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Monday, March 21, 2011

105

Don't Do This, No. 1: Popping the Popped Question

So it turns out that engagements and weddings are are often opportunities for people to act like jackasses. OK! Here's the thing. This is what you say when someone announces his or her engagement or marriage to you:

CONGRATULATIONS.

That's it. That is what you say. That should be the first thing out of your mouth, and in all likelihood, the last thing. 99% of the time, if you have an opinion about this person's decision to get married, it really doesn't matter and you should keep it to yourself. No, I'm serious. If she wants your opinion, she'll ask. You're not the only one who knows how to use your words. And at the end of the day, I'm pretty convinced that etiquette is in large part about knowing when other people might give a shit about your opinions (which is, let's face it, almost never) and knowing how to stop projecting yourself all over other people's lives.

Let's discuss the contingencies. Which is basically my way of saying "the conditions you're likely to raise as counter-arguments."

(1) The person is marrying someone you think is inappropriate for them.

Oh, cherie. I get it. The future husbro or wifey is too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too Christian, not Christian enough, has a criminal record, didn't go to college, was dumb enough to try to get a Ph.D. in the humanities, has been divorced, has children, refuses to have children, likes things you don't like, is a Republican, is an anarchist, has offensive opinions, might actually be gay/straight/not the sexual orientation or gender they claim to be, got sorted into Hufflepuff.

Too bad.

Because A) you cannot save anyone from her own bad decisions, full stop. We get to do stupid things, even if the consequences are staggeringly and immediately obvious. And B) you might think you know, but you have NO IDEA. You don't know what the relationship is like — what it's like to be those two people, what those folks offer each other and how they shelter each other or strengthen and challenge each other. There's a whole world that exists between those people that you do not have access to, and because you do not have access to it, you cannot judge it or evaluate it. You just can't. So either assume that the blushing engaged one is exercising hir (sometimes I use gender-neutral pronouns, DEAL WITH IT) God-given right to fuck hir own life up, or ze has something special that you don't fully understand and is making exactly the choice that ze needs to make right then. If it's someone you don't know well, ze isn't interested in or enlightened by your fucking opinion in the first place! If it's someone you DO know well, you need to let hir make hir own decisions and/or share with you what ze's struggling with when ze is ready to. When you think about all the bullshit moves you've pulled, ask yourself: would anyone have been able to talk you out of them in the first place?

(2) The marriage is taking place under conditions you consider suspect.

The couple seem to you to barely know each other, someone's pregnant or needs a green card or health insurance, they did it in Vegas at a drive-through wedding chapel. Well, bless that mess anyway. You don't get to decide whether people are adequately in love or even if love is relevant at all! For a SERIOUSLY LONG MOTHERFUCKING TIME, marriage has been an economic contract as much as it's been anything else, and when you sign a marriage license you're not swearing that you love someone! How people choose to get their needs met is ALSO not your business, especially if you don't have a viable alternative or cash to back it up!

The ONE EXCEPTION to the foregoing rules arises when you think someone (and buddy, it has to be someone you know very well) is being forced into a coercive or abusive marriage — but even in that case, if you know anything about the psychology of abuse, you're not necessarily going to convince an abuse victim to leave a relationship. You might just end up cutting them off from a source of support they'll need later! So even in this situation, you may want to stick to "congratulations" and think about ways to subtly make yourself available for help without presuming that you're going to save someone from herself.

(3) You find marriage to be objectionable in principle.

That's fine! Sometimes I do, too. You're allowed to to think whatever you like and to choose to exercise your beliefs however you like (by, say, not getting married, or by donating money, or whatever). But it's still unkind to tell someone who announces hir engagement that you think the whole enterprise is a crock of shit. If it's someone you don't know well, they don't care! And if it's someone you do know well, they probably know what your stance is in the first place! Because etiquette is ALSO about being able to hold two conflicting ideas in your mind and heart at the same time — to feel happiness at someone else's happiness even as you feel frustration about the ways that rights are granted. Or whatever. What I have started to do to celebrate engagements while also affirming my politics is to make a donation to a nonprofit marriage equality or GLBTQ rights or marriage alternatives organization in honor of the newly-minted couple. (A few I'd recommend: Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders; Alternatives to Marriage Project; Freedom to Marry. Your local area may also have a smaller organization that does marriage equality or civil liberties work. The ACLU would work, too.)

