Dear Margo: High School Happens

My husband’s high school sweetheart just called–and he’s leaving me for her. Margo Howard’s advice

High School Happens

Dear Margo: I am brokenhearted about losing my husband of 25 years. I had no idea he was unhappy and longing for a different life. We’re in our early 60s, and we both got laid off. That began a wonderful adventure, but it recently turned very sour.

It all started earlier this year when he received a phone call from an old high-school girlfriend who he said was his first love. Well, now they are renewing their romance. At the time this woman called, I thought nothing of it because my husband assured me nothing would come of it. Ha! And did I mention that this other woman has been married to the same man for 40 years and is planning to leave him for my husband?

I need advice and cannot afford counseling. I am not religious, so that’s not an option. One more thing: My son and his wife are expecting their third child and live across the county from me. I am planning to see them in two weeks to help out with their toddlers because my daughter-in-law is due next month. We both have grown children from previous marriages, and I don’t think our kids have a clue as to what is going on. — Wrung Out

Dear Wrung: I am really sorry that the high-school flame called and blew up two marriages. This rekindling business is becoming more and more common — not that that makes your situation any easier. As for psychological help, check your insurance policy to see what they will provide. Also, there is useful guidance atwww.healthcaresurvivalguide.com for finding free or low-cost counseling services.

I think one bit of good luck is your upcoming trip to be a helpful granny. I hope you stay a good long time, which will give you the chance to be without your husband, but not alone. There is always the chance that Miss First Love from high school will not go through with it, but if your marriage does end, get a good lawyer to negotiate a fair settlement. I hope your spirits lift. One never knows what is around the corner — or across the country. I am a big believer in changing the scenery. — Margo, alternatively

“None of Your Business,” but Politely

Dear Margo: My husband and I have been married for several years, have good jobs and a nice home, and are at that age where all of our friends are having babies. We had planned on having babies, too, but found out that I am infertile. We were devastated at first, but after much prayer and meditation, we came to the realization that it is OK not to have kids. We are happy simply being the loving aunt and uncle.

Problem is, some people knew we were trying, and everyone seems to be asking when we will have kids. I have dodged the questions by saying we are busy working or having fun, because to say the truth seems deeply personal and, as I found when I told family members, it leads to suggestions about fertility drugs, IVF and adoption: all questions I do not want to discuss. How do I politely respond to all those nosy people and avoid the follow-up questions? — Dreading Questions

Dear Dread: I’m guessing you are a new reader, because I have been dealing with some variation of this question for a looong time. I am a great believer in not answering every question that is asked, and also in letting people know that they have overstepped. The next time someone asks about your reproductive plans, I pass on what writer and critic Renata Adler said to me when I asked an inappropriate question: “We could talk about it sometime.” Though sounding courteous, it stings — and proof of this is that I remember it after many years. — Margo, definitively

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2012 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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51 comments so far.

  1. avatar Constance Plank says:

    #1, he is responding to a fantasy about his first love. His first love is a really easy thing: No real life trials, no dealing with the mortgage. Hey, his fantasy works for me! But I know it’s a fantasy.

    Seek legal counsel, let him go, and then go help your child with your grandchild. And start the legal process! He may or may not get a grip. But, you need to stay true to what’s important to you. Help your grand-baby, and make sure that *you* will remain solvent!

    If the two of them want to blow up two marriages, then you should make sure that you and your kids are as undamaged as possible financially and emotionally. I am sorry, but I wouldn’t trust your husband any farther than I could throw him.

    Cheers,

    Constance in the Sierra Foothills of CA

    • avatar Lila says:

      Constance, I agree – it’s a fantasy, and if he and the old flame go through with it, they will eventually find that real life goes on. Oops. But I don’t think I’d want to hang on to a husband who broke my heart for such a selfish, foolish reason. My marriage vows mean something to me, I expect they should to him too.

      • avatar John Lee says:

        Lila – eh, marriage vows?  That’s not big deal for either of them.  It’s both of their second marriages so they’ve already broken the vows once.  Not surprising.  I think the divorce rate for a second marriage jumps from the 50% to like 75+%.

      • avatar kristico says:

        John Lee – that’s a pretty narrow-minded response. Maybe their first spouses died, maybe their first spouses cheated on them. You make it sound as if LW1 just chucked aside her first husband for this loser.

      • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

        John – you are an insensitive creep who is very judgmental. Marriages fail for many reasons, usually because you were young and dumb and picked the wrong person. My husband and I are ridiculously happy after 13 years despite previous marriages.

      • avatar Hellster says:

        Divorce is more likely after one has already been divorced for the same reason that serial killers are more likely to kill again–after the first one, it gets easier.

    • avatar mac13 says:

      Constance, I agree. Miss high school sweetheart is after an unemployed man in his early 60′s. It will be his third marriage. I can only expect to see her letter to Margo in a couple of years. Not my idea of a good fantasy.

  2. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  I don’t think a counselor is going to provide you with the advice you need.  At most, it would give you an opportunity to vent your anger and frustration at your husband’s betrayal.  A broken heart is a broken heart and mends in its own time.   You do need advice, however, from a good divorce lawyer and you cannot put this off while you go off to play granny.  See a lawyer BEFORE your trip to make sure you are protected financially or you may find yourself without a house to come home to.   Be ruthless and even if the lawyer’s advice seems harsh or punitive towards your husband, follow it.   As for what to tell your children about the situation…I would probably let the dust settle a bit and not add worry about you to the new parents lives at this point.  But they are grown ups and they will have to deal with it when the time comes.  It all stinks.  I hope your husband and his highschool sweetheart find their new lives miserable. 

    LW#2:  Margo’s advice is good but I’m not sure everyone is as quick to recognize  the subtle rebuke in*we could talk about it sometime* as Margo was.  I see nothing wrong in simply saying *I don’t want to discuss it as it is a private matter* or something to that effect in a neutral tone.  Then change the subject.  I too am infertile and was often asked about it in my childbearing years and my response was *We have not been blessed*.   That generally ended the subject and conversation moved on to something else.    

     

    • avatar KM says:

      I like your response of “we have not been blessed”.  I am infertile and after years of trying, I gave up and realized I WAS blessed by NOT having any kids! I have had a full and satisfying life so far and am pleased to play with nieces and nephews and listen to my sisters complain about motherhood and it’s ups and downs.  They are actually jealous of me and my freedom…so I guess it all depends on what one considers “blessed”.  LOL

      • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

        KM – too true. I knew I didn’t want kids when I was a kid. I find it hilarious that the older I got, the more jealous the friends and family got! The frequent traveling also fueled it too, lol. All the “well we are going to visit the kids” is just BS, seen it first hand. I went with my sister and nephew to California a few years ago and he proceeded to make the trip miserable, to the point I finally snapped and told him off, my sister THANKED me.

        She and I subsequently went to Mexico and Hawaii by ourselves and had a total blast.

      • avatar Artemesia says:

        Everyone should plan the family they want and it is sad when people are unable to do so. But the idea that in having kids one is terribly deprived is just amusing. In our 40 years of marriage my husband and I have traveled abroad dozens of time and once the kids were grown we have three times spent 3 mos abroad. We have also traveled with our young adult kids several times.

        Our lives are so much better now that we are old because we have kids and I have no doubt that when the time comes that we need help our daughter will look out for us. (we don’t expect to move in with our kids but it is nice to know there is someone in the world who actually cares what happens to us and will protect our interests when that day comes. In exchange we are able to help her on occasion with her young family — a win win since a grandchild may be the sweetest thing on earth)

        It must be sad to reach the time when there is no one who actually cares if you live or die.

      • avatar impska says:

        “It must be sad to reach the time when there is no one who actually cares if you live or die.”

        This is the most inane, insulting thing that people say to childless (child-free) people. As though the childless can’t have fulfilling relationships with their spouse, have rich friendships, or connect with family members.

        I have an Uncle who is childless (with his longtime spouse). They are wonderful human beings who live a rich life. When they die, I will care. My brother will care. My mother will care. Their friends will care.

        My grandfather died at 99 years old. His children/grandchildren were only THREE of the people at his packed funeral (standing room only). Clearly he made a difference in the lives of more people than just the ones that came from his loins.

        Breeding doesn’t make you a good person, or a worthwhile person. Plenty of jerks have children and die alone because no one likes them.

        I hope your kids do care when you die. Having kids is no guarantee.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Katharine, I totally agree that people are unlikely to recognize “we could talk about it sometime.” This subject has been visited many times before – but – people are just so inappropriately nosy, pushy, and judgmental when it comes to how many kids a woman has.

