Two Questions Women Shouldn’t Ask

During a leisurely lunch with three dear friends some time ago, horror stories and scars surfaced around two familiar topics.

Among the four of us, two are married with children, one has never been married or had children, and one is divorced with no children. We range in age from 35-51 and are committed Christ followers.

First, I need you to know something. This post took significant time to write and pray through because it’s rather blunt about sensitive topics.

This post isn’t a vent — it’s a plea borne out of loving others. That being said… 

Throughout our adult lives, my three friends and I have been asked two questions so many times that we’ve lost count. To this day, we remain flabbergasted that some women haven’t caught on. There are two questions that plainly shouldn’t be posed to another woman — unless she’s your BFF or a close second.

Question #1: Why aren’t you married?

Stated like that, this question isn’t really a question. It’s a judgment. 

Since I didn’t get married until I was 29, I fielded that question a LOT of times. We met when I was 23, dated for two years and were engaged for four years while he finished post-graduate college. During those six years, if we would have collected $1 from each woman who asked me why I wasn’t married yet, we could’ve easily paid for the wedding and honeymoon four times over.

As our conversation continued, my three friends and I realized that more often than not this question was posed by married women. That’s tantamount to a millionaire asking an unemployed person why they aren’t buying a mansion.

Even if asked in a caring or flattering way (perhaps she thinks highly of you), it still stings. Believe it or not, some women ask it to intentionally inflict emotional or social harm. And trust me, those on the receiving end can tell the difference.

I’ve also been asked innumerable times since my divorce nearly ten years ago why I have not remarried, along with who, when and whether or not I am dating. Frankly, the answer is entirely too personal to discuss nonchalantly with casual acquaintances. So I never bother. 

Last month, a Christian friend whom I hadn’t communicated with in a while asked about my dating status. When I responded that I was not seeking to be in a relationship, she typed a stunning one-word response: “Disobedient” — immediately followed by, “You’re not a nun.”

Wow. Currently, I am more content in Christ, peaceful and purpose-filled than at any other time in my adult life. But she didn’t ask about those things. She simply judged one aspect as the whole story and moved on.

If you are single, divorced or widowed, perhaps you need to hear this today: God gave marriage as a blessing, not an entitlement or commandment. He did not create us as half a person seeking another half to “complete” us. We are whole and complete in Christ alone. The rest is all grace.

I loved serving God as a married woman. I love serving God as a single woman. Simply put, God calls some women to serve through their marriage and others through undistracted singleness. The key is a passion to love and serve God no matter your marital status.   

And the second question… 

Question #2: Don’t you want children? 

Again, stated like that, this isn’t a question. It’s a judgment.

This question has caused more scars in my life (and my three friends) than any other. It presupposes so many things that it’s hard to know where to begin addressing it.

Asking a single woman that question is cruel — whether intentional or not. Perhaps having children has been a lifelong, unfulfilled dream that has cost her many sleepless nights and a river of tears. What if she believes marriage should come first? Should she rush out to the nearest bar and hook up with the first man she sees? Should she rush to the sperm donor bank and sign up? 

Asking a married woman that question presupposes that she is physically able to bear children. Perhaps she and her husband have tried to conceive children for years only to face financial hardships due to unsuccessful fertility treatments. No woman should ever be expected to share her private struggles or physical condition to justify why her home isn’t overflowing with children.   

My ex-husband and I were married for thirteen years, but didn’t have children. We trusted God’s plan that if He wanted us to have children, He would provide. I believe we would have been wonderful parents. But now looking back on divorce, I believe God knew best. 

Some people have pulled out the Christianity card. “God designed women to have children, so you’re disobeying if you don’t have them.” Yes, people have actually had the audacity to say such an unkind thing to me and my three friends in the past. And when such a statement comes from someone we hold dear, the wound plunges deep. 

Some people have played the adoption card. “So many children need good homes, why aren’t you willing to adopt?” Stated like this, that question is also a judgment. Perhaps she is, in fact, willing to adopt, but is still thinking and praying through the many considerations of such a monumental commitment.  

Simply put, no woman owes another an explanation to these two extremely personal questions. Over time, I’ve learned to smile and deflect the tension. However, the pain inflicted still takes significant prayer, extending relentless forgiveness, and time for God to heal.

The bottom line? Those two questions negate God’s sovereignty. They infer that we need to follow cultural norms or our own plans instead of submitting to His. If no one has ever asked you either question, you are among the blessed minority. 

If you are unmarried or do not have children, please hear this truth loud and clear:

Despite your marital or parenting status,
   God loves you right now
   Just as you are. 
   Precisely where you are.
You can joyfully, successfully serve him today.