(a) You think the diamond industry is bullshit and are pretty sure their engagement ring is dripping with blood. I get it! But raining on people's happiness is not strong activism. Helping people think through this kind of choice before it's immediately relevant or necessary IS. Talk to your bros or to your ladies about buying responsible jewelry or diamond alternatives before they buy a piece of jewelry. If it's THAT IMPORTANT to you, you should be thinking and acting on it way, way before someone shoves a bejeweled finger in your face. (Ugh, that's sort of the worst, isn't it? Alas, sometimes in life we must decide when it is important to bear others' rudeness.) Let's be honest: You're not going to positively influence someone by insulting something they've already invested a lot of sentiment and feeling in. And if you're not going to positively influence them, you're just shitting on them to get your yayas out.

(4) You are having a lot of Feelings about marriage that are about Your Own Life Journey.

Maybe you were recently dumped, or you or your parents went through a terrible divorce and hearing about someone else's engagement makes you want to cry/get shitty and cry more? I am so sorry. That must be very difficult. But odds are that whoever's sharing hir news probably wasn't thinking about doing it in a way that would hurt you. If it's a friend from whom you need more support, you should say so! Just not right then. So like, maybe it would go like this:

BRIDEZILLA: OMG GETTING MARRIED!!111!!!!
You: (smile!) Congratulations!

[three days later]

You: You know, I was so happy to hear you and T-Rex are getting hitched! I want to be supportive of you and this great moment in your life! But I also want to let you know that things have been hard for me since I (finalized my divorce/got dumped at Au Bon Pain) and this is a bittersweet moment for me. I hope we can both continue to Do Us as friends and be present for each other!
BRIDEZILLA: Oh, for sure! I'm sorry if it felt like getting salt rubbed in your wounds! Should we go drink your troubles away?

See? See!? Was that so bad?

So just say "Congratulations!" That's all you need to say! Congratulating someone — expressing pleasure at their joy, whatever — is not the same as validating or affirming or agreeing with their choices. (Y'all, I'm going to write a WHOLE OTHER COLUMN about how to support someone without validating their choices. It is gonna be so great.) I don't think you even need to be prepared with a follow-up question or a hideous, antiquated ball-and-chain joke. If you express polite enthusiasm and then maybe, I don't know, reflect something back to them ("You sound so happy!"), they'll probably pick it up and continue the conversation if that's what they want to do. I know you're a good egg, mama. You don't want to sully someone's memories of what they want to recall as a happy time in their lives. So don't!

P.S. Do you need to get a gift? Short answer: if you are invited to, and are attending, the wedding, yes, yes you do. Even if you have a lot of travel expenses (with possible exception of intense destination weddings). No, you do not have to buy a gift off the registry. No, you do not have to give cash. No, they should not have requested cash on their invitations; you're right, that it is tacky. No, you do not have to bring the gift TO the wedding — you can send it before or after. If you are invited to, and go to, the shower, you will be on the hook for a second gift.

Previously: The Bride (One of Them, Anyway) Wore Lime Green.

Simone Eastman is a cat lady.

105 Comments / Post A Comment

theharpoon

I LOVE THAT THERE IS A "CONGRATULATIONS. HOW WONDERFUL." TAG!!!! I love it so much.

Dana Marie Textoris

Thanks for giving props to the ACLU's great LGBT rights/marriage equality work!

Jane Marie

whoa, was it something we said?

theharpoon

And now that I've actually read the post, I kind of feel like this.

forrealz

oh man, that "bejeweled finger in your face" thing is fodder for an entire other etiquette column. And not just icky brides who inflict it on you. When I was engaged I got a humble little second-hand diamond, that I didn't really want to overshare with anyone? But people hear "engaged" and they GRAB AT YOU! They will pry your fingers out of your pocket. They will ask your parents for PICTURES of the ring, when they have not even met you. They are desperate to judge your diamond! It is gross. (And then if it's not 4 carats they look soooo disappointed for you. Also gross!)

