Privacy - am I overreacting?

I had a discussion last night with my husband that left me feeling…uneasy. I’m not sure if it’s something I should be upset about, or if I’m overreacting.

I’ve always been a private person. I don’t like people being in my business and I like to keep things like money, medical matters, and marital issues, such as family planning goals, private.
My husband agrees, but is a bit more open than I am about such things.

When we were engaged, my husband and I discussed when we would begin having children. By the time the wedding came around, we had decided we would try to get pregnant within a year, probably later rather than sooner. A month or so before the wedding, my husband’s sister-in-law directly asked him if we were going to have children right away or wait a while. My husband told her that we would “maybe wait a year or less.” We ended up changing our minds and our son was born 10 months after our wedding.

So, fast forward to now, when a friend of ours made a comment that our sister-in-law had told her that we planned to “wait a year or two” before having children. She then said, “What, did your NFP not work?”

This really bothered me for a number of reasons, which I explained to my husband:

1.) Sister-in-law was directly asking about something that wasn’t her business.
2.) Sister-in-law told someone else about it and exaggerated it (“maybe a year or less” became “a year or two,” as usually happens when things get passed from one person to another)
3.) Our son is viewed by others as an “accident” and a testimony to people’s opinions about how NFP does not work as well as contraception does (friend and sister-in-law think contraception is morally acceptable).
4.) Overall, private matters in our marriage are no longer private and are being discussed outside of our marriage by others.

I told my husband that, in the future, if anyone asks about when/if we are going to have more children, how many children we are going to have, etc., I would like us to have a polite but vague response prepared, such as “Well, we are thinking about it…we’ll see how things go.” He said he would do that, and he was glad I told him how I wanted to handle it because he does not see sharing such things with others as a big deal. He agreed that sister-in-law shouldn’t have been repeating what he told her and he was also annoyed that “maybe a year or less” became “a year or two,” but he didn’t think it was a big deal or wrong of her to be asking such a question. He also said that in his opinion, it is not really that big a deal or un-heard of to talk about things like how many children you’re going to have, when you are going to have them, etc. (Sister-in-law has shared her number of children and timing of them multiple times with many people.) He said there is direct benefit to knowing other people’s family planning goals and for them to know yours. He gave a hypothetical example of…suppose we wanted to take a family vacation before getting pregnant again so we planned it for a certain time, but then sister-in-law got pregnant and they canceled the trip, it would have been helpful to know that they planned to get pregnant at that time so we could have not worried about the vacation. :confused: I understand where he’s coming from, but still don’t see it as a benefit to know everyone’s plans for the number and timing of their children.

He also said that people are going to speculate and wonder when/if you are going to have children whether you tell them about it or not, and so if you don’t share anything, then people start wondering and speculating too much, so it’s better to just tell them about it. :rolleyes: Once again, I see his point, but I don’t think it’s a valid reason for broadcasting your private business. I admit I’ve always worried more than I should about what others think of me and that I shouldn’t worry so much about it. But I still don’t see any valid reason for sharing something private such as the number and timing of children.

He said he respects my opinion and can see my point of view, and that he will give the polite but vague response we talked about if anyone questions him in the future. So, there’s really no issue. I guess I am still just annoyed that he thinks all of this is okay. Am I wrong? Am I overreacting about it? I’d just like opinions. Thanks. :wave:

I guess I don’t understand the privacy level you want.

But if you and your husband have discussed it, *he *should understand. And I would wonder why he told his sister anything. :shrug:

I don’t see where your SIL did anything wrong. There isn’t anything wrong with asking a question. If your husband didn’t want to answer, he shouldn’t have.

And unless you were there, you don’t know what he said to his sister. He could have said, “a year or two.” (Were you both on the same page ?)

I just don’t see that asking your brother when he plan children is oh so personal. But if you want him to keep it private, and he doesn’t do so, then you have a problem with *him. * Not your SIL.

I don’t think you’re overreacting. It’s one of my pet peeves that people nowadays think it’s an acceptable topic of conversation to ask a married couple things like, “So when are you going to have kids?” or “Are you going to stop after #3?” etc. Those questions are incredibly tacky–not to mention that the answers are absolutely no one’s business but yours and your husband’s.

Your plan of having a polite but vague answer to these types of questions is good, and it is good that you and your husband are now on the same page for this. I can understand why you would be annoyed that he doesn’t see your SIL’s rudeness for what it is, but it’s best to let it go, especially since you have agreed on how to handle these types of questions in the future.

