Of Marriage, Kids, and Looks

So I’m at the gym Wednesday morning, waiting for step class to start. A thin blond starts talking to me, just casual banter. She tells me she and her husband own a business and have six kids. I tell her I work for the phone company, and live with my boyfriend and our pets. She asks how long Paul and I have been together, and I respond that it will be seven years in August. “That’s a long time! Why haven’t you gotten married?” she says.

 Grrrr. I loathe this question. There’s no good way to respond. The truth is tough: although Paul and I love each other, he doesn’t see himself getting married. It’s hard not to find it hurtful when the love of your life tells you, to your face, that he doesn’t want to marry you. But then I look at all the good things, and I don’t want to throw away a special relationship just because he won’t get dressed up and sign a piece of paper swearing to love me forever. Since I’ve been down that road, been married and divorced, I know that in the end that piece of paper will not hold a relationship together, will not fix what’s broken. It’s difficult for me. So when people ask, especially complete strangers, I usually smile and say that if we get married I want it to be perfect, and we just don’t have the money to make it perfect.

So yeah, I lie.

 I have similar issues when people start asking me when we’re going to have kids. “We don’t want kids,” I always reply. Now, not wanting kids has nothing to do with whether or not I like kids (not that I love the idea of being woken up throughout the night, paying up the ass for daycare, being spit up on, or fighting Paul on the issue of why we cannot name a child Farnsworth). On some levels, I would love to have a child of our own. But then I think about how financially unprepared we would be for one, how difficult it would be to even spend time with our own kid with as much as we work, and how very much we’d be on our own with the responsibility. Up until a year ago, I always figured that if we changed our minds about becoming parents, we would have help from our families. Now that we live in Washington and both our sets of parents are back in California, we wouldn’t have that help.

Kids and marriage aren’t the only things that people seem to feel they have every right to run their mouths about. Appearance is fair game as well. I had a coworker a few years ago that would see me and exclaim, “You look twelve! There is no way you are old enough to work here!” I was in my early twenties and not amused. Often I wondered what would happen if I were to respond, “Oh my, you look sooooo old! How are you still working? Shouldn’t your kids have put you in a home by now?” I know that if I’d said it, I would have been thought rude. Which makes me wonder why likening me to a middle schooler is socially acceptable.

Really, the majority of people find it perfectly okay to say things or inquire about subjects that are none of their business whatsoever. These conversations are unsolicited and, in my opinion, rude. Perhaps I will start voicing this viewpoint. A friend had a good suggestion. The next time someone asks me why I’m not married, she recommends that I should say, “Where are your manners?” When that person gets Shock Face and demands that I elaborate, I can reply to the tune of, “That’s a personal decision and none of yer damn business.”

 Or, something like that.

I’m actually sort of disappointed that I didn’t know the blond at the gym was going to bring up such subjects. If I had, I would have responded to her having six kids by saying, “Damn! Haven’t you ever heard of birth control? You guys must be proof that pulling out doesn’t work! Are you some of them Mormon folk?” I know there are things about my life (and I suppose my appearance) that are not the norm for a twenty-six-year-old. I’m just doing the best I can to make the right decisions and be happy. And even if I say nothing, what I’m thinking to all those who comment on my marital status, lack of offspring, and young looks is “Fuck off.”

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