Asking The Wrong Questions

Katie Young
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Wednesday - May 21, 2008

After you have been dating one person for a while, people may ask, “When are you getting married?”

And then after you actually do tie the knot, the next round of questioning begins: “So when are you going to have a baby?”

Here’s why this line of questioning should stop: Both are extremely personal and might have complicated answers the person might not want to share.

Perhaps the guy is commitment-phobic and marriage is a sore spot for his lady love who desperately wants to settle down and get hitched. Or maybe the couple wants to get married but money or family is standing in the way.

Asking such a personal and direct question such as, “When are you getting married?” puts both people on the spot in a very awkward way.

If the man answers with an uncomfortable laugh, “Not anytime soon!” This could easily spark a fight between the couple when they are out of earshot. “What did that mean?” his girlfriend might ask.

It might not have meant anything at all. The guy could have just been trying to exit the situation as quickly as possible and didn’t know what else to say.

“I will never, never again ask a woman when she and her husband are going to have kids,” my friend Tiff told me the other day.

Tiff was at a get-together and she asked the wife of a friend when the two were planning to start a family. The woman hesitated a little and then answered, “Oh ... we’re trying.”

Not thinking, Tiff asked even more questions. “How long have you been trying?” “What doctor do you go to?”

Finally, the woman started crying and this is when Tiff realized she had gone too far. It turns out this woman and her husband had been trying to conceive for eight months and were not having very good luck. She was on medication and they finally did conceive two months ago, but she recently miscarried.

Tiff felt so awful. She had been innocently trying to carry on a conversation with this woman she didn’t know all that well and, meanwhile, the woman was just hurting so much inside - cringing at every question Tiff asked.

According to the Web site, one in every six couples of childbearing age has a problem conceiving. Tiff didn’t realize so many women had a hard time getting pregnant because everyone she knew got pregnant right away.

(Note: According to the website, 80 percent of all infertile couples can be helped to achieve pregnancy with proper medical treatment. Most physicians advise you not to be concerned unless you have been trying to conceive for at least one year. If the female partner is over 30 years old, has a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, painful periods, recurrent miscarriage or irregular periods then it might be prudent to seek help sooner. Waiting only six months before having an initial consultation for women 35 years and older is often recommended since, if a problem is found, there is less time for correction. If the male partner has a known or suspected low sperm count, then it also would be prudent to seek help sooner than waiting a year.)

So now that Tiff had made this poor woman cry, she felt just awful. At this point, the woman just spilled her guts about every trial and tribulation she and her husband had endured trying to conceive. But Tiff knew the woman didn’t really want to tell her. Tiff had practically forced her to talk with all those questions.

So I strongly advise you to think before you ask a loaded question of someone you might not know too well. I’ve certainly been guilty of asking those very same things in the name of carrying on an interesting conversation.

But for the people who are being asked, the answers can carry with them a whole bunch of unpleasant emotions they don’t want to share with the world.

It might be best to keep things simple. Instead of asking, “Are you thinking about having kids yet?” you could just inquire, “What have you been up to lately?” You’ll be a lot less likely to receive a response that includes crying.

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