Great Expectations: Married And Expecting

Spoiler Alert: Being married is not the same thing as being pregnant.

Being married is not the same thing as trying to get pregnant.

Being married is not the same thing as planning to have children.

So, two delightful friends of mine (who, a month ago, let me come live with them for a week for a much-needed sanity break which was oh-so-welcome) have been engaged for a few months. I am so excited for them.

Here’s the thing—the lovely lady of this couple mentioned to me that people keep asking when she will have children. How many children they are planning on having.

I’m not going to try to speak for this couple, obviously. That’s their business.

Not everyone wants to have children. And, in particular, not every woman wants to have children. A lot of people seem to just hear “I don’t want children right now” when the woman is actually saying “I do not want children.”

I think that children are awesome. Raising them can be a wonderful experience. But it’s not for everyone. And I do not just mean that there are tens of millions of horrible parents out there. You don’t have to be a monster like Kate Gosselin or Casey Anthony to be a bad parent, of course. There are people who would be wonderful parents who do not want to be. Artists, teachers, police, and businesspeople who are so devoted to what they do that they are not prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to raise children.

And let’s not forget about the health drawbacks. I mean, first a foremost, a woman’s body is permanently and irreparably altered by pregnancy, and I do not just mean gaining weight. But there are other side effects—like months or even a couple of years with sporadic, frequently interrupted sleep for any parent of a newborn. And that is all after the pregnancy itself, which is notoriously less-than-fun.

Raising children requires a lot of time, energy, wisdom, and patience. And it also costs a lot of money.

You guys—it’s 2012. The biggest thing about the assumption that married couples are planning to have children is that it is such an antiquated idea. Having children is not antiquated, but the idea that marriage is a union that primarily exists for purposes of reproduction is.

So, if you have a couple of straight friends who have been dating for a while, are engaged, or are married, try to bite your tongue when it comes to questions like that. They aren’t helpful, and they can come across as assuming and even pushy.


PS: Also, I am totally following My Friends Are Married on Tumblr, and so should you.

PPS: And read this interview with My Friends Are Married on the marvelous site, HelloGiggles.

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Faith And Marriage

photo of god marriage and divorce pictures
A couple of friends of mine recently got engaged. I am so excited for them. I also introduced them in the first place (and I am not exaggerating when I say that every single girlfriend that this guy has had has first had a big gay sleepover with me shortly before dating him; I’m obviously some sort of match-making aphrodisiac).

Because I’m a compulsive planner and also, I guess, a great big stereotype, I tend to imagine the logistics of any event, including weddings. And potential problems that can come up at weddings—and, thanks to Facebook, I was well aware of no shortage of weddings over the past several months.

A long story short? Religion (and religious differences) can play a major role in any marriage, but especially for planning a wedding. In a marriage, couples might convert or begin to disbelieve or change their religious views while remaining within the same faith or denomination. Even preexisting religious differences can cause friction in a relationship over time, especially when it comes to raising children.*

My friends share the same religious views, but that is not true for every couple. And just because a couple sees eye-to-eye on matters of faith does not mean that their families do. While to an outsider like me, the differences between different Abrahamic faiths seem academic, and the differences between Protestant and Catholic Christians seem even less significant (to say nothing of say, conflict between two Calvinist denominations of Protestant Christianity), these sorts of “church rivalries” can be a big deal.

Some people convert to the religion of their husband or wife. Some people bite the bullet and get married in religious setting chosen by their parents or their new in-laws. Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for the wedding itself, and that can give them a lot of sway with the setting. Sometimes, a setting is chosen that will appease whichever set of in-laws is less reasonable.

Sometimes, couples elope. Have any of you had experiences like this? A fiance, fiancee, parents, or in-laws turning wedding planning into a matrimonial holy war?

*Seriously, you guys, don’t raise your children to be any religion. Please don’t. Don’t raise them to be your religion, don’t raise them to be my religion, and don’t raise them to be atheists. Do not have your infants or small children participate in any religious ritual in which their lives and souls are dedicated to any God, no matter if it’s a tradition in your family. That’s the behavior of an over-the-top 1980s villain. You can share your views, but children need to make informed decisions on their own.

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