How do you deal with the "so… when are you going to get married" questions?

March 4 2015 | offbeatbride
when are you going to get married
Thanks to Rachael Dickson for uploading Jackalope and the Janealope to our Flickr pool.
Greetings from relationship purgatory!

My super awesome boyfriend and I have been dating for about five years now, living together for about a year. Lately our relationship has felt healthier, happier and stronger than ever, which is awesome.

The not-so-awesome part is that, being in our mid-to-late twenties we (admittedly mostly myself because I'm the giiirrrrl) have been getting a lot of pressure about when/if we are going to get married!

We are planning on getting hitched… eventually. But, we just don't feel that getting married is a priority right now.

Lately every time we see family or friends though the conversation always comes around to, "So, when's the wedding?" Our answers never seem to satisfy anyone, and it's a bummer to feel like those closest to us no longer feel like our relationship is "enough," even though we are really happy.

So, Homies, does anyone have a really good script or advice for dealing with family and friends who want to pressure you about your relationship status?

  1. We're getting this a lot too. So far it generally goes:

    "so when's the wedding?"
    "when you pay for it"

    This is usually followed by a more mature explanation that saving for other stuff, eg a holiday (I haven't been on one for 13 years) or a potential relocation for my graduate job/PhD position depending on what comes through or a house deposit, is more important to us now.

    I haven't quite figured out the polite way to explain "I think marriage is largely pointless" to people who very much believe in it.

    When my other half mum got married again, at the wedding reception she very purposefully gave me the bouquet instead of tossing it. I passed it to the person on my right. When asked what I was doing the only thing I could think to say was "playing pass the parcel."

    • Pointing out the financials helped a lot in my case too. Saying we're saving for a house first usually got a reaction of "Oh! That's smart!" and then that person dropped it from there after. (They then constantly asked us about the house. That one was easier to deal with though.)

      For people I am closer with, like my parents, I told them that it wasn't anything about him being unwilling to marry, but me not feeling ready for marriage yet. My mom didn't fully understand, but my dad got it, and for them the main concern was that I wasn't being used and that I was happy. It didn't put a complete end to it, but it helped.

  2. We usually look them right in the eye and say "I don't know." Kinda puts them on the spot. We've also said, "Well, we were gonna throw a wedding, but then we bought this house instead," and joke that anyone willing to pay for a wedding is free to plan it, and we'll *probably* show up.

    Either way, people get the message that we aren't actively planning a wedding but clearly the relationship is fine.

  3. My parents have moved on from the marriage question to when are we going to have kids -_-. I tell them the truth–we screw like rabbits but nothing has happened–hey, they asked.

    For everyone else, I say 'eventually', and add that it will likely be very small.

    (our relationship is great, I'd love to be married today, but we've got to work out some financial stuff first)

    • Oh my gosh. My parents have done the same thing. At the suggestion of my gyno, I have now been telling them that we don't want kids. We do…eventually…but they don't have to know that.

  4. This is all too familiar. My manfriend (now husband) and I just got married after being together nearly 7 years, and living together 6 of them. The questions NEVER STOP, they just change. It doesn't help that I am in my early 30's, and my very religious younger siblings got married ASAP to their first loves in their very early 20's (you know, no sex before marriage, purity rox!). So in addition to the routine Q's, I also was prompted to display jealousy toward their marriages…. "don't you wish this was you?" – "does it bother you that A and B are so much younger than you and married?" – and now they are all having kids so you can imagine those questions. But, we can't change the questions, only how we handle them.

    My responses were always "We've been too busy buying a house and enjoying our lives to think about marriage" or: "we're really not in a hurry to do that." Even well intended, it's still a very nosy question and I never got used to it. Then we eloped, and every one was happy for two seconds before the "oh you must be ready to have kids, huh?" questions started. NEVER ENDS. Now we just say we're too busy raising our dogs to have kids. My MIL is relentless and despite my increasingly firm responses, insists that we should have children soon. We're closet child-free, but she'll find out soon enough. "We'll have kids when the humane society has no more pups for us…"

    • OP here! Yes we are getting a bit of the 'You should be jealous' push as well. BF's brother (who is close in age) has gotten married and has 2 kids in less time than we have been together, and there has been some push for us to want their life. Don't get me wrong, they're great and I love them but they're life choices are not our life choices. Being compared to others might actually be the more hurtful/upsetting part of all this.

