Why I'm tired of the mentality that marriage = babies

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Katie
Center of attention
Photo by Matt Wittmeier

Lately I've been thinking a lot about when the right time will be for my husband and I to start trying to conceive. We've talked it out and have decided that it will be soon, but still not as soon as our loved ones are hoping for. We have decided that we don't have to be in that perfectly ideal place financially and otherwise to have kids because, let's be honest, I don't know when or if we'll get there. I don't know if we'll ever feel completely ready for such a gigantic shift in our lives and our priorities.

Thus far, life hasn't gone for us how we'd expected, so I think letting go of some of the control of "when" feels freeing. Still, though: when it's time, it has to feel right for us.

Right for us. Us, just the two. Spouse + Spouse. Potential parent + other potential parent. My friends do not get to decide when. My family does not get to decide when. ESPECIALLY those that are distant except when prying into our lives about such a personal thing.

It doesn't feel right yet.

I'm not even going to get into the million reasons why it's incredibly rude and insensitive to bother someone about when they'll "finally" have kids. That's not what this is about — that's a rant for another time.

What I've been considering a lot lately, and what has been upsetting me, is that marriage seems to = babies according to common logic. I find myself not just frustrated as a woman that is simply not damn ready to have a baby yet, but also insulted for pretty much any family that has done things differently.

Why is it that as soon as my husband slipped that wedding band on my finger I suddenly became a baby making machine? Why is it that baby making is associated with marriage at all?

Sure, I'll cut my own friends and family some slack because it's known that I do want children someday. But what's with all my Child-Free friends constantly having to deal with pressure to procreate even after they've made it clear that kids aren't in the picture — ever? They should be able to enjoy their sparkly rings and champagne toasts without, "Okay, you're married, NOW you'll have kids, RIGHT?!"

Even more than my Child-free friends I think of my friends that have kids and aren't married. Some of them will get married when they're ready, some may never get married, some are single, some hadn't even had the option of marriage until recently (in Washington) or still don't — the point is THAT marriage had nothing to do with their beautiful children. I believe that each of those children were a result of sex — not marriage. Certainly a child conceived by other means was the result of a desire for that child. Surely love plays a part, but love exists without marriage.

  1. Thanks for this post so much. The day of my wedding people were asking when we were going to have kids. It became apparent to me that as soon as I was married I passed from an individual with quirks and dreams to a walking "baby oven" in the eyes of some who all of a sudden became very vocal about what should be in my uterus. I have had family members go so far as saying I am embarrassing the family by NOT having kids yet. My husband and I want kids eventually but we just want each other right now and that is fine with me. 🙂

    • "My husband and I want kids eventually but we just want each other right now and that is fine with me."

      What a great way to put it! Love it.

    • My husband and I were married 6 years before we had our daughter and were hounded by people the whole time. So we had a baby and then, and I am not kidding, two weeks later we had people ask us when we were having another. You can just never win with some people, that's why you just have to do things your way!

  2. or what if you and your husband were trying and not succeeding and not sharing it with everyone. I think it is rude to ask people about that anyway, unless a door has already been opened for that conversation.

    When I was pregnant with my daughter, people were asking me when I was going to have another. I found it alarming.

    • I was asked the same question by my mother of all people. . . .. ummm let's get the first kid potty trained and make sure I can provide for him before we plan a second . . .

  3. I don't find it very difficult to understand why marriage=babies to a lot of people. Many people as recent as my mother's generation didn't use birth control because it was still kind of new, and people didn't want to necessarily take pills all the time. So, many people still waited for marriage to have sex, and sex makes babies. So, marriage=sex=babies. People are still used to things happening that way.

    • It's not as if I don't understand where the mentality comes from, I just don't like it. As a personal choice, of course it's fine. Pushing this on other people is what doesn't sit with me right.

      And this is just my own personal experience, but most people I know started having sex long before marriage was even a consideration for them.

      And again, my own personal experience, but I mention all kinds of different families that I know… with all different backgrounds… and that's kind of my point. I know so many people that didn't travel the marriage –> sex –> babies path.

      • ". . . Most people I know started having sex long before marriage was even a consideration for them."

        I started having sex in my mid-teens, and it was the same for most people I've known. I didn't even consider marriage for myself until much later. Though I have been in a happy, unmarried-but-monogamous relationship for a decade, I know what will happen the second we go official. I am not looking forward to being hounded to breed. I endured enough of that crap in my teens and early twenties, when I fully embraced lack of interest in motherhood. First it was a chorus of "You'll seeeeeeee" and "It's different when they're yours" and "You'll change your mind like I did" and "You're too young to make that decision". Next it will be "BUT YOU'RE ACTUALLY MARRIED NOW!"

        Guess what. We have considered ourselves married for a good long time. If babies were going to happen, we would be raising them already. The foreseeable path, for us, has always been togetherness -> marriage -> togetherness.

    • I agree. I think it's just people making conversation, for the most part. It's the same reason relatives constantly ask you what your major is the second you sign up for college. It's not cause they actually think you know already, or even that they care that much, it's because they can't think of anything else to say so they just follow an easy cultural script.

      • I can agree with this to a certain extent. I'm sure that often, perhaps usually with the people you don't know as well, it can be a matter of making small talk. I think it's fair to acknowledge, though, that conceiving a child is a very personal issue and it's not one that should actually be used for small talk. I also don't think this is the case every time. I can tell you for certain there are many people very eager for me to have a baby and it has nothing to do with simply making conversation when they bring it up.

        • I will admit that I have done this once, when I was young and single. I clearly didn't get that reproduction is not small talk.

          I find myself using props to avoid people asking this question as small talk at parties. Whenever I have a beer bottle in my hand, nobody asks if I'm pregnant yet!

          • It is for this reason that I will be required to drink cream soda out of a beer bottle for the first 3 months of pregnancy. I'm a bit of a boozer, and any time I drink a non-alcoholic beverage at a party I get asked if I'm growing a tiny human from scratch. Sometimes it's medication reaction, sometimes it's just that I'm not in the mood, usually it's just because I'm driving but even then I will usually have one or two beers depending on how long we will be there. And thus, my mister is going to have to be in charge of feeding me cream soda in beer bottles. Or having me go classy and drinking out of a glass.