      I’ve mentioned it before, but – child-free by choice, and therefore endured lectures / questions / cajoling right up into my mid-40s. I’ve tried subtlety, light responses, directness, icy stares – some people just won’t be put off, and have a glib answer to every decision you have made and obstacle you might face, as the LW has found.

      Personally, I think these badgers suffer under one of two phenomena:

      1) They have discovered that parenthood is actually expensive, thankless work with a lot of frustrations; they have regrets and miss their old carefree lives; and they are compensating by gushing over the joys of it all, because it is very socially unacceptable to say “I didn’t know what I was getting into and if I had it to do over again, would not have had my kids.”

      2) Some badgers only have one view of a woman, and that is “baby maker,” so they are only being “helpful” with all of their comments and suggestions. Among those badgers who finally understood that NO, I really, REALLY don’t want kids – I then became a selfish monster in their eyes. I only had two settings, apparently: Mommy, and Selfish Monster. Equally incomprehensible.

      • avatar martina says:

        And then there’s me who advises all newly weds not to feel pressured into having children just because it’s expected.  Having kids is expensive, time consuming and can be emotionally exhausting. For a time (of course especially during my daughter’s teen years) I often wondered what I was thinking to want a child because raising her was just so difficult.  She has turned into a lovely young lady, who is intelligent and independent and courageous and I’m glad she is in my life.  But, I will say the socially unacceptable – if I had to do it over again I don’t think that I would have had a child.  Had I known that my husband was not the best father material – though he loves his daughter very much and in many ways spoils her rotten – because of the times I had to fight for her to have a normal childhood because he did not and because of all the emotional turmoil we went through raising her, I think it would have been better for my husband and I to have remained childless.  Because of this, I do often tell people to think carefully before having children and to never feel pressured into having them because it’s expected and of course, only if it comes up in conversation because I think asking why someone has as many children as they do or why they don’t have any kind of falls under the taboo subject of whether or not you’re pro life or pro choice and asking if someone is pregnant because they have a big belly.

      • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

        martina, you have not idea how many people have told me that, including my husband. They know I never wanted children, so I appear to be one of the few, if any, they confide this too….it’s usually “I love my kids and would never give them back…BUT if I had it to do over again…..”.

      • avatar kristico says:

        My favorite response when asked why I don’t have children: “Just lucky, I guess”. That usually shuts up the badgers.

      • avatar JCF4612 says:

        Kristico — am still laughing. Wish I had packed that into my arsenal of responses back when morons asked me when I was having a second. Am passing this on to my daughter who also stopped at one and who still gets badgered. .  

  3. avatar Island_Doc_to_KS_Doc says:

    LW #2: I am childless by both a chance of fate and choice. While in school out of the country, I had an ectopic [pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus,usually in the fallopian tubes] rupture. An ectopic pregnancy is always fatal to the fetus and can be to the mother as well, mine almost was. I am now ‘sterile’ as opposed to ‘infertile’ and in a similar situation. People ask and push all time. I have decided the most straight forward way to end their pushing is with a statement that makes them far more uncomfortable than me. I simply say,” I had a child. Her name was Dinah. I buried her next to our beloved cat before I left the island.” End of discussion. A good friend of mine with SEVEN children [and counting, most likely] has the same problem the opposite way–they ask when she’ll stop. She looks strangers dead in the eye and says,’What you’re favorite sexual position? Because If you want to know about MY sex life, then I think knowing about yours is fair trade.’ There is no need to answer a question you find rude and personal.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Doc, I wonder – maybe try not even answering the question at all. When they ask, act as though they didn’t, and respond by carrying right on with the previous topic or a new one. “When did you say the client would call back?” “Here, can you drop this in distro on your way to Admin?” “What kind of dog did you end up getting from the shelter?” or whatever.

      I was never smart enough (detached enough?) to try this myself… wonder if it might have been more effective.

      • avatar Island_Doc_to_KS_Doc says:

        Ah, my patients NEVER ask if I have kids. There’s never enough time it seems in the ER. The people who get this reply are usually friends of my mother’s, people I went to high school with or someone who seems to assume they need to know. I used to think it was out of curiosity, now I wonder if it’s because of the hot topic of can you be a professional-mom-wife-combo or to see if they can find a way to somehow find me lacking [small town politics are a nightmare]. I found those people will not leave the topic until they have an answer. They get one.

