If you’ve ever grown tired of mom asking when you’ll give her some grandchildren, friends questioning when you and your new partner will tie the knot, or if you’ve ever dreaded a family gathering because you knew you’d have to answer similar questions — then you know the frustration of relentless love life invasions.
When unwed or childless, it can feel as though these topics dominate every interaction with loved ones. No matter how the discussion begins, marriage and babies somehow find a way into the conversation.
Especially if you’re a woman.
Your hypothetical wedding day or when you’ll let someone put a baby in you seem to be all anyone cares to discuss. Never mind the promotion you just got at work or the house you purchased — the fact that you aren’t a mother or a wife overshadows everything else. No matter how many times you tell people you’re doing fine, taking your time, or just not ready, they continue seeking answers. But it’s not usually because they’re insensitive and don’t respect your wishes.
Many people associate marriage and family with happiness.
So, they focus on this aspect of your life, believing it’s a critical means to that end. To them, life is about family and tradition. They don’t comprehend how you can be content while single, and certainly don’t buy that you’re happy.
Friends, family, and sometimes even colleagues and random acquaintances ask when you’re getting married or having children because they think it’s necessary for fulfillment. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can say or do to convince them otherwise. We perceive situations from our level of experience and understanding.
Anyone who’s subscribed to the societal notion that women aspire to marriage and motherhood will rank these “duties” near the top of your priorities. Anyone who believes that life should go in a particular order, such as graduate college — start a career — get married — purchase a home — start a family, will have a difficult time accepting deviations.
People want to make an “honest woman” out of you. They don’t understand the dreams and goals that supersede walking down the aisle or having kids. While you’re playing around with a business idea or traveling, you could be convincing someone to put a ring on it!
Call it tradition, culture, or whatever you’d like.
The idea is that history has laid out a path before you. Why wouldn’t you follow what some consider a proven method for gratification?
What many don’t realize is that their idea of what a woman is supposed to do is the result of gender-biased standards ingrained into society as norms. Women shouldn’t feel insecure when single, or inferior when we can’t or don’t have children. But we often do. We feel like something’s wrong with us or our decisions require an explanation when they don’t align with the typical image of a woman.
The tragedy is when you find a way to feel like you’re enough as you are, alone, and others insist on constant reminders that you shouldn’t. What’s most unfortunate is when you build independent confidence as a woman despite external pressures, and those closest to you chip away at it with dismissive undertones. They won’t let you be happy and single, or childless.
We feel like something’s wrong with us or our decisions require an explanation when they don’t align with the typical image of a woman.
This toxic outlook can lead to settling for fruitless relationships just to quiet the noise and satisfy detractors. Such unions are to protect an image and prove a point, sometimes to yourself, that you’re loveable and worthy — that you’re a woman. It’s sad because women are many things, yet disproportionate value on becoming a wife and mother can profoundly influence self-esteem.
Those who incessantly inquire about your marital or familial status, or scoff at your indifference to the topic, can project their insecurities onto you. You may be able to get them to stop, but it won’t change how they feel. However, sometimes keeping it to themselves is enough to give you room to breathe.
Those who harp on your getting married and having children from a place of love should respond well to pushback.
If you’d like them to ease up a bit, express this desire. Explain that you appreciate the concern for your being happy — and you are. Even if you’re not content, dating and embarking on a romantic partnership can be challenging enough all on its own without this added pressure. Enlighten your friends and family to how their behavior makes you feel and allow them to try and modify it.
When all else fails, change the subject every time your love life becomes the topic of discussion. This response may be especially necessary with elder family members as they’re more set in their ways. Good luck trying to get them to change. Plus, they’ll often pull out the old, “I don’t have much time left” guilt card!
You must live for you. Who you procreate with or marry, if you choose to do either at all, are life-altering decisions. You can’t let anyone coerce you into deciding before you’re ready, or against your interests. You’re the one who must live with the results. When they try to nudge you down the aisle or to the maternity ward, remember that their reasons aren’t a reflection of you, but of them.
Originally published on Medium.com