Three weeks in, people at work keep asking me how married life is treating me. Truth is, it’s great. But every time they ask, I look at them and wonder just for a second (or maybe five) — what if I just turned around and started crying, saying, “Oh it’s terrible, I made a huge mistake!” How would they react? They would probably make some apologetic noises and slink away to talk about safer topics in the kitchen.

Yesterday, one coworker actually asked me, “So, how’s your marriage?” I thought briefly about turning the question around on him, and then decided against it. Oh no, I thought, that question would be terribly inappropriate! But then, how was it appropriate to ask it of me? Just because I’m a newlywed doesn’t make it any less personal!

It all reminds me of my experience with losing weight. People who knew me “Before” now ask me, “Oh wow, you’re so skinny! Are you OK? Are you eating enough???” Some even make snide comments about anorexia, because you know, that’s exactly the type of comment everyone wants to be rewarded with after working hard to change their body. I always want to ask them right back, “I don’t know, are you eating too much?” Not to be rude or rub it in, but rather to call attention to the fact that these are highly inappropriate questions.

It’s stunning to me that people I barely know have the temerity to ask me about such deeply personal subjects. And just because it’s about a positive development still doesn’t give them the right to ask, especially since — let’s face it — they really don’t give a crap what my answer is.

So why ask? Do these people secretly want me to break down crying, admitting to my marital regrets or an eating disorder? Would that provide them with some quiet satisfaction, to see the beautiful blushing bride in front of them turn into a broken teapot before their very eyes?

Or is it really because they want a little piece of that happiness for themselves, a momentary taste of that world? Perhaps.

I think in reality it’s somewhere in between the two. The first is too cynical, or so my new husband would say. And the second is too sad. In the end, I think it is all just small talk. Even these highly personal questions get trivialized down to form the basis of another inane conversation, a safe topic of conversation that will let you escape easily and return to the myriad details of your own life. They are invasive questions, yes, but they are still safe because no one expects anything but a pat answer in return.

Perhaps one of these days I really will try bursting into tears, just to see what reaction I get. That’ll show ’em.

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