What Not to Say to a Catholic Newlywed (Whether You’re Catholic or Not)

Catholic newlywed, newlywed

Over the last year of married life, I’ve come to learn a lot about myself, my husband, and my relationship with God. I’ve also come to realise that anyone and everyone has an opinion on the above, and many have decided to share them with me.

It’s wonderful when people are kind enough to share their thoughts on marriage with us, whether they have tips for long-lasting happiness, date night ideas, or promises to pray for us. But as a newly married couple, there’s been a lot of unwanted and unwarranted advice, probing questions, and even rudeness when people want to ask about our lives.

Questions are great! But let’s keep them kind and polite. So if you’re headed to a wedding soon, or have a newly-married best friend, have a glance through the below to find some questions not to ask – and some kinder alternatives!

(And yes. I really have been asked all of the below. Help me.)

(1) When are you having children?

People asked me this on my wedding day. On my wedding day. As if there isn’t enough pressure on the bride. (Not just one person. Several. Seriously, I thought this one was already well known as a no-go area, but I’ve been asked it pretty much constantly since I got married. Time to wipe it from the slate for good.)

You never know what struggles others are dealing with. Infertility and child loss are heartbreaking crosses to bear, and although some couples may choose to share their burdens with family and friends, others might prefer to keep them private. Continually asking when the children are going to arrive can be insensitive, and even painful for a young couple longing for their first child. 

God will sort it out in His own sweet time, and when the couple are ready, they’ll definitely tell you!

Say instead: I pray God blesses your family.

Or don’t say anything. Just pray for them.

(2) Marriage is so much hard work!

It’s true that marriage requires a lot of work and dedication for both parties, but it’s also hugely rewarding, fulfilling, and blessed. When newlyweds are starting out on their own, brand new, wonderful, exciting journey as a married couple, now’s not the time to be a negative Nancy about all the struggles they have in their future. It’s time to celebrate, raise a toast, and wish them well for everything they’re going to experience.

Say instead: You have a wonderful journey ahead of you.

Or don’t say anything. Just pray for them.

(3) I hope you have a confetti shower / enormous cake / lace dress / sit down dinner / organ music / fire eaters / giraffes at your wedding!

There’s so much pressure on the bride to make her wedding day the best day of her life. If having all her family and friends in one room and all the attention on her wasn’t enough, you have an entire multi-million dollar wedding industry banging on the door insisting that if you don’t hand over enough cold hard cash, you’ll have a miserable day and regret it for the rest of your life. Spoiler: not true!

Their wedding is just one day, their first as husband and wife. Yes, it’s pretty damn special. But it’s special because it’s their wedding day – it’s not their wedding day because it’s special.

So don’t go bashing the bride and groom if their wedding isn’t to your tastes, or you wanted a particular hymn or song. If you’re a parent, or you’re paying for a big part of the wedding, you can make yourself heard politely. If you’re not, shush.

And take it from a bride with social anxiety: sometimes she doesn’t want a big wedding. So be glad you’re on the invite list at all.

Say instead: I hope your wedding day was everything you wanted it to be.

Or don’t say anything. Just pray for them.

(4) Wow, you married so young! Judgmental face…

By modern standards, I suppose I did get married relatively early, which means I get a lot of strange looks when I mention my husband. I understand surprise, particularly in non-Catholic circles, however surprise often gives way to judgement, questioning, and criticism. Clearly, for some people, my being married young means I make ‘important decisions too quickly’ and they feel the need to comment on my decisions, tell me why I was wrong, or why I might regret this in the future.

Advice is great, but there’s no need to be judgemental about it. Even if you’ve been married for ten years, twenty, or even fifty, we all started out young once! We’ve all got our own stories and our own journeys in life – and ours starts right here.

Say instead: How are you enjoying married life?

Or don’t say anything. Just pray for them.

(5) What contraception are you using?

Do I need to explain this one?!?

I get it – a lot of non-Catholics don’t get the whole ‘Catholic contraception thing’, and want to know more, but there are many politer ways of asking about what Catholics believe. I’m more than happy to explain the teaching to you, or point you in the direction of someone who can explain it better – but there’s really no need to get into the nitty-gritty of my private life in order to do so. Other Catholics feel the need to ‘check up on us’ – that we’re doing things the right way, or the wrong way, and want to have their say about it.

But do I really need to explain why it’s an incredibly personal and private thing to be asking a newly married couple? Really?

If you’re not my doctor – don’t.

Just pray for us.