      • My younger sister got engaged at 20, right before my older brother's wedding. She's getting married this year at 23. Some cousins have mentioned that I must feel left out or that my sister is somehow upstaging me (even though at the time they all were furious about her engagement) and that I should feel hurt or jealous.

        Nope. Happy with my boyfriend, and we want to date for another 2 years before we decide. Still don't know how to act when people tell me that I SHOULD feel a certain way. I like my life!

  5. I'm interested in this, because I have a friend who I'm just recently getting back in touch with, and this seems to be the ONLY question that comes to my mind until we get into a discussion. But I don't want to ask it…..because I already know the answer is, "when life permits…"

    I think the thing about weddings, is that they are so generally happy and people love to talk about happy things….So alternative questions you would like to be asked would be helpful too!! What kinds of general and happy topics would you rather discuss – perhaps with people who don't know you well??

    • You make a great point, and I do keep that in mind when people ask what I consider to be nosy questions. Assuming it's someone asking in casual conversation, I try to remember they are just trying to be nice, not nosy and so I answer without hostility.

      For me, I have a massive garden that I work hard on – so I love when people ask me about it. We have two shelter dogs that I am also very fond of talking about (and showing photos, and videos…yes I'm that person!). So asking about specific hobbies, or someone's furry companions, house they just bought, new car – those are great ways to talk about someone without talking about their relationship plans.

    • I don't mind being asked about my relationship. Friends of ours frequently ask how the 'other half' is doing, what I tend to get annoyed by is someone pushing (knowingly or unknowingly) their timeline for our relationship on us.
      Other things to ask about are
      * Hobbies
      *TV shows/movies
      *Work or school
      *Pets (which I will discuss at length, in detail and with pictures)
      *Home improvement projects

    • Instead of asking "when are you getting married?" you could ask something like "are you guys considering marriage?" or "do you think marriage is in the future for you?" And then if they say "Yes, but we're waiting until…" then it might bring up a new topic of conversation. Like if they say they are trying to buy a house first, you can ask about that. In my opinion it's not so much that asking about marriage plans is flat out wrong, it's that there is a presumptuous way to ask and there is a way to ask that conveys honest interest in what's happening in a person's life. It's similar to how asking "when are you going to have kids?" seems kind of pushy and annoying, but if someone asked me "do you think you will want kids someday?" that question wouldn't bother me at all. Plus when you make an effort to ask questions in a more open ended sort of way, it can lead you to new topics of conversation.

  6. I am a bit older and been in my relationship a bit longer than the OP, but yeah. People will insist on asking the question. They get a firm, "We have nothing to announce at this time." If they are a close family member, they will also get a, "If something does happen, you will be among the first to know!"

    There's definitely a childish impulse in me that becomes LESS interested in marriage every time I have to answer that question!

    The real answer is more like, "We love each other and want to be together forever, but do not happen to have strong feelings about your sacred institution." But that seems better left unsaid.

  7. My favorite response now that I've been living in sin for a while is to say in a stage whisper, "Why buy the cow? I'm getting the milk for free!"

    I think that only works because I'm a lady, but it's my go-to comeback.

    • My mom was positively abusive of that awful cow scenario when we were living in sin. I started responding: "why buy the pig when all you want is a little sausage?" – it shut her up quick! I can't remember where I heard that, but I can't take credit for it 🙂

        • I loathe that phrase, so much. It's offensive to women, to men, to cows, to everyone! My parents are tremendously opposed to living in sin, and my mom knows my disdain for that phrase, so I ended up hearing it a lot.

