Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

A Culture of Blame December 10, 2010

I came across this article on, an Australian site. The author, Jane Blakely, is an Australian living temporarily in Malaysia. I found her experience fascinating.

While sitting in a doctor’s waiting room she got pulled into a conversation with a Malaysian man, Raj, who asked her if she had children. When she replied that she didn’t, here’s what happened:

“In my culture, it is expected a couple will have their first child within the first year of being married,” he said. Continuing the family lineage through childbirth is of utmost importance in his culture, Raj said, and the “suitability” of a wife will be called into question by the groom’s family if she hasn’t had a child within the first year of marriage.

The suitability of the wife? There are no male fertility issues in Malaysia? How very Henry VIII!

My initial thought after reading this way, “Boy, I’m glad I don’t live in a culture like that.” But to a lesser extent, I do.

When you don’t have children, you are not the norm, and while people may not openly point fingers of blame, you know they’re speculating as to where the problem lies. “Is it her?” “Is he firing blanks?” And we too often hear stories of marriages that don’t survive infertility, and of spouses who left because they needed to have a family.

Jane’s article was a really eye-opener for me – not because it educated me about other cultures, but because it caused me to take a closer look at my own.


4 Responses to “A Culture of Blame”

  1. Colleen Says:

    I have to say that I think I put the blame on myself. When I am having one of those terrible bad days, I think a lot about how I have destroyed my DH’s life and his families life by not being able to have kids. His family has never really blamed me. They are not happy but they still accept me as a part of the family. I just need to learn to accept that.

  2. happynenes Says:

    Wow! I still feel so lucky to live here!

  3. lmanterfield Says:

    Colleen, I’m so sorry that you feel that way. Remind yourself, though, that you are so much more than just a woman who was supposed to produce children. There’s a reason your DH married you and hopefully that reason is still there. Your lives may be different than you’d had planned, but hopefully not destroyed. xx

  4. Kim Says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I see your comments over at the Silent Sorority blog.
    Thnaks for your insights and perspective. Your new book will be on my must read for the new year list!

    My DH and I had a recent conversation about the blame game. Although our infertility is unexplained, you do wonder. He said that although he never thought that he wouldn’t be a father, it was never a huge priority either. He said it doesn’t matter to him why I was never able to concieve. There was a co-worker of his whose marriage broke up ( although it was never stated that was the reason) in part because of infertility. How sad to blame the one that most of us promised to “love, honor, obey, cherish, in sickness and in health”… or something similiar. I’m glad that we are enough for each other.

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