Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The next person who asks me when I'm getting married gets punched.

While Mercury is in retrograde, I'd like to give some fairly obvious communication advice: Do not ask a woman when she's getting married unless she's announced that she is engaged. We all know not to ask random women, "When's the baby due?" because the implication is, "Are you fat or hiding a baby in there?" Prying about a near-stranger's relationship is equally rude! 

Some people don't want to get married. Others are putting it off for practical or financial reasons. And some people want to get married, and being asked, "When's the wedding?" makes them sad and reminds them that it isn't happening yet. Whatever the reason, there's a good chance that if you haven't been told, it's not your business. Just don't ask!

In the last three days, two very nice and well-meaning older acquaintances asked me if Keith and I had set a date yet. They weren't joking; they honestly thought we were engaged. Since we're not, the question caught me off guard. With a deer in headlights look, I stammered, "Um... I don't know when we're getting married... Ask Keith?" Both times, the person who asked was very embarrassed and apologized profusely, which forced me to comfort them: "Haha, it's okay! Don't even think about it. No, no. Don't be sorry!"

The first time, it wasn't so bad. But the second time, I was like, Again?! I would love to be engaged, so PLEASE don't remind me that I'm not. I am already QUITE AWARE, thankyouverymuch!!! It was really stupid, because until they asked, I felt good about our relationship. We've talked about getting married. Basically, Keith told me that he intends to marry me, and I said, "Yay, me too!" and added Green Wedding Shoes to my feed. It's a happy, exciting time. But outside pressure takes the fun out of it!

Keith had a college friend who wanted her life to run on a strict, arbitrary timetable: Finish college at 23, get married at 24, have first baby at 26, etc. She was so obsessed with staying on schedule, she actually booked her wedding venue before her boyfriend proposed. I'm not making this up. Crazy, right? After she put down the deposit, she spent months working herself into a frenzy while she waited for him to propose. When the proposal came, it was completely anticlimactic: "FINALLY! Okay, whatever."

Relationships shouldn't run on schedules, and these well-meaning questions upset me because of the implied pressure. When you ask the guy who can't get ahead at work whether he's had a promotion, or you ask the woman struggling with infertility when she plans to start a family, you're implying that you think they should have babies or a better job. Why don't they? What's wrong with them?! This is the same.

Have you ever had to field this question? How did you handle it? Did it secretly infuriate you?


  1. she actually booked her wedding venue before her boyfriend proposed

    HAHAHA OH MY GOD. I was always trying to defend the people in high school who bought wedding dresses before they even had boyfriends (I mean, maybe the dress was mega cheap or one of a kind? Can't begrudge that!), but that is seriously cray! Ahh so funny.

    My dude & I have only been together for about a year, so we haven't gotten to the marriage questions yet (other than from my mom - of course haha). But yeah, that would drive me crazy! I would probably end up responding with something super snarky like, "I dunno. When were you planning on getting your teeth fixed?" (or something equally obscenely rude like that haha. I don't have tact when other people don't.).

    1. I know, right? I hear that she's a really cool person, just... hyper-regimented? But I think it sounds like something straight out of How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days. Craycray.

      It's really annoying because the snark is running through my head (I don't know; when are you joining Weight Watchers?"), but I can't let it come out of my mouth because of who these people are (Keith's colleagues, volunteers at my library, etc.).

  2. My librarian friend in arms I feel your pain! The question I field most that drives me crazy is, When are ya'll having a baby? Or how many babies do you have? First, I am childless by choice, second, I'm 38, and third, thanks for reminding me I am fat. Not all extra pounds come from having children. Sometimes they come from dining at fancy restaurants, or enjoying a SVU marathon on my couch because I have no one to chase around. Children are great...for others. I'll keep to my husband and dogs.


      "When are you all having kids?" is such a loaded and insensitive question, with so many assumptions attached. If you ask someone who is secretly going through infertility treatments, she's likely to run out of the room in tears.

      What do you think of women asking each other, "Do you want kids?" or "Do you want kids anytime soon?" My friends and I throw that question around a lot, and I'm okay with that question when it comes from an actual friend.

      The only baby I'm having anytime soon is a pasta baby. :D

  3. OMG, I can't believe she booked a venue before the actual proposal-by a lot, it sounds like. I feel like that takes the (wedding) cake! :)

    I don't remember getting questions like you're describing (and Jim and I were together for 2.5 years before getting engaged and living together for 1.5 of them) but I do remember getting the "when are you getting married" question the minute we told people we were engaged. Hello! We just got engaged! How do we know when we're getting married if we haven't looked at venues yet? The kid question comes up a lot, but mostly from my parents who are DESPERATE to be grandparents. In general, I think people just aren't good at conversation. It kind of reminds me of how kids always get asked what grade they are in and what they are studying. Seems like the easiest way to relate.

    1. I know... The way I heard the story, she booked the venue 8 - 9 months before the wedding date, and then waited 6 months for him to officially propose. While she waited, she blogged almost every day, "Not yet." and "He didn't do it today." Sad. :(

      That's one great thing about Los Angeles! You and Jim are in a city where people don't assume everyone wants to get married fresh out of college and have kids before age 30. My sister told me that Belmont girls compete to get engaged by senior year, and I just laughed--NO ONE did that at CSUN!

      Haha, I'm so guilty of not knowing what to talk about with teenagers! When I train teens at work, I'm like, "So... where do you go to school?" When they answer, I just nod sagely. Unless they say, "Brentwood High," we have nothing to talk about. Of course, when they DO say "Brentwood High," we have LOTS to talk about, and I turn into a giggly teenager all over again. Did you know kids at BHS STILL make Shaka?! It's legendary, and the tuba room is wallpapered with back issues! Isn't that cute?

      Also, in Los Angeles, small talk centers around media, career, and movies. People there will ask "Have you seen the newest Batman movie?" before they ask, "When are you getting married?" I like that.

  4. We didn't get too much of the engagement stuff (we were too young for a lot of that); though someone did think we had announced a pregnancy when we were actually announcing our engagement. Awkward moment. We do get the casual glances now to see if there is a baby bump and only a few people asking us if we want kids. "Uh, yes...but just because we want them doesn't mean we automatically have the resources for them or wish to discuss our reproductive choices with you." *Sigh* People.

    1. Young love... They didn't see it coming! :)

      Oh man, I would NOT want my friends doing bumpwatch on me. But "Do you want kids" seems a little nicer than "Why don't you have kids" or "When are you having kids." My friends and I throw that question around a lot these days. In my group, half say "NO," and half say "someday." The women seem more ambivalent than the guys. Pregnancy is much more scary for us!

  5. I think people just ask stuff like that ("When are you getting married?" then "Are you excited? OMG, I'm so excited for you!" then "When's the baby coming?") because they don't have anything else to say at the moment perhaps? It's annoying! It puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on you guys.

    I have no idea how that guy could have married Keith's friend after she booked a venue before the proposal. That is completely loco and I'd be curious to know how her parents felt about that. My dad would have me institutionalized. Makes for a great story though!

    1. Yeah, they're just REALLY bad at small talk. :) It's funny because in LA, people made small talk about movies. But, in Nashville it's all about people's personal lives.

      Heehee... from what I've heard about Keith's friend, she's very DRIVEN, and this was a product of that. But I think it sounds crazy. Carts and horses, and all that!


What do you think? Your comments always make my day.

P.S. All trolls will be fed to the bookworms.