When people ask me my engagement story, I tell them my now-husband and I were at our favorite park, the one with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay, eating morning pastries and drinking coffee. I was having a sad day, and he said “I have something that will either make your day much better… or much worse,” pulled out a ring, and stood there grinning at me like a moron until I said, “Um, are you asking me to marry you right now?” (He was.)
That is a lie. I’ve been telling it for eight years.
The truth is that it happened pretty much exactly like that, but not in a park. It was in my bedroom, right before we left for a really scary doctor’s appointment that led to even scarier, harder decisions. No view, no Golden Gate Bridge, no pastries. And there was more to it than just “having a sad day.”
I spent years feeling embarrassed by the true story, but I’m not anymore—it’s true, and it’s ours. We also said “I love you” for the first time in the hospital, and our relationship has always been rooted in knowing, deeply in our bones, that we can get through The Hard Stuff together.
In the years since, many many friends have gotten engaged and posted amazing stories about their engagements on Instagram. There’s the all-day, urban scavenger hunt couple; the at-the-top-of-a-mountain-in-the-snow couple; the beach-on-a-tropical-island couple. I’ve loved every single one of their stories, and delighted in each of their engagements, but all with the understanding that engagements aren’t always like that. Sometimes remembering an engagement brings up painful memories, or hard conversations, and there isn’t really a lot of space for that in our current discourse. My favorite thing about our engagement story is how personal it was: we didn’t tell anyone for over a week, and have never shared the full story—because it involved a personal medical situation that was, frankly, no one’s business. This is vastly different from the grander, bolder engagements that are popular right now, but I am here to tell you that if your engagement story is complicated or private, that’s okay. It’s more than okay: it’s you, and your partner, and not everything has to be a good story. And even if you have a beautiful engagement story, actually being engaged can be more complicated.
So I wanted to provide a space to talk about engagements that look different. Go anonymous if you want, and tell us your engagement story, whether it was fabulous and full of fireworks, or maybe tough and not fit for Instagram.
What was your engagement like? Do you feel complicated about it? Does being engaged bring up hard feelings? Is there anything you wish you could say or ask about engagements, but don’t feel like you can?