Saturday, June 5, 2010

The engagement

the bride shows off her engagement ring
                          A Northeast Gal                 
From pre-engagement to the wedding, couples go through a whole host of emotions. One bride-to-be, 31, who asked to be called "A Northeast Gal," agreed to share her experiences leading up to her wedding to "A West Coast Guy," 29, in a series of diary entries.

First up, A Northeast Gal shares about the couple's engagement...

The basics:
Date began dating: Late March 2006
Engagement date: Feb. 27, 2009
Wedding date: June 26, 2010
Place of residence: Boston, Mass.

A person who watches movies and TV or reads books and magazines would probably be under the impression that a surprise marriage proposal is the standard. To be honest, I always felt a bit perplexed by this. After all, deciding to get married is a huge step, one that personally I can’t imagine stepping into without lengthy discussion and acknowledgement from both people that getting married to one another is a good idea. Perhaps I’m just overly pragmatic.

Knowing what I’ve just told you, you probably won’t find it surprising that I knew that my boyfriend was going to propose. I knew this because a) I had actually been with my boyfriend when he got the diamond and b) I had gone to the jewelry store with him to select my own engagement band.

This is a huge indication of my personality type -- I’m used to being in control or more accurately feeling like I’m in control of my life. I constantly organize my life in such a way that things go as smoothly as possible. I had, however, left it up to my boyfriend to decide when and how he would propose, mostly because I had this idea (from TV and having heard countless engagement stories from friends) that a proposal should not be orchestrated by the bride-to-be.

I was shocked to find that below my veneer of practically and cool logic was a woman of 29 who seemed to think that the proposal was not something just between the two people in love, but an indication to everyone of the magnitude of their love. I worried that if my engagement was not as special or as big or as thoughtful as someone else’s they would question what I knew to be true: that the relationship my boyfriend and I had together was very special. Ludicrous I know, but I have a feeling that I’m not the only woman to have these types of thoughts. Why was I judging my boyfriend in anticipation of judgments that might occur by others? My boyfriend sensed this and felt indignant that a person’s love for another was going to be judged by everyone based on the proposal story and size of the diamond.

At the start of the New Year my boyfriend had yet to propose and I worried that this was a bad sign -- maybe he was having doubts? I got scared that I would lose him in my life, but simultaneously I was intimidated by what it meant to be betrothed. On days when I was feeling more content and levelheaded I was mainly excited about getting engaged. I knew it would happen and the idea of promising to spend a lifetime with someone as wonderful as my boyfriend made me feel like the luckiest woman ever.

Then there were the days where my thoughts ran amuck in my brain. What would it be like to state publicly that our relationship was marriage material? Were we foolish to think that we could succeed in an arena where so many before us had struggled? Why were we any different? Most of all, it occurred to me that the perception of myself as self-sufficient and self-reliant would need to be shifted to allow for interdependence with another. Waiting for the proposal made it painfully obvious that I was not in total control of something that was of huge importance to me.

In the end, the proposal was sweet and honest and timed so that I could celebrate with my fiancé as well as a close friend from home who was visiting the area. We had a giddy weekend of reveling in the excitement of making a promise to wed and got to share those moments with important people in my life. Sure, I probably would have done something more elaborate because that is who I am; however, I’m not marrying myself. I’m marrying another person who has his own way of doing things.

The proposal was about realizing that I was taking a leap of faith that the two of us would be able to join together without losing ourselves in the process. For me, the first giant step was acknowledging who he was and deciding to honor that over my stereotypical notions of what a proposal should entail. After all, what I wanted was not a proposal or an engagement but a healthy marriage.

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