        • I have a similar issue with my MIL. The first thing she asked after the wedding(at the reception) was when we were going to start trying to have kids because she wants a grand daughter. I admit I was a little snarky when I told her the more she asked, the longer we would wait. She still jokes about it from time to time, but I think she got the hint. We will not be pushed into something for which we are not ready.

  4. I think you're very right. It is so damn rude to pry into other's personal life plans. I think it's one thing to be gabbing with some girlfriends about your plans, but for random aunts, uncles, parents, strangers to put pressure on you is rude. For me, nothing makes me feel worse than when someone is like "Why haven't you had babies yet??!!" and even though they're well-meaning, and I can laugh it off, inside in my head it just reminds me that I can't have kids. GAH

    • Try dealing with your future mother-in-law throwing you a lingerie-themed bridal shower for one specific purpose (and I quote):

      "Babies! I want babies! I want grandchildren!" Said shrilly. In front of everyone.

      Most pictures of the bridal shower show me opening racy negligees from great aunt so-and-so, and looking mortified as everyone giggled around me. Ugh. So intrusive. Like I want to publicize any aspect of my sex life to my in-laws and extended relatives.

      For me, part of the discomfort with the pressure to have kids as a married woman is that others feel entitled to make creepy, unwanted jokes or assumptions of about what I do in the bedroom that would never be socially acceptable outside this context. I mean if someone said that at work, it'd be construed as sexual harassment, but if it's Uncle Joe talking about wanting more relatives it's suddenly okay? I'm a very private person, and when gender roles are enforced by those around you, the resulting prying tends to strip you of that privacy. I hate that feeling of vulnerability as much as the implication that I forfeit all privacy and respect if I have a uterus and a ring on my finger.

      My husband gets his family to lay off by jokingly threatening to have kids, but give them long-winded names like "Lord Tiberius Poopingsworth IV, Esq." It also helps that my future sister-in-law now shares the pressure, but is gung-ho about having kids right away. Makes it easier to fly under the radar.

      • that scenario with the lingerie shower… I'm terrified that will happen to me… absolutely terrified. I'm not sure I could keep myself from sheepishly feining sick or being in a super bad mood and rudely walking out of the party. I am also a very private person, especially when it comes to such delicate topics.

        I wonder if any other private people, who are snarky but strive to be "polite" have any good zingers to answer with when the inevitable prying question is asked? So far I've always had things to answer with like "I can't feed myself reliably let alone a small human" when I was an art student, but as adulthood settles in that answer doesn't work anymore. I like your husbands way of joking to get the family to lay off, but I feel I need a way to say "it's none of your business" nicely and firmly

        • After years of dating and my husband and I telling anyone who would listen that we NEVER wanted to have children, after we got married, many family members (mainly those not invited to the wedding) began snarkily asking if we had FINALLY gotten married so that we could make babies, and when would we be starting? I gave a big smile and replied, "God willing, soon….I keep swallowing and swallowing, but I am starting to think that my uterus isn't connected right!"

          Never asked again.

        • Just as a sidebar about how to avoid sexy lingerie at a bridal shower, my wife and I had a 'theme' where we only asked for scented things. You know — candles, soaps, bath salts, etc. If you set a specific type of gift for the shower, you can avoid that whole nonsense!

      • Not to defend your MIL, but is it possible for older women to get a different rush of hormones that make them crazy and want grandbabies? Like grand-babycrack? They KNOW it's not the right time, but they can't help but want them?

        I think my Mom had a grandbabycrack episode once… and then she started breeding rabbits. Saved by the lepus!

  5. I am with you! I was married for about 4ish years before we felt it was the right time for us to have a baby. We now have a 10 month old and yeah, will probably have another down the road (if we are lucky enough!) but we've been getting "So… when's baby #2 coming?" I MEAN REALLY. The kid isn't even a year old! What is WRONG with people?! Not even my good friends ask me about baby #2- and they KNOW we want more eventually. It's always random coworkers and aunts and uncles we aren't even close with. So rude.
    Also, when I did get pregnant, I had a bunch of rude family members ask if we had been trying since the wedding. WHAT?! Whose business is it? (We weren't, in fact. Like I said, we waited until the time was right for US).

      • This question baffles me waaaaaay more than the "When are you having babies???" question. The immediate "Was it planned?" or "Were you trying?" response. SO INTRUSIVE AND NOBODY'S BUSINESS. Bet people would think twice if they had to phrase it to reflect what they are *actually* asking: "So, did you fuck up your birth control or what?" 😉

        • I have to agree — while asking *when* a couple is going to have a baby is intrusive and sometimes awkward …

          I do think it's even worse when someone stares at your 6-mo-pregnant self and asks, "Was it planned?" It's no longer a theoretical exercise at that point, and if it wasn't … what do you say???? That's like asking if you *want* this baby you are carrying around.

          Extra awkward for me, since we don't do any kind of birth control, so no, it wasn't planned, but it was wanted … but should I have to have that conversation with a stranger??

        • I have the flip side of this issue. My son is just about to turn a year old and we are expecting a little sister for him in August. We chose to have them close together in age, but someone (not even a close friend) had the gall to respond with "Omg, you guys must never leave the bedroom!" We've gotten all sorts of commentary on our choice and it makes me nuts.
          It's just plain rude, insulting & obnoxious to assume someone's intimate life is fodder for public discussion under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE.

    • Like, what are you–a machine? It especially bothers me when people ask that question so soon. I have always heard that we should wait at least a year between pregnancies, in order to replenish everything and to strengthen the body. :O

    • My sister in law mentioned to a customer that she was taking time off to get married, and the customer responded with, "Oh, when is the baby due?" Complete lack of guile, as if the only reason that women in their 20's get married is because they got pregnant. Or perhaps the only reason anyone gets married. In any event, my SIL was so flabbergasted that she gaped at the woman for a moment and walked off the deli line. Fortunately two of her coworkers heard the exchange and one helped the women while the other ran off to make sure my SIL didn't break anything. Everyone is still amazed that the customer didn't get an entire ham shank thrown at their face.

  6. Everyone who asks me when we're having kids is told that I am in GRADUATE SCHOOL. One major life change at a time please.