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

I had this!! The grabbing-hand thing is terrifying. These must be the same people who insist on touching you if/when you are pregnant. I still feel bad for caving and putting pictures on FB, but the SO has an engagement ring too so it wasn't the worst thing. But yes. Gross!

thefingersofgod

I got this too. FROM COMPLETE STRANGERS. My engagement ring, of which I'm very proud is a vintage fake thing. One such Complete Stranger lady grabbed my hand and looked at it, and then - clearly delighted to see that her enormous rock was fifteen times enormouser and more real than my treasured gift from the man I love - proceeded to say strange, inappropriate, dismissive things while waving her beringed hand around. Yes, this was in a bar. Still awful.

DoctorDisaster

People who demand photos should receive blingee'd-up photoshop disasters. Still working on something similar for real life. Carry a ring pop around with you at all times?

maevemealone

I always ask for a photo? If I'm not going to see the girl for a few days, I can't wait that long... I genuinely want to see it! And I'm also genuinely not judging it! I don't care what it looks like, I just like to look at nice things. I'm a terrible person all of a sudden...

forrealz

@ maeve i mean people that i don't know very well (or at all). my friends were allowed ask for pictures, and are always encouraged to grab me.

simone eastbro

oh, i totally have a column in mind called "things you shouldn't touch." i can include "ladies' hands with engagement jewelry on them."

Bittersweet

My sister just got engaged, with the MoMA Tiffany Ring. I always judge people by how awesome they think it is. Any mention of "I don't get it," and we're done.

trappedinabay

@Bittersweet For the record, that is AWESOME.

Better to Eat You With

@ Dr. D: I wore an enormous fake plastic thing from a craft shop from time to time, over my actual ring.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

See, I was under the impression that "Congratulations" was rude, esp. when saying it to the man which implies that they were successful in 'catching a wife'. Anyways, I just find it odd, since it was more of a joint decision on our part. It's like saying "Congratulations" after you've announced that you're going to buy a house or a dog or something. (Personally I think a dog is a bigger commitment than marriage since it will end up costing more in the long run and the marriage won't pee in the corner of the room.)
I eagerly await the article on how to support your friends without validating their choices, though. (I have been guilty of criticizing my friends' choices after they've made them, not airing my concerns before. I am a jerk.) I like the idea of pointed charity donations, but I am a hateful person who pushes my views on others.

DoctorDisaster

I totally congratulated my friend when he bought a house?

melis

I would congratulate any of my friends if they bought a house! And probably bring them some bread.

marz

@myfanwy: Yes! This is *exactly* how I feel about it! "Congratulations!" is for when someone wins $100,000 on Wheel of Fortune or is finally admitted to the very-difficult-to-get-into Latin American studies program of their dreams.

For the "We're getting engaged!!!" scenario, I always feel like "Awesome!" or "Cool!" or even "Good luck on the difficult but potentially rewarding journey that lies ahead!" seems more appropriate.

Xora

Really, myfanwy and marz? Like, what's going to happen if you say "Congratulations" to someone in order to be polite and the thing they did doesn't technically fall onto your congratulations-worthy list of achievements? Is it bad luck or something?

marz

Oh, I didn't mean to imply I refuse to say it. As you so politely pointed out, it's polite to do so.

Just sayin' I don't get why it's expected (and, apparently, demanded!) of potential well-wishers.

Xora

Personally, I'd be just as happy to hear "Awesome" or "Cool." I'm thinking the "just say congratulations and nothing else" advice is for people who never learned to keep inappropriate comments to themselves.

marz

Ah. Well, thank the lord for the internet, where inappropriate comments can flow freely.

Mariajoseh

got.sorted.into.Hufflepuff.

Internet Girl

i know, right

(Slytherin would totally be worse)

Anne Helen Petersen

no way. Hufflepuff is worse when we're talking beige fiances.

ThundaCunt

LOL!! that made me snort laugh a lil bit!!

Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther

I too loved that line a very great deal.

Mariajoseh

beige fiances are worse, I agree. I would congratulate because I'm not a jerk and probably send a gift too, but skip the wedding. I picture it REALLY BORING, like with violins and no alcohol boring.

Mad as a Hatter!

@Mariajoseh And probably an atrocious lack of house elves.

elizabeast

Can we possibly discuss the asking for cash thing? Because I know it once was tacky, but lately all my friends who are getting married are, like, 29? And they're looking around at all of the KitchenAid Mixers and Pottery Barn dishes they bought for themselves and are all "What would I even register for? All I want is a house." SO they really just want to ask for money to put toward a house and they consider registering for stuff and then just returning it for the cash but that seems like a silly amount of schlep for everyone involved.