  8. I've been with my LL (life love? We hate all the other labels for non-married-relationships) for 11 years. Being 38- the questions have slowed down quite a bit. But it still comes up. When it does, I just give the honest answer. We don't feel the need. Flat and simple. Although- a killer party would be fun…

    • Aww, I like your acronym. Somehow it's more personal than SO (significant other), and still insinuates that they are something other than "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" (juvenile) to you.

      My boyfriend and I just moved in together and have been playfully referring to one another as our "live-in lover" 😉

    • Yes, I usually respond with "it just doesn't seem necessary" when people ask "why?" marriage isn't something I'm interested in or planning on. I get this from mental health professionals A LOT. Every time I move, I have to introduce my life story to a new psychiatrist, and lately (perhaps because I'm into my 30s now? I don't even know) they ask why I'm not married/if I plan to get married to my partner.

      Most of our relatives have long since given up asking.

  9. Before we were engaged, my now-husband used the "frustrating circular logic" approach on his grandmother whenever she would nag, and it was EPIC. It went something like this:

    Grandma: "So, when are you going to get married?"
    Now-husband: "On my wedding day!"
    Gma: "And when will that be?"
    NH: "Probably after we get engaged."
    Gma: "So when is that going to happen?"
    NH: "Well, definitely before we get married."

    Repeat ad nauseum.

  10. I tend to state very plainly that we're super happy with our relationship–exactly as it is. I've even said before, "We just don't feel the need right now. If that changes, we'll let you know."

  11. I'm a hard-stopper when it comes to when I feel like my privacy is being violated or my emotions are being manipulated. As a result, I can be a bit harsh.

    I would tend to pull the answer a question with a question. "Why? We're happy the way things are. We'll do it when we want to." Part of it is because I don't think my life decisions are your business unless I'm asking your advice (in which case I have explicitly asked for it); part of it is because I want to know why this one thing is so important for their views on my entirely healthy, happy and lovely relationship.

    I have asked friends and close relatives if they've considered marriage at all. I'm a marry if you want to, don't if you feel that way kind of laissez-faire person when it comes to the personal choice. I tell them, flat out, that is seems like they're in "end game" and if they've talked about it and what their thoughts on it are. It's less about their choices and more about their thoughts. These are also people I'm very close to and have a level of social intimacy with that they "get" where I'm coming from.

    This could go into spectacularly vivid flames for you depending on your history with the asker, usual communication styles and other factors including culture.

  12. Long time listener, first time caller…

    This situation is so me, I'm sick of the questions! Everyone is asking and it drives me insane. The other part is, my ovaries are literally jumping out of my belly trying to cope with my crazy desire for reproducing but my partner isn't there yet. I'm waiting for him to get there which he assures me is going to happen but in the meantime, not only do I get frustrated with the married/kids question but it makes me sad/jealous/all the feelings as well. I feel like I'm circling the airport in a holding pattern and I can't see the landing time and all those questions just remind me that I'm stuck.

  13. hey, this was us for a LONG time.

    i have been with my fiance' for 8 years. after the second year together, we started getting the "so when are you getting married?" grilling. at first, i gave all the usual answers – we're not ready, it's just not right, etc. eventually i started ugly crying at them. it generally worked. people get very uncomfortable when people cry at them for seemingly innocuous questions.

    when we get the "when baby?" questions, i fully intend to ask them why they feel our bedroom habits are any of their business. i suffer neither fools nor nosy assholes, and i do not care what people think of me if i respond with blunt honesty to their incredibly intrusive questioning.

  14. My partner and I rarely (so far so good) get asked this question- I think my community is just happy that I'm happy and with someone who is so terrific- but sometimes I get asked this. My response is just to lovingly say that we are so so happy in this magical beautiful not-yet-engaged-but-super-in-love-and-planning-on-being-together-for-the-duration stage. We will (hopefully) have years to be happily married and happily engaged, but this stage is precious & delightful and we're in no particular hurry to move on to another stage.

    This only works for couples like us who are planning on marriage someday, but I like it.

  15. My now-husband and I dated for 6 long years before he finally popped the question. We didn't become serious until after a year of dating and soon decided to get married the year after I graduated. At that point in my life, I realized that marriage was something I really wanted in my life eventually, and it mattered more and more to me the longer we dated. Unfortunately I lost my first post-college job not too long after I was hired and it took almost another year before I was hired for my current job. We just tied the knot almost 4 months ago.

