LPLE #7: The Problem with Asking Women about Marriage

Jesse recounts how many of his Vietnamese female friends dislike being asked by friends and family about when they're going to get married. Andrew explains how American women also experience the same trouble with being asked about their plans for marriage.

TRANSCRIPT

Intro [Jesse]: Hi everyone. My name is Jesse Robbins, and welcome to LPLE from Dialogue FM. We're the podcast that lets you practice listening in English. We speak English slowly and clearly so that you can follow along and understand native English speakers more easily. I'm excited to help you improve your English listening skills, as well as help you learn new vocabulary, grammar, and idioms commonly heard and conversation among native English speakers. If you want to practice listening in English, then we invite you to join our conversation.

Jesse: Hey Andrew.

Andrew: Hey Jesse.

Jesse: So, as you know, I was in Vietnam for the past two-and-a-half weeks.

Andrew: That's right!

Jesse: And, I had the chance to catch up with many friends during my time in Ho Chi Minh City. Now, turns out that many of my friends happened to be female, and they're also around my age, and they're also single. Now, you might be asking, "where are you going with this, Jesse?"

Andrew: I was about to ask.

Jesse: Well, mind you, these women--these friends of mine--they already know I'm married, they already know who my wife is, they've already met my wife. The reason why I start this story out like this is because I can say for certain that 100% of all of my female friends I talked to said the exact same thing, which is: They are so tired of getting asked by their relatives and friends when they are going to get married.

Andrew: That is excellent, I share their sentiment. I know exactly how they feel.

Jesse: You can just see how frustrated they are. They-... Every time they say, "Ah, yeah, my parents keep asking me 'when are you going to get married?' 'We want you to have kids.'" I can see the expression on my friend's face, and that expression is very sad, very annoyed, very frustrated.

Andrew: Right.

Jesse: In Vietnam, I assume that if you're not on some sort of path to a marriage, which is to say if by 25 you're not in a serious relationship with somebody, that starts to create some sort of concern, panic...

Andrew: ...on the part of your family.

Jesse: ...On the part of the family, correct. Because, by the time that you start to hit 28, if you're still not in some sort of committed relationship, then there's this term, and this is the derogatory term and actually really don't like this term, the concern is you're going to be called, "ế," which is a term that-... It's like saying "an old maid."

Andrew: Right, okay. I was going to say, in the US there is a similar set of terms: "You're a spinster," "you're an old maid."

Jesse: Right. But you what the funny thing is, here in the States I don't hear those terms. I know they exist, I know these terms exist. But, for our current culture and our current society--now, perhaps this might be just my understanding based on the fact that I live here in Seattle--my understanding is we don't refer to women like that anymore.

Andrew: Not directly, and you and I being young men probably wouldn't hear it, but I'm sure that the feeling that that term, or those terms, are associated with are still alive and well. By which I mean families usually have an interest in seeing their daughters, especially, go on to have happy family lives, and there is an expectation for most of them that they will find a boyfriend, get married, and have children. And, so, I know many female friends of mine on my own who are in a similar situation where they are in their late twenties or thirties and have still not settled down, as it's called, they haven't found a permanent relationship and they have not gotten married and they have not had kids, and they are receiving all kinds of pressure from their families and even sometimes their friends to go down that path and achieve those goals, even if they don't want them themselves.

Jesse: You know what's interesting, as a guy--now, I've been married for going on four years, I've been in a relationship for eight prior to that--so, you're right, I'm not-... clearly I've never had to experience that kind of pressure.

Whenever my dad asks me, "So, son, when are you going to have children? I want more grandchildren," my answer is always, "We're still thinking about it. Stop asking me."

Andrew: Yes. Imagine tha-... that question being asked and that amount of frustration you feel magnified ten or a hundred times, or alternately, imagine that he's asking you it every hour of every day and I think you begin to understand what a lot of these especially women are going through.

My girlfriend and I have been together for a little bit over a year, but because we are both around 30 years old the expectation is that we will be taking those next traditional steps very soon. So, I occasionally get a question from my family, "when are you getting married?" or "when you get married..." assuming that I will soon, she gets it every time she talks to her family.

Jesse: She's still very young, too. She's in her mid-twenties if I'm not mistaken.

Andrew: She is 29, turning 30 this year. But, she is old enough that she has been getting those questions for quite a while. And, everyone seems to be very, very interested in knowing when they-... When people our age are going to take their place in traditional family society, and that's becoming less and less common and popular for people our age, at least in the United States, so it creates this conflict.

Jesse: Out of my friends in Vietnam, they-... Again they express this frustration about hearing this question. It's really interesting to hear that women here in the States still experience that same line of questioning. I honestly had no idea.

Outro [Jesse]: Thank you for listening to this episode of LPLE, Let's Practice Listening in English, from Dialog.FM. Subscribe to LPLE on iTunes to hear the latest episodes, or listen to past episodes on our website, Dialog.FM. That's d-i-a-l-o-g-dot-f-m. If you have questions or comments about English, or if you would like for us to use a word, grammar, or idiom in our conversation so you can learn how to use it correctly, we would love to hear from you on Twitter at @dialogdotfm or Facebook at facebook.com/dialogFM.