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.