When my boyfriend and I started dating, our relationship was quickly labeled “puppy love” because we were high school sweat hearts. But pretty soon, months turned into years and before I knew it, we had been together longer than all of the couples our age that we knew. And like clockwork the questions starting rolling in, “when are you two going to get married?” I didn’t know what to say. Of course, in truth, I had thought about marriage after two years of dating and we talked about it but at that time were were only nineteen years old. But then we celebrated our three-year anniversary and then our fourth and then our fifth.
And I had this nagging question in the back of my head that I couldn’t seem to let go of, “why isn’t he proposing?” After attending wedding after wedding and watching couples our age getting engaged and married although they had been together for a shorter amount of time than we had been, I started to question if I was being taken advantage of. I started dropping hints. And when they seemed to fail, I looked at my promise ring which he had given me after a year of dating as though it were taunting me instead of making me smile like it used to.
I started to wonder if that old saying was true or not, “why buy the cow when the milk is free?” I became so focused on getting a sparkly ring on my left hand, that I felt worthless without one. Although we had a healthy, loving, and amazing relationship, I wanted proof that I was significant. In our society, women who wait too long to be proposed to are are viewed as fools, because when a man knows…he knows. Or so the saying goes. Up until this point I had no reason to think that my boyfriend didn’t love me or that he never wanted to marry me, but something in the way people started to ask why we weren’t engaged yet, made me spiral.
No matter what we were arguing about, I brought up the fact that we were not engaged. More and more fights occurred, all because of my insecurity. He would say that we hadn’t completed college yet, secured jobs, or had a place of our own. He said marriage was definitely on his mind but it wasn’t the right time. He was right about it all but I didn’t care. At the time, I hated that he was so logical. Wasn’t love supposed to make you do crazy things? I wanted crazy. I wanted passion. I didn’t want logical. But after a while, I realized I didn’t want him to propose just because of my nagging and so I tried my best to let it go. And I quickly learned that fast proposals didn’t always equate to happier couples or more loving relationships as I started to hear complaints from young brides who rushed down the aisle.
“Wasn’t love supposed to make you do crazy things? I wanted crazy. I wanted passion. I didn’t want logical.”
I came out of my fog and out of the fairytale I had created in my head. We didn’t follow the rules and that’s what made our relationship what is was–perfect for us. We had always done things our way and I had no idea why I allowed envy into my life. This idea that waiting is foolish, is total bullshit. I was being treated the way I had always wanted to be treated. I was loved and respected. He looked out for my best interests. He made me laugh and made me smile, I just didn’t have a ring…yet.
On our sixth anniversary, on a beach, he proposed. We have no pictures, no one was there to witness, it was just the two of us. Of course I said yes. We were only 23 years old. And we continued to do things on our own terms and in our own time. After dating for years, we remained engaged for years. Long engagements do not mean uncertainties. Looking back, I’m really thankful for the years that it took us to walk down the aisle. Those were some of the best years and I now know that timelines are different for every couple and should be treated on an individual basis. Had we gotten engaged earlier and started planning a wedding right away, I wouldn’t have been able to invest as much in my education or my future had I been saving for a wedding dress instead of paying my tuition or buying textbooks. Also, years of dating, made for easy transition into married life. It worked for us.
We have been together for fourteen years now, married for five and now that we are parents, I can’t imagine my daughter dating for only a few months and rushing down the aisle. I think we should do away with the old ideas and the stigma associated with long courtships. My husband waited six years to propose, and another three until we were married and it didn’t mean he couldn’t see my worth, it actually meant the opposite. We have so much more, because we waited. I didn’t have to sacrifice anything. I know it’s different for everyone, but it’s more about the quality of your relationship than the diamond. And sometimes it may take longer to get where you want to be, but it doesn’t mean you’re failing. I’m not saying you have to wait forever, but I’m saying, pay attention to the actual relationship and the present, be in the now. It’s fine to discuss the future and have a clear and open dialogue about your expectations, but remember it’s okay to follow your own path and make your own rules.