I'm pretty used to intrusive questions. Used to them but tired of them. Something I didn't foresee upon getting engaged is that my life is now open to a whole new set of intrusive questions. Some questions are so personal they should only be asked in a doctors surgery. They're the nosey questions and comments about my relationship. And it seems I'm not alone.
I want to state up front that these nosey questions aren't the norm. We are usually met with such lovely congratulations and excitement - but I'm surprised at these occasional (becoming quite frequent) questions.
The number one thing that is commented on is my ring. I love showing it off to my friends, and on social media - not in a braggy way, but in an I'm so excited I'm getting married way! And also because over the holiday I had three manicures.
And it is beautiful.
When I meet a new person, I'm not going to flash my ring. But it has caught people's attention, or they've asked to see it. And their reactions are often about money, or calculating the money by asking about the carats.
"How much was that diamond?!", they exclaim.
"I bet your ring cost a few months' salary."
And the one asked by a venue consultant, perhaps indicating that we could afford that venue: "He must be doing alright for himself, he's a keeper."
Ugh. I am not marrying my love for his money. And a sparkly ring doesn't mean we can afford a wedding venue.
Money seems to be a common discussion point directed at engaged couples. Monique told me "My husband and I had a lot of people ask how much things cost for the wedding. Some of it was from other engaged couples who were wanting to gauge how much things cost/what was reasonable, others were people being nosey. We had people ask whether we were in debt or if we got a loan for the wedding (the answer to both is no). We've had a few people ask when we'll be having children because we are a pretty clucky couple but because we are still pretty young, we don't get many serious questions. While for the most part we're pretty open, people can push the boundaries with the questions."
I've not had many baby questions, but many newly married females I've spoken to online said they've been pestered about when they're having babies. A lovely reader, Trish, made me laugh with this comment: "Being 47 and 50, with 3 20something kids between us, only one person was silly enough to ask us if we didn't want "one of our own?"!!!" Oh the cheek!
I imagine it must be awful to have to discuss baby plans when you're unable to fall pregnant. My good friend Debra said "I was asked a lot about having babies etc .... They felt bad when I said could not have them - I know that was a bit mean - but it did stop the conversation going places I did not want to go - & it was truth also!!"
I spent a good 15 minutes discussing babies the other night - only this wasn't discussing when and how many kids we will have, but whether we will need genetic testing. Over dinner - with friends and people I don't know well. I've written about my thoughts on genetic testing here, so you could say I'm quite open about my thoughts. And my geneticist and dermatologist have asked me about it when I announced the engagement. But discussing it in person with someone I barely knew felt weird. It felt like I had to have all my decisions ready, and prepare to defend myself if my beliefs didn't align with theirs. Fortunately everyone at the table agreed with my thoughts, but this was a lot of personal detail to share over dinner. I have talked with Adam about the genetic aspects of Ichthyosis, and the possibility of passing the condition on, but I am sure that the conversation was uncomfortable for him because until he met me, he didn't think planning children could be so complex.
The next night over a drink with a friend at a disability event, I was discussing the surprised reactions to my engagement by people who don't really know me. Expectations and assumptions around my skin condition and appearance, I guess. I told my friend that I notice some people are obviously surprised. While they smile their eyes are looking elsewhere or their voice trails off. My friend and I discussed how it's weird to admit to recognising such reactions, and some people may think that we are overreacting and being paranoid. Then my friend and I agreed that people with disabilities are perceptive. Anyway... My Mum says she notices people's surprise too. I've had someone ask whether Adam has a skin condition too - complete with waving arm movements around the face. That's the universal symbol for "I'm awkward about talking about your red face."
Adam and I haven't been together for very long. But it's right. So right. I am excited about spending my life with him. I've had a couple of "isn't it too soon?" questions. I have even had someone telling me that my happiness is making them sad because they feel they can't have the same happiness." SO inappropriate.
My friend Dani, who is around my age and recently married for the second time told me, "Being widowed and having 2 children people had aalllllll the questions - how much was your ring, will you wear white, will you have a proper wedding (I'm still unsure what that meant), will you take his name, will you change the kids name, don't ask for gifts / wishing well ...now we're married we get the 'why won't you have children?' dani you 'owe' it to scott ... now we just ignore people ... it's OUR version of happiness so we only owe ourselves answers."
It's to be expected but some people have asked me about wedding specifics - have we set a date?, where will it be?, can you invite me/my relative?. And people already want to know about what my wedding dress will look like! Of course, I'm keeping it a secret until the big day! Fortunately I've not had much unsolicited advice - just really useful advice about wedding venues and lovely offers from celebrants and photographers. But Debra also told me "I was a 'matured age bride' - married for the first time at age 40 and some people felt they should tell me what I did and did not want for my wedding. I can tell you at 40 - I knew exactly what I wanted!!!!" Gosh!
I asked whether these questions are limited to the brides-to-be, or do grooms-to-be get them too? Melissa said "it’s an everyone thing. When you go through a common rite of passage, every fucker has an opinion."
I asked Adam his opinion on these questions. Like me, he thinks people are making a statement on our wealth, and the questions are a bit too personal. "I wouldn't ask anyone else the questions Carly and I have been asked", he said.
While we are truly appreciative of the good wishes and good intentions with nosey questions attached, the level of personal information I've being asked about my relationship and upcoming wedding is confronting. I know there will be more to come, but please, can people just be happy for our love without asking about finances and wombs? We are happy and love each other and that's all that matters.
I guess I count myself lucky that I haven't been asked "Are you sure he's the right one?" like Clairzilla told me she was asked. How rude!
What personal questions have you been asked about your wedding? How have you responded?
I'd like to note that these questions about the engagement that I receive aren't as upsetting as the ones about my skin. It's given me some perspective!
Also, my friend Hayley married her wife Shani last year. While she isn't upset about the comments, what people think is right to ask her and her wife is shocking. She wrote the following:
"Then you get into the questions of same sex marriage.. Or should I put it more 'legally'? Commitment ceremony.
"Are you going to wear a dress?" or "Who's going to wear the dress?" Aka. "Whos the man in the relationship?"
"Will you both walk down the aisle?"
"Why not wait till it's legal?"
"What last names will you have?"
I think everyone who attended was quite surprised that we went the whole sha-bang minus the official marriage certificate and white dress.
The question we never get is about kids though... Everyone, even our parents assume we can't and won't have children.
The questions didn't bother me too much though. Even a couple of weeks ago, my boss asked just casually in jest. "So who's the man in your relationship?"
To which I always reply in quote from Ellen - "That's like asking with chopstick is the knife, and which is the fork."