  4. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    LW1 – contrary to what you have been told – see a lawyer before your trip.  Depending on what state you are living in, if you leave the home for an extended time, it can be considered abandonment and enough grounds for him to get not only the divorce but the hime and other assets.  Even if the trip is for legitimate reasons, the courts some times do not take the reason for leaving into consideration, only the amount of time that you are gone.  Please consult an attoryney NOW for your own security. 

    Unfortunately, due to the internet, a lot of long lost loves are getting in touch with their past and they have no care as to the destruction that they are causing as long as their needs are met.  I guess that they feel that if their lives are so sad and hollow that others must be as well.  And many think the grass is always greener some where else. 

    Especially if there are problems to begin with, it can lead a person to stray when they never would have done so.  Sometimes I rue the day the internet was conceived. 

    LW2 – I have no problem with you resonding with “Excuse me, but that is a private matter and actually, none of your business”.  I would never dream of asking, unless it was a very good friend and then I would wait for them to confide in me.     

  5. avatar Trish says:

    LW1: I absolutely agree you MUST see a lawyer before you leave town. Those two are seeking to fulfill a fantasy and like Katharine I do hope they’re miserable together. I don’t know if you can withhold news of the separation from the kids, of course they’ll see the sadness in your eyes. You might just find yourself telling them the truth. The trip itself will do you a world of good, you do need to get out of the house for a while (hence the need to protect your assets before you leave).
    LW2: I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in my early 20′s which meant I had to have a hysterectomy. I didn’t have children either and faced a ton of questions about it over the years. Some people are simply unbelievable in their ignorance and display the most appalling manners. I don’t know why people who are on the outer fringe of our lives feel they have the right to ask the most invasive questions. I remember so many people after finding out I had cancer would stare at my chest trying to figure out which one was fake. Those were the ones I would blast but others I would just tell them that kids were not in our future and change the subject. Wanting kids and finding out it’s not possible hurts deeply, I know. I feel for you.

  6. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Can’t add to the good advice of Margo and others here. I sure wish you the best. Your husband is very likely soon to discover the grass isn’t always greener…
    L #2: If all else fails, a flat “That’s OUR business” should do the trick.

  7. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #2 – If I were to give you advice I would say to be honest because by doing so you have answered their question – stood in your own truth AND closed the door on future questions.

    Question: “So when are you and hubby planning on having a baby? There are so many options out there to help you, you know?

    Answer: “Although we had wanted kids, we won’t be having children, but thanks for asking.”  

    Letter #1 -  We  live in a virtual world now where support and advice is but a mouse click away. If she can’t afford face to face counseling, there is an abundance of resources online that can help by way of support groups, networks of women that have gone through the same thing or resources on how to handle her emotions. All of which can really help.

    And I am going to add (although I know I am the only one that will think this way) the most important thing is to not play the victim -which is what I am hearing a tad of in that letter.  It may suck that he is leaving but he is doing what he feels is best, just as the old girlfriend is doing. It matters not that she was married 40 years. There are MILLIONS of people in marriages right this moment where they are doing nothing more than essentially living with a roommate. The love is long gone. The passion, sex, desire is a thing of the past. And they have stayed together because their partner is “Familiar” and they find comfort in that. So I don’t blame anyone that leaves a relationship for someone they believe they can connect with better.

    He would not have left you if he was getting from you all he needs. It sounds cruel, but it is an ugly truth we don’t like to say to ourselves in these situations.  This is not an instance of a man cheating on the side, this is a man leaving a committed relationship for his first love. That is deep and because of social media – happening more and more. It should be a wake up call for men and women to work on their relationships and communication skills so that they know 100% if their partner is even interested in leaving.       

    • avatar Sita says:

      Belinda, you’re absolutely right. It takes two people to make a marriage work. We don’t know how LW#1′s marriage was working or not working. But since her hubby would rather work on the other grass (maybe greener maybe not) than their grass, LW#1 needs to protect herself or she might find out upon returning from her son’s that she is homeless and penniless.

    • avatar julpfeif says:

      It may not have anything to do with him not being fulfilled. He may just be a jerk.

      • avatar dcarpend says:

        Well, or the fact that fantasy always looks better than reality — until the fantasy becomes the new reality, the shine wears off, and you discover that there are still chores to do, boring evenings in front of the television, and the occasional fart in bed.

      • avatar impska says:

        No, if he was fulfilled, then he wouldn’t be chasing the fantasy.

