For me, the pressure to procreate started immediately after I got married–at the reception, while we made the rounds visiting friends and family. From I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids.
A few of our relatives hadn’t heard yet that we didn’t plan to have children and made some jokes as we thanked them for coming. There was a lot of, “You two better get to work! You’re a little behind!” In other words, “Jen is older than you and pretty soon she won’t even get her period anymore.” I wished we’d included this in our vows: “Dear Matt, I promise to love you. You’re a good egg. Speaking of which, I probably only have one egg left. I’m comforted by this but still paranoid about having some ‘miracle’ pregnancy. I vow to always take my birth control pill at the same time every night and am hoping that you might continue to use condoms as a backup until I hit menopause.”
Some people didn’t just ask Matt and me when we were going to have kids but took it a step further with, “Why would you get married if you don’t want to have kids?”
I had no idea that marriage was only supposed to be between two people who wanted to get between the sheets and make more people. What ever happened to marrying for love—or to get on your partner’s health insurance policy, or for presents? No one was going to buy two people in their thirties a four-slice toaster if we just continued to live in sin.
The next question always seemed to be: “But what if your husband changes his mind and starts to resent you?” The way I see it, when you marry someone, you ask him or her to take a vow in front of friends, family, and God, promising to pay your bills if you need it, take care of you when you’re sick, and not have sex with anyone else ever again. I have a feeling there will be plenty of opportunities for resentment.
When I asked Matt what he said to people who constantly harassed him about when he would procreate and then refused to accept his answer, he told me, “I just say no. That typically ends it.” Matt has a gift for soft-spoken brevity. Whereas I was always inviting him up to my cabin on Riled-Up Mountain—I tend to live at the top of it.
But, Matt, doesn’t it bother you that people assume that you have no say in the matter? People look at you as some helpless guy who can’t plant his seed because I’m so frigid. Matt remained calm. “I wouldn’t tolerate people looking at me like that.”
Then again, how many people were really asking Matt about “our” plans to procreate? His friends were more focused on our plans to make sure that we always had an emergency pack of Camel Lights in our newly acquired hutch (thanks, Crate & Barrel gift registry!) for them to smoke if they got drunk at our place.
Some women tell me that I have to make the decision for my husband. They say that whether a man wants kids or not, he doesn’t have a biological clock, so he’s not paying attention to timing, which is the same reason men can’t be trusted to accept a kick under the table from a woman who wants to leave a boring dinner party. I know a woman who says that even though her husband isn’t ready to have children, she doesn’t want to fight about it and the day she’s ready, she’s just going to “forget” to take her birth control pill. Listen, if I could take two birth control pills, I would. And I’m glad Matt doesn’t have the same hormones I do. Thank God, because one person crying at those Sarah McLachlan commercials about adopting abused one-eyed dogs is enough in one household.