Copy 'n' paste responses to unsolicited negative advice about marriage and weddings

March 23 2015 | arielmstallings
Copy n paste responses to unsolicited negative advice about weddings and marriage
Original photo by by onepinkhippo, remixed by CC license

How should I respond when people come at me with negative advice about marriage like "Enjoy it now, it's all over once you're married!" And "You'll have a husband to cook for soon!" And "You're getting married? My commiserations." I thought you or your readers might come up with something good for the negative marriage/wedding comments.

I know people are just trying to get a rise out of me when they say these things, but it gets very wearing and I'd love a way to shut them down without becoming offensive myself.
Thanks,
-Kate

Ah, yes. The infamous unsolicited advice, fear-mongering, and "you'll seeeeee" game. Well-intentioned friends and family seem to LOVE to tell you how awful your life is about to become, both in terms of wedding planning, and in terms of life once you're married. As I wrote years ago in an infamous post:

The wedding fear-mongering is just one of the stories we tell. The expectations of marriage after the wedding are often heavily weighted. "Marriage is a lot of hard work," people confide with furrowed brows."You'll never have sex again," they wink.

"You'll stop hanging out with your single friends," they sigh.

"My stupid hubs!" they laugh. "YOU know how husbands are. Stupid, stupid husbands."

Wedding and marriage fear-mongering is clearly a thing that happens. It seems like it's always happened… so how can you respond when you find it happening to you? Here are a few of my favorite copy-n-paste responses, broken down into three separate strategies depending on your communication style. Some of them are straight-forward, others are confrontational, and others are a bit more facetious:

Strategy 1: tell me about yourself

People are usually seeking validation of their own experiences when they give you negative advice. In a way, they're trying to bond over shared unhappiness, because if we can bond over it, maybe that means that it's ok that I'm unhappy, that I made the right unhappy choice, and that my unhappiness is out of my control. Negative comments about weddings and marriage say so much about the person commenting, and the best response may simply be to let them talk about themselves, instead of trying to defend yourself.

Simply put, when people try to say how you will feel, what they're more often telling you is how they feel. Instead of snapping at them, you can just let them blow off some steam — knowing that it has very little to do with you. Try these responses:

Wow, it sounds like you had it a pretty rough! If you had it all to do again, what would you do differently?
Jeez, that's pretty negative! You know, I'm trying to treat this whole thing as an adventure, so it's actually really helpful for me to understand why so many people are saying negative things like this about marriage. How do you think I can work to avoid the common pitfalls on this adventure?
Are you recounting your own experiences? What happened to you to make you feel that way?
I feel like these things are about 5% experience and 95% attitude. I'm working to try to keep a good attitude about it all, but you're certainly not the first one to say something like this! I find it pretty interesting, actually — why do you think everyone's so cynical about marriage?

Strategy 2: shut it down

Sometimes you don't want to get into empathizing with someone. They're just being a dick, and you don't have any interest in staying on friendly terms with them. In these cases, it's time to draw some boundaries. Remember that when you use blunt communication like this, you need to hold yourself accountable for people bristling. You should say what you feel, but be responsible for the fact that folks may not like it. Sometimes, you can soften the blow by redirecting the conversation…

I know you're just trying to get a rise out of me, but I actually really don't appreciate the generalizations you're making about marriage, and the assumptions you're making about my relationship….So, how's working going these days?

Huh. I guess I'll find out soon enough, won't I?…So, how about that weather this morning?

I'm actually not looking for feedback or advice about my wedding or marriage….So, how's your family doing?

Strategy 3: feign ignorance

Sometimes, "You'll see" and fear mongering can come from a place of resentment, fear, or even worry for the person it is directed at, so treat those who let it slip with gentleness and try not to fight snark with snark. That said, sometimes you can just feign ignorance:

Oh, wow. Do you think I should cancel the wedding?

What are YOUR best compassionate comebacks when people try to fear-monger about wedding planning or marriage?

  1. I don't even play. Not responding is the best thing I've ever done. It shuts them up quicker than anything else.

    • What does your not responding look like? Do you just smile and blink?

      (I am secretly hoping you literally just stare at them, smile, and blink.)

      • I thought this article was about media-site related comments (Facebook, etc). My bad. 🙂

        I guess it helps that I'm old enough to just shrug and ignore it with a sigh of "Whatever". I clump it in the same category as WIC commentary/cliches, so it washes over me because it simply doesn't apply to me.

        I guess it comes down to not letting it bother you and letting people nurse their own neuroses on their own.

        • Totally agreed that the older/more experienced you get, the less people's stupid fear-mongering affects you. When I was pregnant, the "oh you'll see…" comments about childbirth, babies, etc, used to drive me crazy. Now when I hear people fear-mongering with pregnant women, I just roll my eyes.

          Ignoring it and rolling your eyes is a hard-earned skill, though. 😉

      • I tend to respond to things like this and/or other unsolicited advice, etc with a simple, "Huh!" or and a shrug, smile, and change the subject.

