Rules #40-46: The Serious & Official Rules of Engagement (That Have Nothing to do With Rings)

by Rachel on January 26, 2012

By many standards, I am That Girl Who Is Desperate to Get Married.

Personally, I think I’m just a young woman who is nearly ready to be engaged, but the world is telling me otherwise.

Right now, I feel like I’m getting a hit with an onslaught of wedding-related messages. On the one hand, there’s the barrage of “have a wedding be a bride have a wedding most important day of your life have a wedding get swept off your feet have a wedding!!!!!” advertising (fun fact: images of brides can help sell anything, even if the product isn’t related to weddings). On the other hand, there are the “let’s gossip about That Girl Waiting Around for Her Boyfriend to Propose” conversations I hear women having constantly.

And in the middle of this, there is me, a woman who feels a lot of guilt and stress about wanting to be married. Because I feel like even though I know in my gut that I want to be married for good reasons, as soon as I talk about engagement, people just assume I’m some anti-feminist nitwit who has bought into the hype. I hate that.

I’ve written about engagements and weddings a few times in the past year — how to deal if it feels like everyone in your life is getting engaged, questions to ask that aren’t “So when are you getting married?” and my feelings on that question, and what purpose proposals serve for modern couples. In the comments after each post, women who are in serious relationships but aren’t ready to be engaged lament the fact that strangers cannot seem to be OK with their statuses, even though they are. It’s always a great discussion and I find myself cheering for these women who are bucking tradition. But every time, I wonder if someone — anyone — is going to come out and say, “You know what? I’m not engaged and I’m not OK with it.” No one ever does though.

Then I realized that maybe no one is saying that she isn’t OK with her status because nice women/loved women/smart women/modern women aren’t supposed to talk about that.

So…that’s why I’m going to talk about it today.

After spending the past few months watching friends get engaged, watching friends wait to get engaged, talking to married people, talking to divorced people, reading everything I could get my hands on about marriage/gender roles/societal expectations, and looking at my own relationship status, I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m both clear-headed and pissed off at the world enough to write about what I want to be the new rules of our society’s conversations about women and engagement, weddings, and marriage.

Rule #40: You have a right to have a say in your future. I get so frustrated by the way everyone treats engagement and marriage like it’s only one person’s decision (usually the man’s). Um, it’s not just that I have a right to know where my relationship is heading; it’s that I get a to have a fucking say in where my relationship is heading. By accepting the “pop the question” or “put a ring on it” mentality, we give men all the power and send a clear message that what the woman wants doesn’t matter. But it does matter. And taking part in those conversations doesn’t make you desperate.

Rule #41: You have a right to have a say in your future even if you watch “Say Yes to the Dress.” If you’ve ever watched a wedding show, been a bridesmaid, or looked at a wedding album posted on Facebook, it’s basically assumed that you’re “obsessed with weddings” and therefore don’t get to have an adult, mature conversation about your future. I’m so over watching women’s feelings get dismissed just because we live in a culture that glorifies weddings everywhere you look. Look, I eat yogurt. I like flowers, and I say pretty much everything the girls say in “Sh*t Girls Say.” And these things? Don’t make me more of a woman or less of a person. They don’t mean I’m incapable of knowing what I want in life. And neither does an interest in weddings.

Rule #42: Women’s and men’s reasons for feeling ready or not ready need to be treated as equally important. Sometimes I feel like it’s automatically assumed that women’s timelines are completely ridiculous, that we wake up one day, see a couple friends get engaged, and decide, OMG WANT without giving it any serious thought. But men’s reasons are often treated as really logical and smart (making women dumb and illogical by default). But how is your worrying about your fertility any less of a reason than his worrying about his finances?

Rule #43: Women’s and men’s reasons for feeling ready or not ready need to be treated as equally arbitrary. I’ve seen so many discussions about how women are affected by fairy tales or other cultural influences. (People are usually saying women aren’t to blame, but in this backhanded way, they are still saying that all women are, in fact, under the control of these influences.) “Oh, she only wants to get married because [insert some sexist assumption here; be sure to reference Disney].” On the other hand, I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve heard say that they aren’t ready to get married because they are worried about money/job security or because they want to be able to afford a bigger ring — things that all scream “male provider stereotype” to me. We need to at least consider that men might be as influenced by fairy tales and gender expectations as women are. We need to stop blaming Cinderella and take a look at Prince Charming.

Rule #44: When you’re in a serious relationship, you need to make a new timeline — one that reflects both of your needs. It’s fine to have your own timeline for big life events, but we should all expect those timelines to change when we get into a serious relationship. And when I say “we” should all expect that, I mean women and men should expect that. It’s just unrealistic to expect that you and your partner will be on the exact same page about everything you want for the future. I don’t think you’re doomed if you’re not on the same page. You simply have to compromise. Something they recommend you learn to do before you get married.

Rule #45: Our ideas of how things “should” be get in the way of really healthy, necessary conversations. Apparently, there is a very small window of time in which both partners must feel ready. If she’s ready too soon, she’s desperate. If he’s not ready soon enough, it’s “never going to happen.” If he’s ready before she is, there is something wrong with her. Yeah, I’d been fed that bullshit for a while too and honestly, it really got to me. The truth is, Eric and I had a lot of long, emotional conversations as we negotiated and created a new timeline that both of us were comfortable with. While the conversations were incredibly productive, I felt so guilty every time we had them because this wasn’t how things were “supposed” to work. I was supposed to “let things happen” or “be patient.” He was supposed to be ready at the same time I was. But once we stopped fighting the very idea of having these conversations and arguments, I felt like we took our relationship to a whole new level. And I’m pretty sure that learning to shut out others’ opinions and communicate about what we really want will help us immensely when we are married. (Oh and for the record, talking — and even fighting — about your future isn’t as unromantic as you might think. It’s not exactly fun, but there’s something deeply emotional about saying, “I’m willing to rearrange the plans I had about my life for you” and having someone say the same thing back to you. That’s a hell of a lot more romantic to me than hiding my needs for a year so I can be surprised with some sort of hot air balloon spectacle.)

Rule #46: We need to stop shaming women who want to get married. So. Back to That Girl Who Is So Desperate To Be Married. I’m not sure this girl exists. But if she does, I think we created her. We constantly reinforce unrealistic romantic ideals and then judge any woman and relationship that fails to meet them. We praise women whose men “got it right.” We shame women for “sitting around waiting” and “nagging him to marry her” but we never empower them to challenge the mores that strip them of their right to have a say. We force women to deny how they feel, avoid “pressuring” their significant others, and say they “don’t care when they get married.” (Oh and all of you women who are wonder why no one believes you when you say you’re fine not being married? This is why — because there are so many women who have decided to say that to save face, it ruins things for those of you who actually do mean it. It’s like we’re making other women cry wolf.)

