I found myself pondering this question over the summer as Zach and I attended multiple weddings. So many of our camp/school/childhood friends were getting married, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was weird to consider ourselves newlyweds when others in our peer group were, you know, newer-newlyweds. I felt like our whoppin' six months of marriage (at the time) still qualified us for newlywed status, but let's be honest: what do I know?
So, I did what any highly-intelligent young adult would do: consulted with The Google and my mother, two sources which I highly recommend to solve anything in this modern era. (If you've stumbled upon this blog post, there's a pretty good chance that you're currently in the middle of consulting The Google regarding your newlywed status as well. Never fear. I have the answer for you.) The Google and my mother agreed that you are a newlywed for the first year of your marriage. Bam, you're welcome.
This being said, Zach and I are down to our final twenty days (ah!) of being newlyweds. Then I suppose we'll just be old and married, although I haven't actually consulted The Google or my mother to see if any other stages fall in between.
(a) I love it a ridiculous amount, and (b) I'm a newlywed and can do what I want ;)
However, I've developed a theory during my newlywed year regarding the "how long am I considered a newlywed?" question. I'm a little biased, since it is my theory after all, but I sincerely believe it's a more accurate meter of one's newlywed status.
I know the "how's married life?" question must be a newlywed thing simply because my parents will celebrate 27 years of marriage at the end of this week, and during the 24 of those years that I've been around, I have NEVER seen anybody walk up to my mother and inquire how her married life was. Why? Because it's weird, that's why. Instead, people simply ask the much more common "how are you?"
Oh, the "how are you?"
I remember that question. I used to be the recipient of that question quite often. But then I got married and, by default, ceased to be an individual person, vowing to be half of a couple 'til death do we part. That means I get the "how's married life?" question instead. No more "how are you?"
Except not, because somewhere along the way (ie: when the fact that you're married is old news), the "how's married life?" disappears and the "how are you?" returns. I wouldn't know when that occurs, seeing as I'm still a newlywed, but I can only assume it's coming soon. And then... tada! I'll officially be old and married.
If it seems like I've put entirely way too much thought into this theory, that's probably because I have. Zach and I live 120 miles from our respective hometowns, which means we have a lot of drive time to place bets on how many times we'll hear "how's married life" during the course of any given weekend we're visiting family and friends. (Answer: five billion. At least five billion.)
To all the newlyweds being bombarded with this seemingly personal and somewhat intrusive "how's married life?" question, rest assured that it's being asked it in the same manner with which "how are you?" always has been asked: casually, politely, and with no intentions of eliciting a response other than "good/fine/etc."
However, since I've had a lot of time to think about this, I've come up with three alternative ways to reply. You know, since they asked...
1. Over-the-top positive:
Q: How's married life?
A: Oh my goodness, being married is single-handedly the greatest thing that has ever happened to me in the history of ever! I can't even remember what things were like before I got married, but my life was probably worthless! I make his coffee every morning and he rubs my feet every night and it's an absolute magical DREAM COME TRUE! So many X's and O's. I highly recommend it - the whole marriage thing! We get to hold hands and talk about our feelings and cuddle every. single. day. Um, perfect! (Continue until the person who asked begins to gag.)
2. Over-the-top negative:
Q: How's married life?
A: Ehh... everyone hyped it up so much, but it's kind of overrated. To tell you the truth, I'm really regretting the whole thing. It's basically a disaster. He snores. He doesn't replace the toilet paper roll. Even worse, he puts the toilet paper roll on opposite of the way that everybody knows it's supposed to go! (GASP, I know!) It's a lot of hard work and I'm not sure how I feel about that. What have I gotten myself into? (Continue until the person who asked looks absolutely horrified.)
3. Return the favor (my personal favorite):
Q: How's married life?
A: (Get super serious and look the person straight in the eye.) How's YOUR married life?
This one is adaptable for all situations. If the person who asked the question is single, just throw back a "how's single life?" Or "how's complicated relationship life?" The possibilities are endless, really. Just be sure to not break eye contact during the awkward silence that will inevitably follow as they realize that yes, they actually just inquired about the status of your married life. Weird.
Or, you know, you could always just smile and say fine, knowing that your newlywed year will soon be over and people will move on to asking you other personal and intrusive questions, like when you're planning on having kids. Joy ;)