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February 29th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Just a Gwai Lo wrote about a couple examples of marriage proposals that were rejected publicly:

  • Dare Obasanjo’s awkward moment on a winery train watching a woman reject a man after he offered the ring.
  • Also at an NBA game , a man surprised his girlfriend by proposing to her while dressed as a mascot – after she had participated in a contest – but she turned and sprinted away from him.

    Just a Gwai Lo wanted to know why men make fools of themselves. He quoted a novel he has read and proposed open marriage as a better solution for society.

    It’s a naive question (but naive questions are often the important ones to ask): is there a good explanation for why we are marrying? Or do we do it because, while there may once have been a good reason for doing it, we only do it now because it’s the way we’ve always done it? We can question why these men made fools of themselves so publicly and have a laugh about it, but you’ll notice that nobody questions the institution that caused them make fools of themselves.

    I think it’s wise to consider what you are getting into when getting married. Why get married? What is marriage? What principles do you believe? What do you want? And why with this person? Ask yourself questions about marriage and answer them. Don’t step into it until you have. Easy Las Vegas legality or not.

    Although I’m not watching much television, I do know that there has been much attention given to marriage on the tube: lots of series with variations on finding The One, and conversely publicly rejecting others all on camera. Game shows created out of guys and gals getting together. Making entertainment out of marriage, laughing at other’s life choices. I imagine there have been many men and women publicly humiliated through romantic pursuits and proposals.

    The way a couple decides whether to marry says a lot about their past and their future. It is an indicator of their relationship. It speaks about who they are as a couple.

    Some couples don’t get rings. It’s not a big deal. They make a decision one day and set a date. It’s done.

    Some couples the man – or perhaps the woman – decides to surprise with a proposal. A ring is bought and often elaborate plans are made to “pop the question”. There are traditional ways to do this, often involving a restaurant, roses, ring box or getting down on one knee. Sometimes people get a bit creative too.

    I feel I got the best of both worlds. Ted and I spent a lot of time talking and praying about where we were going. We asked around and got advice from others too, those who could observe our relationship and tell us what they saw. It was either to the altar or it was over. We had also spent time thinking, studying and talking about what marriage meant to us.

    After taking time to listen, we both seemed to sense God telling us to get married. Sometime that spring we agreed we were going to stay together, although I don’t remember a particular moment when this was explicitly stated.

    Then we went shopping for rings together. I’m a bit picky when it comes to jewelry, especially something I’ll be wearing every day of my life, and rather than surprising me with something I didn’t like, Ted wanted me to pick out the engagement ring. I think we went to seven stores before we found the one I wanted.

    That summer I was teaching school in New Hampshire so I would be spending most of the time away from Ted. We figured it’d be easier to start the engagement afterwards, when I was back in town.

    So I wasn’t suspecting anything when Ted came up to see me for the weekend. I asked him about the rings and he had a clever answer, saying that the jeweler hadn’t called him yet. He took me on a romantic trip into the mountains for an afternoon. I think we were supposed to be seeing the Flume. Later when he pulled the ring box out of his pocket, I was completely surprised. He had called the jeweler himself! Of course, I said Yes .

    Why do men make fools of themselves? I wonder whether the men in these examples cited by Just a Gwai Lo knew their women well. What were they thinking? I think that the best proposal is one that tells a woman how well her man knows and loves her. Some women like to receive this in a public way. But others don’t. Any proposal is risky but a public proposal is much riskier – if the man is rejected it will be a bigger deal, a huge hurt and humiliation. Of course, if she accepts, then it’s a big deal too, to everyone who’s on the train or airplane or wherever ( I imagine someone has already tried this on a blog?!)

    Part of the problem might be women’s expectations in our culture. Women seem to want all of life to be roses and lace. Romantic. Picture perfect. Knight in shining armor 24/7. At least during dating. Men feel this pressure to be emotional, elaborate and creative. It’s a difficult standard for them, probably more natural for some than for others. I think for men it might feel like walking on the moon at times, not knowing how or what to do. How to be The Guy for their gal. How to make her happy. Perhaps these men in their proposals were trying to appeal to the women’s hearts with something that they thought would be creative and romantic.

    On the one hand I think I would have said Yes to Ted no matter how he had asked me, over an intercom system, on a billboard or TV commercial (or a blog?). Any way would have thrilled me. But I also feel that if I had been asked in the way that these two examples portray, I might have said no, simply because of the way it was done. Neither man seems to be treating his beloved with respect or dignity, at least how I see it. I wouldn’t want to marry a mascot, or a man who compared me to all his exes before he asked me. To me saying yes is a private and intimate moment, not one I’d want to share with an entire stadium or a winery train of strangers.

    If marriage was up to men alone to determine, I imagine proposals might be a bit different in general. Maybe for some men. Maybe more like an invitation to join a harem. A business card or paper flyer to distribute. That would be a lot less risky. A lot less romantic too.

    I still don’t know why Ted was so nervous when he asked me. We had gone shopping for the rings together. I think he knew I was going to say yes. I didn’t understand his anxiety. Afterwards he was tired, too tired to eat. I was excited, bouncing with energy, go-go aglow, and he was a bit quieter.

    From what I know, Ted was worried it wasn’t right. Even the rain concerned him. But to me it was romantic.

    It wasn’t as if I would have walked away or said no if it hadn’t been what I had wanted. I was going to say Yes. But it was wonderful.

    I don’t think that these two proposals where the men were publicly humiliated are reason enough to re-consider marriage. As Dare wrote, they might be reasons to think about how and why to propose: If and whenever I do end up proposing to someone I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about what not to do.

    But those who are getting married should consider what it is they are getting into. And that begins before the proposal. It begins before buying the rings.

  • Tags: marriage

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