Remember that whether you’re cool with your relationship status or want it to change, you’re allowed to own your feelings and feel them without guilt and judgment from others.

{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SP January 26, 2012 at 10:32 am

Yes. Do you read A Practical Wedding? (http://apracticalwedding.com/2010/12/dos-and-don%E2%80%99ts-for-friends-of-the-pre-engaged/)

The first “Do” listed there is so key. I didn’t read it until I was already married, but I was endlessly frustrated by women who thought a proposal should be a total surprise. Really? You had no idea that he might want to spend the rest of his life with you until he asked? REALLY? I’m sorry, no. Not in my life.

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2 Rachel January 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

Yes! Finding that blog was what gave me the push to finally say all of this out loud!! That post you linked to is awesome.

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3 jenna January 26, 2012 at 10:33 am

I am that girl who is waiting and I’m kind of not okay with it. I would not classify myself as ‘desperate’ but instead, I’m ready to start my life as a married woman. I’m in love, and very sure of the man that I want to marry. We have had some conversations about the future, and although we are on the same page with what we want, our timelines are definitely different. He’s just starting a new job and is getting himself settled in his career. I on the other hand, have been working the same job for 3+ years and I’m very sure of my career. The biggest roadblock to our engagement is that my bf is still technically getting his sh*t together and I’ve had mine together for awhile now so I’m ready to get life going! Despite the teasing and obnoxious comments I get about being the typical desperate girlfriend in waiting, I feel no guilt that I am ready for marriage now and I’m willing to state it out loud.

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4 Ali August 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I also have been with my bf for 4 years. We live together, and always argues with me when I want to talk about getting engaged….I’m so over it, I gave him till the end of the year! If he doesn’t propose to me it’s over! I hate to do this, but I’m almost 30 years old, and I need to know if I need to move on…I don’t want to wait another year and find out he doesn’t want to marry me. I’m very depressed about this…I think about it everyday. I love him, but refuse to wait…

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5 Cyndie January 26, 2012 at 10:41 am

I hate it when people assume that women have no say in when or if they’re going to get engaged. Most likely the couple has talked about marriage before in their relationship and know where it’s headed. If a man talks about getting engaged it’s adorable, but if a woman does she’s marriage-obsessed.

So many people assumed Alex didn’t want to get married because it took him a while to get the money to buy a ring. He wanted to propose earlier but the proposal and ring were so important to him so it was all kind of delayed. I got the side-eye from so many women for this, but I trusted him because, obviously, I knew where my own relationship was headed.

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6 Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie January 26, 2012 at 10:45 am

Thank you. Thank you for writing this. This is such a taboo and unspoken topic that its unbelievably refreshing to read a candid piece about it. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said, including the fact that we all have a right to plan, discuss & decide where our future is going. Rule #40: You have a right to have a say in your future – BRILLIANT.

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7 Katie January 26, 2012 at 10:53 am

I agree with the idea that having a conversation about timelines is good and really, really (!) important. I don’t think that talking about it makes you desperate–it is truly a conversation every couple should have. I also agree that stating that you are not okay with not being engaged is okay–why would we censor our feelings? However, what I don’t agree with is that this post seems to indicate that you believe it is okay for someone to ask their boyfriend to change his timeline in order to be married/engaged when his girlfriend is (provided she is the person who wishes to get married first). I think that yes, some men can have trivial reasons for saying they don’t want to get married, but don’t you think that these reasons are just excuses for them not feeling emotionally ready? No matter what the reason, be it trivial or super important, I don’t feel like anyone should ever “pressure” anyone into getting married. If you want to get married before your partner then that is fine and obviously (I would hope!) something you should have a discussion about, but I don’t think that it should be expected that your partner would adjust his or her timeline in order to accomodate you. I think you should be patient if you are ready to be engaged first, and if you don’t want to be patient then you should move on. Getting engaged before one person in the relationship is ready is not going to do anything good for the relationship. I know I sure as hell wouldn’t be happy with someone trying to convince me that my timeline is moving too slow.

For the record, I have been both the girl who wants to get married before her boyfriend is ready and the girl who is happily in a long term relationship without wanting to get married for awhile.

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8 Rachel January 26, 2012 at 11:04 am

Ah, let me clarify — I don’t think people should have to speed up how long it takes them to be emotionally ready; I’m not sure that’s possible. But I think it’s worth it to ask, “What do you feel you need to be emotionally ready for?” I think a lot of the “not ready” feelings come from long-held beliefs of what the expectations are going to be during engagement or marriage. If someone says, “I’m not ready to plan a wedding” and the other person says “But I don’t want to have a wedding” then maybe that person is more ready than he or she once thought. I’m not saying it’s always the case, but I do think it’s worth at least digging as deep as you can to get understand why someone isn’t ready. I think in many cases it can just be an issue of people’s perceptions of what it means to be ready and what the expectations are. But if a person can’t define why they aren’t ready/what they aren’t ready for, then they can’t reasonably say when they might be ready, which is, to me, unfair to the person who is ready and waiting.

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9 Katie January 26, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I agree with most of what you are saying here. I especially agree that asking what the other person needs to be emotionally ready for is a good starting point for this conversation. However, if someone kept talking to me about it and I was not emotionally ready to get married, but knew I wanted to be with that person for the rest of my life, I would feel a lot of pressure to get engaged in order to keep that person in my life. Why can being committed to another person not be good enough? It might not be fair when someone cannot give his or her SO a timeline as to when he or she will be ready to get married, but if they are committed to each other, and the person who wants to get married thinks the other person is worth the wait then I don’t see why the other person wouldn’t just wait. It is a problem when one person is saying to the other, “I don’t know if I want to get married to YOU and I don’t know when I will know” vs. “I don’t know when I will be emotionally ready to get married, but when I am I know it will be to you”.

Not trying to be argumentative–just providing a different viewpoint!

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10 Rachel January 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I’m actually not saying you shouldn’t wait. Again, I should have been more clear. My point was kind of EXPECT that one of you might have to wait.

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11 Casey January 26, 2012 at 10:55 am

YES YES YES YES YES! Reading this took a bit of weight off my shoulders. I recently got engaged (to a man that I moved half way across the country with…to Texas…sound familiar?) and I definitely had a role in the “decision.” I made it very clear that, yes I want to get married sometime in the near-ish future, and by near-ish future 2012 would be great. And yes, we did have some fights about it, and I was definitely guilty of nagging every now and then. I think he was caught up in the “price charming” expectation, mostly in that I had to be swept off my feet and OMG TOTALLY SURPRISED, and felt a good amount of pressure to surprise me when I clearly was already expecting it. We eventually agreed that yes, our “goal” was a Fall 2012 wedding, and that he would give us (*cough* me…who are we kidding here lol) enough time to plan for it. He did actually surprise me IN THE MOMENT HE PROPOSED (and with the ring itself, which he was adamant that I had nothing to do with ).