        That said, it is certainly possible that his current wife CAN’T fulfill him. Not because she’s deficient in some way, or not trying hard enough – but because he doesn’t want her anymore.

  8. avatar Hikerdude says:

    The problem with letter 2 is that they had discussed having children and “some people knew we were trying”, so it’s only natural for people to bring up the topic. It’s not like people are just bringing it up out of the blue, and a “stinging response” is hardly appropriate when inquiring about a continuation of a previous conversation. Save the stinging responses for people who ask how much money you make.

    • avatar Sita says:

      Q: “How much money do you make?”
      A: “Not enough. Do you have extra?”

      That should shut people up.

      Long ago before I had my daughter, people used to ask when I was going to start having children. Since I’m of Chinese decent I used to answer : “There are 1 billion Chinese in China alone, I don’t think they are clamoring for more”

    • avatar itsjustme says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth!  I find that people seem to really carry a chip on their shoulder about this topic and overlook the fact that this may have been much more of an open conversation they engaged in “before they found out” the bad news and now they want to lash out at everyone else for what they perceive as being “nosy”.  Stinging replies are not necessary if you do not want to talk about it (which is understandable)….while there will always be *some* nosy people who don’t get it and continue with a barrage of questions I do believe that most people would easily step away from a kinder response such as “we’ve reached some setbacks in that area and are working through it at the moment” or “I know you mean well but ….” 

      If you look for the worst in people (i.e. everyone is so “nosy”) and respond accordingly then you will find it…how about looking for the best and offering the person a way to gracefully bow out of a conversation that they did not know might upset you.  You may be surprised at the compassion and respect that is shown.

  9. avatar htimsr40 says:

    “Problem is, some people knew we were trying”

    Exactly. Obviously you shared your plans in the past, but now you are uncomfortable sharing. While you certainly have a “right” to tell others to MYOB, your past history of sharing will make that seem rather odd. My advice would be to work on a 30-second story you can share … and THEN tell them to MYOB if they persist.

  10. avatar Artemesia says:

    The moment your husband laid this on you, you should have lined up the best divorce lawyer in town — one with a reputation of protecting the assets of his client. You need to have all your financial paperwork in hand and secured, and a plan to secure your half of the marital assets including the house. A lawyer can advise how to protect them while you go to help your family with the new birth.

    You don’t have to go through with the divorce but will you really want to spend your life with a man who would do something so stupid and childish? Look about this as a moment that may free you to live the life you really want to live without providing maid service to this jerk.

  11. avatar lebucher says:

    LW #1:  Your hubby might be decent about the financial aspects but he also may not.  Protect yourself NOW by hiring a lawyer.  If you take control of the situation you will feel much less like a victim and you will have a plan of action.  Open a bank account in your own name if you don’t have one already and move some funds into it so you can survive in case he decides to raid accounts on his way out.

    LW #2:  I agree with the others who say that since you shared details before, you should not rebuke them for following up with you.  Save caustic comments for those who persist after the first explanation that you’ve decided to not pursue parenthood.  

    I am childless by choice and was on the receiving end of considerable pressure from my mother and sister for years.   My mom in particular kept hassling me about producing grandkids, in spite of the fact that i was still unmarried and did not marry until age 36.  By the time I was in my later 30s they both finally gave up on the subject. 

    Upon divorcing my first husband at age 44, I was startled and amused when a neighbor I’m friendly with said “you’re still young, you can find someone else and have a couple of kids”…  it turned out she thought I was in my mid-30s!  I laughed so hard!  Then I told her my age and her jaw dropped.  It’s made for a good joke between us since then.

    This is of course no joking matter when you wish for children and cannot have them. 

  12. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – Wow. What a kick in the teeth. Get a lawyer and secure your assets. Go and enjoy your grandchildrd and allow youself to indulge in some revenge fantasies about the louse and his tramp of a girlfreind.

    LW2 – I love Margo’s Renata Adler quote: “We could talk about it sometime.”  Perfect and just to twist the blade a bit I’d add a “Bless your heart”.

  13. avatar jayrey says:

    Like many here, I am childless by choice. What is odd for me is that I can only remember a very few people ever asking me when I was going to have children.  One was my beloved mother, who said that she thought I’d be a great mother.  I told her quite truthfully that I felt I could never be as good a mother as she had been and, knowing that, it wouldn’t be fair to any child to give them less than the best. She never mentioned it again. With the others, I simply said, ”I don’t have much patience and know I wouldn’t be a good mother.”  It was the truth, at the time. 

