This post really needs no introduction. For those of you who missed the Twitter chat, we’ve been talking weddings and manners – mainly some people’s lack of them. We talked to dozens of brides and grooms about the most annoying questions they’ve been asked since their big day and the following came up more often than you’d think possible:
When are you going to start having babies?
It’s one thing asking your best friend, or someone who is likely to talk to you about their emotions anyway, about their views on children, or what their hopes or plans are. It’s quite another asking a distant family member or an acquaintance about their reproductive organs.
Babies can be a very sensitive subject and bring up a range of emotions and issues. First of all, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to conceive and carry a child to term easily (or at all) and talking about it can be excruciatingly painful, particularly in a polite and not very supportive context. Some people have unresolved issues with their other half about having kids. If you’re not on the same page as your partner (for example, you desperately want children and they don’t) then this can also be tricky to discuss.
Some people don’t want children at all. So why should they be subjected to constant expectant questioning over their personal choice as if it’s a given that the minute they say “I do” they have to reproduce.
I’m a fairly open person, and I do like to share the big events in my life, but I’m sure that if John and I ever have a child, everyone we know will hear about it at the appropriate time, the people who need to know will know a bit earlier and if we choose to share any more that’s our business. That principle should apply to all couples – all of them.
So next time you think of asking someone when babies are on the cards, think about the possibility that it might not be that straightforward and, unless you’re very close to that person, I suggest you think of a better question to ask!
How does it feel to be married?
Seriously, how do you answer that question? I suspect that the honest answer for most couples would be: “well, we have our ups and downs as always, relationships are complicated. For the most part we’re happy, but we have our arguments and our moments. But the making up is… well… sorry, how much detail did you want?”
Tellingly, the question is usually accompanied by an afterthought “is it bliss?” Well, no, it’s not. It’s normal. It’s the same as before we got married. Anyone expecting being married to elevate them into a state of continuous and uninterrupted bliss is kidding themselves – moreover they should seriously examine the reasons they are getting married in the first place.
What are people asking here? Am I happy overall? Hell no, not really, my dad just died, I feel like crap most of the time. But most people who’ve asked me that already know this, strangers who read my blog know this, so what they’re really asking is “how’s your relationship? Is it bliss?”
Well sure, I’m happy with John, but to be honest the finer details of just how happy and just how often really are none of your business… It’s the married equivalent of “how’s it going with so and so…” for people who are dating. It’s absolutely fine to ask someone you’re close to that question, but it totally falls into the category of “how did it become socially acceptable or appropriate for strangers to ask me such an intimate question – and do they really want the honest answer?”
“How does it feel to be married?” or its dreaded variant “how’s married life?” seem innocent enough, but dissect the reasons married couples always splutter for an answer and look awkward and you’ll realise what an unintentionally invasive question you’ve just asked…
Married life isn’t always candlelit dinners on the beach in the Bahamas… erm…
Are you going to carry on working?
Have I just gone back in time to the 1950s? I mean sure, this is a vintage wedding blog, but that means we like vintage fashion and décor, not that we believe that once I’m a married woman employment is no longer appropriate or expected of me.
It’s amazing how often I get asked that question, and not only because I run a wedding blog and I might be bored of the topic, but because I’m married and I might want to enjoy being “kept” for a while.
Well, I say feminism is all about choices. I’m sure there are people out there who want to give up work and that’s for them to work out as a couple, and totally none of my business. But the assumption that my career is dead in the water because I have a husband to “take care of me” now is totally absurd.
Moreover, when we do decide to have children (and just when is still not the question asker’s business) I plan to carry on working. I’m sure I will take maternity leave, but I have no intention of giving up my business. John and I will work that out amongst ourselves and come to an arrangement that suits us both.
Why haven’t you taken his name?
People don’t ask me this question personally, as I did take John’s name. However, people who asked me that question preemptively, when I was considering keeping my name, usually went away a bit red faced… because my standard reply was always: “why isn’t he taking my name” before saying “John Doron” and laughing maniacally at the cheesy rhyme while whoever asked the question backed away slowly.
I think “why isn’t he taking my name?” says it all really. I’m getting to the stage where I feel “tradition” doesn’t seem a good enough reason to make huge decisions about your identity. It’s such a personal choice and I don’t think it’s “expected” any more that women will automatically take the last name of their husband – so yeah, stupid question, stupid counter question!
Are you sad that it’s all over and there’s nothing to look forward to any more?
Are you serious right now? Nothing to look forward to? Like I just had the wedding for the sake of a wedding and now my life is over…
I’m not saying I didn’t get post-wedding blues. I knew that there was no longer a fun event to plan and I’d really enjoyed that part of my life. But nothing to look forward to? Jeez is marriage going to be that bad??
Well, of course not. Your marriage will be exactly what the two of you make of it – and if you start out thinking “there’s nothing to look forward to” you’ll probably prove yourself right.
Just smile and say “well, I’d say my marriage is pretty much something to look forward to.” That tends to put people right pretty quickly!
How much did it all cost then?
There are several ways to reply to this one – each of them will have a different (and sometimes surprisingly comedic) effect:
Tell them honestly and bill them for their cost per head.
Tell everyone who asks a different number.
Ask the person who asked you the question how much they earn.
Smile and say it will have to remain a mystery.
Tell them it’s none of their business and it’s not very polite to ask.
When you go to someone’s house for dinner, do you ask how much your meal cost? The question, however intended, invariably comes across as laced with accusation and judgement. You don’t have to justify how much or little you spent on your big day, and you don’t have to divulge it to everyone who’s curious. It’s between you and anyone financially involved and nobody else – and if that last answer seems rude, it may just be an appropriate level of rudeness!
Have you been asked any of the dreaded newlywed questions? Has someone asked you something inappropriate that isn’t on the list? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment box!