    Also, my parents have not made a single peep, but my brother keeps teasing me about how his kid wants/needs a cousin. But he gives me a hard time about everything so that's pretty normal. I just tell him that when they're ready for #2 we'll work on #1

    • I am so right there with you! Our wedding is five months after I graduate law school and only three months after my bar exam. People are already asking when we will have kids. I just want to shout at them that I will literally be admitted to the bar a mere week or so before the wedding- give me time to enjoy being a lawyer and a wife without the extra responsibility of children.

    • Ha! That's what I always say, too (except about marriage, not graduate school, in my case). I always say, "We just got married six months ago… I'd like to have a little time to ourselves without any major, stressful life changes going on first."

    • This is how I've been answering too. "Well, we're moving continents in June, getting married in July, and I'm defending my PhD in August… that's enough big life events for a while!"

  7. My now husband and I were barely engaged when I got pregnant. We ended up getting married when I was five months pregnant and although it wasn't our original plan those are the beautiful sequence of events that led us to our current happiness. Recently a very close friend got engaged and there have been a lot of jokes about "Oh is she knocked up?" and comments such as "At least she's not pregnant". I feel like the next time I hear this about my friend I am going to stop biting my tongue and just ask point blank what would be so wrong if she was.

    Sex happens. Babies happen. Marriage does or does not happen. I'm sick of being made to feel like if you don't get everything in the order expected or if you don't want relationship/marriage/babies you're doomed to fail at this thing called life. Life is not a checklist and I refuse to treat it that way.

    • This really shows the whole "Damned if you do, Damned if you don't" situation that women get put into. It is frowned upon for a women to be pregnant on her wedding day, and frowned upon for her to not be pregnant the day after! How insane is the thought process that goes into that?

  8. When my husband and I got married, EVERYBODY but our parents were asking and bugging us about having babies. The answer was always the same 'No, when we're older maybe, but not now.' Then surprise, surprise! Accidental pregnancy during our first year of marriage. Man, let me tell you all of the rude comments about 'I knew you would give in.' I got. It was horrible.

    Then like other's have said, not two days after I gave birth there were questions from distant family, not so distant family, and even some friends (that one got the eye roll) about when we were going to have number two. I was always like 'um…let's make sure I can keep this one alive and my body is all healed before we start talking about that.' Truth was that we weren't even sure we'd want to have any more. We did, eventually, welcome number two, and after explaining to people that this was the last one, that I had had a tubal for goodness sakes, I STILL get it from people who KNOW ALL OF THIS about when we should have a third. That we should have a third.

    It's exhausting. And rude. What people do with their sex lives is none of any one else's business dammit! Babies aren't the gateway to happily ever after. Babies are a big deal, and each new one is another challenge. It got to the point that I'd just say 'Are you going to carry it, birth it, and raise it for me? Because I already have my hands full with these two.'

    Ugh, I could rant about this one forever. But I agree. I am SO over the whole mentality that you need to just be popping out babies from the time you end your vows until you reach the end. SO over it. 😛

  9. Thank you for this! My son was two when his dad and I got married, so we had the opposite problem where as soon as people found out we were pregnant, the constant "when are you getting married?" started to fly. And people got MAD when I'd answer that I didn't know if we would get married. We worked on our relationship as a couple, and when we realized it was a decision we were ready for (which happened to be when our son was about 10 months old), we got engaged. What's also annoying at this point, is that certain family members try to tell my son "Mommy and Daddy got married and then had you!" Um. Nope. Not even close. Now that he's almost three the barrage of "When are you having another one?" "Liam should have a brother/sister!" have begun. Because, you know, I decided to have one child which means I'm now going to make a ton more. We've decided one is enough for us and we constantly have to explain to family members that we aren't having anymore. No matter how much they argue with us. Thank you for posting this!

  10. I hate to say it, but this is one of those sticky moments when being a straight woman sucks! It can be so hard to blaze your own path when it seems like you are on the same path as "everyone" else. Obviously there's lots about having kids when you're gay that people don't handle very well, but at least people make fewer presumptions about how you are going to fulfill your destiny!

    • As a straight woman, I would much rather deal with the rude questions of baby-making than not having my marriage recognized.

      • When same sex marriage is the law of the land (soon, I hope!), I think my straight friends will still be faced with this problem, and related ones–negotiating with male partners over domestic duties, juggling careers and child care, and so forth. My empathy for Katie's predicament is real.

  11. "We have decided that we don't have to be in that perfectly ideal place financially and otherwise to have kids because, let's be honest, I don't know when or if we'll get there. I don't know if we'll ever feel completely ready for such a gigantic shift in our lives and our priorities."

    A big fat THIS!

  12. The VERY first day I met my (then future in-laws) they both asked me separately when I was going to give them grandkids. Woah, awkward.
    Since then, no one has mentioned it (except a couple of guilt-laden comments from my dad and a couple of friends assuming I was pregnant if I happened to be ill for more than a day). No one's poked their nose into my bedroom. My husband and I knew that we were going to start shortly after the wedding because we're both starting the ladder climb to 40 and although there are a ton of "older" moms, I didn't want to be over 40 and pregnant. It's scary to me.

    Now that I'm pregnant, I feel that weird "are we even ready?" panic.

    • I'm with you on this one. My parents were close to my age when they had me, and my mom was pregnant with my younger sister at a time when it was considered high risk simply to be over 35 and pregnant, so my younger sister is the only one with pictures from before she was born. I personally don't want to be 45 and taking my child to kindergarten for the first time.
      We are planning to have kids, if we can. First, my new hubby needs to finish healing from back surgery. He had 2 levels fused, but that didn't stop my younger sis from asking at Easter when we were planning to have kids. I gently reminded her that Tinman's surgery has precluded the necessary activities to get pregnant and told her we'd like a chance to have a honeymoon first. Since the honeymoon is on hold until he's fully healed, I honestly don't care if that's when we conceive. However, I would like not to be 9 months pregnant in high summer in South Texas.
      Sorry, I lost the thought train there. Part of me is actually terrified that I will mess up a kid irreparably. My mom apologizes to this day for her perceived shortcomings as a parent, though I think she and my daddy did a fantastic job considering what a problem child I was. If she thinks she did poorly as a parent, how much worse will I be?