But yes, we are obviously very happy now, but once we actually agreed as a couple what our timeline so to speak was, our relationship went to an entirely different level. We didn’t resent each other or question how much the other partner loved us – it was all out in the open and both (not just my) of our expectations were out in the clear and respected.

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12 Emily Susan January 26, 2012 at 10:55 am

“hot air balloon spectacle”- Cracked me up!

I agree with this post completely. Even now, I get feelings of embarrassment after telling people we waited 10 years to get married. I feel as if people are thinking, “Well, he must not have wanted to marry you if he waited that long”. Sometime this is in my head, sometimes people really think this, but either way, I feel like I need to constantly give people reasons why we didn’t get married sooner. leaving my feel as if I was a desperate bride.

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13 Suzanne January 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

When my sister in law got engaged, she had just had a conversation with her boyfriend about how he was right, but the time wasn’t right for her, and she wasn’t ready. A couple weeks later he proposed anyways. She said yes, but after a year of stalling and avoiding planning the wedding, she broke it off. It’s funny how, when I’ve relayed this story to others, people think she’s the bad guy/she must have been cheating on him or something. Why else would a woman in her 30s not want to get married? What if we reversed it? She’d be the annoying one begging him to get married and he’d be the sensible one. No one seems to think that he completely disregarded her plans and goals for the sake of his own, but that’s exactly what happened.

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14 Cassie January 26, 2012 at 11:06 am

YES. This is amazing, and I completely agree about the double standards. Love the male stereotype reference. I am highly inarticulate tonight, but wanted to say that this is probably one of your best rules posts yet. And this is coming from a married lady. :)

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15 Jacki January 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

Well said! There are so many assumptions made about relationships that just shouldn’t be, particularly about women and marriage.

We’ve been talking about this recently, a little, but we don’t have a timeline, or even a vague idea of one, and … that does kind of bother me. It’s mostly financial and that makes me sad because there is absolutely no way of knowing when, or if, his business will take off to the point where he can afford to take the next step with me, and that is frightening. So I’m kind of okay with not being engaged, but I’m kind of not.

Moreso, I’m not okay with not knowing if we will ever be able to have a nice wedding/honeymoon/life together or if we will, for all eternity, be scraping by on my income alone and unable to move forward or have a child together or any of the things I dream about having with him. It doesn’t seem fair that I found the right guy but we have so many obstacles to having the future together. Ugh, I might need to blog about this now.

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16 Chrissy (The New Me) January 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

I agree with all of this! I am recently engaged, but my partner and I waited nine years. This doesn’t mean we never discussed it or that I was desperate to get married – quite the opposite. We got together young (I was 20, he was 21) and it we had gotten engaged/hitched three or four or five years ago, it probably would have ended in divorce. But now? We’re mature enough, we’ve been through some shit, and we’re sure we’re in this for the long haul.

We had talked about getting married to celebrate our ten year anniversary for the last few years. So when he officially proposed (no ring, because I didn’t want one, which has confused many people) I wasn’t totally surprised, but that didn’t make it any less romantic or important or wonderful. I would rather know where my life is headed and have a say in it’s course than be surprised by a giant rock I didn’t want.

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17 Joanna January 26, 2012 at 11:11 am

Rachel – Great post. In fact, I’ve loved all your posts lately. Thank you for making the effort to write super high quality content – your writing and thinking lately has been so strong and I am loving it!

Regarding weddings and engagements and weird societal pressures / stereotypes – if you haven’t found it already, I really recommend checking out the A Practical Wedding blog. It has some really interesting thinking about what has happened to weddings, when we as a society decided it was OK to start judging people on their wedding-related decisions, etc. I feel like you and Meg (the lead blogger there) would have some really great conversations – and I also feel like this post would be great for their readers to read, too.

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18 Miranda January 26, 2012 at 11:17 am

This is amazing. Thank you so much for articulating exactly how I’ve been feeling!

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19 erin January 26, 2012 at 11:29 am

Definitely a great post! and quality!! this is interesting because I’m looking back at the time when I was so ready to be married, and I knew he was, but he wanted to save up to give me the ring. and i wanted to buy a place together, and I had this belief that I wanted to be engaged before buying a place. But we discussed it, and decided it was okay to buy a place without being engaged (didn’t entirely go over too well with my dad). It worked out fine.

We bought our place, the ring came about a year later (at this point we’d been together for 5 years), even though MOST of my friends and family knew we were planning on getting married, i still couldn’t do any wedding planning just because i felt it was somewhat JINXING it. and I didn’t want to seem desperate to the rest of the world. because you know how crazy that is – planning a wedding or looking at any wedding stuff before you even have the ring!

Really, I look at it as – it was a major excuse just to get the whole family (fortunately we’re a small crew!) going on a vacation together! it was a destination wedding – so awesome trip!!

Though I will say, my original idea of a relationship, is when you know, you know, and I always pictured myself being with someone for 2 years and at that point be engaged. And well that got shifted when I met my husband. we definitely took our time debating where we were headed, and took time for us to figure out what we want. Now what about those who say, OMG you’re married, now you’re supposed to be the girl who wants to have BABIES! (and we’re not planning on having kids at all, you can imagine the looks we get)

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20 Kayley January 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

I have been married for almost 7 years now, after being proposed to in a “hot air balloon spectacle.”. But my husband and I had talked about marriage for about 6 months before the proposal and had many, many conversations about what marriage meant to us before hand. I agree that the conversations aren’t really fun, but you need that kind of communication in a marriage, and particularly when you have kids. Bravo for a great post, and what sounds like a healthy relationship!

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21 Carly January 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

I have so much to say about this, so I’ll keep it short. I have become frustrated with weddings and bride hype. Both my boyfriend and I come from divorced parents, and my parents especially have been married and divorced more than once. I also have a whole ton of friends who have been married and divorced already…so their marriages lasted all of 2-3 years. So when people ask when my boyfriend and I are getting married, I get upset. We absolutely plan on spending the rest of our lives together, but may never get married, and I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine with is that people assume we are less serious because we may never get married. /end rant

ps. think this is my first comment, but I love your blog :)

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22 Alice January 26, 2012 at 11:35 am

love love LOVE this! i’m no where near thinking about marriage (i’m 23 and single), but reading this post really helped me frame what my expectations are for the future. i took a lot of women’s studies classes in college and i always felt like being the only girl in the room who wanted a “traditional” engagement, wedding and marriage made me less of a feminist. like all the “real” feminists looked down on me for wanting a man in my life.
my sister got married at 24 and i heard a lot of “oh she’s so young, why doesn’t she just wait a few years!” from people around our (very liberal) home town. i wanted to scream “it’s HER choice!” at the top of my lungs. people seem to have a hard time accepting the life choices of others, no matter the circumstances.