  2. I think most of the people doing this don't even believe what they're saying. My theory is a lot of the more annoying/offensive things people say around weddings are copy/paste to begin with. People just repeat what they've heard elders and peers saying. People file away clichéd responses and regurgitate because they are searching for something relevant or appropriate to say.

    • I was reading some things by Napoleon Hill before and he said a lot of what we say is regurgitated from what we heard our parents say/do.
      So for example, if someone comes home from work everyday and complains they're tired, a lot of the time they just say it because they heard their mum/dad say it, not because they actually are.
      Its an interesting concept, but i think for a lot of big life changes (and even basic everyday stuff) thats what people do.

  3. Someone (who didn't know me) told me that, "You're gonna need to cook for him now" bs, and I said, "Good. I'm a culinary student. Gotta practice somehow."
    They shut up then.

  4. I don't mind some cynicism on marriage as long as it's not personally insulting to either partner (worse case in mind, "he was never good enough for you"). In fact I'm the one who reminded my sister she could still run away minutes before her wedding ceremony, and I know I'll need to down a few shots when it comes time to marry my fantastic partner. . . Maybe it's a jinx kind of thing. If I can joke about us not standing each other in a few years, then hopefully we still will.

    • I think of the share count at the top of the post as the post's THIS! count, so if you love it… share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Reddit. 🙂

  5. I have different types of responses for different types of comments. I'll do one of the following:

    "OMG NOT MY HUSBAND. He's so perfect and sweet and amazing and LOOKIT HOW AMAZING HE IS." (the super-sugary-snappiness is great for people who just want to husband-bash.)

    "Actually the relationship is the exact same. But now we have a piece of paper and some jewelry to make it 'official'." (for the people who like to ask, "how's marriage going?" or the "you'll seeeee" comments.)

    "Well, you know it's a marriage of convenience." (Sarcastically, for people who like to say how sorry they am that I'm married or whatever.)

    "We talked about it, but he decided not to change his name." (when the non-issue of not taking his name comes up)

    "OMG WHAT I'M PREGNANT?! When did THAT happen?!" (I said this many times when people like to point out how "large" I was getting when I was pregnant. This tended to happen more when I was in the late stages and I was damn tired.)

  6. This to this whole post.
    Being british and all about the sarcasm, i quite like 'well its a good job im only with him for his money' (i earn more) or 'yeah i totally hate him already, im pretty sure its because of all the conditioning that marriage is awful' paired with a deadpan look. Might not work on the other side of the pond, ive heard some americans aint so hot on sarcasm. To be fair most people i try it on look totally appalled, to which i normally just laugh and say something like 'shall we both stop the bad vibing then yeah?!'.

  7. I tend to respond as if the person has said what I want to hear. Like, "Oh, that's so sweet of you to say! I'm so thrilled to be [whatever, getting married, having a kid, moving to Antarctica, becoming a crime lord, joining Cirque de Soleil]." And then a quick pivot to a totally unrelated subject.

    If the person has said something truly egregious, or is particularly persistent, I resort to something along the lines of "Oh, my god, I can't believe you just said that, you must be so embarrassed, we all have those moments when stuff comes out of our mouths that we didn't mean to, I'll just pretend I didn't hear it and we can move on without any weirdness." Charming smile. Subject change.

  8. My beloved Doomy One and I dealt with a lot of people who lost their minds when we got together including being told I was a gold digger and people spewing statistics that our marriage would fail because we've each been married before. I have both in person and in live broadcasts just slow blinked at people that have the balls to say anything usually followed by a "Wow"

    We both have rather odd senses of humor so our reaction to the gold digger accusation is that it's fine that Doomy is only with me for my sweet sweet porn money. 😉 Life is too short to let anyone think they have a vote in our happiness.

  9. I actually found some success with, "Well, we're really happy right now and we just want to enjoy that." If someone hears that and persists with, "But soon it will all be terrible" then I kind of know they don't really deserve for me to interact with them anymore, and the conversation is over.

    • Love that too!! Only problem is we've getting those comments during the hardest year of our six year relationship (for several legitimate reasons), and it's been harder to fight back in the face of criticism. It takes energy to say "we are really happy right now," when the truth is "we aren't happy right now, but we will be again soon."

  10. Maybe I'm immature/snarky, but I've found that asking " Haha, why?" in response to playful "you'll never have sex/see your single friends/'have fun' (?) again" really makes people sputter. It confirms was gd2015 said: people are just regurgitating this stuff, too. They (usually) don't mean much harm by it, so I try not to be too acidic. But "why?" is a great way to make people do an about-face and realize the implications of what they're saying.

  11. For some reason, the main "shaming"/cynicism I've come across has been along the lines of; What about after 25 years of marriage when her tits are touching the floor…harr harr harr…
    I was under the impression that our marriage was going to be based on more than the deteriorating condition of my mamaries, but he can buy me some new ones for our anniversary if it's upsetting the balance that much. He'd better hope his balls aren't any baggier or he can have them tightened up too.
    I'm not taking all the blame.