  13. Thank you! When we first saw my dad after we got engaged, he said "I'm so happy for you guys. I can't wait to be a grandpa." As if engagement meant automatic pregnancy. My fiancee and I like kids, but we honestly have no idea if we ever want them. We're not ruling it out, but if neither of us ever start thinking "omg we have to have one" then we won't. I wish people would realize just how personal it is and just stop. You'd think the people who already had kids would know that, but apparently not!

  14. As a woman who chose to be Child Free and sterilized, I get questions all the time about what I'll do when I get married and change my mind about kids. I've been in a relationship for over a decade with a great guy, but we're just not really ready to rush to the alter. Most people that ask about it don't understand how a woman in her mid-30's who's never had a conventional (straight) marriage and never had kids isn't scheming to have both as soon as possible.

  15. As (happily) almost perpetually single and childless Ive always been the one getting the "itll be your turn next" pressure – as if i cant possibly actually be happy, i must be crying myself to sleep wishing, right?! I have never stopped to think about the pressures placed on the people getting married, its an important change in perspective. I think it does take a community to say its not ok to butt into others personal lives, i will be more thoughtful of protecting others rights to privacy now as well.

  16. I've just started answering those rude questions with a rude answer. "When are you having babies" or any questions or a similar vein get the response "When are you going to keep your nose out of my sex life?" I am over being judged and vilified by my or his family for not doing what they want right now, I do not and will not put up with it. People are free to complain about me if they want but after living through the pain of my partners (I'm not even married) family putting actual cash bets on when I would be 'knocked up' I have come to realise I don't owe anyone an answer about what I do with my own uterus. It's not their business.

  17. It's really surprising that this point must continually be made. The idea that everyone must follow the same life plan is so old fashioned. I was seven weeks pregnant when my husband and I took our ten-year wedding anniversary vacation. That entire ten years was filled with prying questions about kids from family and strangers alike. My twins are only five weeks old and people already want to know when we're having another! "we're done" is met with scoffs from everyone. Now I must follow the new life plan of "more than two children"? Somehow we have to convince people that it's okay to make any choice you want for yourself.

  18. I was, and still am, bombarded by this issue almost daily. My mother-in-law started asking us about kids as soon as we got engaged and actually scolds us about it. She has trained all our nieces and nephews to ask me if there's a "baby in my tummy yet" at every family function. Sometimes she tries the "but who's going to take care of you when you get old?" line. But where I get it the most is at work. We just had 3 women go on maternity leave and since I got married in June 2012, everyone is betting that I'll be next. When I tell them we're not having children any time soon (if ever) they just scoff and say "yeah right, I'll give you a year" or "sometimes things happen even though you don't plan on it!" Well, the response to such remarks is not only none of their business, but would make for very inappropriate and uncomfortable lunchroom conversation amongst people I barely know. Needless to say I just smile in distain and return my attention to whatever book I'm reading at the time. I know they don't mean anything by it, they think they're just making conversation, but unfortunately the topic of choice is something extremely personal!

    • I had a few men in my office start a POOL for when I would get pregnant. I was the only married woman in the office who wasn't. Left that job for grad school, where everyone is generally terrified of babies so it worked out haha.

  19. Fortunately, my mother won't ever directly ask me… but I can pretty much hear the gears spinning in her brain any time I mention anything that could even possible be a pregnancy symptom. "I've been having lots of weird dreams lately." "Oh, really? Hmmm… I wonder why. Why do you think that's happening?" Also, I know she did it with my brother and sister-in-law after they got married ("He said she's sick. Do you think she's pregnant???") so I'm sure she's doing it with me too. She was so hilariously bummed out when she finally realized that my brother and sister-in-law aren't going to have any kids… I tried to explain it to her that they just don't want to have them, but she kept saying, "I just don't understand. They could make it work." Sigh.

  20. oh thank you. yes, this, all of it. im actually *scared* to get married just because of this- and we havent decided if we will ever have kids. i dont even want to face it, and i KNOW its coming, i know it'll happen… ugh.

  21. Lol, I totally pulled a George Constanza "Leave on a high note" when a business meeting with 2 of my nonprofit's board members turned to whose labor was longest today. Granted there was a 6 week old at the meeting and no one directly asked when we're hoping to have kids (we've been married for a little over half a year), I felt like being the newlywed I was wearing A Scarlett Letter and bounced as quick as I feasibly could.

    I always wanted kids at 28 and I turn that this October. My partner and I are working the topic into conversation as much as we can without scaring the shit outta the other, but probing from others still pisses me off.

  22. So much THIS. Like many commenters it seems, I've been with my bloke a while (9 years), not married (mainly because I dislike spending money!) and while its not a constant barrage, I have had it raised less-than-politely by family and coworkers. Never my parents, because funnily enough they know me well and aren't jerks.

    I like to think the best response to the "When?" question is "Oh, we're thinking in about NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS." Because clearly it's an issue which affects no one more than you and your partner, and most people aren't affected at all (in the case of jerk coworkers). Exercise your right to tell people to butt out, that's my motto – with all these things, babies, marriage, home ownership, career, all of it!

  23. I remember telling my dad I was pregnant. I was nineteen and had been with my boyfriend for ten months.
    His response, "Well if he's any kind of good man, you just need to go ahead and marry him."
    I know I shouldn't have expected anything less from my father, but I was still completely knocked over. He was on his second marriage as was his current wife. Thankfully my stepmother (having been married at nineteen herself) spoke up at this point and said, "No. That's not right."
    My husband and I got married when my daughter was just shy of two. There was never going to be a shot-gun wedding, or even an guarantee of marriage. We had made a child and that was AWESOME but that act alone didn't mean we were made for each other.

