i do, or i don’t

Apparently, Dutch women are en masse not being asked to marry their boyfriends. The crisis is so dire that there is now a tv program dedicated to rectify this injustice and make all those men go down on one knee. It’s called Moet je me niet wat vragen? (Shouldn’t you ask me something?) And it saddens me on so many levels.

If B. and I ever get married, I don’t want him to kneel down and say those cliched words. I’ve been there, and did that, and did not buy the t-shirt.  It’s very hard for me to look back on that day – remembering who I was back then, or maybe it’s who I wasn’t, not yet, that grieves me, all those years later.

It had all the hallmarks of romance: it was my 19th birthday, and we were vacationing somewhere in the snow with friends. When he took me sledding at the end of the day, I knew something was about to happen. But that’s where the romance ended, because all I could think of when he was getting ready to ask me, was ‘please don’t ask me to marry you. Please don’t ask, please don’t ask..’ but he did. And because I was young and stupid and thought I didn’t have a choice (when your boyfriend asks you to marry him, you have to say yes, right?), I said yes. All of a sudden, we were engaged. And I knew it wasn’t right. He was wrong for me on so many levels, not the least being the fact that he was (perhaps still is, I don’t know) an abusive bastard. I couldn’t articulate it back then, but when he asked me to marry him, I knew that this wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Luckily, I came to my senses six months before the wedding and blew the whole thing off. Best decision of my life – really. For years afterwards, I woke up grateful that I slept alone each night. Now I wake up grateful for B. on his side of the bed (except when he keeps me up all night. Then, not so much).

So when (if!) B. proposes  – or I do, or we figure out some way to propose to each other – I don’t want to think that. I want us to be in the kitchen together, or enjoying the sun in the park, or waking up on Saturday morning, or even on a run together. (No, I take that back. I don’t want to be all hot and sweaty and bothered – at least not because of exercise – when we decide to get married. He can ask me in the shower though, I’m fine with that.) I want my second proposal to be real, not some half-assed idea of what romance should look like. B. and I are all about the tiny romantic gestures, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want our proposal to reflect who we both are, and most of all, I want it to be a happy memory, not a sad one. I don’t want to settle for anything less.

And to end this on a happy note, those of you that are married, please tell me your proposal story in the comments! Or, for the non-married people, tell me exactly how you’d want it to happen. What’s your ultimate romantic fantasy?

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4 thoughts on “i do, or i don’t

  1. pamelablair says:

    I was engaged once too, and from the first moment, it felt wrong to me too. I called it off the day after everyone received their invitations to our beach wedding. It’s been 6 years and I’m more content to not be married than ever before. But I’m in love. Isn’t that the irony of it? The more stable things are, the less you need that. But I’m in the same boat as you. Maybe someday…

    Great post.

  2. Ells says:

    When I got engaged, my now-husband and I had a drunken conversation about how we should maybe get married one day. I had to check in the morning that he meant what he said and it wasn’t just the booze talking. I was only 19 at the time, but even so, we both felt it was right. We got married 4 years later when we felt more settled and ready to go through with it.

    It’s not the most romantic engagement story, but I’d much rather have it that way than an over-done gesture with him going down on one knee.

    Also, I agree that a program which sounds like it’s basically pressuring men into proposing sounds like a bad idea. Getting married or not is a personal choice, and you must do what is right for you as a couple not what society dictates.

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