I’m with you. These subjects are only between your husband and you. If anyone else asks, just tell them that you prefer to keep that info on a need-to-know basis; therefore you’ll tell them only what they need to know, when they need to know it.

That does sound very aggravating as a situation.

“I told my husband that, in the future, if anyone asks about when/if we are going to have more children, how many children we are going to have, etc., I would like us to have a polite but vague response prepared, such as “Well, we are thinking about it…we’ll see how things go.””

Yes!

I like “I don’t know” and “We’ll see.” When I had one little toddler, what I used to say when people asked was “I’m just a trainee mom!” That way, if you have another one, people assume that you’ve decided that you’ve earned your wings.

I definitely wouldn’t close the door either way. If you say you’re not having kids and you do, then people talk about your kids being accidents. And if you talk about having a large number, but don’t manage that, then people will talk about that, too. (“Poor Lily Rose, she said she wanted 8 kids, but she can barely manage just one”) I got married assuming we’d have 4 or 5 or 6 kids, but what with one thing and another, it’s been 15 years and we have just 3 living children. But I’ve never, ever mentioned that 4-6 number to anybody in real life besides my husband.

“…but he didn’t think it was a big deal or wrong of her to be asking such a question.”

It’s not a terrible or unusual thing to ask, but people who ask have to be prepared to get non-answers.

“He also said that in his opinion, it is not really that big a deal or un-heard of to talk about things like how many children you’re going to have, when you are going to have them, etc. (Sister-in-law has shared her number of children and timing of them multiple times with many people.)”

Given that people don’t have total control over their fertility (no matter how medically aggressive they are), I don’t think it makes a lot of sense as a subject, any more than announcing that you want exactly 2 girls and 2 boys. That is just setting everybody up for hurt feelings if, for instance, you get 4 girls or 4 boys.

“He said there is direct benefit to knowing other people’s family planning goals and for them to know yours. He gave a hypothetical example of…suppose we wanted to take a family vacation before getting pregnant again so we planned it for a certain time, but then sister-in-law got pregnant and they canceled the trip, it would have been helpful to know that they planned to get pregnant at that time so we could have not worried about the vacation. I understand where he’s coming from, but still don’t see it as a benefit to know everyone’s plans for the number and timing of their children.”

If there are very specific plans that might be cancelled, it makes sense.

For instance, a friend of mine and I were planning to do a major overseas trip together, but I was also trying to get pregnant. I warned her well in advance, but I did not tell anybody else besides my doctor and my husband. She was literally the only person who needed to know. (And as it happened, I did have to cancel the trip. Yay!)

Likewise, if you are supposed to be a maid of honor in a wedding or something like that, it’s fair to tell the bride in advance if there is a probability of you ballooning up and not fitting into your dress or having to cancel.

But those are very specific events.

“He also said that people are going to speculate and wonder when/if you are going to have children whether you tell them about it or not, and so if you don’t share anything, then people start wondering and speculating too much, so it’s better to just tell them about it. Once again, I see his point, but I don’t think it’s a valid reason for broadcasting your private business. I admit I’ve always worried more than I should about what others think of me and that I shouldn’t worry so much about it. But I still don’t see any valid reason for sharing something private such as the number and timing of children.”

Does he also think there should be immediate announcement of pregnancy? That’s another subject you guys need to discuss.

“He said he respects my opinion and can see my point of view, and that he will give the polite but vague response we talked about if anyone questions him in the future. So, there’s really no issue. I guess I am still just annoyed that he thinks all of this is okay. Am I wrong? Am I overreacting about it? I’d just like opinions. Thanks.”

It’s good he’s in theory on board with the polite but vague response, although be prepared that when he’s under live fire (like actual questions from inquisitive friends and family) he may screw up a couple times.

People these days are so into oversharing that it seems normal.

Also, there are inevitably going to be revisions (perhaps multiple revisions) in your family planning, and it makes sense to be vague. Let’s say, for instance, that you announce that you want 6 kids, and then you have one tremendously difficult or special needs child. Do you want the whole family gossiping about, “Poor LilyRose–she wanted a large family and then she had little Bobby, and it was just too much for her.” That might be 100% true, but it’s very unfair to little Bobby. (That’s essentially what happened to us–we planned a larger family initially, but then it turned out that one of our kids is special needs and we had to revise down. Fortunately, we hadn’t been blabbing our plans.)