  24. I heart this a thousand times, and when I'm not supposed to be in bed, I'm going to read all the comments. I just got married, and one of my biggest fears leading up to the wedding was having to deal with a ton of "when are you having babies?" questions at the reception. One of my friends wrote "so when are you having kids?" in our card, as joke, because I'd so vociferously complained about how mad I would be if I had to field a ton of those questions (because really, the ppl at my wedding should know me enough not to ask). Luckily it wasn't so bad, not many people said anything, but my dad took the opportunity of his speech to go on about how nothing brings two people together like a child (um, except when an inability to agree on parenting choices drives them apart, dad). He went on at length, and I would have been more angry if one, he wasn't amusing about it, and I didn't know he was doing it in part as a joke. Still, there's a large part of him that wasn't joking, and his other friend made a point of wishing me many children and grandchildren as well. My oldest sister thankfully said "there's plenty of time for kids" in her speech and my dad and his friend are old Serbian men, so it's almost inevitable that they'll assume marriage means making babies, but really it doesn't. Married people who choose not to, or are unable to have children are as married as those with 10 kids. As I've told my dad, he has six other grandchildren to enjoy, and my husband and I are just so..not…ready to have that kind of responsibility. Right now I'm enjoying just being able to focus on my career, which is pretty all-consuming at the moment, and otherwise just spend time with my husband and friends.

    • Oh my, I'm not sure how I would have handled a speech like that! Hahah… fortunately I didn't have to deal with a lot of baby questions at my wedding. BUT at the end of the night, my husband's adorable Grandmother came up to me, held both my hands, and looked me straight in the eyes. Then in her very thick Spanish accent she said, "May you be blessed with dozens and dozens of babies!" And I almost died right there. Hahahahah.

      • Haha! When people say things like that it makes you want to ask "don't you remember small children? Why would you wish DOZENS on someone?!" LOL. One of my new uncles in law referred to me as Mrs. Ko, even though I'm not changing my name, I didn't have the heart to correct him.

  25. I sooo understand where that is coming from. My boyfriend and I have been an item for close to six years, and only last weekend when I was babysitting my younger sister's wonderful kids, she started asking when we would finally have children, and hinting that I was not getting any younger. (Hello? I am thirty!) And then there were the hints and questions and hints from all the mothers I know that as soon as I had spent a weekend with the kids I would definitely want my own, and NOW! In the end I told them that I would let them know eventually, at the latest by inviting them to our kids' 18th birthday.

  26. My FIL reversed the theory. He asked if my partner of 5 years and I were contemplating marriage. When we told him perhaps, maybe one day, he went on to ask why we would want to get married if we both don't want to have kids. I was really hurt, because our marriage would be about our love for each other, not just a means to an end.
    The worst part, two weeks later he announced his impending (third!) marriage and if I remember my Biology 101 lessons correctly, two 60 year olds are not going to have any babies. But the man already has 5 kids, so I'm sure it makes sense in his head.
    Can you tell I'm still pissed off?

    • My mom asked the same thing after my brother and I told her we both didn't want kids.

      "Then why would you get married?"

      I didn't have the patience or grace to explain it at that point so I just walked away. ><;;;

  27. Ever since I got married (about 8 months ago now), if I mention that I'm not feeling well someone says "Maybe you're pregnant!". I've taken to shaking a finger and saying "Don't you put that voodoo on me!" which either prompts an apology or a sufficiently awkward silence to make them never ask again.

    • Ha! That is an excellent response. I really don't know how to respond when someone from the office is like, "You know, is a sign of pregnancy…" WINK WINK. Ugh. So far I've just been like, "Um, yeah, I hope not". And soon we may not have the ability to have kids anyway, but how on earth do I bring THAT up? And why should I?? Anyway, I love your response, and will be using it from now on. 🙂

      • I've been grateful that Tinman and I work in the same office and even the same department. Our coworkers have seen his brace from his back surgery and have kept their mouths shut as it's pretty obvious what's NOT going on behind closed doors, so weird cravings and nausea get chalked up to hormones, bad food, or stomach bugs. I do have a couple of coworkers that are likely to put their foot in it once the brace comes off, but I already know to be on the lookout for them… and I work in IT, which draws the socially inept. Trust me on this, I am one. 😉

    • Hahahah this is great! I may have to use that. I've made a point to stop even mentioning weird cravings or nausea or anything else that people assume is related to pregnancy but I like your idea better!

  28. Thanks so much for posting this. I've been married for nearly a year (together nearly 10) and get asked constantly.

    What is worse is that we're trying, and every time someone 'when we're having kids' asks I just want to cry, that or not so politely explain that the contents of my uterus is none of their business. But mostly cry.

  29. My husband and I waited 8 years to have our first and another 8 to have our 2nd. I received pressure from many people during that time. My mom cried as ours are the only grandchildren she will ever have, I was corned by an acquaintence about just how great it was, all of our friends were having there 2nd and 3rd. I however, felt comfortable that we were making the right decision for the time so I was able to brush it all off but with some difficulty. Ironically by the time we had our 2nd I realized that maybe it was a mistake that we waited so long. Here I was, 40 yrs old with a 6 month old. It didn't help that he had health issues from the start. It's still hard today. I have a 4 year old now and most of my friends of my age have kids in College already. I think that we did wait too long for the right time to come around, and if I had known then what I know now I may have done some things very differently. Life is what we make of it though, so I keep looking forward and never back.

    • The right time for others may not be the right time for you. If I had started when many of my friends did, I would probably be a divorcee who had never met my tinman. My children would be in middle school or high school and I'd probably be fighting to keep a roof over their heads because their father couldn't hold down a job.
      Instead, I went to college leaving my high school boyfriend at home. I met my tinman, and we spent the next 13 years as friends before getting married last December. The old high school ex found someone who has managed to get him in line and he has a job he'll be able to do until retirement(as long as he's not seriously injured, which is a real concern in construction). He has two kids, the eldest of which is in elementary school and he and I are able to be friends. I was certain when we split for the last time that we would never be able to be friends because he wanted to hang on to the past. Now he lives for the future.
      As long as you wouldn't want different children, you didn't wait too long because you could not have guaranteed the same genetic mix at any other time.

  30. We got the reverse of your situation. Over two and a half years ago I found out I was (unexpectedly) pregnant. When we told my partner's parents, the second sentence they uttered was the question of when we were going to get married. This question hounded us until we told them that we were not planning on getting married before (not for lack of commitment), so why would having a baby change anything?

    I've always found it funny that people feel they can ask "when are you going to have babies?" or that people can announce over a family dinner that they are trying. In my mind this is basically like asking "When are you going to have conventionally productive sex" and "we are having a lot of sex." I know the context is different, but I don't need or want to know whether people are trying (unless that person is a close friend or family member, and only then if they feel they want to tell me).

