Small Talk Series: Marriage? Kids?

Thanks to my friend, Jamie, for offering this topic up.

I didn’t truly understand the extent of its awkwardness until I was married.

I try to understand that for a lot of people, the natural steps to their conversations with people in relationships is: What about marriage? What about kids? And then if you decide to have one kid, they ask about the next one.

But while this might be the steps two people decide to take in life, often times it’s not, or not all timed out, and/or it’s not anyone else’s business.

Getting married and having kids are two topics that people have the most opinions about and have no problem asking each other about, yet, they are also two of the most intimate and private matters a couple will talk about with one another.

Society has created this unnatural pressure that some people give in to, some people feel anxiety about, and others just ignore. But the pressure is there and the expectation is that we are going to listen to and comply with opinions and questioning from other people.

What makes this worse is that it’s part of the plethora of small talk conversations. Perfect strangers have no problem asking if they can touch a woman’s belly while they are pregnant. Where is the social etiquette in a situation like that?

Soon after a couple gets married (and I mean within weeks), a person you just met might ask, “So, when are you having kids?”  I wonder, what makes people go to that conversation? Why not ask about  jobs and homes and hobbies?

What if a couple isn’t planning on having kids? What if they are unable to have kids? What if they just want to wait a few years? No one should be guilty or ashamed for having to answer this question with a “Well, that’s not really any of your business.”

Jamie said it well when she commented on the topic, “In my opinion, that is small talk because my answers will not impact THEIR life at all.”

Isn’t that the truth? Perhaps small talk is so difficult for me, because I want to have more meaningful conversation, rather then just fluff. But I don’t want to have conversations about personal topics with just anyone. Small talk is often geared toward surface-level relationships and introductory conversations.

I will get into that more when I discuss the why, but it’s important to note the difference between small talk and regular conversation and what Jamie said is key to separating them.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Agree? Disagree? How have you dealt with this topic in small talk situations?

One Comment

  • Jackie

    Small talk is difficult for me. I don't share the charm and social ease that some do. Add to that the fact that many people, whether close family or mere acquaintance, feel that they are entitled to pieces of you or knowledge about your future.
    I have a two-fold opinion about these particular questions, though. Early in your marriage, when people are still patient these questions are sweet and inquisitive. That doesn't bother me. It's a way to fill the space, to feel like they have something in common with you, or to share some wisdom they think they have gained from their own experience.
    Later in marriage, though, people get aggressive. They are no longer sweet or inquisitive, they become judgmental. You haven't yet, don't want to, or can't have children and are failing to fill some quota or milestone they have expected from you. There is supposed to be a “natural” progression of things in a relationship and once you pass the given timeline you become a freak, or a commodity and they feel the need to press upon you that you are not getting an younger, you'll never be able to afford kids so stop waiting, or some other unhelpful and disparaging remark.
    This is when I started getting upset. These are the questions that are hard to answer and really just get tiring, because whatever you say is not going to satisfy the need they have to help you “fix” your life to fit their expectations.
    I probably rambled, but after 5.5 years of the same questions and the intense looks I have serious qualms about people and their insensitivities to the fact that relationships, like people, are all different. Here's hoping your crowd is more understanding. 🙂

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