    Still, that didn't stop people from asking us the marriage question as soon as we hit the 3-year mark in our dating years. Then my younger sister and a lot of my cousins started getting married before we did, and the green-eyed monster got the best of me, mainly because our relationship wasn't seen as serious as those of my then-engaged/now married cousins despite us being together much longer.

    I think a lot of folks stopped assuming we would ever get married by our 5-year dating anniversary because when I signed a lease on a house, many of my husband's relatives saw this as a sign that we were going to begin living together sans marriage (This wasn't part of our plan.). Plus, people just stopped asking. That is, until . . .

    My husband (then-boyfriend) and I were attending my younger cousin and his wife's wedding. We were already at the reception, sitting down at a table and eating our food when my other cousin's (the groom's brother) sister-in-law marched over to us and said, "Hey!" and then immediately sat down next to us and asked, "So when are y'all getting married????" I then urged my hubby to get me the hell out of there and, because of the pressure I was already facing from that dreaded question, started sobbing uncontrollably right after we left the building where the reception was being held.

    In the part of the U.S. where I live, I was considered an "old maid" during my last few years of singlehood. Needless to say, those said years were rather difficult to live through without the added stress that came from a period of unemployment. Whenever I was asked the marriage question, my answers ranged from "When I graduate and get a job" to "I don't really know right now" to "When the time is right for us." Of course, my answers heavily depended on what was going on in my life at the time. Because of my own experiences of being in relationship purgatory, I believe it is very very very rude to ask anyone, regardless of the number of years they have been together, when the hell they are getting hitched, so I am very very very careful not to ask anyone this inconsiderate question.

    • I want to especially THIS! this part:
      "mainly because our relationship wasn't seen as serious as those of my then-engaged/now married cousins despite us being together much longer."

      So, so much this. A few years ago, one of my cousins who had met her then-fiance/now-husband well after my beau and I started dating, sent me an invitation to her wedding with an "and Guest". Cousin had met met my beau. They were friends on facebook. That one still stings a bit.

      • Ouch. 🙁

        My husband (then-boyfriend of 4.5 years) was left out of my cousin's family photos from her wedding because my aunt who was paying for the wedding only wanted married couples to be in the pictures.

        But he was included in my baby sister's family wedding photos, so there's a small comfort for me. 🙂

        • Ouch to you too!

          I really don't get that attitude. Married couples also sometimes break up. Who doesn't have old family pictures with somebody's ex-spouse in them? That's life. I mean, I get if it's someone you just met. But if the relationship is on the order of years, married or not, then we're just splitting hairs.

          • I want to second (third?) this emotion. After three years of togetherness, I was left out of my SO's sister's family wedding photos. I don't know if it was deliberate, or I was just forgotten… oh, who am I kidding, I wasn't forgotten. I was standing right next to my SO when they corralled him over for family photos. It hurt. It hurt big-time. And a year after that (4 years of togetherness), my future MiL had the nerve to ask about us, "Are they even serious?" I daresay it takes just as much seriousness, if not MORE seriousness, to commit to someone with out marrying them. Marriage is serious, yeah. But it comes with a measure of security. Living together as a committed unmarried couple is a risk in that you have little legal recourse, should things go wrong. There is no safety net. It could be argued that it takes a great deal of faith and trust to commit to someone, and to know that your commitment transcends marriage.

          • Sandy, I agree that there are certain ways in which a non-married commitment is more of a commitment! I remember someone talking about their marriage once, saying something like, "Every day we wake up and decide to be married." There's a nice point in there about reaffirming your commitment to your person, but married people wake up every day still married. They have to work kind of hard to undo it! For non-marrieds, the decision to stay with a person is the whole thing. There's no relationship without it.

      • Me too! All of a sudden our 6 year committed relationship was "less real" because we didn't go the same route and get married after only knowing each other for 2 years? Yeah, no.