    • I had the same issues when I was with my children's dad. Not a month would go by without someone asking when he was going to make an honest woman out of me. I don't remember lying about my pregnancies and I don't really understand why a wedding would suddenly make me honest. Seems like a bigger lie to rush through a wedding and be like "oh yea! Sure! We've been married the whole time!". I didn't marry my ex because something felt off. My children were not planned. I made enough mistakes in that relationship, glad I didn't add a messy divorce to it!

    • I used to tell Tinman that if I got pregnant before we got married, I would refuse to get married until after the child was born. This stems from my belief that, if a pregnant woman is not considered in her right mind to sign divorce documents, she shouldn't be allowed to commit to marriage either. Why is it she's allowed to make a lifetime commitment, but not end one?

  31. I don't think it's crazy to associate marriage with babies. Certainly throughout history, up until two or so generations ago, marriage did equal babies. Women who did not want family life did not get married, they became nuns, or entered some other profession. People also had children because that's what happened, not out of a desire to fulfill themselves. That line of thinking in itself is not crazy, its how life was/is in many places.

    Even today, marriage is the start of legal recognition for a new family, which is why legalizing gay marriage is so important. For many family = children, not just an adult couple.

    I think the problem comes with the questions about a couple's intimate life. If you are not close enough to someone to ask how their sex life is unrelated to children, framing the question around children does not all of a sudden make it okay. Not to mention how very, very hurtful it could be to ask someone who could not have children why they don't have any.

    • I don't know if I really jive with the "that's how things used to be" explanation. In my mom's generation, it was expected that if a woman went to college, it was only to get her MRS. Yet when the time came for me to go to college, everyone knew better than to insinuate that I was interested in anything other than my education. Yes, it wasn't that long ago that marriage equaled babies, but it's been long enough. No one expected me to get married right out of high school either, so why are they still clinging to guaranteed and immediate babies?

    • I don't think it's crazy to associate marriage with babies either, but I do think it's unnecessary. I appreciate that you acknowledge how personal a topic it is, but I still think you've missed part of my point.

      My point is, quite simply, that things have changed. There are all kinds of families out there.

      I would say that is ONE reason why legalizing gay marriage is so important, but certainly it's not THE reason why.

      And you're right, for many, a family does = having children. And I respect that. But I also respect that for EVERYONE your family is what you make it. I don't think my child-free friends have any less of a family than my friends with three kids. And my husband and I do plan to have children some day, but we still already feel like a family.

      So I do still think the problem is the association. Marriage does not = children.

  32. I remember in my first engagement, before we even set a WEDDING DATE people were asking me "when are you going to have kids?" I really wanted to say "When everyone stops asking me that stupid fucking question." But I put my game face on, just said "let's get through the wedding first." And left it alone. Then we broke up, because he had to have children to feel fulfilled, and I didn't. I guess the thing that probably irritates me the most is the fact that women aren't looked down upon (and shouldn't be!) for having children. So why are those of us that choose not to, looked down upon?

    I especially hated it when I got asked that question from people who didn't even really know my background or childhood. It could have been worse, but it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. I pretty much took care of my mom, dad, and grandma, until I was about 25. Now I am 28, I am finally finishing up school, and enjoying some well-deserved "selfish" time. But now that I am about to get married, I am afraid people will come out of the wood works asking about children. And I hate the fact that it is seemingly SO terrible to say "we don't want any/they aren't for us". Am I really that much of a monster? Because sometimes that is exactly how I feel.

    • Motherhood is not for everyone, and it does not make you a monster. Keep standing your ground and be proud of yourself for doing what feels right for you. 🙂

    • Monster? NOT A CHANCE.

      Realistic, confident in yourself and the life you want? YES.

      There are a lot of people on this planet. You COULD have kids, but you don't HAVE to. Some people don't want to have kids because they think they will be a bad parent. I think there are tons of people who could be good parents, but don't want to or have to be. Children aren't the only way you can contribute to your community or your family!

  33. I am bracing myself for this. About a week after my upcoming (1st and only) wedding I will turn 35 years old. I have waited a long long time to meet this amazing wonderful man and we are so excited about spending our life together. I know that even though I am older conception is still potentially possible for me… but its honestly not that important to us as a couple. Our life is fun and fulfilled and happy without having to invite a 3rd and 4th person into it. I want to enjoy our marriage and being husband and wife for awhile. When I got engaged my mother asked (politely, without pressure, because my mom rules) what our plans for children were and I said "MAYBE later" Luckily I haven't heard anything else about it…yet. I feel guilty, because my parents and FH's parents would love to be grandparents, but ultimately I know the right thing is to stick to what we know is best for our life together, even if its hard for other people to understand.

    • THIS. I am unconcerned with my fertility or lack thereof. I am married to the man I wanted to marry and, while kids are lovely, I'm quite focused on building this life with him. If my "chance" passes by, so be it. This is where I am right NOW.

  34. I've been saying that we are on a "5-year plan" since we got married in 2010. As the years go by, it remains 5 years even though technically it should be T-minus 3 years at this point. Our life is very hectic and we aren't in the "state" that we need to be in, both literally and figuratively. He's still a student working 2 jobs and I want to move back to Tennessee to be close to my mom before going down the mom path myself.

    By telling everyone we are on the "5-year plan", it gives people an answer of sorts and they leave it be. If they ask follow-up questions, I usually respond with saying, "well we could have it sooner if you would financially sponsor the birth and raise the kid until we have the time to do it ourselves."

  35. Ugh. I must have heard "Grandbabies!!! We want babies!! What's wrong with you?" at least 200 times over the course of my 21st to 27th years. Well I have made two now so they can shut up. (my husband and I were together for ten years before we decided to make babies so I truly understand how gloriously peaceful the baby wait can be).

    The sad thing is that this sentiment has transferred to my sisters now and one of them has reproductive issues that my mother apparently does not understand. As many times as I take my mom aside and tell her to (politely) knock it off there is no end. Some people seriously are very insensitive and intrusive. 🙁

  36. My mother in law gave me a "sexy" purple and black negligee for Christmas one year. We were staying over and sleeping in their room in a complicated room swapping around manoeuvre that happens every time. It all got a bit creepy when she followed the gift with the "we want grandchildren" conversation before announcing an early night!

