I went to two Christmas parties on the weekend, and variations of the following exchange occurred more times than I want to remember:
"Wow, I hear you and (Mr L) finally got married this year, huh?"
"So are there going to be kids coming soon?"
"Oh, probably not."
"Really? Why not?"
The short answer that I wish I could say without alienating my or my husband's coworkers is "None of your fucking business." Because really, why would you think that my reproductive choices are any of your concern? Whether someone wants to have children or not, it's a private decision. And if you let yourself think about what you're asking, you don't really want to know the answer.
There are two possible answers to that question- "We can't", or "We don't want to". If the answer is "We can't", aren't you going to feel like a giant asshole for bringing up a couple's infertility at a party? Great topic of conversation! Now let's talk about how often either partner cries about the thought! This is not my reason, but I know women who are having problems, and every time someone asks them why they don't have kids, it cuts them deeply.
However, the second possible answer is the one that you're really not going to like. Trust me- I speak from experience. There's nothing I can say that you won't take as a challenge to your own decision to have children (and yes, I know as soon as you ask "Why" that you have kids. When people who don't have kids find out I don't want any, the only response is a semi-interested "hmm."). You see, there are many, many reasons why people may not want children, and you will have a retort for each one.
"We're just enjoying life with the two of us right now." "Oh, but each child is a blessing that will make the two of you so much happier!"
"I never really saw myself as a mother or wanting children." "Just wait till you have your own- you'll change your mind!"
"We're really not quite there yet financially. We want to get a nest egg saved." "You can't let money affect your decision to have kids! God will provide/It always works out!"
"We've got plenty of time to decide." "Well, you know that your chances get lower as you get older, and it's not like you want to be changing diapers in your 40s."
And so on. I've heard all of these reasons why I should go get knocked up immediately. I will want to challenge your answers back (because really? There are no poor, starving kids in the world? And no abusive mothers who don't love their offspring enough?), but I don't, because I recognize that there's no point, and we're in public, and I desperately want to change the subject.
Listen. I'm not questioning why you wanted to have children. I get it. Biological urges. You love your children desperately, and don't mind the loss of sleep and sanity. I may not share those feelings, but I accept that we can feel differently on the subject.
No one in a relationship accidentally forgets to have children. It's a lot of work to not get pregnant, and is generally done after a lot of thought. I can't be convinced by an acquaintance to have kids, and I can't convince you why life may be just as satisfying without them. So can we please just avoid the topic? Let's talk about my cats instead. Here- I've got a picture in my purse. Aren't they cute?