Hi, Carolyn: My son recently married a wonderful young woman, and we could not be happier! He is 40 and she is 36.
I have been asked frequently if they plan to have children. I was actually asked at the reception by friends and relatives! AT THE RECEPTION. Even the manager asked if we would use their venue for a baby shower or christening.
Carolyn, this is no one’s business, certainly not mine, and definitely not the business of extended family nor friends. I have just been answering, “I don’t know.” Is there a better answer that would communicate how intrusive this question is? Stating that it’s no one’s business but theirs seems rude to this old gal, but I may need to head in that direction, since the questions keep coming four months after the wedding. HELP!
DEAR QUESTIONED: “I don’t ask. Couples get enough of this pressure, no? They don’t need it from me.” The next couple in their sights will be solidly, if unwittingly, in your debt.
“I don’t know” is a fine answer, too, though; the simple truth can be an underrated weapon.
I know people are just trying to make conversation, but, seriously?
DEAR CAROLYN: I love my partner and we have a happy relationship of many years. The downside is that many people see us as a unit. I know I shouldn’t complain about having many friends who love and enjoy us together, but we are always invited as a couple, and my partner is not a people person and doesn’t want to go when I would willingly go.
My partner has no objection whatsoever to my attending without her, but other people don’t understand, and I’m often put in the position of trying to make excuses for my partner or coming up with reasons she’s not coming.
Short of saying, “She doesn’t like to socialize,” any suggestions for getting people to understand we are two different people, one of whom prefers not to hang out with you? I know specific people would feel hurt and rejected if I’m clumsy in what I say, and I have to be careful as well not to put my partner in a bad light.
— Just Take Me
DEAR JUST TAKE ME: No one puts you in a position to make excuses or come up with reasons. Except you.
That’s because the need to explain your and your partner’s business (or have it understood) is not real, it’s only perceived; it’s your read on these situations.
Clearly it reflects your own discomfort more than anything else — your partner seems fine with it all — and it’s this discomfort whispering in your ear that the truth is too bad to be told.
In fact, what keeps your partner home is really neither good nor bad. Her reluctance to socialize is just like your eagerness to, a normal variation in a normal personality.
So keep RSVP’ing for one as needed, and share the reason freely when asked: “She’s a homebody,” “She’s tucked in, and sends her love,” etc. That’s it. It’s about her, not the hosts or other guests or whoever else might be poised to take offense. (Which they might, but you told a kind truth, so that’s on them.)
She stays in. You go out. Don’t explain more when there’s nothing more to explain.