Friday Afternoon Confessional: Proposals
Twice in less than a day I’ve heard conversations about marriage proposals. This led me to this week’s confession, which is that I confess I have maybe the worst marriage proposal story of all time. Well, that’s not true. She said yes, so it’s clearly not the worst marriage proposal story. Worst successful marriage proposal, maybe?
My wife and I were sitting around our apartment chatting, and I asked if she ever wondered why neither of us ever mentioned marriage. She said that both of our parents were divorced and it’s probably a little scary. I conceded that was probably right, but then went on to say that it had always struck me as odd when couples say they’ve talked about marriage but remained un-engaged.
My point was that if both people were open to the idea of getting married and considered their current partner a possible spouse, how did that conversation stop short of an engagement? In my mind, it seemed like discussing the possibility of marriage with a person who you might marry was essentially an engagement. Whether it was official or not.
She agreed that kind of made sense, and that was when I asked if she’d like to get married. I feel this is a good time to point out that this was not me painting myself into a corner. This was my kind of convoluted way of timidly breaching a topic my wife had never really given her thoughts on (though I was pretty sure she’d say yes).
Bringing this back to present day, when marriage proposals come up in conversation (the two conversations I’ve heard in the last day being no exception), it’s almost always about how the man proposed. The stories are usually about whether he did it traditionally or made it into a game or how he surprised her. Each person involved gives their own version and if and when the conversation comes to me, I share some version of the story above and point out that I hadn’t even purchased a ring yet when I asked.
Multiple times, people have said they can’t believe my wife was okay with a proposal like that. The same people tend to express (perhaps feign?) envy that we invited just twenty people to our wedding and didn’t stress at all over music or flowers or a photographer or a church because our ceremony didn’t have any of those things. The more I have conversations like this, the more I think these rituals and ceremonies (even the private ones) are more about meeting expectations than actually doing things the way we want.
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