  14. avatar dcarpend says:

    LW1, one other piece of advice: I know you hurt, and you have every reason to feel in need of comfort and belonging. However, I caution you against settling in to make your son’s growing family your whole life and social contact, the thing that gives your life all its meaning. Most young mothers don’t want their MILs to take over all the job of mothering, and would like a chance to have their husband and kids to themselves. It’s kind of you to help out when the baby is new, but you need to start looking, and pretty quickly, too, for other social outlets and activities. Volunteer, take a class, join a club, but do not assume that your son and his family will take the place in your life that your husband used to hold. That way lies resentment all around.

  15. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: If your husband is this big of a louse, you may be better off without him. Does the high school sweetheart have big bucks to support this renewal endeavor? If not, her yearning may cool when she finds out what the financial horizon looks like. Even so, you need to be moving on to a better life.

    LW2: Thank you, Margo. What a fascinatingly polite way to put someone in their place. Frankly, I would be tempted to add “if I ever decide it’s appropriate.”  

  16. avatar wendykh says:

    Hmm.

    I’ll be slightly contrary on LW1. Yes, see a lawyer, protect yourself, get advice. And while away contemplate if you want a man who can do such a thing anymore. Because the very likely reality is this will be YOUR decision after it becomes obvious these two will not leave their marriages, particularly if she knows your husband is broke. No 60something woman married for 40 years is going to leave her husband for a broke high school romance unless a) he’s lying to her or b) her husband is even MORE broke. And if she isn’t leaving, no WAY will he leave. 60something year old men just don’t leave 20+ year old marriages without a new woman waiting for them unless their wife is psychotic or bankrupting them. They are also very likely playing a “reverse chicken” game… “I’ll leave if you do… well why should I leave when you haven’t yet?” Eventually, it will implode. It is extremely rare this sort of thing works out the way internet romeo and juliets think they will.

    LW2: Honestly I don’t get why people get so snitty about these questions! It’s kind of normal in social conversations to ask if you’re going to have kids or not or what your plans are. Kids are something everyone thinks about at some point, whether or when to have them, how to raise, etc. It’s a common experience even if one chooses to not have them, or can’t. Instead of getting snitty about being asked, get snitty if they show judgement. Such as “OMG why don’t you stop having kids already?” or “well why would you do an international adoption when there are so many kids right here who need a home?” (because international kids don’t I guess? Fuck them?) or “well I would never take fertility treatments, that’s just playing god.” (because choosing to have sex when you know it will very likely result in pregnancy isn’t?) or “Just take the fertility treatments it’s no big deal!” or “well I guess god wants something else for you.” Most of them time, people are just ASKING and will be nice and commiserate or offer condolences. Maybe you’re at a point where you don’t care and don’t want to talk about it anymore. I get that. That’s why after my first miscarriage I told no one about the next two besides my husband and didn’t announce I was expecting until like 5 months along with the following child when I finally got pregnant and kept it. But just say so! “honestly, it’s been a really hard road, it’s too difficult for us to discuss, we’re not going to have children, we’re okay with it, but we really want some privacy about it I hope you understand and don’t take it personal.” 99% of people will shut up or say they are so sorry and drop it. This is not a big deal.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Wendy, yes… People just ask… At first. But upon learning that I planned to NOT have kids, a majority – I would guess 90% – started in with the badgering, nosiness, and the rudest, most personal and patronizing remarks you can think of. I have been told by multiple people that I HAVE to have kids; I will be a wonderful mother; have been reminded that my lady parts are made to stretch (excuse me, whaaaat??!); in my 40s, have been informed repeatedly that it’s not too late, there are fertilty treatments or I could adopt. Wow, everyone who I barely know, thanks for all the info, which I must have somehow remained ignorant of even as I made it into my 40s. Thanks too, for deciding for me what I should do with my life and my body, since I obviously made the wrong decision and didn’t think it through anytime in the roughly 30-odd years so far that I have spent NOT getting pregnant.

      And then there were several who actually told me some variation of “You’re horrible,” for not leaping at the opportunity to procreate.

      So – when the innocent question so often leads to THIS kind of conversation, yes, folks do get defensive.