  12. I need to memorize all these responses pronto! I just got engaged and have already received some 'advice' as well as some snarky assumptions about our financial situation once they see my ring and then there's still a wedding to plan… according to some, we'll just be eating bread and butter *SIGH* Counting to ten has never been more important.

    • How rude is it for people to judge you by your engagement ring. It's like the first question they ask is "how many carats is that?" Or "at the risk of sounding rude, do you know how much it's worth?" I wish I could say "Umm…yeah you are being rude" instead just feign ignorance if you do actually know. My partner is a jeweller and in the process of creating my ring, but when I bought a 2nd hand car last year I got a LOT of snide comments from my co-workers. My 2nd hand car costed me less than their brand new car had costed them, but mine had a luxury label so was automatically seen as water cooler gossip. Get over yourselves co-workers I bought the best car for me and my situation, and the same will go for my engagement ring. My beloved will design whatever he wants to see sparkle on my finger. I don't want to choose it, in my personal situation it's a gift from him to me and I will be happy with whatever it looks like. Unfortunately "get off your high horse and stop judging others personal lives" isn't really appropriate for a work environment.

  13. After submitting this question I actually managed to have a moment of inspiration a couple of days ago. It went like this: "Only two more weeks and then it's all over!" "What do you mean?" "Your wedding! Only two more weeks of freedom!" *concerned look* "Oh my goodness, you're making it sound like I'm not consenting to the marriage! I promise you it's ok, it's not an arranged marriage, he's not kidnapping me to another country or anything, I'm definitely consenting to this so please don't worry." It actually worked! The person in question hasn't made another one of those comments to me.

  14. My MOM does this. Really gets to me, but I try to keep in mind she's projecting. If I react to her negative comments, she says I'm "too sensitive," at which time I say, "you're probably right, but please don't say those things any more because they upset me," and she just continues to do it.

  15. This was definitely a fun read! It's so important for bride's to not let this type of negativity get under their skin so your take on the topic is very much appreciated!

  16. I got "you're mad" in response to me announcing my engagement to a coworker the other day. And, I don't know him well enough to get into his personal relationship, so I just said "That's fair." I feel like I validated his experience without accepting that it would be my own.

    Honestly, the fiance is more bothered by the "ball and chain" comments than I am. I mostly just feel sorry for people.

  17. After my fiance and I announced our engagement, I was discussing the way he had proposed with some women I'd done some training with. One of the women in the group then proceeded to go on this huge rant about how stupid marriage is, how much of a waste of time and money it is and how she'd never say 'Yes' if her boyfriend proposed because he should know she thinks it's stupid.

    I was pretty flabbergasted. I totally respect anyone who decides marriage isn't for them and sticks by that decision (I mean, before I met my fiance I was never one of those girls who fantasised about a wedding), but it seemed like she was berating me for being happy and excited about it!

    I eventually just looked at her and said 'I totally respect what you're saying, but we're actually really excited :)' and left it at that.

    One thing that DOES annoy me, though, is when I DARE to eat a piece of chocolate or whatever in front of someone and they go 'Oh-oh! Think of the wedding?' Erm, how about you shut up?

  18. Years ago, my ex-MIL said to me "you'll have to cook when you have kids" in front of her friends at a party. It was a jab at me for not cooking for my ex-H. But he was the better cook (and considering I did everything else in the house it was only fair.) I shut her down and showed her I was not going to play her game buy firmly saying I would not do any such thing.

    Now I suppose if someone said to me something negative about marriage I could say "well I already have a great divorce lawyer". ????

  19. Is there a way of doing this while calling out sexism? Like when you tell people you're getting married and they say, "Oh no, the poor sap. Send him my condolences," with the assumption that my FH is just giving in to an ultimatum or something. (These are the same people that think those wedding cake toppers of a bride dragging the groom to the altar are *hilarious*.) My instinct is those situations is to go into a spluttering feminist rage, defending my FH and furiously explaining how he's actually a romantic guy and really excited to get married. Which of course does nothing to help my cause. I'd much prefer a witty, pre-planned response like those you suggested but that also has the added benefit of reminding the speaker that they just made an incredibly sexist remark. Any suggestions?

  20. I just point out that S.O. and I have been together for over six years, so I'm sure we can handle it since our relationship screams "already married!" anyway. If that never works, I usually give them a look and ignore the comment.

  21. I am pretty young, (21) and I just got engaged (we dated for 2 years) and so many people have commented on that fact with statements like:
    "Slow Down!"
    "You're just so young!"
    "Are you sure your are ready?"
    "Maybe you guys should wait a while…"
    "Put on the brake! It isn't a race!"
    Neither of us really dated much before each other so the worst is:
    "Are you sure you really want to do this?"

    Of course I'm sure you dimwits! I would not have said yes otherwise! As most of the nay-sayers are my elders I feel it would be rude to say anything too snarky to them. The thing that really irks me though is the fact that just a few years ago it was the norm to marry at this age. My parents were 18 and 19 when they got married and just celebrated their 30th anniversary. People really just want to have some input I think, or to be heard. There is rarely any logic to their snide remarks or so called "words of wisdom."

    Hang in there everyone!

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