So, seriously, is asking for cash really that bad if you don't ask for anything else? Not even a chip-and-dip?

ejcsanfran

Yes it is really that bad. Keep in mind that giving a gift of any sort is not actually obligatory. One is invited to a wedding (in theory) because the bride and groom want to share the joyous occasion with their family and friends – not because they expect you to shower them with gifts.

I realize that many (most?) don't subscribe to this old-fashioned view. But nonetheless, one should at least pay lip-service to it. By asking for cash, the bride and groom are assuming that the invitee is giving a gift – an assumption that is both distasteful and rude.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

Depends on the wording. "Gimme money" isn't the same as "If you would like to give us a gift, we are registered at X and Y and Z. However, we have many things already for our place, so donations to X charity in our names would also be appreciated, or we would also accept a donation to put towards a down payment on a house."
Even hardliners like my grandma acknowledge that sometimes money is the sensible option.

Now, putting registry information and pleas for money in the invitation - that is rude.

Lily Rowan

It is as tacky to list your registry ON THE INVITATION as it is to ask for cash ON THE INVITATION. This is information that should be shared by people who aren't the ones getting married (best friends, family members), as people ask about it.

Bettytron

My objection to the cash issue is the ickiness of putting an actual price on it. I have no idea how much an appropriate amount to give would be (I'm guessing $20 is too little). However, if I buy something off the registry, I at least know I'm giving something they actually want. And if I buy/make something unique, it might be a lovely gift but cost way less than what a non-tacky cash gift amount would be.

Re: listing the registration on the invite- I have a hard time seeing the problem with this. Given how many people could ask and forget and ask again for this information, it seems perfectly reasonable to put it on the invite along with other crucial information, particularly if you're inviting a lot of far-flung relatives internationally.

DoctorDisaster

But isn't this one of the things social media are actually good for? Discreetly, maybe on the back, your invite directs people to your facebook, where you have a page especially for the nitty gritty details of the wedding.

Bettytron

Yeah, I've seen cute wedding websites that have a page just for that kind of stuff, along with information on hotels to stay in, etc. Our thinking was just trying to make this information easy to access for the majority of people who might not necessarily be in contact with those in-the-know or know anything about using the internet, so it ended up being on the last page of our book-style invitation. Maybe gauche? But effective, and I don't think the overall effect was tacky.

scully

You can do those honeymoon registry sites where you design all kinds of 'experiences' people can buy for you to have on your honeymoon (ex: "Whale Watching Trip for 2" for $125) but they are not actually buying you tickets or gift certificates, and instead just funneling cash into an account. It's a little less mercenary looking.

Xora

God, maybe I'm just old, but I think the honeymoon registry thing is at *least* as tacky as asking for cash.

Charismatic Megafauna

I am pretty sure that if there is no registry that implies you should give cash or heirlooms. Also, this seems like something fairly easy to reason out?

carpetblogger

When you really need a registry is when you get a divorce.

antarcticastartshere

Thing actually said to me at a party a few months after I became an official married:

"I can't believe you got married. It is so weird that you would get married!"

And then, to Mr. Husband: "That doesn't look like a wedding ring."

In conclusion, thank you for this article.

SuperGogo

Tag: awesome
Hufflepuff: awesomer
Upcoming post about being supportive yet not validative (word?) friend: awesomest. Seriously, I need help with this one. I'd like to think I'm helpful and frank, but in truth I tip over into being critical all too often, and I hate that.

Conversely, does anyone else feel like their friends are mostly useless at sharing important cautionary advice with you? Most of my friends won't even tell me when I have something hideous stuck in my teeth! If your friends can't set aside politeness once in a while to give you a come-to-jesus talk, what's the point?

Bittersweet

It's always a balance with friends, innit? You love them, and want to support them, but hope you can tell them they've got lettuce in their teeth. And vice-versa.

Your login name: awesome
Avatar: awesomer

superfluous consonants

my favorite is when you tell people you're engaged to the one and only boyfriend you've ever had, whom you've been dating since you're 17, and have been with for 7 years, and generally know reasonably well, and they tell you to RUN and quick have sex with like a million other people. because maybe you'd never thought of that before!

no, i lied! my favorite is when you're a year into the wedding-planning process and have already sunk several thousand dollars into the endeavor and basically want to crawl under a rock and never look at table linen samples again and someone tells you to elope 'cause weddings are for chumps.