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23 Stephanie@MyThornsHaveRoses January 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

Our relationship has gone through a lot of the stages you’ve referred to. At first, I wanted a commitment but NOT marriage because I still felt incredibly raw and burnt from my first that ended shitty. Then, a year or so after that, after he and I had come to the conclusion we knew we wanted to grow old together, I felt confident in our readiness and felt like shit when a couple of years passed with no engagement. We’ve had every hypothetical conversation about our future that I can imagine, we’re more than ready and now I’m just that girl who’s acting like I’m patiently waiting but almost ready to go batshit if it doesn’t happen soon. I would never issue an ultimatum but that awkward “what are you waiting for, exactly?” conversation seems too crunchy to engage in. To be honest…I think the poor guy just needs some help and assistance but he’s just not the kind to reach out to my friends to ask for help and I feel like I’m forcing it upon us if I try to get my friends to offer. Thanks for writing this post. It’s great.

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24 Rachel January 26, 2012 at 11:56 am

“To be honest…I think the poor guy just needs some help and assistance but he’s just not the kind to reach out to my friends to ask for help and I feel like I’m forcing it upon us if I try to get my friends to offer.” THIS. From what I’ve experienced/seen, I think this is pretty common.

Also, that “what are you waiting for, exactly?” conversation is not too crunchy to engage in. Or if it is, I’m really crunchy. Who cares? I feel a hell of a lot better now that I’ve asked that question.

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25 Stephanie@MyThornsHaveRoses January 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm

No, you’re right. It’s probably not too crunchy and I’ve never been known to shy away from crunchy talks. I think what I’m most worried about is that since he’s taking every other step FORWARD in our life together BUT the actual ring on finger/proposal part isn’t happening that if I talk about it, it’ll prompt it to happen, which will in turn make me feel like I made it happen. Which, if true, really shouldn’t matter because it might be my reassurance that I’m more than ready that would be helpful to him or to give him the kick in the ass to look for the help. Hah. Maybe I’ll just forward this link to him and see if he scrolls through the comments for mine. Too passive aggressive you think? ;)

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26 Melissa January 26, 2012 at 11:53 am

Another great post, Rachel. I think you articulate a lot of the issues that are frustrating about these things. Can we add “single girl who wants to be in a marriage-track relationship/wants a life partner – also not necessarily desperate?” What it all comes down to in my mind is that everyone in the world seems to think their opinion is equally valid or necessary to share when it’s just not – everyone thinks they’re an expert and they can tell you what to do, even though they don’t have the insight into your relationship (or job, or finances, or whatever) that you do. And what’s right for them may not be right for another person, but only that person can decide.

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27 deva at deva by definition January 26, 2012 at 12:02 pm

So, yes, to all of the above. I’ve been with The Boy for almost six years. We just bought a house together. We are NOT engaged, but it’s in the plans for (hopefully) this year. Being together for six years plus the mortgage means that this sentence you wrote: ‘“let’s gossip about That Girl Waiting Around for Her Boyfriend to Propose” conversations I hear women having constantly.’

totally applies to how my friends behave about it. “When is he going to propose? I thought you wanted to be maaaarrrrieeeeeed before you bought a house.” (drawn-out married theirs, not mine), etc. What they don’t realize is that we’ve discussed it. A lot. We have hypothetical future wedding parties planned out, and even have contingency for a courthouse wedding. When I said “I will buy a house with you – let’s start looking at listings” it was after a conversation where we discussed our plans and goals for OUR future. What we wanted – when we want marriage, babies, etc. A house was in the cards for us, and we do have a plan (within the next few months). We both have made compromises and changed our plans for the other person, and I agree – it does bring you closer together.

Which is a lot of words to say: I totally agree.

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28 deva at deva by definition January 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I just realized I wrote “hopefully this year,” and that was for wedding – that I was unclear on! Engagement plans are probably within the next few months.

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29 Leslie January 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Rachel, I wish I had had half the sense you do when I was your age. I’m 42 (does that make me your oldest reader?). Anyway, I was one of those girls who thought college HAD to be followed with what we called the MRS degree. It was beyond me that I might actually meet someone OUTSIDE college. So I got married….and divorced. Like I said, I wish I had had your sense!

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30 Nikki January 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm

I feel the same way, and I’m 32! Rachel definitely has a lot of insight for any age!
Fortunately, I broke off my engagement before any wedding planning really started. I definitely went through periods of feeling like something was wrong with me for not wanting to get married. I’m glad I listened and went with my gut in the end though!

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31 Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans January 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Love this!! I am not engaged but have bee woth my SO for two years. I am a few months from 30 and I am ready to get on with the next step in my life. If we got engaged in the next year I’d be very happy but longer then that and its pushing out my own plans and where I see my future going. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be an active participant in your own life’s direction!!

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32 Lindsay January 26, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I don’t have time to read all of the comments, so maybe this has been said already. My best friend and I talk a lot about other women’s jealousies of people getting engaged. It seems that whenever someone we know gets engaged, other girls get snarky about it. I hate this! Seems like no one can ever just be truly happy for the engaged couple, there always seem to be some sort of bitterness somewhere. I think that your rules would help change this! If women felt free to discuss engagement in their own relationships, then they might not be so jealous of others! They could be secure in their own relationship, know where they stand, and be genuinely happy for someone else because they know it will be coming for them based on their relationship’s timeline.

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33 Alison January 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Rachel, I love this! What touches me about this, and a lot of your writing, is the influence for people to love and accept themselves and each other. I think these insights are really important.

I dated several men last year that were unkind, and not good matches for me. I really want to date…and get married! But I am also currently content in my singleness. I am learning to love and appreciate myself and my life more than I ever have.

I love this quote from the Holstee Manifesto: “If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing the things you love”.

