May 16th, 2013

Dumb Things People Say to Newlyweds

I wrote that post about dumb things people say to single women a while back with great joy–so many years of minor suffering exposed. I have been a married woman a comparatively brief amount of time, but I’m already finding that just because I have conformed to one set of societal expectations (getting married) doesn’t really keep people from picking on me. I think there’s probably a category of inane, mildly offensive chatter for every state of being–people can’t help themselves. My brief experience of marriage suggests single people get more obnoxiousness from the gadflies, but it hardly stops after the wedding ceremony.

Since I only have 9 months of newlywedded bliss to draw on, I’ve borrowed a few of these from friends…

Don’t get too used to…
I’ve heard this one applied to pretty everything nice about my husband. From remembering special occasions to simply doing his share of the household chores, apparently it’s all a show and Mark is on a one-way track to slothdom, soon to completely abandon his thoughtfulness in favour of televised sports and being a big jerk. It’s tempting to suggest that people who say this sort of thing are stuck in unhappy marriages and want me to get on the misery boat too–but I suspect some of them of being fairly fond of their spouses. I think this might be part of our weird societal fixation on monogamy–it’s supposed to be all anyone strives towards, but also a ball and chain that everyone resents. Weird Protestant work-ethic thing here?

Best thing to say to someone you like: “Shh–let me enjoy it while I can!”
Best thing to say to someone you don’t like: (with lip trembling, if possible) “Oh…no…I had no idea. I’ve made a terrible mistake.”

Now you can finally let yourself go!

It is relaxing to know your partner no longer cares if you wear yoga pants when not doing yoga, but we had that revelation years ago. I think this comment, as applied to women, is kinda moot–the standards set in romantic comedies and magazines for a young(ish) woman presenting herself on the dating market are so irrationally high–perfect skin, perfect BMI, perfect hair, manicure, plucked eyebrows, all manner of waxing, hours of shopping for a dress that you’ll be embarrassed if you wear at two events too close to each other–that “letting yourself go” means just accepting normal human flaws that people with real lives deal with anyway, single or married. My friend, who is very beautiful, got this comment after eating a cookie. ONE cookie.

Best thing to say to someone you like: Ok.

Best thing to say to someone you don’t like: Ok. [I see no reason to prolong this inane conversation, no matter how much you like or dislike the speaker.]

You must be so happy not to be dating anymore.

I have probably mentioned before, but folks who hate dating are not great dates–especially if they announce it at the beginning of dinner. Yes, it’s hard to leave the house in your nicest clothes knowing you could spend the rest of the evening hearing about dice-related games, a pitch for real estate, or why your date doesn’t really want to be there. But a certain amount of hopefulness and faith in mankind is necessary to find a life-partner, and also just generally not to be an awful person to be around. I liked dating–new people, new conversations, new restaurants. I liked dating especially after I met my husband, but really if you don’t enjoy an hour or two of chat with a person who professes to like you, what’s the point?

Best thing to say to someone you like: I liked dating; what don’t you like about it?

Best thing to say to someone you don’t like: No, I pine for it actually.


Once you’re married, people get *very* eager to see you move on to the next obvious life phase on their checklists. To a certain degree, I get it. If you (and by “you,” I mean anyone I know) said you were going to make a tiny adorable person, and then maybe let me play with said person, I would be happy and encourage you to proceed with this excellent plan. But I wouldn’t *instigate* the plan, no matter how cute I thought your offspring might be. There are so many reasons someone might not like to discuss this issue, from infertility to financial or psychological issues making it not the best time to produce new infants, to “I’m pregnant right now but not telling yet.” There’s just no reason to introduce potential awkwardness like this unless you are *very* close to the potential parent in question. And I have it on good authority from moms I know that even *having* a baby does not eliminate this question from common conversation; people just move on to asking when you’ll have your second, and so on until basically menopause. At least it ends there for parents; for those who remain childless, at menopause I hear people just start asking about adoption.

Best thing to say to someone you like: We’ll see (this is a minor fudge if you in fact already know the answer; what you actually mean is “you’ll see” but that sounds kinda mean).

Best thing to say to someone you don’t like: Whatever happens, I’ll be sure to keep you posted on this. (Especially hilarious if your questioner is someone you barely know, which is very very often the case.) I’ve also heard suggested, “Well, for now we’re happy just having recreational sex,” but there’s probably no one I’d want to embarrass that much and anyway I don’t have the stones to say it.

Where’s your spouse tonight?

Married people are varying degrees of joined at the hip: some have tonnes of interests they can share with their spouses, others are happy with “being married” as their only shared interest. Everyone who actually lives in society knows this, but somehow when you see your married friend standing at a party with no spouse in sight, it’s the first thing you ask about. I know, I’ve done it, and continue to accidentally do even as I insist that I have no idea what Mark is up to some nights and why is everybody asking me?

Best answer for someone you like: I guess, tell them if you know, and your spouse isn’t in the witness-protection program or at a strip-club or something.

Best answer for someone you don’t like: Oh my god, ack, I thought he was right over there and now he’s GONE. (Parents spring this one on me all the time when I ask about the whereabouts of their kids, but I think babysitting arrangements are way more normal to ask about than the movements of an autonomous adult! To each, their own, I guess….)

So, how’s married life?

This is the sweetest, most innocent question of all the annoying questions on this list. You spend months or a year (or many years) getting ready for your wedding, talking about plans and ideas and nerves, of course people are going to want to know how it all turned out. Of course, this question is impossible to answer–life is always a million things at once. I have learned to say, to anyone, “I like it–I think we made the right choice.” Whether I love them or hate them, most people are happy with this answer–people love love and happiness makes them happy…most of the time!


Anyone else want to offer up anything terrible said to a newlywed, either to you or by you or within your hearing?

One Response to “Dumb Things People Say to Newlyweds”

  • AMT says:

    hey, so why didnt mark write half of this post? trouble in paradise?

  • Leave a Reply

So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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