<--- is a chump.

TrilbyLane

Congratulations!

Also though I find the level of anger here strange. For one thing, it would never occur to me not to congratulate someone who told me they were getting married. It's a nice thing for them and it doesn't affect me that much. But assuming people say AWFUL THINGS ALL THE TIME, as this implies, aren't you secure enough in your happiness to not give a shit? You are lucky to be married/getting married! Like that lady the other week who hated everyone who looked funny at her baby is lucky to have a baby. Demanding that everyone line up and validate your choice exactly as you want them to AS WELL seems a bit... needy!

I don't know. I've never been married. It does piss me off when my female friends take their husband's names, like they have been bought, but I don't bitch at them about it.

Bettytron

I think the issue is more that there are a TON of social expectations surrounding marriage (I guarantee that the thread up there about asking for money/putting the registry on the invite will have ten times the comments by the end of the day) that it's extra stressful when the actual physical people around you are passing judgment on your choices. No matter how laid-back you want your wedding to be, it's crazy difficult to organize this big party for all your friends and relatives that has centuries of political and social history and tradition behind it.

For example, I'm betting most of your female friends don't actually think of themselves as property, and their husbands probably don't either! (And if they do, that's a different, worse problem that has nothing to do with changing their names).

So sure they're lucky to be getting married! But the whole marriage process is basically inviting everyone you know to comment on your relash/the wedding itself/mountains of etiquette, so it's pretty stressful.

TrilbyLane

Yes, I'm sure you're quite right, and I will probably utterly change my mind if I ever do it. But I will not change my name!! (and yes I take your point on that, that's exactly why I do keep my rage to myself. I am sure they have their reasons. I just can't grasp what those might be. The only convincing one I ever heard was where the woman hated her name and the man had a cooler one.)

TrilbyLane

ps, I know that the particular wedding referenced was a girl one, and I wonder, do any gay marrieds change names? If so, how does one choose which name?

Puffalo

My lady I am married to (wife? we really need to talk about what we call each other) stuck my last name to the end of her name, because she kind of wanted to. It's weird and nice to have the same name. Some people combine names, or make up new ones, or keep them the same, just like straight people.

simone eastbro

my wife changed her last name to mine. so we are mrs. and mrs. eastman, when my grandma sends us something. we call each other "wife." i also call her my squeezy?

Bettytron

That's exactly the reason I changed mine, and also we had a long talk about what it meant before I did decide to change it. But also that doesn't mean you should have to! The only married friends I have elected to keep their names, which is awesome too. The thing is that all of those are super personal decisions that, because of how weddings work, are suddenly open seasons for Opinions. Weddings are CRAZY.

maevemealone

I actually know a couple who combined their last names, making up a whole new last name. The husband found out at some point growing up that his father was not his biological father (and the father had taken off after same discovery), thus his last name was basically meaningless to him. The wife was willing to take his last name as hers was boring and generic, but since he had no attachment to it, they took that opportunity to start fresh, create a new life together and created a new name for their family going forward. I thought it was a really cool thing to do.

Xora

I don't think being exasperated by people's lack of manners = being insecure in one's happiness.

Sometimes one gets engaged (or pregnant, or whatever) and then notices common breaches of etiquette. If one writes, one may be inspired to write a servicey reminder of what etiquette requires.

NeenerNeener

I was told that it's "Best Wishes" for the bride; Congratulations are for the groom.

bb
bb

sure, if it's 1955.

NeenerNeener

Nice.

melis

Oh man I sort of wish it were, then this article would be all about the relative merits of cutaway morning coats v. white tie.

There would probably also be some casual racism.

bb
bb

sorry, I didn't mean for that to be snark - more like, I think people don't have so many gendered etiquette rules any more, right? I mean I don't think anyone would be offended by congratulations, would they? If so, I am going to go with silence next time.

