

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    1. Hi Maria, thanks for commenting! Yes, the same things apply with those who are single-nobody needs anymore pressure. Just recently my family was asking my much younger brother if he had a girlfriend, etc. I was kind of cringing because he already feels bad enough that he's a great guy but just can't seem to find the right girl. Yes, use that reply-nobody can argue with right timing! ;) I'm so glad to hear that you love the Manners Monday series!

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  6. This post was really spot on with the situation I´m living at the moment, since people have been asking us, I think even at the moment we got engaged, when we’re planning to extend our family. And the question has been getting a bit frequent now that we´ve been together for almost 3 years. Thankfully, the first ones to come to our defense are my mother and mother in law.
    When I saw your tip on face book I shared it on my wall, first as a reminder to myself, since sometimes you have that question on the tip of your tongue, and as a subtle “back-off” for others.
    I hope that when you have time you can also address the etiquette for visiting a mother and her newborn and some tips for gracefully letting people know that you’re not up for visitors, since some friends or relatives might get offended when you ask them to wait a while before meeting the newest addition and seem to forget that mothers needs this time to bond and adjust to their baby.
    Love your blog. Thank you.

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    1. Silvia, thanks for sharing your story here. I'm so glad to hear that your mother and MIL are coming to your defense! :) Thank you for sharing the Facebook tip post on this subject with your friends, and it is a great reminder for ourselves too who can easily get carried away with the excitement we have for our loved ones. ;) I love this topic you suggested and I will most definitely post about it soon! I think it's such an important thing to consider and that one-one-one bonding time for mother and baby is important.

      I appreciate your kind words about my blog too-thank you! :)

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  7. OMG! Don't get me started on this Karla. When I lived in Spain, there were no boundaries about THE baby question. It used to leave me shocked most of the time. I've had women (who I didn't even know that well) make comments about why they think I haven't had children. I even had woman say "you are not normal for not wanting children; you are not really a woman until you've given birth". In the end it made me so distressed that the only way was to just disconnect, as it's difficult to argue with such ignorance and bad education. Apparently, this lack of sensitivity is rife in Mediterranean countries. Luckily I no longer live in Spain but back in the UK where politeness on these kinds of issues are the other end of the spectrum ;-)

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    1. Hi Vanessa! I can only imagine since Spain is so 'family' oriented, that you must have been asked constantly. I think we all know it is completely normal and you are still a real woman even if children were not present. I'm sorry to hear that you experienced that but glad to hear that you're in the land of politeness once again with no pressure. ;) Thanks for sharing your your experience with us!

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  8. Oh, I have been married for 10 years, have no children and have been asked this million times both by friends and strangers alike. Some of my friends actually take it as their mission to persuade me to have children. The fact is, I may never decide to have them or I may, so far it's been every month different but these questions are annoying. My mother faces the same questions from her friends or acquaintances on becoming grandmother, especially since pretty much EVERYONE already had at least one or two babies...Quite frustrating. Thank you for addressing this topic. But what do you say after your answer about enjoying the honeymoon is met with the old biological clock or age remark?

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    1. Hi Evelyn, thanks for taking the time to share your story here. That is one aspect that we sometimes forget, is that the mother of a daughter who has not got married or has not had children also faces a lot of these same questions. I'm sure my mother has had many people ask her but I'm thankful she's not one of the people who keeps asking me. ;) To address someone who mentions biological clock or age remark (I've had both too) would be to simply say, "I feel so young, age is really just a number." OR to the biological clock, say "Have you seen all the women having babies in their 40's, etc? If it's meant to be, it will happen."

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  9. My biggest issue is that I don't want children, and somehow everyone thinks they're entitled to my reasoning. With all the fertility and miscarriage issues all my friends have faced, I would hope that "I'm not having children" would be a good enough answer, but no. It's incredibly rude to me when people press me on this.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Sylvie and sharing a different angle here. I'm sorry to hear that people cannot just let your decisions be yours alone without having to go into detail or trying to probe you on your reasons. Making a decision about children is such a personal one and nobody should be pressing you like this.

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  10. Perfect responses! How does one respond politely when folks continue to ask about my son's job search for a Mechanical Engineering position? It's been six months and he lives out of town 1000 miles away. I want to say, "You'll be the first to know.". Any help would be appreciate. Thank you ever so much!

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    1. Hi Anonymous, thank you for your question! It sounds like these people mean well but they don't realize that it puts you on the spot. It's a common question these days as many are looking for work after being laid off or fresh out of school. I would just say, "Oh, he's doing well and just waiting for the right opportunity. I look forward to sharing with you which company he chooses."

      After all, searching for a job is just as much about interviewing the company as it is about them interviewing the candidate. This reply reminds others that that the ball is in his court and also ends on a note that says you'll let them know when something more transpires. I hope this helps! :)

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  11. Hi Karla!

    This is a GREAT post and important topic I think. Our first born came along when we had been married for 7 years. I would just SHUDDER when people (who were basically strangers-neighbors we barely knew, etc) would ask about babies. The worst is when you are asked if you are "trying." Such a personal question, yikes! I love that you wrote that a classy woman may be curious about the answer, but refrains from asking the question. Amen!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story here, Erin! :) It's such a personal experience for every couple and I think the comments that catch me off guard the most are the ones from strangers and neighbors as you mentioned.

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  12. This is truly such an important thing to be aware of. In my opinion it really is a matter of thoughtfulness and compassion. My husband and I were told after being married three years that we would never be able to have children and especially after that the questions about children were so painful. Of course with time, you learn how to best reply but how much easier if people would think before asking. :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing your personal experience here, Colleen! You are so right-thoughtfulness and compassion are what it comes down to which would avoid awkwardness for everyone. :)

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  13. I love this post, i've already one baby.. N then all people asked me to get second baby.. Oh no!

    I dont want them to involved anything from my life

    Now i know.. What answers i have to say..

    Thanks to you

    Btw can you give another elegance answer more?

    So sorry my english not well :p

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  14. The responses you suggest do not always work, especially with older people who feel that it's their job to remind you of what's important in life. I have had several people in my church harass me with both questions. It really is upsetting because I want church to be a sanctuary where I can meditate on these issues and others, not have my community meddle. I'm at a loss as to how to stop the questions without being rude or revealing too much.

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    1. Amidala, I'm sorry you are experiencing this especially in a sacred place such as church! You're right, the tactful responses I've suggested here won't ALWAYS work. I don't know anything in life that always works 100% of the time. If you find that using these examples I've provided do not work for the people who are harassing you, feel free to try a much more direct approach. It would not be considered rude to be direct, what is rude is how these folks are making you feel. I think you might want to cut to the chase if they are that clueless and say something along the lines of: "My personal life isn't up for discussion." OR "I don't wish to discuss my personal life and I'd appreciate it if you would stop the constant questions about it." OR "You've asked me these questions several times now. Please stop asking me about my personal life." Since it is happening quite a bit in church, I don't see why using the comeback of "We're/I'm leaving it in God's hands" wouldn't be sufficient. If they are truly men and women of faith and believe in God's perfect timing, this shouldn't be argued. Some people are fear-driven vs. faith-driven, it's obvious when they feel the need to meddle. If that doesn't solve the issue, you may have to accept the fact that they don't have a care in the world about your feelings, proper manners or etiquette. Some people cannot be stopped or helped. Some people have nothing going on in their own life at a certain age and try to live vicariously through those younger than them or with more exciting lives.

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Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)

Warmly,
Karla

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