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34 Cassie January 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm

First-time commenter, but I’ve been reading your blog for a while and just wanted to say I love your writing and honest voice. I can especially connect with this post. When my (now) husband and I were dating, we talked about getting engaged/married a lot. In fact, we spent about a year talking about it and looking at rings. And everyone thought I was crazy. Everyone said I was pressuring him and if we have to talk about it so much, then it’s not meant to be. But making the decision to spend the rest of your life together is a HUGE decision – one that I believe should take much thought, discussion and planning. Who the hell wants to be surprised with a question like, will you spend the rest of your life with me?! It should not be a surprise! Maybe the proposal moment could be unplanned (mine was), but in my opinion, both parties should be on the same page. I think having the discussions about our fears and goals, and what we wanted out of life helped us determine where our similarities were and what we would need to compromise on. Of course, the fact that we were friends for 2 1/2 years before we started dating, then dated for 3 years and had an almost 2-year engagement helped too. Though I think everyone has the right to make their own decisions, I think marriage is something that should never be rushed into.

On another note, I echo the married women out there who are so sick of the “when are you having children” questions. I think that the decision to start a family is a hugely private one and I’m so over people thinking it’s any of their business.

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35 Kaytee January 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Great post! #41 is my favorite.

Kyle and I have had the timeline talk a few times. Honestly, the only thing in our plan that hasn’t changed is that we would be together. This time last year, we thought he’d be in Afghanistan right now & I’d be in Texas getting my Masters degree and we wouldn’t be getting married for at least another two years. And now we’re in Hawaii and getting married in less than three months. But even though the plan has changed (and changed again and again), we learned to compromise early on and that we had the same end goal. Without a doubt, we would not be getting married now if we didn’t have those talks.

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36 Lia January 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I love this post, and agree 100% with everything you wrote. I got engaged a year ago after being together for four years, and having many discussions about our future, our timeline, when we’d like to get married, etc. In other words, I didn’t have a MAGICAL proposal where I was OMGSOSURPRISED, SOROMANTIC! We picked out my ring together, and while the proposal was really sweet and “us,” it was not a surprise (I knew he had the ring, and he still wanted some element of surprise, so he proposed when I wasn’t expecting it – on a Monday morning with accompanying mimosas and egg sandwiches in our apartment). The most uncomfortable part of the engagement process, besides people saying “let me see the ring!” was answering “were you SO SURPRISED?!” Why would I be surprised about one of the biggest decisions of my life? Both our lives? I just couldn’t imagine committing to marry someone without having discussed it/having a timeline. Thanks for this post, Rachel!

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37 Mel January 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I want to join in on this great discussion – just, like most thought provoking reads, I’m going to need some time to let this simmer. BRB. hehe

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38 Mel January 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

All right..well… needless to say, I am a big fan of this post and of these comments. I find the best articles, stories and opinions on the subject of relationships and marriages here. (Seriously, I need to find a job in that field..does it even exist?)

Unfortunately, I know that I do turn to judgements when filling in the blanks and hearing about the relationships of acquaintances and sometimes even bloggers. I frequently forget that there are (hopefully!!) important conversations going on behind the scenes that I am not privy to. And some people are not “stupid about love,” but rather afraid of broaching these conversations out loud and afraid of what other’s will think. What I take most from your article is knowing that this is something I can change first-hand. Empowerment FTW.

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39 Rachel January 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Haha I don’t know but I would also love that job!

And I really like this comment!

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40 Cass January 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm

I completely agree with what you said, Rachel. There is so much judgment and pressure surrounding engagements and marriage. I feel like so many of these issues would be resolved if people just talked to one another and were honest about their feelings and plans.

I had a very traditional proposal and engagement. He proposed 3 months after we started dating and it was a complete surprise. I didn’t know when it would be, how he would propose, what the ring looked like, etc. And I loved it! People assumed because we got engaged so quickly that we hadn’t taken the time to really talk with each other about marriage. But we had; we had almost every conversation about our future imaginable. We talked about our career plans, kids, money, what marriage is about, etc. I told him I preferred not knowing anything about the proposal and he respected that.

His proposal was very simple and very us. It was absolutely perfect for us and when I tell people the story I often get a look of pity. Like because he didn’t make a big spectacle or buy me a huge rock he doesn’t really love me. (Don’t even get me started about how many people think the more money a guy spends on you=the more he loves you.)

I’ll be 23 when we get married and so many people feels like it’s ok to tell me our marriage isn’t going to last, we’re too young, etc. It’s a Catch-22; I feel like there is still some pressure to marry young, yet people judge your decision. And if you happen to be in your 30’s when you get engaged (like one of my good friends), you get the jokes about how you long it took you to get engaged.

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41 Meghann January 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Amen, sister. Amen. I was also That Girl Who Is So Desperate To Be Married, but I was only That Girl to the outside world. Derek and I had those scary future talks, how can you not if you’re in a long term relationship with someone you love? Of course those talks weren’t always about wedding related stuff, but our future together in general. Our thoughts on kids, growing old, where we want to live, jobs, etc. I wasn’t desperate to be married per se, I was more desperate to have those plans start to unfold. The wedding stuff? That’s just for fun. It’s playing dress up and throwing a party. The marriage is the real stuff I’m after.

Also, the whole ‘blame Disney princesses for all that is wrong with society’ always pisses me off. I <3 Disney princesses and I'm not afraid to admit it. Of course, you'll also never hear me say I found my Prince Charming. I didn't find a prince, I found Derek and I'll take him over Prince Charming any day of the week. :)

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42 Kate January 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I feel many of the same “don’t talk about marriage/weddings/look at wedding pictures” taboos apply for single girls and are accompanied by the shattering admonition that too much talk of or interest in such things means you will NEVER “land a man” because you come off as desperate and/or because all men are afraid of marriage (or commitment in general) and will only want to date a girl who seems to have no desire to get married at any point in her life – both of which are false. Why must we assume that women who want to get married or just enjoy wedding pictures are some kind of obsessive monsters and not capable of being balanced and normal and having other interests and passions as well? Ugh! Love this post, thank you.

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43 jessica January 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

though i’m a straight woman married to a man, my initial thoughts upon reading your post went straight to the assumptions made about women wishing to marry other women. I’ve known quite a few people that assume gay men automatically wish to get married because they have supposed feminine dominant traits, while lesbian women dont’ want to get married because of their supposed masculine dominant traits. bunk! why should we be surprised if either gender wishes for marriage? i guess i dont’ really know what i’m trying to say here, but for some reason the idea of marriage across the sexes, regardless of orientation, came into my mind. so…. discuss :-)

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44 Rachel January 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

You know, as I was writing this, I was aware that it focused more on hetero relationships than I’d like it to. I was wondering how the whole “hey, the law says you can’t be married” thing affects those kinds of conversations and how the stereotypes come into play when you face a whole new set of stereotypes. I hope anyone identifies as gay or lesbian will weigh in on this because I personally couldn’t speak to it.