Xora

I never heard that until Pete said it on Mad Men. :)

sarahchristine

According to Emily Gilmore (my hero), it is "Best Wishes" for the bride and "Congratulations" for the groom. So goes the Gilmores, so goes I.

bb
bb

I agree with some of the commenters that the tone is a little weird here, like "SAY CONGRATULATIONS AND OTHERWISE SHUT UP" - but so long as I extend this to any life choice (buying a house, moving, changing careers, going back to school, etc) then it makes sense. What I mean is, marriage is not some special golden thing that cancels out all other etiquette rules. It just requires the same etiquette as other personal news/events - respect and only critique/discussion if you are really close and it is done with great thought and caring.

Puffalo

As far as I can tell, weddings change the rules of etiquette so that everything you can possibly do is wrong.

Lily Rowan

Marriage is the one of those things that people feel free to be super judgmental about, though, don't you think? (Depending on the specifics, I guess -- maybe people would judge me out loud if I said I was moving to Detroit to be a Pistons cheerleader or something?)

antarcticastartshere

Yeah, in my experience the reason there is so much anger about this is because for some reason a LOT of people feel it is totally appropriate for them to give you their opinions on your marriage. And it is the opposite of appropriate! Similarly, people tend to give unmarrieds their unasked-for opinions on that situation too (You've been together for how long? Whyyyyyy aren't you marrieeeeeddd?), which they also shouldn't do.

bb
bb

I see all that, but just wait till you have kids if you have a problem with your personal life attracting opinions! & yeah, I realize changing jobs/moving is not the same level, it's still like "personal decisions that people announce to you" right? And to which you should basically have a positive response?

Lily Rowan

Yes! I would suggest in general responding positively to anyone who shares news with you which they think is good news!

smartastic

This is definitely the politeness handbook advice, but I think it's dated. People expect congratulations, and congratulations they should get. Also, it's reasonable to say: "congratulations for meeting and committing to a person you love and who loves you" right? I mean, that's basically got the same odds as winning the lottery so ...

simone eastbro

no, i totally feel the "any life choice" thing. people are especially like this when women get pregnant in circumstances others feel like judging. so i'm not going to go on this jam again, in this way. i just wrote about marriage because i wrote about it last week and it was on my mind, i guess? also i'd just had a margarita the size of my head at chevy's fresh mex.

Kristen

This article weirds me out. And it kind of reminds me of the Marie Claire article that thehairpin posted a little while ago, about "OMG I just got married in the South of France and none of my friends are happy enough for me." I'm surprised nobody pointed that out.
Which is not to say you should not be happy and supportive and POLITE when your friends get married. Obviously you should always treat your friends nicely. But…(and admittedly I am coming from one side of the equation) is this really the dominant cultural problem here?
If people are weighing in on your wedding in a less than gracious fashion, it's probably because a simple "congratulations" is NEVER, not even remotely enough! In addition to the full weekend you'll often have to devote to traveling to this event, the $100 or so gift you'll be expected to give & the several-hundred-more dollars you'll be paying if you are in the wedding, in my experience, at least, people often require a hell of a lot more emotional support and validation of their choices (especially from their female friends) than "congratulations." A few years ago, when I was in a wedding, I remember I left an evening with the bride-to-be and realized that conversation had not deviated from the upcoming event even once in three hours. What else do we accomplish in our lives (other than having babies, which is a whole other story) that is expected to dominate other people's attention and excitement so thoroughly and for so long?
No doubt, lots of people think "Oh no, that's not me, I'm not some kind of crazed bridezilla, all I want is a simple congratulations, and I'm done!" To which I would say: really? Reeeeeeeeeally? Are you sure? Because you might want to think about whether that's 100% true. How many conversations have you had with your friend about your wedding, and in how many of those would you have been shocked and offended by a display of anything other than unconditional support? Because let me tell you, it is fucking tiring to have those conversations about flowers and in-laws and how much venues cost, and to all the while know that our job is not to express our actual opinions (we don't care about whether the bridesmaid's flowers match their toenail polish!) but to continue giving you "support" through this process. We do it because we love you, but it's tiring.
So if other people don't give you the kind of polite validation you need, that sucks. Getting married is stressful, and people should be nice to you about it. But if they aren't, there are reasons that don't have to do with bitterness or envy. Or maybe it does have something to do with that...but it also has stuff to do with other things.

