To want to shake this woman

(36 Posts)
pouffepants Sun 12-May-13 17:03:49

Was sat next to a woman at church this morning who I vaguely know. Last time I saw her she was hugely pregnant, and now she had a baby of a couple of months with her. An absolutely gorgeous one, so I dutifully cooed over it, and congratulated her.

This is her fifth child, all of which are about a year apart. So she has children aged about 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0. So I (cheekily) asked 'are you all done now?' And she, with a heavy sigh, answered 'I did hope so.' I guess I probably raised an eyebrow because she then quietly said that she thought she might be pregnant again.

She said, I keep telling DH to 'use something', but he doesn't like it. I asked if she hadn't thought of 'using something' herself, and she said her dh didn't want her to, so she couldn't. I said, well surely you're going to end up with about 12 kids then, and she muttered probably, but I really hope not.

Her dc are all clearly very cared for, clean, well dressed, well behaved, and her dh is very hands on with them. But as she said, that's just sundays, the rest of the week he's working long hours, and she said she's exhausted with it all.

It's not a catholic church, so no teachings against contraception, but even if the reasons were religious, she didn't mention them at all during the conversation. I did weakly attempt to tell her that she should tell her husband more of how she felt, but I felt really uncomfortable since I hardly know her. She then reiterated that she hoped her husband would 'do something' about the situation and then moved on. i just wanted to scream and shake her. The very thought of feeling that you've got to have untold amounts of children made me feel very depressed.

hiddenhome Sun 12-May-13 17:06:43

Some Christian women live in submission to their husbands and leave all major decisions up to him, so perhaps it's a situation like that sad

She could easily arrange to have a depot injection or have the coil fitted and get them to trim the threads up high so he wouldn't be able to feel them.

Tee2072 Sun 12-May-13 17:08:30

That is sad and slightly worrying and, to be honest, a bit sickening here in the 21st C.

Perhaps speak to the clergyperson to see if they can help?

Well I suppose she might have a problem with hormone based contraception

Or she could just be very dim. Some people are.

pouffepants Sun 12-May-13 17:08:53

I wouldn't advocate deception to be honest.

I just fail to understand how anyone can be in a relationship, where your partner completely defines how your life goes.

TallyGrenshall Sun 12-May-13 17:09:29

Why did you want to shake her? Why not her husband?

pouffepants Sun 12-May-13 17:10:53

I can't have hormones at all. So I've always had to use something else. on occasions when I've run out of options DH has had to use condoms if he wants to get his end away. No way would I just be shrugging and letting him get on with it.

scaevola Sun 12-May-13 17:11:41

Perhaps she simply doesn't want to discuss family planning with someone who knows her only "vaguely" and is therefore being deliberately evasive?

You can hardly say "Did you mean to be that personal/rude?" whilst in church.

hiddenhome Sun 12-May-13 17:12:33

These women don't believe that it's their partner who defines their life though. They believe that it's God who directs what their partner does and if their partner demands something of them then it's God who is demanding this as well.

pouffepants Sun 12-May-13 17:14:30

I only spoke to her, and that made me want to shake her.
I'd have to hear his side of the story to see if i wanted to shake him too. but it seems entirely possible that I would feel more anger than would be solved by just shaking him, if in fact he really does prevent his wife from making life choices.

I have no idea if he would go so far as to rape her, so if he wouldn't then presumably she has the power to just say no until he comes up with a better solution.

Why did you want to shake her? Why not her husband?

Presumably because this woman is an adult with a voice.

I would want to shake the husband too. But unless he is raping her, its her choice to make those babies too.

If the husband is abusive then perhaps its a bit different, but I dont get the feeling he is in an outward way. As hidden says, some women choose to be in submission to their husbands.

HollyBerryBush Sun 12-May-13 17:16:00

TBH OP, you initiated the conversation. You asked her a very personal question. I would have been very unchristian and told you to MYOB, with bells on. Let alone having unsolicited advice given. You totally overstepped social boundaries.

pouffepants Sun 12-May-13 17:18:19

She didn't mention god at all during the conversation. It seemed incidental that we were in a church.

And yes, it was a very private conversation. I expected a silly answer to my cheeky question. It was her that immediately volunteered the info that she may be pregnant, and the probs with preventing babies. I kept trying to end the convo because I felt so uncomfortable. But also felt that I ought to help her see there were ways in which she could have power over her situation.

