Well before you even got engaged, you were probably batting off quite a handful of unsolicited comments and questions from everyone including your family, friends and colleagues to total strangers. And the annoying questions most certainly don’t stop during your first year of marriage. In fact, you are bound to be on the receiving end of suggestions, unsolicited advice and probing questions even from those who love you most in the first year of marriage. “While annoying, most comments and questions in the immediacy after your wedding are motivated by a sincere interest in your life, and a desire to continue celebrating your happiness,” says Ili Walter, licensed marriage and family therapist in Florida and Pennsylvania.
To help you best prepare, and know how best to respond, here are the most common, albeit annoying, questions you’re likely to get asked during your first year of marriage.
Are you going to change your name?
This is most commonly targeted towards women, as it’s long been a post-marital tradition that the woman drops her maiden name and takes her husband’s last name. It’s still very common today, although more and more women are choosing to keep their last name or combine their maiden and married last names together. Whatever you decide to do, it’s your decision entirely—and while most people make this decision during the first year of marriage, you don’t have to. Still, people will likely be dying to know what you decide. “There isn’t really a way out of this one except to tell them what you plan to do or simply state that you haven’t decided and it’s a paperwork nightmare,” says Kati Morton, L.M.F.T., author of Are u ok? “Then change the subject.”
When are you planning on having kids?
You might be surprised by how quickly people want to inquire about this sensitive information—i.e. for some, even before you’ve walked down the aisle and during your first year of marriage. It’s not that your friends and family members are trying to put you in an uncomfortable position—it’s that they are often looking right onto the next thing. “As a couple you can just reply, ‘No plans yet, but don’t worry, if that changes we will definitely let you know,’” suggests Morton. “This not only answers their question, but lets them know not to ask again, because you will let them know.”
How’s married life?
Like most, this question is probably well intentioned, and it may even be a way to follow up or show concern, but it’s still annoying nonetheless. “It can be annoying because maybe that’s a domain you’d like to keep private and now you feel pressured to answer,” says Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., psychologist, relationship expert and author of Dating from the Inside Out. She suggests staying positive and vague, unless there’s something you’d like to confide in this person about. “You can say something like, ‘Things are good. We are enjoying our time together,’ and then switch the subject,” Dr. Sherman adds.
Are things different now that you’re married?
Just like the “how’s married life?” question, people always seem to ask this strange one too. “I’m not sure what they’re looking for—maybe they assume a piece of paper changes people, but in reality it doesn’t,” says Morton. “If you aren’t that close to this person, you may not want to share how you feel more connected or are a family now, or whatever you are experiencing, so the best way to manage this is just to say ‘No, it’s wonderful,’ and change the subject.”
Have you had your first big fight?
“Well-meaning loved ones will want to support you through tough times in your marriage, and this will inevitably be expressed through prying,” says Walter. “If a spouse is still feeling hurt in the aftermath of an argument, it’s more likely that they’ll seek emotional support by discussing the matter.” In times like these, she suggests that couples come to an agreement over who they can share what with so that when one seeks “emotional support” the other doesn’t feel betrayed. “In the absence of such an agreement, it’s best to offer ‘We communicate through our disagreements,’ or something similarly vague,” she adds.
How are you getting along with your in-laws?
Whether you’ve known your partner’s family for years or are still in the process of getting to know them, officially becoming “part of the family” isn’t always the smoothest process. In fact, it’s not uncommon for family matters to cause quite a stir between you and your partner, especially during your first year of marriage. “Many couples have regular and fervent arguments about the involvement of in-laws in their lives during year one, as they figure out how to establish a new family unit,” says Walter. “Even when there are conflicts, it doesn’t mean that partners should discuss them with extended friends or family, so a polite, ‘We are getting along fine,’ should suffice.”