**“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you, if you realized how seldom they do” Eleanor Roosevelt **

I put that quote first because I think of it often, it has helped me a great deal to be able to let things go and I am hoping that it can help you too. God bless you and thank you for sharing your concerns. First of all I want to address your concerns you outlined. #1 is your sister-in-law asking questions, you are right in that she should be told it is not her concern. However it is likely that your husband and his sister have a dynamic in their relationship and a communication style that has been like this for a long time. Your husband may need some time to adjust and probably just answered his sister out of habit. This may take time for him to change but I understand your desire for him to do so.

As far as your concerns #2, #3 and #4…please read again carefully what you wrote. You have absolutely NO control over this. Other people are going to say things and gossip no matter what you do. Other people are going to think things no matter what you do. Other people can discuss your marriage and your children even if you don’t. This is out of your control. People could have had the opinion that your son was an accident whether or not they heard what your sister-in-law said or not, you cannot control what other people think. I know you are frustrated and think that it all started with what your husband said and blame your sister-in-law’s distortion of the facts, however you know that gossip could have occurred anyway.

People will talk about you, you must accept this. People will criticize you behind your back and roll their eyes and this is simply how it is. You cannot control this. Then they will move on because they have their own lives to live and their own problems and their own concerns. Like the quote says, people really are probably not thinking about you that much…they have their own marriage problems and money problems and other problems it is unlikely they are fixated on when you conceived your child. God bless you and please be assured of my prayers.

I’m a very private person and I totally agree with you.

My own mother never even asked me about private things like that. It’s really no one’s business. Sometimes people just want something to talk about. (no offense.)

I don’t think you’re overreacting to take that stance.

I do think you’re overreacting if you’re angry with your husband for holding a contrary viewpoint, especially considering that he has agreed to adhere to your preference on the matter.

I can understand where both of you are coming from. (Although the argument that it’s good to discuss family planning goals so as to facilitate planning joint vacations well in advance seems to be stretching it to me :p)

Do you have siblings? My wife and I have gone through similar experiences and she’s an only child, so that has played into things. It bothers me less because I’m used to a family that is always talking about what everyone else is doing. :o

But I completely understand why this would upset you. Once the comment has been made, it’s out there.

I think the best thing to do is as you have done: going forward, have a joint plan on how to handle these types of questions. Even though your husband is offering some explanations as to how sharing could be seen in a positive way, he has still agreed to be vague in the future. Perhaps he’s just trying to put your mind at ease about the past situation. The important thing is that he hears your concern and is going to honor it.

I don’t think your overreacting in the general sense, as you say you are a private person and that is fine and to have a vague answer is fine too…maybe even say “sorry I like to keep these matters between myself and my husband” so all parties are aware.

I do think you are overreacting in regards to your husband having a different opinion - you won’t agree on everything and he has respected your feelings and decision so this is fine. Not regarding children but my husband and SIL are very close (which is great) and he mentioned something to her that I didn’t want her to know…I explained I was upset and while he to this day still doesn’t understand my reasoning, he respects my feelings and decisions. I in turn respect that while we are married, we can’t agree on everything.

I think a previous poster saying your SIL is rude is a bit over the top, without knowing the tone and full situation, to ask her own brother a question is perfectly acceptable especially if maybe she is trying to understand more your point of view on NFP (you mentioned she was for contraception). Remember everyone is different, personally I find planning children exciting and often ask friends etc how many they want, when are they going to start etc…if they are private people I either know this in advance and don’t ask or they tell me and I don’t mention it again.

I don’t ask out of rudeness or to gossip but because I am generally excited about people and their lives. I like to think everyone is happy, enjoying life. I guess I am just interested in people and hearing about their plans.
It’s funny you should post this today, I just got back from a work colleague lunch and we all married at a similar time last year…the lunch was about how many children, when, prenatal vitamins, excited times of being late and hoping for pregnancy etc etc…to us it’s perfectly normal, exciting and fun…BUT as you prove, everyone is different and that is perfectly OK just don’t expect everyone to be the same. However everyone should respect each other’s opinions just make sure everyone is aware of what your opinion is.