      • Yup, after 5 years I'm still not allowed in any of my boyfriends family photos. It stung last time they when to get portraits done at a studio and his brothers wife who had been part of the family (dating included) less than a year got to go and I had to stay home. It's one of the few times the jealousy has gotten to me.
        On the other end of the spectrum, my family believes that since we are living together 'in sin' he's taking advantage of me. Which makes me furious. No matter how much I tell them I'm happy, this is my choice, and we're happy, they feel I don't know what's best. It sucks to think that they view myself and my boyfriend that way. Especially when they turn around and go 'that person we've been ragging on? You should spend the rest of your life with them!'
        Ok, end rant

        • Wow, that super sucks. My extended family can be a little frustrating, but I've actually been very fortunate that both our immediate families have been cool about stuff like that. (Is it sad that I feel fortunate that at least some of our family members have been nice? Is the bar really that low?)

          I have also never understood why 'living in sin' is always considered a win for the guy and a loss for the woman. I mean, other than dumb outdated gender roles reasons.

          • OK, Devil's advocate here. Some of the questions may be coming from concern. Marriage is much more than the wedding and a public display of commitment. There are very real financial and legal benefits to marriage. If there weren't, the issue of gay marriage wouldn't be coming up before the Supreme Court soon.

            Unfortunately, in the case of separation and divorce, it still usually seems to be the woman who loses the most. While statistics indicate that women are worse off financially than men after a divorce, there are more protections when divorcing than when splitting up a household that had no formal legal arrangements. This is one reason why "living in sin" is "considered a loss for the woman."

            However, there are more important issues than splitting up. Consider, if you or your partner is in a serious accident, the other of you may not have the right to discuss treatment, let alone make decisions. If one of you dies without a will the other could be left in a very bad situation. Example: A couple were living together and he died without a will. She had moved into his house many years before. She got only what was in her name and her personal effects. She lost her man and her home. Another example: A pregnant young woman lost her boyfriend in a car accident. No will and little insurance. She's now dependent on his family to acknowledge and help her support her child.

            These situations happen every day to women of all ages. Even if you choose not to marry, at least do some research and have some conversations about how to protect yourself in the event of tragedy. Then you can assure those who care that you are not only happy, but protected as well.

          • Certainly I am not denying that there are financial and legal benefits to marriage. And yes, marriage gives spouses claims on each other's assets that can result in certain protections on divorce. But your examples could happen to people of any gender. A woman could die without a will and leave a man without a home. A woman could die and leave behind a boyfriend and a young child who didn't have sufficient support.

            It is still true that, overall, women don't have economic parity with men. So you might expect women to be worse off in these situations more often. But it is also the case that a) the size/existence of the income gap varies widely depending on demographic, and b) women breadwinners are becoming much more common. So I guess I think we shouldn't *expect* that women will be worse off, even if it's an issue that women may need to pay more attention to than men at the present time.

            And I hope you won't assume that those of us in long-term, non-married relationships have not thought about these things.

            The thing that most rubs me the wrong way about lopsided concern for women in cohabitation situations is how often it dovetails with the "Why buy the cow…" crap. Which is sexist nonsense and I wish people wouldn't think it was an acceptable thing to say.

  16. Q: So, when's the wedding?
    A: I don't know, I haven't heard anything about it! Who's getting married?

    Q: So, when are you getting married?
    A: It sounds like you know something I don't! What has [partner's name] been saying?

    Q: Don't you want to get married?
    A: Do YOU want us to get married?

    Q: [to female partner] You're pretty patient to be sticking around! How are you still waiting for him to pop the question?
    A: You know, we enjoy each other so much that patience isn't really an issue. We haven't gotten tired of being together yet.

    Q: [to female partner] Wouldn't you love to be a bride?
    A: Mostly I just love [partner's name].

  17. 10 year not married relationship here, we just say we are not really that interested. Maybe we will get married one day but it's not a big deal to us. Funnily enough that stops wedding questions, people don't really expect that, especially if I a female in her late 20's (so, obviously, wedding obsessed if pop culture is to be believed) says it.

