“Are you just having so much fun?!”
Ever since I got engaged last October, people ask me this question all the time. I dread it. It is almost as bad as the classic post-grad questions of “what next?” and the dating questions about when we were going to get married.
When I try to answer the question honestly, I am left feeling like a guilty kill-joy. Is something wrong with me that I don’t enjoy this planning? Are there actually people who enjoy making chair reservations, ordering wedding favors, and making hundreds of minor decisions? When did it become a rule that you had to love the process of planning your wedding?
I find myself explaining that my grumbling about the planning has nothing to do with my desire to marry my fiancé, that I love him and I’m excited to be with him forever. But deep down I fear they will question that love because I don’t like planning the wedding. Ridiculous, I know.
The wedding is now less than two months away. I know all the hard work will pay off and the actual day will be a meaningful time with all the people we love. I also know that we want that experience of being surrounded by family and friends, rather than eloping and avoiding all the planning. But I have to remind myself of this every time the details become frustrating and the questions pour down in overwhelming amounts.
These questions may start out with kind intentions, but they also indicate cultural assumptions that we continue to support without reason. Asking a graduate whether they’ve found a full-time job points to the myth that our lives revolve around our careers. Asking someone who is single if they have found a significant other points to the myth that we need someone else in our life to be complete. And asking an engaged woman if she is loving the wedding planning process points to the myth that it should be a constant joy without frustrations.
Unfortunately, there are always more questions like this ahead. Next it will be about when we will have kids, or why we are still doing the same job, and eventually when we will retire. Questions are an important way for us to engage with others, but they can also carry powerful implications that we need to be careful about them.
I don’t think the people asking such questions always believe in whatever the associated connotation or negative implication is. Even I have asked others those dangerous questions. However, the feelings a frustration and insecurity associated with those questions are wide spread.
Two things need to happen to help this conundrum. First, I think we need to reevaluate why we ask those questions and the way we phrase them. Second, those of us in the position of answering need to become more confident in answering honestly. We can redefine the question itself, both by the way we ask it and by the way we respond when asked.
Go ahead and ask a graduate what their hopes for the future are, but don’t imply the need for specific path or a specific timeline. Go ahead and ask a single person what their social life looks like, but don’t imply that they need a significant other to fulfill it. Go ahead and ask me how the wedding planning is going, but please don’t imply that I need to be loving the process. I love my fiancé, and I’m going to love marrying him—that’s all that counts.
Have you ever felt this way about a certain question?