Argyle

Thank you! For saying all the things that have been in my brain after reading this. Many of my close friends have gotten married recently, and although I felt nothing but joy for the majority of them, it was hard not express honesty when one of my close friends got married to someone less than a year after meeting him. They're totally happy now and doing great; but at the time it was a little shocking. As a close friend, how do you not offer advice/opinion on something like that?

Also - strongly disagree with the article on the gift front. If I have to book a flight and a hotel room to attend your wedding (or if I'm in the wedding), your gift from me is my mother-effing presence at your wedding. YOU'RE WELCOME.

And! Your point about the difficulties in offering 100% support reminded me of what one of my study abroad counselors told me before I left for a half summer in Europe: nobody will really care that much about your amazing stories when you return home, except maybe your mom. So don't get offended if you're waxing on and on about how nice Paris is and your friends' eyes are glazed over. Just a fact of life - people can be supportive without acting like your life is the greatest thing about their day.

Kristen

"People can be supportive without acting like your life is the greatest thing about their day" is the best sentence I've read on the internet all day.

Xora

Kristen: Where in the article does it say that people aren't nice because they're bitter and envious?

Sorry you know people who acted like selfish bitches when they got married. Some people just suck.

ironhoneybee

I actually think the advice to wait three days before announcing to a friend that their nuptials gives you a sad is pretty flawed. I don't think the celebration of anyone's success at finding love should be an acceptable occasion for another person to lament their own brushes with failure in that department.

"Needing support" from a friend is not the same thing as not being able to be happy for them out of jealousy or baggage, and intertwining the two just confuses the issue. If you need more support from your friend, indeed, tell them! But don't wrap it up in a conversation about their wedding, because that just makes you sound bitter and not at all sweet.

maevemealone

I would seriously tell that "friend" to grow a pair because no doubt you've already spent hours consoling them over that same issue. Sometimes you have to just put your issues aside reenter the rest of the world for a while and participate in other peoples life cycles.

I've seen this happen to two friends recently where friends have actually said they have a hard being around a happy couple because they are single. One girl actually responded to a invite to celebratory drinks for one friends engagement with just "engaged" because I didn't say what the drinks were for but she figured it out on facebook! Oh smart girl...you outsmarted me! That was the last word ever exchanged with her too.

Xora

Word x 1000.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@maevemealone Oh, so "engaged" wasn't just a clever way to say that she had other plans for the night? Because if it was, then mad applause for that pun. But if it wasn't - come ON.

boyofdestiny

We're going with hir and ze now?

Internet Girl

nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

This is a wymmynnnnnz website. Just stick with her and she for fuckssake.

cherrispryte

I like hir and ze! It's easier.

ba-na-nas

I have a dear friend who likes to go by the "pirate pronouns" Arr and Yarr

applestoapples

Hir and ze sound like pronouns for Kang and Kodos.

melis

We are merely exchanging long protein strands. If you can think of an easier way, I'd like to hear it.

simone eastbro

you don't have to! sometimes i do!

boyofdestiny

My only question is the transition to spoken speech. How is "hir" pronounced?

carpetblogger

I sort of lost this article when the made up words came up.

applestoapples

As long as you're planning on having an open bar at your wedding reception, I'll congratulate you and then keep my misgivings to myself until after I down that fourth Scotch or when Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" comes on, whichever comes first.

ba-na-nas

I'll just act out about my misgivings by drinking too much white wine and dragging home whatever other wedding guest i find hottest.

ba-na-nas

All of this instructing single, childless people how to be gracious towards their married, with children friends. It's kind of cramping my style.
Yes, of course I'm happy for you. No, I'm not some a-hole who goes around giving unsolicited advice.

Xora

But *somebody's* being that a-hole, right? Of course it's not you, me, or anyone else posting here. But, man, I hope those a-holes read this article and stop being a-holes to all of us, no matter what our situations are.

Judes

Actually, I will put my hand up to having been that a-hole on several occasions and I think reading this article has been a Good Thing for me. So if it's prevented me from pissing off just one of my friends and/or acquaintances in the future it's been worth it! Yes?

