"Slaying the pre-engagement beast"

Yes, I'll admit, I stole that term. It is oh-so-fitting, I couldn't just leave it alone and coin my own phrase. (Did I mention that I'm pretty enthralled with A Practical Wedding? That's where I got the term.)

I did some thinking about this on my walk tonight. It dovetails so perfectly with my recent themes of balance, contentment, and joy that it seems... I dunno, almost providential?

I went through a little bit of the pre-engagement crazy this spring. C and I had gone through premarital counseling (pre-engagement, really) and knew that we wanted to get married. I, of course, am of the let's do it now! persuasion, while C is not. He's got that whole level-headed thing going on.

While I was in Id, I was so sure that he was going to propose. I was practically obsessed with it. I guess I felt that being engaged would lend credence to my choice, would solidify the relationship and make it so that it was for sure not going to end again. I wanted security, I wanted assurance, and I wanted a ring on my left hand.

Yeah, so that didn't happen. I got a ring, but for my right hand. It's beautiful. It's actually the restored version of my engagement ring that was crushed under the S's rig's tire a couple winters ago. I wear it often, and it usually brings a smile to my face when I look at it. It represents so much of the history that is woven between C and I, and it represents the future that we have yet to create together. It's the past, restored. It's the future, unwritten. It's... perfect, in its own imperfect way.

But security within a relationship does not come by rings alone.

Now that I'm actively planning the wedding, it's calmed down some. My personality type is that of once I've decided to do something, then do it! Pursue it until you run out of steam. And always, always looking forward to the "next thing". So simply being in a loving, committed relationship wasn't enough. Nope. Had to be engaged, had to be planning a wedding for it to mean anything.

There are a couple of factors in this one. One is that I know that a large majority of the crowd I've run with the past five years will disapprove of the match on principle. They don't know C, but that doesn't matter. Or, worse yet, they know that I left five years ago and would liken it to a dog returning to its vomit. So! If I'm married, then they can't do or say anything but ruefully shake their heads, and I'm fine with rueful shaking.

Aha, you say, aha! The sign of a guilty conscience! Turn back now, before it's too late!

Um, no, actually. I just need everyone to approve of what I do. The sign of a codependent.

As I'm growing beyond that, I find that I do not need the ring to give me the confidence in this relationship to withstand imagined guilt trips. I can stand on my own two feet and choose a right choice without fear of the repercussions from those who might not like what I'm doing. (This, by the way, will probably be inevitable at some point in your life. That whole pleasing people thing? It doesn't work out too well in practical application.)

The second factor is guilt. Yes, guilt. Believe it or not, there are a lot of cultural expectations and baggage that go along with relationships-- what's right, what's not, what's appropriate for certain time frames, what you should be doing by a certain point in time, etc. I feel guilty planning a wedding without the ring because, well... I'm not allowed to.

I know, I know. It's silly. But the message has been burned so deep into my psyche that it's almost irresistible. I am afraid that C will be upset with me now that I'm in the actual "buying things" stage. Seriously. I scored that neat-o cupcake holder/candle holder thing last week, but I was scared to show it to him. Why? Well, because I'm only his girlfriend. Like, by planning the wedding, I'm pushing him into something he may not want. I'm not his fiance. He hasn't asked me to marry him. Therefore I have no place planning our wedding.

(Nevermind the fact that he helped me set the date, that he's the one who helped me pare down my side of the guest list, that he's the one who found our invitations, that he... well, you get the point.)

As I thought about it, it occurred to me... do I actually need a proposal? Do I need to hear him say the words, "Will you marry me?"

And no. The answer is no. I do need to be reassured that I'm not bullying him into this, and I do need to be reassured that he does want to marry me, but... I don't actually need a ring on my left hand.

I mean, it'd be nice. I can't deny that. I love gifts, I love surprises, and I love romance. But do I need it? Nope. (Actually, edit that: I do really, really want him to actually ask me to marry him, but I don't need the traditional proposal, per se, or the "status symbol" of the ring. Does that make sense?)

Because I am content. I am secure. I am happy. I am loved. And I know that a ring on my left hand isn't going to change our relationship one iota besides giving me bragging rights and a story to tell. It'll change my title, but it won't change the way he looks at me.

I didn't realize it until today, actually, but I've stopped looking for the proposal. I mean, we're getting married in 6 months. Who cares?!

Back at the beginning of this round, during one of our lengthy, soul-revealing talks, I asked him playfully, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

You know what his answer was?

"Your husband."

That's my proposal, right there.

2 thoughts:

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