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I'm Living My Life on MY Terms - So Piss Off!

by Debbie McCarthy

Have you ever noticed how there are areas of your life which you might consider private and nobody else's business, but which society in general considers public property? In this case, I'm referring to the issue of marriage and children, but I'm sure the members of HBI could come up with others.

If you live with a member of the opposite sex for any length of time, any Tom, Dick or Harriet will feel they have the right to ask you when you're planning on getting married and having kids (in that order of course because to do anything else would be immoral *sigh*).

On replying that you're NOT going to do either, and actually you're perfectly happy as you are, the responses range from intense curiosity as to why you should be (weirdly) refusing to follow the norm, to looking on you as something akin to devilspawn. I'm not just talking from personal experience here, I know other women who have had the same experience. People feel highly discomfited that you don't want to follow the pattern. In desperation they will then say really inane things like:

    "It's a phase you're going through, you'll change your mind"
    (this is always said with a self-satisfied smirk)
    <Excuse me, I didn't realise you knew my mind better than I do, especially as I'm 30 and have felt like this for years.>

    "You'll regret it later if you don't do it"
    <Oh I see, so I should put myself through the stress and hassle of getting married/having children just so when it's all over and I'm exhausted and fed up from doing something I didn't want to do, I might just might say, "I'm glad I did that" - NOT!>

    "Who'll look after you in your old age?"
    <Well (a) having children is no guarantee of being looked after when you're older - ask most of the populace of old people's homes and (b) if you don't spend all your money on the bottomless pit that is a child who has the temerity to be growing out of things and always wanting to be fed, then you can afford to save some money if you feel so inclined.>

    "You're being selfish."
    <I don't recall ever promising I wouldn't put my own needs and desires before anybody else's.>

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-children or anti-marriage (well alright I am, but only so far as they concern me!). If people want to get married and/or have children then that's fine, I'm really pleased for them. However I don't ask them WHY they're doing it, (though looking at the child abuse statistics, it could be argued there's a case for doing so, but that's another issue) and I don't expect them to buttonhole ME about MY choice. At least it is a choice on my part which means I've thought about it rather than just going with the flow.

The ONLY reason to get married and/or have children is because you want to, not because your family have nagged you into it, not to provide some kind of security blanket for yourself, not because it's 'expected' and most definitely not to prove a point.

'Nuff said.

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