1. “Oh, just wait…”
Every marriage eventually has its own fiery trials. Don’t crush current hopes and dreams and effectively dampen newlyweded bliss, by assuring them that it gets worse. If they’re in for a particularly rough time, they’ll find out on their own. Predictions of doom do nothing to actually help your lovebirds avoid trouble. And if they’re a couple who simply isn’t in for an especially tumultuous marriage, the warning serves no purpose but to stir unwarranted fears and doubts. It is neither kind nor necessarily true to tell them their marriage will basically be hell on earth just because yours was.
2. “So what’s next for you two? A house? Kids?”
If a couple has elected to spend their first few months or even year of marriage just getting to know each other, applaud them. Do not make them feel like lazy bums. They are investing in a lifelong pursuit that statistics say is doomed to fail. There will be plenty of time over the decades for them to invest more in extended family, branch out, work like dogs, etc. Right now is foundational. Western culture has become so materialistic that it has twisted its priorities and lost its jaded heart. There are many, many things more important than money. Relationships are one of them. Marriage, especially.
3. “You’re got a real special person there.”
Maybe it’s true. In fact, if you thought they were special enough to marry, it is true. But add that to that the fact that everyone is special in their own way, and your head will begin to spin. You’ve probably never lived with that “amazing” person, and you’ve especially never been married to them before. I have known individuals who are loving to everyone but their spouse, or who have a great reputation but are nothing but a burden at home. It’s perfectly fine to tell someone they’re blessed, but not if you’re whispering under your breath, “… And you aren’t special enough for them in return.”
4. “Isn’t marriage awesome!?” (…When they’re clearly having a rough time of it.)
If they think so, you’ll probably know. It will show. If not, congratulations, you’ve just stepped on already painful toes, and put them in the awkward position of having to either explain themselves or pretend nothing is wrong. I’ve watched this exchange unfold, and while comical, the discomfort was palpable. If it isn’t written all over their faces, don’t ask unless you intend to be involved in their problems (which may or may not be okay, depending on your relation to the couple.)
5. “You will / it will / it won’t be / it should be…”
This goes back to the false assumption that every marriage is the same. The fact that you had certain struggles does not mean the couple you are lecturing will be doomed to those same struggles. And areas which may have been a breeze for you will not be a breeze for others. Do not assume, and do not be self-righteous (“I know I do a bad job of this, so if she’s honest with herself, surely she must…” Or in other words, “If we can’t do it, no couple can!!”). Is it quite possible for one couple to succeed where you have not? You bet. Don’t tell a couple that their marriage will or won’t go a certain way. Don’t act like a marriage counselor in an area in which you are not excelling, especially if you are, in fact, failing. Walking one’s talk sure helps that talk to sink in and resonate as truth.