Following God isn’t about conforming to some cultural mold of how others believe our lives should look. Remember the Apostle Paul? The Apostle Peter? One was married, one was not; one had children, one did not — but they made a powerful difference for God’s kingdom from their individual, God-designed circumstances.

God can use any person at any time in any place for His holy purposes.

No tangible thing on this earth makes us more or less of a Christian. Following Christ never hinges on whether or not we’re married or have children. It’s about being in relationship with Him. It’s about our desire to know Him and be fully known by Him. To rely on Him for our every need. To receive His immeasurable love and amazing grace into the deepest recesses of our soul with overwhelming gratitude.

So to my fellow women who have been on the receiving end of these two questions: I love you. I know what it feels like and I’m so sorry for your pain.   

And to those women who believe it’s okay to keep asking another woman either of those questions, STOP.

PLEASE STOP. 

They damage — and even kill — friendships.

*These wonderful friends are not members of my home church. They read this post when I originally wrote it and gave permission to share the generalities of our discussion in the hope of shedding much needed light on this sensitive topic.*

_________________________________

Donna’s brand new individual and small group Bible study: “Perseverance: Praying Through Life’s Challenges” (based on the book of Nehemiah) is now available through Concordia Publishing House and Amazon.

15 thoughts on “Two Questions Women Shouldn’t Ask

  1. Teresa N

    Thanks for your thoughtful insights and sharing. Love the gifts God has given you to share your heart and touch lives for Him.

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      Like much of the wisdom God provides, it comes through the fire. Thank you for your sweet encouragement.

       
       
  2. Lana Erickson

    There is much Godly wisdom in your words. I wish all of us would consider our words and Biblical teachings before opening our mouths or hitting “send”.

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      How true, Lana. We need to know Biblical teachings, as well as how to guard our tongues. I love your heart after His.

       
       
  3. Marilyn Bader

    Donna, it was with interest that I read this. I remember when I was in College at Concordia in Seward in 1961-63 our Dean of Women was Velma Schmidt. She was single. I did not date much and figured I would never marry. That was okay with me because I then would pattern my life after Miss Schmidt. I had the highest regard for her. She was serving the Lord and was dedicated to her position. I admired her!! The rest of the story is- the Lord had a wonderful Christian man chosen to be my husband for 51 yrs before he was called to his heavenly home. I had a barren womb and was asked many times why I didn’t have children!! Once again the Lord had a wonderful plan as He chose a 6 week old baby boy and a yr later a teenage boy to be our sons.
    “What God ordained is always good”.

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      Marilyn, thank you so much for sharing this grace-filled, lovely insight. Your trust in the Lord is so tangible. Indeed, what God ordains is always good!

       
       
  4. Linda Gage

    Donna – it is so evident that the Holy Spirit is guiding your words to help and heal others. Thank you for passionately sharing these Biblical truths and opening your heart to inform, admonish, and encourage. God has His fingerprints on you, dear sister and sweet friend. That is evident in how you joyfully live your life and boldly share your faith as a redeemed daughter of the King! Please know that you are loved!

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      Linda, you are such a sweet encouragement and blessing in my life. Thank you. You shine His light so beautifully!

       
       
  5. April

    Thank you so much for sharing this Donna! I have always brushed off this frequent question, and at times conversation starter, as a joke to guard myself from that sting. Some times were harder than others, especially when it came from people that I had the up most respect for. It is beautiful to see women of God show love when discussing topics like this in an age when being single and without children isn’t common.

    God’s Blessings 💕

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      Thank you for your candid honesty, April. Loving each other through our various seasons of life is so necessary! God’s plan wins — always. God’s blessings to you.

       
       
  6. Don’t even get me started on the children question. I always joke that the Lord knew what He was doing when He didn’t give us kids. I tell people, “I’d leave them in the cart at Walmart & take my groceries. 😉 All kidding aside, these are hurtful questions. Personally, I’ve never asked the question. I wait for the people i’m with to tell me about their life. I know most times the questions are asked innocently, but it’s still hurtful. In my case, I’m at the age now where I get asked, “how many grandkids do you have?” None. Didn’t have the first go around. 😎

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      Haha! I love your sense of humor! I’ve often thought the same thing. The store manager would be calling to ask, “Umm…are these your kids?” 🙂 You are more thoughtful than most, my friend. And so very gracious.

       
       
  7. Thank you for the raw honesty of this post. May God “all-ways” harness my lips and allow me to only speak with love and grace.

     
     
    1. Donna Pyle

      Joining you in that prayer in my own life. ❤️

       
       
  8. Leigh Lonardo (Womack)

    Thank you for this post Donna- I have been thoughtless at times, and learned (sometimes the hard way) that everyone has their own path, and in the differences we grow. I appreciate your nurturing lesson, and I am also sorry for being self absorbed. You are a beautiful encourager!

     
     

Comments are closed.