Remember how I said I wasn’t going to write about my personal life? This post probably seems like it’s contradicting that idea. But in a way it’s actually reiterating the same point. I want to talk about a question I keep getting asked. “When are you going to get married?” or the maybe more well-intentioned but just as invasive “when do you want to get married?” As if I’ve hatched some big master plan for my life and have everything plotted out.
I’ve noticed that it’s not just my partner and I who are asked this question – it gets thrown around a lot. That kind of pressure, intentional or not, can be a big deal for a couple. There are 10000 articles out there telling you when the perfect age to get married is, how you know the person is right, and so on. Most of it isn’t worth your time. So why do people who love you then decide to weigh in?
Mostly I think it’s out of love and interest in our lives. But it can be an issue for a lot of couples that causes tension or worse. Marriage is a big step that most people do not take lightly and I’m sure before any couple gets married they have a thousand conversations about it. But remember there are lots of couples who don’t choose to get married. Who decide this just isn’t for them. More and more marriage isn’t the only answer. So be careful when asking this question.
I think I get asked this question for a few reasons so I want to go through those first and then talk about why you shouldn’t ask people this.
Why I get the question
Firstly everyone who asks me some version of the question above cares about me. It’s friends or family who know me and my partner, see us interact and often love us both. But that doesn’t make it any less invasive. So I think people are asking because they do genuinely care and are invested in our lives.
The next reason has to do with my friends – they’re invested in our friendship. I know that a wedding day is supposed to be all about the bride and groom blah blah. But a wedding is also the biggest show of love you’ll ever have for your friends. While I have A LOT of thoughts about bridesmaids that maybe I should save for another post… it is also why I think my friends ask. The big question is often followed by ‘if you were to get married today, who would your bridesmaids be?’ So their motives aren’t really disguised. Think about it, when else will you have a grand gesture for your friends? And ask them to be a part of something so big, where you declare your love for them by choosing them? It doesn’t happen. They ask because they want to be involved.
But word to the wise: if you’re going to ask this question of your friends you should also be ready to do the heavy lifting for their wedding. You can’t ask them forever to be involved and desperately want to be the bridesmaid if you expect the bride to do all the planning and you’re just along for the ride.
The third reason I think people ask this is because they see my partner and I interact and they know we love each other. We’ve been dating for more than a year and a half (long distance since September) and I think we’re pretty good at it. So I imagine people see that and think “they’re going to get married aren’t they?” then it just comes out, out loud.
And lastly, let’s be honest. Most of our friends are our age and still single (I have a few friends who are older and in couples and have no intention of getting married) so everyone looks to us and thinks (and sometimes says) “we’ll you’re first”.
Why you shouldn’t ask
I’d like to make a disclaimer here that I don’t actually mind when people ask, I know that everyone loves me and means well. But my partner doesn’t always feel the same way. And if you don’t know me personally but have asked someone this question chances are they or their partner DO mind. It can be a very invasive question. So here are all the reasons you shouldn’t ask:
In terms of a typical time to get married we are certainly not it, so I don’t really get all of the pressure. We’ve been dating for under two years and we’re both very young at 23 and 24. Yes people get married at all ages and after various amounts of time dating. But the average age people get married in Canada is 31 for men and 28 for women. So we’ve got QUITE a while until we’d even be average. The average time people date at our age before getting married is 3.3 years, so again we’re a while from average.
People do things at their own pace but there’s no reason to rush someone who can’t even really be accused of putting it off.
Along the lines of our age, we still have lots of school to do. Yes people get married while they’re in school but we’d like to finish our education and work on any debt attached to that before we move on to having to pay for a wedding. I can’t imagine that is that uncommon of a request.
The other thing is simply we aren’t there yet! I don’t have a ring on my left hand, I’m not wearing a dress so I have no idea when I’m getting married. Maybe the person you’re asking doesn’t even want to get married. I have lots of friends who don’t. Some people are happy to be together without a ceremony or ring.
So just let them be, as you’d like that as well.
Oh and don’t even get me started on asking couples about when they’re going to have a baby.
Have you ever dealt with this? Do you have any tips of how to avoid it or how to respond?