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45 Allison January 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Okay, I’ll bite.

My ladyfriend and I (both women (duh) in our mid/late 20s) have been together for well over a year and have lived together for the past six months. Her siblings (both also gay–trifecta!) are both in very very long-term relationships and are both either “married” or “about to be married,” which I put in quotes because neither of them are in a state where it’s legal. My girlfriend and I have talked for a while about getting married (not in quotes because I refuse to do it in a state where it’s not legal, because a) I grew up in a state where it is now legal so why not get hitched there; and, b) I refuse to spend money on wedding-related things and stimulate the economy of a state that refuses to recognize my rights). Anyway, like you, we’ve talked about it for a couple months now because we want to know we’re on the same page about it, and we both know it’s in our future. We’re going to be moving this summer so I can go to grad school (uh, god willing), and I know she’d like to actually be engaged before then, which I totally understand since she’s already making a big commitment by moving with me. For whatever reason it’s kind of always been implied that I would be the one doing the proposing, which I am happy (and excited!) to do at some point this spring.

I think our dating–>talking about marriage process has been about the same as any straight couple, with the added consideration that we also can’t help but think of it as a political thing. It kind of bothers me that her siblings didn’t get married officially, because if you’re just going to call yourself married and be happy about it even though you are not legally married, then wtf is the point of fighting for it? I also periodically get ragey about marriage in general, because, as Sarah Silverman said (paraphrasing), being a straight person and getting married right now is like joining a country club that doesn’t allow Jewish or non-white people.

Speaking more to the original question about stereotypes, and backing away from my own personal political hang-ups, I probably know an equal number of lesbians and gay men, and I don’t see a difference between the two groups in terms of the percentage of them who want to get (or actually get) married. Not to speak too generally, but I’ve noticed my LGBT friends in relationships are more likely to really talk with their significant other about every.minute.boring.step of their relationship than my straight friends who are in relationships feel comfortable doing, and maybe that’s because they don’t feel boxed in by (or don’t feel like they have to actively fight against) typically gendered expectations of them or their relationship in the first place.

…sorry to have probably crashed the internets because of the length of this post.

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46 jessica January 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm

i’d also like to add that it can be more confusing to others when explaining and clarifying your marital plans than to your partner. my husband and i had been friends for 10 years before we started dating. long story, but essentially we lost touch and reconnected. once reconnected, it only took us 2 months to decide that we would be together forever and marriage was definitely where we would end up. Thus, we started telling people we were engaged. HOWEVER, the ring didn’t come for 3 more years, and I was never proposed to. the ring wasn’t important for us to make that commitment to one another. i didn’t require a proposal because it was a decision we made together… and i think this is why the ring took so long to come. it was something we did together. i trusted that he was committed to me. a ring is an expense, and i didn’t need him to shell out a bunch of dough to prove his commitment. it was important to me that we shared the cost. We went half way on my engagement ring and we split the wedding rings down the middle too.

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47 Molly January 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm

This is sort of related to this topic…I read this article from HuffPo (it’s old) called A Message to Women from a Man: You Are Not Crazy. The author basically discusses how men make women feel like their feelings mean less with comments like “don’t be so sensitive” but I think women do the same thing to each other…like judging other women and not believing that the feelings they express about marriage and engagement are true (I tried to tie this in as best I could.) Anyway, Rachel, I thought it might be an article you would be interested in if you haven’t already read it! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yashar-hedayat/a-message-to-women-from-a_1_b_958859.html

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48 Rachel January 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

YES. I read that article and reference it OFTEN. And I totally see the tie-in here. Thanks for sharing though — I come across so many great articles from comments like this.

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49 Nicole @ Giraffelegs January 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Seriously thank you so much for writing this. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 5 years now and lately people have been making comments about “getting married right out of college.” Just because we have been together for a long time and are committed doesn’t mean I am committed to drop everything I dream about and cry hysterically when he proposes. I feel like engagement shouldn’t just happen after a certain amount of time, you know when it’s right when it’s right.

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50 Jess January 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I love this post for so many reasons. I love weddings and wedding shows and wedding blogs, but I’m not scrambling to get married. But yea, I have a timeline in my head and yes it’s something I know I want and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Thanks for such an awesome post.

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51 Lizilla January 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Being open and honest about what you want and being able to compromise with your significant other are skills that should be honed before thinking about marriage. If a person can’t comfortably state what their needs are and listen to what their significant other’s needs are, without judgement, the relationship needs to grow a little.

On a side note, one of my couple friends is pregnant right now and came over for dinner the other night. Half way through dinner the girl turned to my husband and I and said “you guys are the only people who haven’t asked us when we are getting married”. I responded “because it isn’t any of our business”. Everybody needs to chill about forcing their timeline on other people.

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52 Alex January 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Rach,
As you know, (because I talked to you about it), I got divorced in 2010. I met my now fiance in February 2011 and we got engaged this last November. I knew very soon after we met that I wanted to marry him and that I loved him very much, and I was very lucky that he felt the same way. The big problem I came up against was this attitude of how long I was supposed to be divorced before I got remarried/how long I should have been single before I started dating/how long we should be dating before we got serious, etc. What it all boiled down to was, people around me were so unhappy with their relationship status/lack of control of their situation that they were resentful of my happiness. Their IS NO TIMETABLE. Only you and your partner can make that very important decision, only you and your partner should worry about how it goes down (surprise engagement/lengthy discussion/mutual agreement) because at the end of the day, it’s the two of you that have to lay in the bed that you’ve made. It just always is hard to challenge accepted mores and blaze your own trail. Daps for this post, it was enlightening and refreshing to see you put into words what every woman is screaming in her head.

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53 Brita January 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm

THANK YOU!
I happen to be a woman in a four and a half year relationship, who is not engaged and wants to be, and it’s pretty frustrating situation that is hard to talk about. I love your honesty :)
The other thing I’d add is the annoying comments from very well intentioned friends, along the lines of “But you’re practically engaged!” or “practically married!” What does that even mean? You have all the normal relationship stuff, minus eternal security and a pretty ring, so it’s fine?

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54 Sarah January 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Thanks so much for this post! It makes me feel a lot less unconventional. I used to think being proposed to should be this exciting uber suprise. Now that Im in a healthy relationship where we talk, I realize how unrealistic that would be for me. Being in a relationship for 2 1/2 years I would be going crazy if we didn’t have these kind of talks that affirm we are on the same page. When and where he proposes can be a great suprise but being completely in the dark about the whole thing is not for me!
Ps. Why do married folks all of a sudden forget what it felt like when they were single and everyone asked when they were getting engaged? I promise I will remember and never do that.

