My totally awesome fiancé and I are engaged. It was so difficult for me to propose to him. I grew up with a ton of stories about how men are supposed to propose to women, how they should create the perfect, amazing story. I watched tons of flash mob proposals with internet videos. I watched opera proposals. And movie proposals. And same-sex hardware store proposals. Then I met my now fiancé and realized that none of those things worked for us, and that we needed to rewrite the story…
Why are you proposing? You’re a girl!
My fiancé and I were together for three years. At about two years, he mentioned that he had proposed to his ex-wife, and that he thought he would like to be proposed to. This became something of a joke between the two of us, but it also made me begin to think — why shouldn’t I propose to him? I knew that if I did so, it will happen sooner than if I wait for him, but I’m perfectly fine with that and I think he would be, too. We continued to talk about our ongoing life. We talked about the possibility of children (we both want them), about what a wedding might look like (small, not religious at all, inexpensive), about living together (we have actually moved in together, but it’s super recent), and about our health as a couple.
We live in a place where it is almost impossible to get an apartment as a couple unless you are engaged, married, or knocked up. We didn’t want to get married just to live together, and having kids this year is not an option for me for health reasons, but we saw no reason not to present ourselves as engaged. We had an added complication, however. We are both teachers, and in order to move in together, one of us would have to leave our current school. It wound up being me, and my students were distraught that I was leaving. I explained that I was engaged (even though I technically wasn’t at the time) and they asked me how he proposed. My fiancé and I agreed that I would propose, and so I told them that I had done so. They asked THE QUESTION: “Why did you propose?! You’re THE GIRL!”
Here is the answer: I love him. I want to spend my life loving him. I know he loves me and wants to spend his life with me. There is no good reason for me NOT to be the one to propose. I don’t consider cultural or traditional reasons to be good enough reasons (I totally get that some people do see culture and tradition as great reasons and that is totally awesome). It’s culture that demands that the man decides when he’s ready to get married. So, instead of giving in to cultural demands, I did what was best for him and me as a couple, and I proposed to him.
How did you ask him?
It took forever to figure out how to propose. I get very nervous talking in front of groups of adults, and getting down on one knee isn’t my thing anyway. In the end, I decided to write a letter explaining how amazing he is and ending with me asking him to marry me. I also bought a cheap ring with the intention of getting a nicer ring for each of us when it comes time to get married. I even dug out my grandmother’s old wedding ring for me to wear, as a convenient prop for when I tell people I’m engaged.
I put his ring in a fairly complicated puzzle box, along with the letter. He didn’t suspect the puzzle box was a ring at first because I’ve been giving him puzzle boxes for various presents for a while, but this one was much more difficult than the last one. I gave him the box a couple of nights before his birthday, and it took him until the night before his birthday to open it, but when he did, he read the note and he said, “You’re silly. Of course I’ll marry you.” That was that.
What happened next?
I did this while we were on vacation. We were staying with his mom at that point, going to see my family over the next couple of days, and seeing other family and friends after that. We eventually told everyone and we got the same questions over and over about whether a friend can officiate, when the wedding is, how the pets feel about this new development, and what the colors are. All we know is we love each other, our pets, nerdiness, science, and books, and that’s enough.
I think that every newly engaged couple gets these questions, so we’re not too far outside of what is expected. We are ecstatic to be engaged for real. We are thrilled to have a story. The ring I got totally did not fit, so we ordered a better one that will fit, and we’ll get professionally fitted when it comes time for the real rings. We’re talking to our parents about finances and whether we can hold the ceremony in my parents’ backyard. We’re looking at the laws in Colorado to make sure we can still self-officiate if we need to, to be able to have whomever we want officiate at the ceremony.
We’ll start answering the other questions when we’re good and ready.