1. So, how’s married life?
Whenever I got asked this question, I always wanted to say, “Terribly. It’s going terribly” just to see how people would respond. I never got that brave. Usually, I just smiled and said it was going well. When feeling particularly snarky I would respond, “Fine and how’s your married life?”
I’m sure this question usually comes from a place of sincere desire to find out how someone’s doing. But it’s one of those questions that’s almost impossible to answer negatively, so it’s better left unasked. Alternatives? Ask how the individual person is doing, just like you did before they were married.
2. Well, once you’ve had some experience you’ll realize…
Someone recently commented to a newly married friend of mine that my friend doesn’t “get it” yet because she’s only been married a few months. “When the honeymoon wears off…”
Truth is, we all like to look important. And that often comes out through condescending references to how much more experience we have than someone else. I’ve done it and it’s always ugly no matter how much I try to cloak it as well-meaning advice.
Sure, we may have been married longer (or been a parent longer or simply alive longer) but that doesn’t mean we’ve got it all together. Or that we’re right. Or that we should put someone else down for simply being “newer.” Besides, everyone’s experiences with marriage (and life) are so different that length of time is often irrelevant.
3. You think this is hard? Just wait.
Married people tell dating people this. Parents tell childless couples this. Parents of two kids tell parents of one kid this. Parents tell their teenagers this.
Perhaps we’re pining for seemingly simpler days. Perhaps we want some credit for how hard our lives are right now. Perhaps we’re simply not thinking when the words come out of our mouths. Whatever our reasons, let’s not downplay other’s struggles.
4. When are you going to start a family?
Never, ever, ever ask people about their plans for kids.
My brother, who is getting married next month, had someone ask him if he’s excited to have kids. He responded along the lines of, “Kids? Can’t I just be excited about getting married for now?”
We waited six years after getting married to have kids and we received numerous comments about the topic during those six years.
While we were quite blessed to get pregnant quickly when we decided to try, the people commenting didn’t know whether we were trying or not during those six years. Many couples try to get pregnant for a long time, some to no avail. It can be extremely hurtful when someone makes a comment on the topic, no matter how well-meaning the comment.
When it comes to other people having kids, we need to mind our own business. And just because someone has a kid doesn’t mean we can pester them about when to have another. They might not want another, and fertility issues aren’t just a potential problem the first time around.
But what if we’ve already said it?
Although I’ve been at the receiving end of some inappropriate comments, I’ve made some myself too. If it’s particularly egregious, then apologize. If it’s a minor faux pas, don’t worry about it. If we decided to dislike everyone who’s asked us “how’s married life,” we’d probably end up friendless.
How about you? Do you have other suggestions for what not to say to newlyweds? Funny stories about something said to you? I’d love to hear from you.