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February 23, 2010

Comments

Wendy

To the first: "How are YOU?" Because, even when you're married, you're still you. Or: "Does it really rain in London as often as they say?"

As for yourself, you might respond: "it's like life beforehand, except married." If you smile while saying it, non-answers can be quite successful.

Tom Babcock

I have only been married 40 years, and have to agree with Wendy. It is like life. If we are committed to "life" we take it in stride, the good and the bad, the difficulties as well as the joys, and do what we need to do to try to make it better. We don't look at life and think, "I don't need this" when things get tricky. We look for solutions. Part of staying in love is continually reflecting on what it was that you apprciate in your spouse, and keep these things in mind when the inevitable challenges of living with others arise.

So what do you say to "How's married life" may be to say, "Married life is worth living." Sort of like London in the rain, or adjusting to everyone wearing black in London--It is a beautiful city, and exciting place, that even drab and damp can be a joy to experience.

Jenny

I appreciate this topic. I have been married for 6 months and have continually wondered how to respond to such questions in the sound bite that the user seems to be looking for. I like the former suggestion of "It's worth it" as a response.

I have also often heard the leading question "Don't you LOVE being married?"- or, before the wedding- "You are going to LOVE married life!" Then came moments of panic during the very normal times when I didn't feel that way, or had at least had mixed feelings. In personal exploration, I have realized how comments like these have buttressed my tendency to compare my marriage to others'. I never really thought about that comparing as an immodest exercise until now, but it is. If marriage is the institution under which a previously public relationship goes- by definition- private, there should be no comparing or pressure to do so.

I am thankful for friends who want to share in the joys and struggles of life, but I hope that I will respond to recently married acquaintances with more conscientiousness as a result of my own experience.

Mary M.

The way I react to such a question is wondering how on earth they can be asking such a generalized question and expect me to know! I don't know how married life is, I just know how married life is to Jared (my husband, obviously). So when asked, I would reply along the lines of, "Jared is an amazing husband, I am blessed." or "We are even more in love than before we were married." or some such personal answer...

And, yes, "How are you?" is a much more appropriate question. As is "How are you guys?"

AlexandraFoley

I remember finding this question annoying, lo those many years ago (12, to be exact). But I always assumed people were being kind and not nosy. I believe I usually responded "Wonderful" or something like that. But the truth was that it was hard. That first year of marriage can be very difficult. You are used to being your own person and now you are two in one flesh. It takes some adjustment, and grace.

Perhaps if we all answered honestly ("Well it is hard sometimes") people would a) maybe stop asking the question and b)feel a little better if they too are struggling. I am not necessarily saying we should do this, just musing.

Congratulations, Eve! Many happy years to you two.

Laura

I kind of find it annoying too. I usually tell them that marriage is challenging, but that it is so worth it. My husband says the same.

JSC

I think a kinder response is to recognize that people don't really know what to say and they are just showing interest in your well-being. So, I think a smile and a "great" relieves their mind -- you are doing OK -- and then move on to another topic easily. Otherwise, you turn an attempt at good will into a contest of wills.

Erin P

Similar to what JSC said, I always tried to share something good with the person who asked (while at the same time keeping private things private:). I feel like in this day and age where many TV shows mock marriage (marriage ref, anyone?), I want to be a positive voice for the beauty of marriage in whatever small way I can.

Many blessings and much happiness to you and your husband, Eve!

Cass

I don't think the question behind the question is, "How is your sex life?", so I don't think there's any call for such an obviously pre-prepared and, frankly, overwrought answer.

If you feel that the person asking the question deserves or is entitled to an honest answer about the new practicalities to which you are adjusting ("Living in London is a big change!", "We're taking a cooking class together next weekend in an effort to get Kraft Dinner out of heavy rotation," etc.), then give that answer. If the person is asking out of social convention and you are not on familiar terms with him/her, just say, "Great!" and then change the subject.

Just as when someone asks, "How are you?" without actually wanting to hear your litany of ills, the how's-married-life variation is, nine times out of ten, coming from someone who is looking to start a conversation and is being polite by asking you about yourself rather than charging ahead with a self-involved soliloquy.

Melissa May

I got married when I was 21 and still in school. My husband was 22 and had just graduated. The question I got most often was, "Why did you get married so young?" which always seemed strange to me. It seemed like the people who asked this were trying to figure out if we'd *had* to get married, if you know what I mean (which wasn't the case). I never enjoyed feeling like I had to defend myself to mere acquaintances. And even if we did *have* to get married, is that really anyone's business? I think not!

Wendy

That is a good point, Melissa. As for the earlier comment from Cass, I don't think Eve's blog was about the intimate lives of the newly married, or assuming that people were asking about that. It was, however, a useful reminder that instead of battering the newly-married with unbounded curiosity, it would perhaps be better to ask how we can help during this time of adjustment. In general it would be nice if the impulse to support others was stronger than the temptation to see others as objects of fascination and gossip.

RShapiro

I never considered that question immodest, but I can see how it might come across as too personal or prying. I will try to remember that when talking to my newly married friends!

I get asked almost every Sunday at church, "How's the lawyer business?" When I was still in school, it was, "How's school?" or, "How are classes?" All of these are usually just slightly more personal and less of a cliche than the very typical, "How are you?" Acquaintances at church get one kind of answer: "Busy" or "Slow" or "Fun, actually." My mom gets another kind of answer: "Well, in my biggest case...My boss..."

I would therefore answer "How's married life?" with the same attitude, words, and detail you answered "How's school going?" or "How is your family?" before you were married.

As for alternative questions, how about "How are you and [husband]?" I don't think is any more personal than the polite, "How are you?" or, "How is your family?"

Ofer Maimon

Hmmm. I guess I'm one of those who have been guilty of asking that question, but I might also add that I would never have asked it to anyone I didn't know fairly well. Like one of the previous commentators said, I never saw it as asking someone about their sex life, something I would never do.

I think it's more of a question out of happiness for the persons involved, giving the bride or groom a chance to basque in their newfound happiness, or if they should need to, give them a chance to ask for advise from a close friend or relative.

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