  17. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    My grandparents were married in 1925 and grandma didn’t get pregnant with my dad (and only child) for 10 years.  She said people would ask her all the time when they were going to have a baby and sometimes it would hurt her feelings. She said to me: “if only they knew how hard we were trying – but they were all sailors”.  But I digress.  My husband and I chose not to have kids.  Now, there are several reasons behind that choice rather than the assumption that we don’t like kids.  We’re good with the choice we’ve made and fortunate in that we haven’t gotten much gruff about it from anybody. But then again I’m the queen of deflection – maybe I haven’t really noticed.   I don’t care if people ask us why we didn’t have kids and I usually reply light-heartedly that it just wasn’t in the cards for us.  People will usually nod because they don’t know where to go with that answer.  I find this works as I don’t really want to continue the conversation.  Not because it’s painful for me but because I don’t find it that interesting. 

    • avatar phrugall says:

      Wasn’t in the cards.  I like that.  When asked, I usually say things didn’t work out the way we had planned.  It’s true enough, and you’re right:  people don’t know what to say, so they usually let it drop.

  18. avatar kgoddess says:

    LW#2-since the question is, in itself, impolite, I see absolutely no reason with just saying “You know, that’s really not your business”.

  19. avatar Fortuna says:

    I can understand an honest reason: “I don’t have kids because I don’t like kids”.
    However, “I’m so glad I don’t have kids because I can go to Mexico whenever I want” seems a bit forced.
    I have been more than once the mom who couldn’t join her friends on a trip, but to me it’s not about the sadness of not being able to do something else, it’s about the joy of being with my kids. We simply don’t like a vacation without our kids.
    And no, I am not a dishevelled mom in sweat pants, I am always taking care of my needs first, because if I’m OK, my whole family will be OK.

  20. avatar joyfulmom says:

    Situations like LW#2 upsets me for the fact that, questions about kids and helpful suggestions wouldn’t have been asked in the first place if she’d of just kept their intimate business to themselves.  It’s the simple fact that she’s inviting people into their intimate business and once things does not go as planned, she gets irritated about the questioning and suggestions.  If she doesn’t want the questioning and suggestions, next time she should consider keeping their intimate business bewtween just the two of them.

  21. avatar Obediah Fults says:

    When I was young, these pro-baby blockheads used to confront me from time to time and I always told them the truth: “I didn’t like kids when I was one — and, besides, my boyfriend can’t get pregnant.”

  22. avatar impska says:

    My husband came up with “It’s a personal choice, not a personal problem.”

    Nosy: “When are you having kids?”
    “We don’t plan on it.”
    Nosy: “Why not?”
    “It’s a personal choice, not a personal problem.”

    That doesn’t work for LW, since she let some of these people know that they were trying. So I think “It’s just not in the cards for us” works. I’ve used it before. It usually ends the conversation. Once in awhile you’ll get a REALLY nosy one who continues to harp on it. I think that’s when you firmly use Margo’s rebuke (“Maybe we’ll discuss it some day”). Really, if anyone ever pushed it beyond that point, I think you simply tell them to drop it.

    • avatar francophile1962 says:

      RE LW2: I, like many other posters here, am child-free by choice. When badgered incessantly years ago by a particularly obnoxius acquaintance, I blurted ot “If you must know the painful truth, I was gang raped at the age of 11 with a broken Coke bottle; my cervix and part of my uterus were destroyed. I can’t have children.” A total lie, but you should have seen the look on her face! PRICELESS

  23. avatar Hellster says:

    Being rejected for another is a terribly painful experience, especially after a marriage of long duration. After 26 years, my husband left me for (this now makes me chuckle) an OLDER woman. I was 44, he was 46, she was 55, I believe. It was a horribly painful and humiliating experience for me, but come to think of it, so was childbirth, what with the labor pains and the indignities visited upon delivering women… and just like giving birth to a child, the experience was SO worth it! You cannot see this from where you are now, but fifteen years, several lovers, one husband (now deceased), and a current long-term boyfriend later, I thank my Heavenly Mother for sending that woman to do for hubby and me what we couldn’t do for ourselves–get out of a marriage that could have limped along “til death”, and propel us each into a new life. I’m 59 now, and the last 15 years have been the best and most challenging of my life. I think I can go for another 30. Sadly, the woman my husband left me for has recently been diagnosed with cancer; I pray for the best possible outcome for her, because she provided the best possible outcome to our marriage for my husband and me. Trust me: the best part of your life could quite possibly be waiting for you!