LastTangoInDevonshire Sun 12-May-13 17:18:28

pouffepants - can I just ask you......what alternatives are there that do not use hormones? I know someone who also cannot have hormones and is using condoms (with which they are very unhappy).

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 12-May-13 17:19:53

There's the copper coil, LastTango. And sterilisation, of course.

No she didn't Holly. The woman volunteered the information.

pouffepants Sun 12-May-13 17:20:19

No great answer to that I'm afraid. DH has ended up having a vasectomy which went quite badly wrong.

hiddenhome Sun 12-May-13 17:21:03

She could use NFP if her husband objects to conventional contraceptives.

pouffepants Sun 12-May-13 17:21:53

I agree that 'are you all done yet?' is a personal question. But was clearly a joke related to the fact that at that precise moment she had at least 4 of them clamouring for her attention.

HollyBerryBush Sun 12-May-13 17:24:41

yellow - yes she did - see the OP

So I (cheekily) asked 'are you all done now?'

I'm not going to apologise for thinking it's rude to question someone on the size of their family.

Being pregnant/having a baby seems to open the floodgate for inappropriate behaviour and question - from randoms rubbing your tummy without asking, to being asked whether you want more/have finished/was it an accident hmm/want a specific gender/have a disappointment over gender. It is nosey and bad form.

thecatfromjapan Sun 12-May-13 17:25:56

I think that the reason you want to shake her is because you have realised, at some level, that you have received more information than you bargained for. You feel powerless and overwhelmed.

If you were scrupulously self-honest, you would acknowledge that this was an unintentional but nevertheless inevitable result of your own actions. Furthermore, you would realise that it is a degree of moral cowardice that has led to these unacknowledged feelings of powerlessness on your part: you didn't ask her for further information because, at base, you knew that if she gave you information that made you further feel you were morally impelled to act in a manner that overstepped boundaries of social convention or even your own inertia, you would be forced to go against that moral call. And that would make you feel even worse.

In short: you know you bit off more than you could chew; it was almost inevitable given what you asked. And then it made you feel bad/clashed with your self-image as a good, socially involved, concerned-for-others sort of person.

Result: you have a choice to feel bad about yourself, or angry with her. Hence "wanting to shake her".

This is very normal. It'll pass, though you'll probably feel a swift wash of shame, followed by a stronger feeling of contempt for her every time you see her for, maybe a year? 6 months? (depending on what you are like). And then you'll forget.

I think everyone does this from time to time. It doesn't really matter.

pouffepants Sun 12-May-13 17:29:30

I expected either and emphatic 'YES' from my question or a coy 'maybe' from my question. A 'bog-off' would also have been acceptable. I certainly didn't expect what I got, and it almost felt like she were asking for help

thecatfromjapan Sun 12-May-13 17:32:26

Right. That's what came across from your OP.

OK. What do you feel about that? Remember, there is no law that says you do have to help, or what that help should be. There may be 1,000 reasons why you can't help, or aren't the right person. It does not make you a bad person.

thecatfromjapan Sun 12-May-13 17:34:13

You know, the poster who suggested you bring it up with your vicar, priest, pastor, or some other appropriate person in the church (that you trust) made a v. good suggestion (just imo).

If it were a school, for eg., referring it on, in confidence, would be a v. good move.

How would you feel about that?

pouffepants Sun 12-May-13 18:03:28

I'm a VERY peripheral member of the church, and in fact prob not a traditional christian at all. i use the church meetings as a thinking starting point.

I'm pretty uncomfortable talking to the leaders about anything tbh, because it's very difficult not to end up in a situation talking in christian mantras, and people offering to pray for me. If people think that contraception is wrong, then that's fine with me, but they will have to justify their standpoint theologically, not just go into a woolly 'we must trust god/god moves in mysterious ways/just trust and believe' type thing. That's the sort of thing that leads to people not feeling they're in charge of their actions.

But, as I said, at no point did she mention god. Even if it were her dh's view you would think she would say that he thinks it's god's way, but she didn't. She said she had asked him to use something, and gave the impression that he sometimes did but didn't like it much.
But he completely vetoed her using anything at all.

I would actually have more respect for their situation, if she'd just said outright that it was her opinion that god should control family size.

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