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55 Kaitlyn January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

What a fantastic article. It’s funny because reading this, I felt as though it’s something I could absolutely have written (not as eloquently of course). I just moved in with my boyfriend of over 2 years and I come from an uber religious family (My dad is a pastor. That family.) and I have taken a lot of slack, and cried a lot of tears over what other people think of my relationship. However, my man and I had many talks years ago about our ‘timeline’ and according to that, we’re happily on track — no matter what other people may think. Getting engaged is a high priority for us — but because of certain family pressures (the ring MUST have a diamond, the wedding MUST be for at least 100 people…) we can’t afford it right away. So we’re content to wait with the knowledge — for both of us — that it’s coming down the line soon. I did feel guilty when I had to ask “yes you want to marry me but when exactly?” but I needed to know. And I feel really good about it now.

Anyway, weight off chest, this article was very timely for me and I appreciate that you wrote it so thoughtfully.
– Kaitlyn

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56 Kasey January 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I love this post! The one thing that I considered while reading it is the social expectation that the man should propose to the woman. Even though you spend a significant time discussing the future, what your expectations are, if you are ready or not – that does not change the fact that society expects the man to get down on one knee and propose. I feel that if a woman was to propose rather than the man, friends and family may still have doubts about his level of commitment. So, I wholeheartedly agree that women need be an active participant in all decisions regarding their relationship, but in the end, they are expected to wait until their boyfriends make the ultimate move. If you and your significant other are both ready to get engaged at this time, but you are waiting for him to propose, why not do it yourself?

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57 Rachel January 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I’m not sure if this question was more general or more directed to me, but I’ll answer it for myself — I’m not waiting for him to propose! When we are both ready, we’ll just get engaged.

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58 Ana January 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm

My boyfriend and I have been together for seven years ( I am 25 and he is 27). So, we got together when we were very, very young. I love him, and there is not a doubt in my mind that he loves me. But… we are not ready to get married. At all. And to be honest I don’t think that he will ever be. I don’t think he loves me any less, and if I were to spend the rest of my life with him without getting married, I don’t think it would bother me all that much. Him not wanting to get married has nothing to do with commitment issues. He just doesn’t see it as that important. What really bothers me is that people assume that I am just waiting to get a ring on my finger, when in reality, I really don’t care. If I did, I wouldn’t be with him.

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59 Sable@SquatLikeALady January 26, 2012 at 9:01 pm

I absolutely LOVE this Rachel.

Almost no one knows this (because I have ZERO interest in sharing the most intimate details of my wedding with my husband’s cousin’s girlfriend’s little half-brother, etc) but I proposed to my husband. And then we got married 10 days later and I’ve never worn a white dress and he wasn’t even physically THERE. Fuck traditions. We had a series of conversations about it over a period of time, came to a mutual decision, and that was that.

And honestly…part of the reason not even my MIL knows how things went down is because, well, I didn’t want to be seen as That Wedding-Crazy Girl. And it is LAME that I actually had to be afraid of that during the most joyous period of my life.

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60 Mel January 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Sable, I love when you share snipits about your relationship! You and Max seem to have something special and unique.

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61 Sable@SquatLikeALady January 27, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Max’s comment: “Unique is right!” HAHA

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62 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy January 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Before my fiance and I got engaged, we had many conversations about our future plans to get engaged. People kept telling me to stop talking about it- that I was ruining the surprise. But I didn’t want it to be a total surprise- I wanted to have a say in my future! If he would’ve asked me 6 months before he did, I wouldn’t have been ready. But since we’d talked about it, and grown closer in the process, both of us were ready when he popped the question. Don’t feel bad for talking it through!

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63 Miranda @ Biting Life January 27, 2012 at 12:02 am

I’m so glad that you wrote this post. All of that totally needed to be said! I hate that even though I’ve been with the person I want to be with for the rest of my life for 1.5 years, people look down on me for saying that I’m ready to be married because I’m only 20. Just because I was lucky enough to find this man so early in my life doesn’t make me “dumb” or “in puppy love” or “not really ready”. Nobody else can decide that for me and I’m tired of being put into a certain stereotype.

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64 katelyn January 27, 2012 at 3:14 am

I think you’re a fabulous writer and you made very strong points, but these points are not new.

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65 Triz January 27, 2012 at 5:58 am

Well, *I* want you to get married, because I bet you will have a really great dress and I want to see it. :)

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66 Emilia January 27, 2012 at 6:34 am

Fantastic, fantastic post. Even though I am nowhere near the engagement stage of my life yet (hello uni!), I feel that many of these issues apply to any and every type of relationship. There’s not just pressure to get married/engaged, but also at a certain point to have a boyfriend and have a certain type of relationship. It seems completely ridiculous that women are subject to degradation because of their views on relationships more than men are. The ability to talk about one’s future is important at any stage, though I think one always needs to retain their own future too…if that makes sense. :)

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67 Maggie January 27, 2012 at 11:01 am

Rules #40 and #46: YES! I am appalled by the idea that an engagement can just “happen” to me and that I won’t have any say in if/how/when it happens, especially when I do have a say in practically every other aspect of our relationship. My boyfriend and I have been together for 4+ years, and we are definitely planning a life together, but I’m just not ready to be engaged (and to face all the familial/social expectations that come with that status). I don’t feel old enough, and I don’t want the pressure of planning a wedding while I’m still trying to launch a career. This summer, I got the feeling that my boyfriend, who is five years older than I am, was getting ready to propose, and I had to sit him down and say (in a less direct fashion than I would have liked) that I wasn’t ready. He didn’t exactly ask outright, “What do you feel you need to be emotionally ready for?” but we got some of the answers to that question on the table. I said we could revisit the question in six months, and I hope by that time we can have a more honest and less stilted conversation. I’ll refer to this post for some guidance – thanks!

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68 Natalie January 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I actually found this post very profound and familiar, but in relation to another topic. My husband and I have been married for nearly 3 years and, as you can imagine, we’re feeling the pressure to have babies. The thing is we don’t want babies! We’re open to the idea that our minds might change, but we really feel like babies aren’t in the cards for us. And, believe me, this is a very touchy subject especially for women. Since, as a woman, I don’t want to bow to convention, there must be something wrong with me. Obviously, I’m selfish or I don’t want to “lose my figure” or “I’ll change my mind eventually”. I especially love how other women make it their personal mission to convince me that I actually do want children and take it as a personal offense that I don’t. Also, my mother-in-law won’t count my husband, our beautiful dog, and myself as a “real family” until we have children. Why can’t we stop beating each other up and support each other? Sorry about the long comment-I know it really doesn’t relate to the topic at hand, but I just felt like there are so many similarities!

