When I first intended to propose to my wife, people called me crazy. They said I was too young, too immature, too stupid. They were right. However, I paid them no mind because I was ready to play house.
“I’m going to ask Kim to marry me,” I told my best friend hoping he’d offer congratulations.
“Why?” he whispered. “You can’t even watch TV for two minutes without switching channels. How are you going to remain interested in one woman forever?”
“Because she is The One,” I said. “And I love her.”
“I’m sure you do, but why spoil that by getting married?”
While there was cynicism in his voice, there was also truth. When people think of love, they think of joy, excitement, spontaneity. Marriage, by contrast, is work, compromise, and obligation. Since our relationship already possessed the former qualities, I thought matrimony would only enhance our bliss.
Arming myself with knowledge of the 4Cs and enough cash to sustain a small nation, I set off to buy an engagement ring and ask Kim to marry me. Unfortunately, I was unsure of her ring size so I tried to siphon that crucial piece of information as discreetly as possible. However, she was wise to me.
“Don’t buy my ring,” she said carefully framing the sentence as if she were speaking a new language.
“Because once I put on that ring, it will symbolize forever.” Her words sat in the air like a cartoonist’s balloon. “I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet.”
A strange pain began to well up in my abdomen. It felt as if a fist were trying to punch through my rib cage. All of my jealousies and insecurities began to surface. If she wasn’t ready to marry me, surely there had to be someone else vying for her affection.
“There’s no one else,” she assured me. “I’m just scared. That’s all.”
The bravest people have to be men who remarry, or polygamists. Experiencing the agony of proposing more than once in a lifetime takes real courage. Before my truncated proposal, I felt like Superman. Kim’s trepidation turned me into Milquetoast. It took two years before I had the inclination, maturity, and courage to recover from this emotional castration and ask Kim to marry me again. In the interim, that little boy who wanted to play house, grew up and learned a few things about marriage and himself as well.
“The Ring Incident” made me scrutinize my impulsiveness. Having seen few happy marriages in my lifetime, my wanting to be wed seemed illogical. I remember the fighting and bitterness of my parents’ marriage. I remember the sting of their divorce along with my yearning for a mother and father living in the same house so I could feel normal. I didn’t want to experience that trauma again.
My wanting to get married became a challenge rather than a natural progression of a relationship. Because of my parents’ divorce, I was determined to get married and make it work. I wanted to be a better man than my father by not running away when things got sticky. Of course I loved Kim and wanted to spend my life with her, but my charge was larger than that; it became more Herculean, less “When Harry Met Sally.”
By disrupting my proposal plans, Kim forced me to forget my charge for a while and concentrate on what was really important – our relationship. Instead of letting the rejection I felt from the “Ring Incident” sour my feelings towards Kim, I decided to reacquaint myself with the woman I loved and wait until the time was truly right to propose again.
Sixteen years later, I think I made the right decision.