Also people make a good point, people are going to talk and speculate no matter what you say/do. :shrug:

No. But it is done. Try to let go of it. If your husband is fine with sharing and you are not, ask him to meet you in the middle and use that vague method. Too little info out there is better than too much if you want your privacy. I for one am big on privacy. Such issues are no one’s business unless you share your own information.

My husband told his brother we were pregnant after I made it abundantly clear not to say anything to anyone as we already knew it was not likely to come to pass.
He did. Then his brother, who was asked firmly to say nothing further to anyone, told everyone.
It did not come to pass. Imagine my heavier burden of dealing with the in-laws.
Not the same situation, but frankly, if you don’t want the info out there, ask hubby not to share. Get on the same page with him on this.

God bless.

The decision as to when to have children is a private matter between you and your husband.
The sharing of information with others should be discussed between each of you. If you wish to share information, both should agree to what degree of sharing will be done.

This would be true if feeding them a little information a) would stop the speculation and b) could be given out with the caveat that you might change your mind. I think we all know it does not work that way. If people pry into your business and you answer them, then they conclude that you do not mind if they pry into your business, and the questions keep coming. That is not the worst, though. If you say you have one plan and then want to change it later, you are not believed. It is assumed instead that you failed to do what you had intended.

On that account, one is forced to conclude that to share one’s private business with certain other persons will constitute a near occasion of sin for them. It is better to encourage them to occupy themselves with something other than making conjectures about your life, since doing so will be of no spiritual profit for them. It is kinder not to be too blunt about that, but it is realistic to expect that firmness will be required. Teach the mouse that no peanut will come no matter how often it hits the bar, and eventually the little creature will realize that the peanut dispenser is out of order, even though it has a brain smaller than a pea. Persistent application of a rule teaches even the slowest learner.

Let us also treat this: “He agreed that sister-in-law shouldn’t have been repeating what he told her.” Why on earth does he expect her to keep secrets about himself that he himself discloses at the least provocation? Did he even ask her to keep it a secret, or did he just throw the information out with no request at all for discretion with it? If he can’t keep his own confidences and obviously confided the information for no end except to indulge her curiosity, she cannot be blamed for not keeping those confidences for him.

And then this one: “…suppose we wanted to take a family vacation before getting pregnant again so we planned it for a certain time, but then sister-in-law got pregnant and they canceled the trip, it would have been helpful to know that they planned to get pregnant at that time so we could have not worried about the vacation…” Does he really want his relatives announcing at the time they’re trying to get pregnant that this is what they’re trying to do? Think about that. That’s a bit TMI. A pregnancy is not like a bridge closure. It does not automatically come because it is planned, the whole world does not need to know it is coming ahead of time, and it is better accomplished well away from the imaginations of others. Let it be announced after the fact, instead. As you now see, this will keep the wags from wondering out loud why the project was accomplished ahead or behind schedule.

Here is a good rule for family press officers: If you do not want someone picturing you doing something, giving you advice about how to do it, asking why you haven’t done it yet or how it is that you have done it so soon, or telling your children about all the mistakes and false starts that went along with getting it done, then don’t tell them that you plan to do it. Accomplish the task and announce completion only when you have accomplished it.

I don’t think you are overreacting. It sounds like you were able to have a calm, mature discussion with your husband and come to an agreement about what should or should not be said. If you freaked out and screamed at him or something, I’d say that would be overreacting.

I am very much like you- I prefer not to discuss medical or financial situations with people, and that includes family planning circumstances. My husband is more like yours- he doesn’t see what the big deal is about sharing such information. However, he has been very respectful of my wishes to keep such things between us, and as far as I know no one, friends or family, has any idea of our situation. He doesn’t really understand my preferences, but if I ask him not to discuss something with people, he won’t. It sounds like your husband is willing to do the same, and that is good.

I’ve come to accept that, as much as it bothers me and I think it’s rude when people ask such things, most people aren’t being intentionally rude. It is really common for people to ask such things, and if more people kept their business to themselves maybe they would learn not to, but the way things are people don’t think they are doing anything wrong by asking personal questions. It’s up to the person being asked to set boundaries regarding what they do or don’t want to talk about. Enough vague answers, and most people usually figure out that they aren’t getting much information out of you, and stop asking. A few don’t, of course, but most will.

I do think your sister in law was wrong to discuss such things with other people, but I also think that because your husband originally answered her question he set up the expectation that he didn’t mind if people knew. It sounds like you have a plan going forward, so just focus on what you will say in the future and don’t worry what people think.