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69 Erin January 27, 2012 at 11:03 pm

I did comment way at the beginning. And i echo your sentiments about not wanting babies. Its not really about losing my figure, or all the superficial things. I am really grateful that my family’s cool with us not having kids, its just never been something i wanted. I get to be an aunt, and i do call them my kids, because i adore them to death and cant imagine life without them, but i like that they stay with their parents. Though every now and then i do get comments from people that but there’s no feeling in the world like it. It hurts. Really hurts. Kids aren’t in our future, and it makes it even harder cuz everyone around us is all about babies and kids….so for now limbo!

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70 Michelle January 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm

The first time Jon asked me to marry him, I said no.

I’ll back up — It’s not like I let him get down on one knee. It’s just that I wasn’t ready at that moment.

I had been SO ready the year before (or, at least I thought so), and he didn’t have the money/wasn’t really on the same level … and it broke my heart. (Things were tricky, being together for years and going through some big transitions — college, graduation, new jobs, etc.) And then when he finally DID have the ring savings all built up/got into the marriage zone, we hadn’t even approached the subject in months, maybe even a year, and I was going through a period where I had just kinda checked out from considering the long term (um, because he told me to?!)

So, he planned this fancy weekend in Chicago and I stopped him in the car on the way there. I had a hunch of what he was up to, and just told him we needed to hold off if he were about to propose. He was crushed.

But we weren’t on the same page at all, and I didn’t see why we couldn’t have a fair discussion about our future. It’s a team decision, and I didn’t get why him being ready had to translate into go-time. This is my life too, right? I had so much shame over the situation for so long. Even now, only a small handful of my friends know — how ridiculous, right?

Anyway, Jon and I came back from the trip and had a loooong way-overdue talk about what the future had in store. A few months later, I told him I was ready and after a few more, he proposed for real — and I said yes and we were married in September. And it feels so much better this way.

Thank you thank you thank you for writing this blog. I don’t know why I feel like I can’t say this stuff out loud; your honesty is really refreshing and this felt really good to type out! Married life has been great — I should own up as to how we got here :) It’s not Cinderella, it’s 2012.

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71 jenna k January 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

what happened to rule #44?! :)

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72 Rachel January 28, 2012 at 10:04 am

Ahhhh good question! Haha, the mysterious Rule #44! No really, I was just writing before I’d had my coffee. Fixed it!

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73 Megan C. January 31, 2012 at 10:33 am

I admit when my husband I hit the one year mark I had expectations of a proposal. And when his sister got engaged and we didn’t I was upset. Then I realized that a ring didn’t make us any better or any worse than anyone else. He was a better “husband” to me as a boyfriend than my ex-husband was as a husband. But I kept wanting a proposal.

Well after some long thinking and processing of my own I realized I didn’t care about the ring or the proposal (I’d been married before and had both and it didn’t work out so well) I just wanted a plan for our future instead of a vague someday concept. Well when I explained that to my boyfriend (now husband) he got it. He wanted a future with us together too. So at our 1 year and 7 month mark we got married at his family reunion and it was a surprise to his family.

To this day I still get asked about the proposal and the engagement ring. I don’t have an engagement ring by choice on both our parts and I’m good with it. Although I have been shocked by the amount of judgement I get for not having a formal proposal or an engagement ring.

Thank you for writing this post I think it is good to get it out in the open and acknowledge both sides of the story so to speak.

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74 Meghan G. January 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm

This is the first time I have come across your blog and reading this post made me feel like you were talking directly to me! I have been dating my boyfriend for 10 years now (please don’t give me the look that everyone does when I tell them that) living in sin, as you put it, for the last 3. And up until recently I was perfectly happy with everything just that way. We had the conversation that both of us were happy where our relationship was and didn’t want to mess it up by doing something crazy like getting married. Now I feel like we’re both in a place that we would be happy getting married, but I have felt like I shouldn’t have to be the one to bring it up. I realize now that is just stupid! I was fine having the conversation about moving in together, and the conversation about not getting married. Why shouldn’t this be an ok conversation for two adults to have too!?! I don’t normally comment on the blogs that I read, but this post sparked such a fire in me as I was reading it that I had to get on here to say thank you! Thank you for helping me realize that not only is it ok to want to get married, but it’s also ok to have a conversation about it with the person you want to get married to. What a concept! ;)

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75 Lisa February 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I like this post. For me it’s biology. I’ve been with my boyfriend 4 years now, I love him, he’s The One, we’ve lived together successfully for 3 years (i.e. not getting sick of each other) and I really want kids. I have that pull to have babies! He’s more logical and wants to have debts paid off, a good job, savings, etc. Sometimes it’s hard to be on the same page!

What I hate most is the pressure I get from other people. “When are you going to get married?” I don’t know, ask my boyfriend! He’s the one buying the ring! It’s just rude and makes me bristle withe comments!

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76 Digitalaxis March 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I know this post is extremely old, but I just had to post here to confirm that yes, men are heavily influenced by fairy tales. It has caused no end of awkwardness in my stable relationship of nearly two years that I had all of these quaint and silly fairy tale notions going into the relationship- the single soulmate, the mandatory love-at-first-sight, being so madly in love you can’t breathe without her, that you need an enormous (and impersonal) wedding, marriage being a prison for men… Seriously? Fairy tales and societal expectations definitely affect men.

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77 louise July 22, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I can’t believe I only just found your blog! Thank you for the fresh, mature and honest words from a woman in the south! I am “pre-engaged” (wtf does that mean anyway?!) and am supposedly happily waiting for a proposal. I have helped choose ring styles. We own a house together. We have 2 wonderful dogs. I do his laundry and he pays most of the bills while I finish up my studies. We’ve been dating 4 years, I am 32 and I am READY. HE is saving for what I know is some ridiculously priced engagement ring that stereotypes from his small hometown dictate he must buy. It doesn’t matter how often I tell him I don’t care about how big the ring is, he insists that he is still saving. I’ve never been a big wedding daydreamer, but at this point I have almost everything planned, down to the DIY flowers, flower girl dresses, my playlist and even the venue and caterer.

However… I’m not allowed to talk about it because I might seem desperate and my friends say, “Like, you’re not even engaged…” – so thank you, for expressing so clearly what I cannot and I appreciate women speaking out about these things. Hell yes. I deserve to choose when all this happens. And if I want to go dress shopping with no ring, well that is just too bad for the sales associate who looks at me oddly. Thank you. I will dream about whether to wear Hunter boots or Clarks desert boots at my quirky wedding and I will not fear to bring up this recurring conversation with my man, because he can handle it.

THANKS AGAIN. You rock.

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