I love my dentist. He’s honest about what fillings I actually need, gets the work done quickly and painlessly, and he even has an office dog. However, he has one annoying habit. Without fail, each time I come in for an appointment, he comments on how I’m “too young to be married” (I’m 24, and my husband is 25) and gives me a sarcastic “good luck,” as if it would be a miracle if my relationship somehow made it past a year.
And he’s not the only one. I’ve had to bite my tongue and listen to unsolicited opinions about my young marriage from a number of strangers, acquaintances, and yes, sometimes friends.
When we were engaged, people felt it was their duty to give warnings like, “Don’t make any hasty decisions you’ll regret when you’re 30,” and after our nuptials, some still had to voice their disapproval with comments on my “wasted youth” or how there are “so many fish in the sea.” Even ten months into our marriage, it still feels as if people are waiting for it to end in flames, just so they can justify their own opinions and delight in their “I told you so’s.”
If you’re like me and have trouble politely asking people to keep their opinions on your relationship to themselves, you might need to prepare some go-to comebacks that will do the job without getting you into a heated argument—something you especially don’t want to do if the aggressor is the person in charge of drilling your teeth. That’s why I wanted to share with you my 4 responses when you’re criticized for getting married young.
1. “I’d rather not discuss my personal life at fill-in-the-blank.”
If a coworker, classmate, or doctor starts bombarding you with their case against young marriage or shames you for yours, be direct and cut them off. It really isn’t any of their business, and you shouldn’t feel bad for letting them know that their comments aren’t okay.
This same approach might not work with a family member who is chastising you for your relationship, but you can still politely tell mom or grandpa that you’d prefer to talk about something else. If it becomes an ongoing problem, you might need to have a serious conversation and set your boundaries.
2. “To be honest, I’m really happy in my marriage.”
I’m not denying that couples who marry in their early twenties or their teens are more likely to divorce than those who marry later, or that military marriages have certain challenges others might not. But I am adamant that marrying young is not a death sentence. There are a lot of happy couples who tied the knot at age 24, 21, or even 18. Marriage isn’t meant to be a one-size-fits-all institution.
Also, the person doing the judging might be projecting his or her own fears—like getting a divorce or not having a happy relationship—onto you. Responding with confidence in your decisions will not only make you feel better, but it also could help them unpack some of their anxieties and frustrations.