Feminist Killjoy

how to support someone w/o validating their choices is a GREAT idea for an article!!!!

noodge

why? who is anyone to validate or not validate someone else's choice(s)?
some of the most important lessons i've learned through a challenging past 5 years have to do with:
1.) it's not all about me
2.) no really, it's not all about me
everyone's "journey" is completely, uniquely, different. i made a HORRIBLE choice for my husband. when i was 21. YES i was one of those. and it turns out there was a handful of friends who were very concerned about my choice. one or two made comments, and we ended up not really talking or hanging out for the next DECADE. the ones who were concerned but didn't mention anything were my friends as i navigated the marriage, and they are really the ones i consider friends.

someone could have come to me from the future, telling me how horrible my choice was, how i would live to regret it, and i probably would have told them to stuff it. not because i was exceptionally stubborn, but when you make a decision to love someone FOREVER AND EVER you don't make it lightly. a lot of consideration goes into it, and a friend who makes the choice to not "validate" your choice just ends up looking like a wanker. and will likely not be your friend for long, because there's too much judgeyness there.

so - for what it's worth - when i hear "oh hairpin, tell me how to support someone without validating their choices" i think to myself "who are you? really, who are you? this isn't your life, so it's not yours to validate or invalidate"

----fin----

wee_ramekin

@teenie Well, I think Simone would agree with you and that's why she wrote the article. What I took from this article it is not that you have to validate someone's choice ("I'm so happy you're marrying him!" in your high, fake-happy voice through gritted teeth), but that you just have to let her know that you support her ("Congratulations! You must be so happy!"). The difference between the two can be really tricky.

Say a friend wants to get back with an ex that you think is terrible for her. Validating/not validating her choice would be: "You're doing the right thing!" or "WTF are you doing?!". Supporting her would be "You're really excited about this. I'm really happy for you!". You are showing her that you are active and engaged in her life and are happy that she's happy, but you're not giving your opinion either way. You're also showing her that you believe that she is grown-up enough to make her own choices. Because, as you said in your example, do we ever *really* listen to other peoples' opinions in these cases?

Navigating the perilous waters between these two concepts can be really difficult (welcome to the last six months of my therapy). I think that there's a huge need for an article like this, and I'm glad Simone wrote it.

quixotic

I love this post SO FUCKING MUCH.

ohyaknow

Wow, if someone made a donation to a marriage-equality advocacy group for my engagement, I would be so touched! I think that's actually really thoughtful. Of course, I'd be touched if anyone cared about my engagement at all :(

laseñorarobinson

once a friend of mine very randomly told me she was getting married and the first words out of my mouth were: "oh my god! really? WHY????"
we are not friends anymore.
i don't know if that is a bad thing.

Tina Surman Scully@facebook

DON'T DO THIS TO PEOPLE YOU LOVE! My family hated my husband and were pretty plain about it...the last thing we heard from them was "get the f out of my house!" Not having their support through some very difficult times (made worse by their attitude) really made my life hell for awhile. Then my husband died. They STILL don't like him, but will now listen to my reminiscences without making sour faces.

Ophelia Tudeaux@facebook

In some Asian cultures it is expected that you give a cash gift at a wedding. I've been to weddings where the only people who show up at the reception with a gift wrapped toaster are the Westerners who just couldn't get their heads around the fact that other cultures have traditions and etiquette different from theirs.

cc
cc

@Ophelia Tudeaux@facebook personally i just enjoy gifting toasters :)

linds @twitter

i love the "got sorted into Hufflepuff." hilarious.

Anji

True story: I never told my best friend (we've since cooled off, due to other things unrelated to this particular bit of business) that while I liked her fiance as a person, I did not care for his expectation that she would assume his mother's role in taking care of everything for him so he never had to lift a finger. I mostly just smiled a lot and pretended to be really happy. They have since broken up, and afterwards, when I admitted to her how I'd felt about him all along, she sighed and said, "I wish you'd told me that."

Now I feel kind of bad that I wasn't honest with her about that.

graytrees

this article seems off to me. also i'd NEVER want to be friends with anyone who wouldn't tell me their honest opinion about my decisions. what's the point???

Brian Caraher@facebook

My brother called and told me he was engaged and I wasn't sure what I was supposed to say so I googled it so thank you, writer of this! I just needed the first paragraph, hehe. There was a bit of awkward silence but at least I said the right thing eventually :P

Well, actually at first I said "k," but then he said "soo... what do you think of that?" so I had to find what I'm supposed to say.

Ketan Patel@facebook

I am interested in learning more about the course.
so, where can I sign up for the course, or learn more?
http://howlongwillmymoneylast.net/

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