  37. I find myself toeing this difficult situation a lot more since I've had a kid. It always has irked me that people figure it's their business of how your sex life is going now that you're married. But as the first of my friends to have a kid I find myself finding ways to ask other committed couples if/when kids are in the picture simply because I am desperate for another mom friend. I always apologize and stumble all over myself when trying to politely inquire because I know that it's private and none of my business. Come to the dark side! We have babies!

    • *Hug* I do understand feeling like the odd man out. I was on the opposite side of this situation though. I'm one of the last in my family and among my friends to get married so it's been rough as friends and family cancel plans last minute because they couldn't find a baby sitter or one of the kids is sick. Part of me felt bad for them and their kids, but another part was annoyed. It was so much simpler before they had kids! Now my opinions are changing. I'm growing up and realizing what a joy children can be. I babysat for years, but also hated going to a restaurant that had families of screaming kids. Just last week, tinman and I went out for dinner. At the next table was a family with a squealer. I believe it turned out she just wanted to be held. The big change was, aside from covering our ears to protect them from the shrillness of the squeal, we weren't that irked at the baby. Give your friends time to come around. Try not to pester them.

  38. such questions ARE very rude. I think the best response is 'I add six months every time someone asks me when we'll have kids. We`re up to oct 2015.'

    The best response is from two friends of mine who got hitched last year. They are gay and when asked if they`ll have kids they say candidly' well we practice sometimes for HOURS every night but so far nothing`s happened yet' Most people are soooo embarassed at that point it shuts them up pretty fast hahaha

  39. What really gets to me is the fact that husband and I have decided not to have biological children for very personal medical reasons. If I break down (as I am often pressured to do) and explain this to someone, they suddenly generate a medical degree and start suggesting all the ways that we could bypass those pesky little problems. The status of my fertility is not fair game, and the assumption that husband and I are "going to get down to work" (thanks, nosy coworker for that one) on bio-kids is like a knife to the gut sometimes. We're happy with the idea of adoption, but it still stings sometimes that that path is closed off to us, and the judgments don't help.

  40. Okay, I'm dreading this, and my fiancé and I actually ARE planning on making a baby as soon as possible after getting married. Like I will be getting my IUD out a couple of months beforehand and we'll switch to condoms until the wedding and then serious immediate trying. It's what feels right FOR US–not because anybody told us to. We're getting married right at the beginning of the time period where it will make sense for us to have kids.

    But what if it takes a while? What if it just doesn't happen? I really don't want to be having that conversation with everyone I meet.

    He suggested that, when people ask, we should just respond: "Well, we're f–ing like bunnies!" and walk away. Or I should say something like, "Oh my god, I'm ovulating, I can't believe that I forgot I need to be having sex right now! Hold on brb!" and run off. And then they'll feel awkward enough that they'll shut up.

    • Even if it does go to plan be prepared for a whole different set of dodgy comments from people anyway!

      I got pregnant a few days of our wedding (totally unplanned) and when we finally gave in and announced it on facebook a few months later I was flooded with highly inappropriate public and private messages. Seriously, you'd have thought half our wedding guests had stayed in the bridal suite with us.

  41. Thank you so much for this post. " Love exists without marriage" – I couldn't agree more. For me, love and marriage are not at all the same thing. It's lovely when they coincide, but one does not guarantee the other.
    Just to add a positive note to the stories here – my partner and I have now been together for nearly 10 years. Over the years, I've faced a barrage of 'when are you having kids?' and 'you'll have kids, won't you? You'll change your mind'. I always answered it with honesty and sometimes sometimes bluntness: 'We don't plan to have kids any time soon. I don't want to talk about it.' After we got married, I expected the comments to increase, but honestly, they've decreased. Miracles do happen – I think people have gotten the message that it's none of their business. And as the pressure has faded, we've had the space to actually consider the possibility for ourselves, alone, without outside interference.

  42. My fiancé and I will have been together 9 years when we marry in Oct. Marriage has always been important to me, motherhood has not and although fiancé is on the fence, he loves me for me. But even before we got engaged we had comments on both. It's like you're meant to follow some predetermined path regardless of your personal feelings on the matter. I've been asked 'when are you marrying?' (before even engaged), 'will you just have babies without marrying?', 'why are you bothering to get married if you aren't having children?', 'so are you getting married because you want children?' Then there's all the comments when I say I like being an aunt and having my dogs and don't want my own children; 'but if you like children you will want your own one day', 'you'll change your mind' etc etc
    They are mostly well meaning but so unintentionally rude! I dread ever changing my mind because of the number of 'I told you so's' I would get! No one should be made to feel like they need to justify or explain what is such a personal life changing decision.

    • I totally get this. My husband and I were together for 5 years before getting engaged, and now we've just gotten married and been together a little over 6 years. I got a lot of "when are you getting married questions from nosy relatives, coworkers etc, so rude! Luckily I haven't been bombarded with the kid thing yet, but like you, I enjoy being an aunt, I have a cat, and I just enjoy focusing on other things right now.

  43. This is my first marriage and my fiancee's second. He has a beautiful little girl from his first, and I have 2 amazing children from a previous long-term relationship. We have discussed it, our family is the perfect size. And yet, I still get "So, are you going to make one, like, together?" It's so frustrating. So, the three children we already have aren't good enough because they are His and Hers, not Ours? Even after trying to explain that we are both happy with what we have and there is no desire to have more, we are pushed. It's not just for people who want "just us" but apparently it means you have to make a child with every single person you marry, even if you already have a perfect family.

    • Right! My sister in law asked me when I was going to give her brother a child of his own. I was so hurt I started crying. Like is my daughter not good enough for your family? I told her my standard response, "i can't have kids." She felt like crap as she very well should have. Of course I "can't have kids" because of birth control 😀 but when we decide to have another, she'll be a "miracle"

  44. "Of course it was planned, didn't you get the email? We sent all our acquaintances a reproduction schedule."

  45. Ugh, this post speaks to me.

    When I was a "bride," I felt like I was perceived merely as a body that had to be dressed up and act a certain way.

    And now that I'm a wife, I feel like people think it's just a matter of time before I'm a mother.

