Well, December is upon us, and as non-traditional as APW-ers are, December still means proposal month for lots and lots of you. So! In light of that, the APW team felt like this was the time to re-open the conversation on engagements and proposals. Over the last year we’ve had some fascinating conversations on the subject, including this amazing article on women proposing to men. But the most important conversation that we’ve had is demystifying the fact that, for many of us, our proposals were not a fairytale. I knew mine was coming, and had helped pick out the ring… but I still went into shock and started sobbing in an ugly way when it happened. Did I say ugly way? Yeah, it was not a happy cry. Perhaps the best Team Practical engagement story of all time is the girl who threw up all over her brand new fiance, feeling a little… overwrought. Or my mom, who told my dad she needed to think about it for a week (spoiler alert: she said yes in the end). So when Christina emailed me her un-fairytale proposal story, I was thrilled. Here is your engagement shame-blasting. It might not go like it does in the movies, and that’s ok. Here is to real life, in all its gritty glory! And with that, I bring you Christina.
This past weekend, my boyfriend proposed. Hooray! Except, I couldn’t say yes. I had walked into the bedroom and there was the ring. My gut reaction was just to turn around and walk back out. Instead, I sat on the bed with my back to him (and that ring winking ominously at me) and finally squeaked out that I wasn’t ready. Me and the man had been having six months of tumultuous times, including a move I didn’t want, to a city I don’t want to be in, which was all preceded by a feeling that our relationship was off track and we were out of sync. The night dragged on with me trying to explain what I was feeling and him trying to understand. We both got mad, we both cried, we finally just went to sleep with big question marks hanging over our head. Here was the thing: I didn’t say no. No was definitely not my answer, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say yes.
So the proposal happened, and the next day we continued on with our weekend, relaxing, enjoying the little coastal California town we were in, and trying to act like things were cool. And, truthfully, things felt good. We had some time for quiet reflection and some time to talk things through a bit. We blew off fancy dinner plans for onion rings in a brewery and after a pint and several hours of talking, laughing, and enjoying each others company, I said yes. Officially, for sure, yes. Because this is the man I want to marry. And this is the man I want to build a life with.
To be honest, he has always been the man for me, and I knew if he proposed, I would say yes, but it had been a frustrating day in general: we sat in a lot of traffic, had a terrible, overpriced meal, the bottle of wine that we had with dinner wasn’t very good (as a result, he drank most of it…). Then, throw in this quasi-proposal, in which we were both wearing bathrobes (awkward), I was cranky, he was drunk, and it all just felt wrong. I know I want to marry this man, and I consider myself fairly low maintenance, but really, I hate that things happened the way they did. That night I was worked up, and frankly, a little freaked out because I had been saving up some “big talk” fodder that I wanted to get out of the way before he asked. I had been having some preemptive cold feet which I let get the best of me (yo, marriage is scary, who knew?).
After we got back, things still felt rough to me. I was on a roller coaster of feeling happy and excited and then completely terrified and irritated. I felt a pang of frustration anytime I have to tell the proposal story (which had been edited down to exclude the 18 hours after the proposal and just jumps right to the yes), both at the way it happened and the fact that I felt it should’ve been different. It was hard for me to call my best friends and tell them we were engaged, because for the last 6 months, they’ve been hearing about how frustrated and unhappy I was.
So then the brilliant shame post popped up and I realized that I’ve been feeling a bit of shame over the whole thing. I’m ashamed I couldn’t have that moment where I cried tears of joy and shouted YES from the rooftops. And then I’m ashamed that I feel that my proposal had to play out that way. I’m working on letting go of the shame and accepting that that’s how it went, and you know what? I feel pretty brave that I didn’t say yes right away. It actually gave us a reason to talk about things we had been sweeping under the proverbial rug, and after hours of talking through it (and agreeing that maybe we should see someone to help us learn how to talk to each other) and a day of hanging out doing what we love to do, the yes came easily.
I wanted to share this all with APW because I don’t know that we ever hear a story other than fairytale proposals and the exuberant yes, or he pops the question, she says no, they break up. And really, how often do you hear about brides being ashamed of the start of their engagement? I’m just here to say it happens, and it’s ok, and while it’s not a story I tell with great pride, it’s a story I feel is important to tell. Mostly, as with many things on APW, I wanted to let any other brides-to-be who might have or have had that moment other than the overwhelming exuberant “YAY!” at their proposal know that it happens. And then you move on and you’re still with that person who 99.7% of the time rocks your world.
Picture: Christina says, “Taken after I said yes in the brewery while the ring was chillin’ in our hotel room. It’s my absolute favorite.”