A while ago, a friend shared a picture of a mutual friend and her husband on her Facebook wall. They had been married for four years; the lady stood sideways, facing her husband and you could see a slight bulge around her stomach which could have been attributed to many things like pregnancy, the dress she wore, bloating/water retention, how she stood, or even the angle the picture may have been taken. In the comments, people asked her all sorts of questions. ‘Are you pregnant?’, ‘When are we coming for Omugwo? (an Igbo term used to describe the visit of a mother/mother-in-law following the birth of a child), ‘When are you going to have kids?’, ‘How far gone are you?’, ‘It has been a while since you’ve been married, what are you waiting for’. I felt really disheartened by these questions because I knew she had been through a series of trials on child bearing. This lady has had miscarriages twice; she has been to a number of fertility clinics and was seriously facing pressures from her husband’s family. You all know how that can be in Nigeria. And then you add these insensitive questions to her problems. Those who asked these questions may never know the impact on her.
Many eligible singles are presented with similar questions/comments daily – ‘When are you inviting us to eat rice?’ ‘Who is he/she?’ ‘Hope you are not choosy o!’ ‘Men are scarce; you’d get too old waiting for Mr. Right or Mrs. Right’. I find these questions impolite and insensitive when asked inappropriately; talk about invasion of privacy! You often find most people in this category are not entitled to the information. Usually it is just to satisfy their curiosity regardless of the effect it will have on the person been asked.
Relationships, marriage and pregnancy are very personal. They are emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually challenging. They are to be discussed with close friends and family until the immediate parties feel it is time to share. People undergo several challenges that you will marvel at if you were told.
In reality, there are women who do not necessarily have to put in a lot of effort to have kids or get married, at least so it seems. Many have romantic courtships with the perfect partner, filled with fragrances from burning scented candles on dates, the perfect proposal and then, a remarkable walk down the aisle and at the slightest sneeze of their husbands, they are pregnant (pardon my over exaggeration of conception).
BANG! Swift updates on social media of a positive pregnancy test. Well, unfortunately, this is not the case for some. The typical journey for a single woman or man involves many attempts at increasing your visibility in the ‘eligible partner’ sphere and for married couples, especially women trying to conceive, it is several visits to fertility clinics, blood work, hormonal treatments and sonograms, both include rigourous spiritual support – prayers, fasting and all. In the case of infertility, if you are even lucky at all to get pregnant, you are not telling a soul until you are well past your first trimester. Not because you do not want to share but because of fear of the obvious.
Before you ask a question or make a comment, there are factors you should consider, typical examples are your relationship with this person, is it stable or not. If you do not know something about someone who is ‘your paddy’, then it just might be intentional. Consider the medium through which these questions are asked (private or public), the emotional state at the time of that conversation (happy, depressed, sad), the implications of your utterances (are you adding fuel to the fire?), also, think about the reason behind the question and possibly how you intend to use that information. These considerations will not only help reduce the likelihood of hurting someone’s feelings but it might save you from unintentionally being classified as an insensitive person. Remember that God provides children and spouses.
Unless a person decides to share their private information, you shouldn’t ask or assume just for the sake of knowing. It is usually safer to keep away from such questions or topics unless someone volunteers the information. If someone opens up to you about such confidential issues, its best to respond saying ‘I am sorry, how can I support you” or even better, “If you ever want to talk about it, let me know”. This helps to keep you from adding to the pressure by asking daily ‘Any luck yet’ or ‘How is the search going’. Some might argue that if people knew what you were going through they’d be more careful with their questions and/or comments, but I tell you, it most often fuels curiosity, and you expose yourself to unsolicited advice from people who take unsolicited interest in what is happening to others and meddle with suggestions and advice, still unsolicited.
There are people in our lives who will genuinely have our best interest at heart and share their opinions once a while, it is important to value those opinions and manage them effectively.We all have our own battles to fight and anxieties to deal with; it will be a lot easier to face these challenges if everyone at least, attempted to think about how your comments or questions might affect the next person. The world would have a little less hurt in it. What do you think?
Photo Credit: Dreamstime.com |Atholpaddy
Seun Tuyo is interested in social development. She loves to interact with people and has a desire to make a profound and positive impact around the world. She suffers moments of weaknesses at the sight of chocolates and a cold bottle of Coca Cola. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram – @seuntuyo