Also- you or your husband must have given more details than timing, since your sister in law and the friend knew you were using NFP. I am sure there are mixed opinions about this, and I can understand wanting to be a witness for NFP, but in the future if you want to keep things as private as possible I would not share that information either. My husband and I have not told a soul about using NFP, and maybe some people think we used contraception. Well, they shouldn’t even be thinking about it at all because it’s none of their business, but if they want to assume that, it’s okay with me. I don’t mind promoting NFP in a general way, but when it comes to personal use I think providing the information about using it opens the door for people to ask more questions.

Depending on your personality or the personality of the offender I have several suggestions.

I sense that you are a tactful private person. Dang!
Because I enjoy coming back with a very graphic response. Nothing steers the conversation away from that better than making some busybody blush.
“how many kids are you going to have” or “are you done” is common for us to hear. Sometimes I point out that “I think my wife is hot and we will probably have sex at some point in the future of our marriage. Great! Now you have got me thinking about it. I guess we will name the next one after you.:D”

IF the person is Catholic and has a prying anti life question. I just simply state that we are Catholic and we follow our faith. I then ask if the person knows the teaching of the Church. They usually run away pretty quick.

I always figure what they are really asking is “how and when are you going to have sex” So, I like to answer their question as best I can.

But that may be too extreme for you.

IF someone asked my why NFP failed I would simply ask them why they think it did fail. And how they know what our cycles and intentions were anyway.:shrug:

I think a good answer for you could be “Every month is an adventure” That is what my wife and I use mostly.

We also only use NFP for spacing and just reasons so most of the time we are not on NFP. So I would just say, “oh, we were not using NFP at the time. What do you use?”

Maybe I can give another perspective because I am not private but know people who are. Here’s an example: If I have a health scare, I tell close friends and family so that they can keep me in their prayers, give me advice, and they will know that I may be calling on them for support. I have relatives who are very private and do NOT share health information. Being a non-private person, for a little bit, after I found out, I was hurt. Why would they be so private? I could have been praying for them! Cooking them meals! Don’t they know that I CARE and would WANT to know?

I’ve had to accept that for some reason I can’t understand, they don’t share it, and they walk through those times without extended family support.

To liken that to your situation, I’d bet your sister-in-law sees the addition of another loved one to the extended family as a joy to which to look forward, and therefore totally within the realm of reasonable curiosity, care, interest. I don’t think it’s nosy, inappropriate, and certainly not uncommon, but if the relationship with the sister-in-law is unsteady (like, if she is domineering or ill-willed) then I can see your not wanting to tell her.

Trials like this will really solidify your marriage, and help you to become one, as long as you both introspect to the true issues and communicate, being soft and open to one another. I know that with time, and growing in closeness, this sort of question will seem more like a gnat than a bee.

I’m just thinking, without the friend making the NFP comment, do you think this would have been as upsetting?

All the best.

Not unreasonable, until the SIL a) passed on information so that what was being transmitted was different than what she had heard from the family and did so b) to someone who would come out with the question about whether the NFP “worked”. It is better to keep personal information from someone who makes comments like that, whatever is needed to do it. If the SIL asks for information in the future, I wouldn’t hesitate to say why I was no longer being so free with it! If nothing else, she’ll know not to share any more information with the one who got it all wrong and handled it badly with the person who was the topic of the information!

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!”

Lorelei12 said:

“Also- you or your husband must have given more details than timing, since your sister in law and the friend knew you were using NFP. I am sure there are mixed opinions about this, and I can understand wanting to be a witness for NFP, but in the future if you want to keep things as private as possible I would not share that information either.”

Yeah.

Or alternately, if one is using NFP and out and proud about that, it’s not a bad idea to be especially vague. Once you have made the announcement that you are using NFP, a lot of people that you have told will be looking hard for evidence that you have failed and that yes, indeed, they are doing the right thing by using contraception. That’s just human nature.

I am more like this.

No, I don’t share all of the gory details of every health issue. But if it might knock me out for a bit, I certainly share with them that something is wrong.

Friends know why we only have one child. They know I have Celiac *and * Lupus. And they know why my husband was in the hospital 8 years ago.

And because they know that, they know when I am feeling bad, it is nice to offer a meal. I have a friend that regularly invites me to lunch *and *drives. When friends find new gluten free food, they pick it up for me to try.

Having them know is a plus. Not a minus. :shrug:

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