  18. Oh hey, that's my photo at the top! I just wanted to insert a quick shout out to the local Chicago artist who painted the Jackalope and Janealope – Anna Todaro. I'm the biggest fan girl for her work! You can see more of her work here – https://www.facebook.com/AnnaTodaroArt.

    I wish I had answers for the OP! I've been dating my fella for over two years and we've mostly avoided any of those questions up to now, partly because my family is really awesome and generally allows me to make my own decisions.

  19. "Getting married only when you want to sponsor everything. Are you interested?" Looks at them with BIG wide eye and a BIG smile!

  20. My husband and I moved in together after 4 months of dating, and we were together over 6 years before we got married. You don't owe anyone an explanation. It's nobody's business. When people asked me when we were going to get married…"I don't know!"

  21. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I am not a fan of the financial responses to this question. A marriage doesn't always imply a wedding! You don't HAVE to spend thousands of dollars to "get married," and that's ok. But you might WANT to spend money to have the wedding that you want, and that's ok too. Also, some people like to separate the "getting married" and "having a wedding" because of financial reasons or unfortunately because it isn't freaking legal everywhere yet. And some people just don't see the need to get married, and that's ok too.

  22. We got married for our 10th anniversary… so we got those questions for a looooong time and they caused a lot of stress for us, so first off – I totally feel your frustration. Most of the time the people who were asking were close close people (my Dad who I have deep conversations with often and my best friends) so short one liners didn't work so well.

    But for those who were outside that circle, they usually were told "We're engaged to be engaged" or "We're focusing on a home for just the two of us first" (we were living with roommates and in and out of apartments as we slowly worked our way from teenage adolescence towards adulthood) or, simply "eventually". The fact that we were 'high school sweethearts' and fairly young probably helped those come backs stick. Mostly I tried to communicate that the ceremony of marriage was lower on the priority list than the various other tasks we wanted to accomplish as young adults.

  23. "We're very happy with our relationship now, thank you."
    "When we decide to get married."
    "It's just be the same shit, different jewelry." (paraphrased from a friend)

    When we finally decided to get married (after six years of dating), our parents were just grateful that we were actually having a (very small, nontraditional, frugal) wedding instead of eloping without them. Because we'd been so nonchalant about a wedding in the past, everyone assumed we'd just hit up the courthouse on a Wednesday afternoon (which was actually really tempting).

    But that's the interesting thing. Most people who asked weren't really concerned about marriage; they wanted to go to a wedding. They were taking a really short view of things (i.e. the party) while we wanted to make sure we were ready for the long-haul. We actually knew we wanted to be married a few years in, but we *felt* married, so the wedding seemed superfluous…

  24. My husband and I are highschool sweethearts and had dated for something like 7-8 years before we got married. We were honest at first "I don't know" and "I don't believe in marriage" (me) to "Eventually" and "when my job is more stable" (my husband). Eventually we found more and more interesting things to say "we Branjelina get married" "we're Satanists who don't believe in marriage" "we eloped a long time and just didn't invite you" etc etc and people got the hint and left us alone. 😀

  25. Husband and I dated for 10 years before getting engaged. When we were asked we found it effective to put on a really serious look and answer "You know, we just don't want to rush into anything. We would hate to make a hasty decision, and not taking more time before hand. Besides if we rushed into this, people would talk." The key was a deadpan delivery.

  26. My husband and I did not get married until nearly 8 years into our relationship and had been living together nearly 7. I totally get the whole "not a priority" thing about getting married. After all, we were doing other things like finishing school and buying a house.

    That being said, however… Once we got married I honestly wondered why we hadn't already before: getting married was EASY. I don't know what all the hype was about from family members constantly hounding us about it–it's really easy, easier than getting a drivers license. It would have made things a lot less complicated, too, especially during times where one of us was laid off–or even minute details like not being able to be added as a second driver when renting a car (unless we wanted to pay double).

    Anyway, this might not be helpful–but is it possible people are asking you because they can't understand why you wouldn't have gotten married? Hindsight is 20/20.

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