    I LOVE being married and part of a kick-ass partnership, but I miss the days where people seemed to try to get to know me a little before placing me in a category! My close friends knew better than to call me a "bride," and they recognize that, right now, my dog is my baby.

    My husband and I are capable of making an impact on the world in many ways together, not just by making genetic recombinations of ourselves!

  46. there is one upside to how common this annoying reaction to marriage is: it implies an acceptance of not-marrying in our culture. everyone knows you can "just" live together and do commitment in your own way—including having or not-having kids. but i for one know a lot of people that take the big marriage/legal step at least partly because they're interested in having kids.

    the question of whether one is going to have kids is a pretty natural thing for others to wonder about, marriage or no, so educating folks that it's really not cool to ask is going to take decades, generations. it's kind of like, "You graduated from college! Congratulations! Are you thinking about grad school?" c'mon, let me have a few years off before you pester me with such questions! "We consider it a personal question that is separate from our marrying. We'll be sure to let you know if we become pregnant." maybe that would work?

  47. My fiance and I have been together for 9 years. We have chosen not to have children. I was born and raised in Phoenix and he is from Ohio. We moved to Ohio a little over 3 years ago and after moving I realized that people in the midwest think a lot differently about family/children. The amount of times I have been asked when I would have children since moving here is unreal. The comments that really gets to me is "well you just don't know you want children yet" and "you'll change your mind." That is the craziest thing I've ever heard. I long for the day that I won't have to explain why I have chosen to be child-free!

    • I noticed that myself when I was living in the Midwest. One winter break, my then boyfriend, now ex, and I drove to Texas for Christmas with my parents. From there, we went to Arizona to celebrate New Years with one of his old high school buddies. Since I had never been, we stopped by the Grand Canyon on our way north to I 70, and spent a day in Vegas taking in the architecture. We stopped in Colorado because the pass was closed for a snow storm and decided to go skiing the next day… another first for me, as was getting in a fight on the slopes when listening to his advice about skiing caused me to fall.

      Long story short, when his mother heard we'd spent time in Vegas, she gave him a knowing smile and a wink. It took almost half an hour to convince her we hadn't gone to Vegas to get married and hadn't gotten married on a whim while we were there. Honestly, that trip was the beginning of the end and a last ditch effort to save a relationship between two completely incompatible people.

  48. 1) I COMPLETELY agree with the assumption that marriage does not equal kids. You can have either without the other.

    2) There may be an explanation for why people ask so many questions about your plans for babies at weddings.
    (I think weddings are weird. I had a hell of a time figuring out what I wanted to do for mine. I wanted it to be meaningful, I wanted to express personal feelings, but I didn't want to do it in front of so many people. We ended up having a lovely immediate family-only ceremony that I loved. But looking back…weddings are still weird. And I hate going to some other people's weddings because I feel like I am intruding on a private moment! But this is all probably rooted in my husband and I being introverts and not huge fans of PDA- obviously not everyone feels this way, and they don't have to!)

    So for me it seems that a wedding makes aspects of your personal life (feelings, desires, promises) a public affair. You invite people to share in your commitment and joy. You invite people to think about your lives as a couple. This is great, but there are unintended consequences. If you have a certain type of ceremony, they mention welcoming kids and how you will raise them DURING the ceremony. If this doesn't do it, the well-established idea of the "wedding night" does, and your guests are probably imaging you and your spouse getting your freak on. There I said it- that's what people are thinking about! From there, there isn't too far of a leap to procreation… and that's how we arrive at questions about babies ON YOUR WEDDING DAY. GAH.

    I am hoping that since more couples are cohabitating before marriage, this will help decrease these logical jumps from marriage to sex to babies, since we're shaking up the order. And I loved all the one liners to discourage that line of questioning that commentors provided above- will definitely be using some of those!

  49. I think the reason behind the Marriage=Babies, is that the purpose of Marriage in it's origin was to have babies, or maybe for a man to be sure that all the babies were his (think how lions will kill a male, then kill all the cubs so the females can have HIS cubs).
    Anyway, the point is the 2 things were one once, and people don't like to change their traditions

  50. I've always said I never wanted kids. Getting married in two months and all of a sudden, from people who very much know we don't want kids, this:

    "Okay, you're married, NOW you'll have kids, RIGHT?!"

    WTF is with that? I get why the broader public associates these things (though they are wrong), but these people know us. Very disappointing/irritating.

  51. I actually had a winning feeling the other day. A lady I work with just had a daughter get married and asked me the other day whether we were planning to have kids soon. I mentally went "Here we go…" but, as I explained part of the reason we are waiting(hubby needed back surgery in March and, while he was recovering from that, he was laid off. He's found a new job paying better than the old one, but we're still in flux as I decide what to do about my job), she started nodding like I was talking sense. Apparently, her daughter is being hounded by her MIL to start procreating immediately, while she wants her daughter to wait and enjoy being married for a while first.

  52. Even though Mr. Shed and I have made it abundantly clear that we never want children, we still get hounded about it but now it's mostly family members asking WHY we don't want children. Then when we honestly answer by saying because we're selfish and like the freedom to do what we want when we want to, never mind the fact we don't really like kids, we get some REALLY judgmental looks. Luckily (I suppose), I have type 1 diabetes (among other health issues) and I can usually placate people by telling them we don't want children because we don't want to risk passing it on to them. I also once had a (female) coworker tell me that I HAD to have kids because IT'S MY JOB.

  53. This past weekend my husband and I had to go to an out-of-town family funeral. We though that since we'd be seeing family, we'd share with them that we had put in an offer on a house, and that it was accepted. We were always "bugged" about kids, but I can't tell you how many times we were bugged about kids this weekend. The fact that the current owners have a room set up as a nursery only made it worse. Honestly, at one point I thought to myself "and this is why I don't mind that we moved to a different city." I just wanted to scream for everyone to fuck off.

    We were always bugged about the next step: when would we get engaged; when would we get married; when would we buy a house? And the SECOND we had checked off that next step, people were already hounding about the step afterwards. Like, couldn't we just enjoy dating? Couldn't we just enjoy marriage? Can't we enjoy moving into our first home?

    I have a couple friends who plan on not getting married, and I can only imagine how bad it is for them.

    Thank you for sharing this. I was going to say that it was nice to hear that others went through this – but really, it isn't.

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