When I was younger, I remember proposal stories weren’t so elaborate. They went something along the lines of: “He got down on one knee and … I SAID YES!” I also remember watching television shows and movies that depicted proposals; for the most part, they were simple and sprinkled with just enough sweetness to make me misty-eyed. Proposals were a special moment shared between two people, and every so often they included family as well. They were purposeful and seldom resembled productions.
But over time, something changed. Television shows were created to help men create special proposals, companies well-versed in proposal planning were formed, and a proposal wasn’t a proposal unless it involved a performance, jumbotron, or flash mob. Although not exclusive to all couples, a proposal was no longer something shared between two lovers, and instead somehow morphed into a grand event, sometimes shared by countless spectators and participants — concurrently being videotaped so that it could be uploaded to YouTube in hopes that it would go viral. Even television and movie proposals have become more elaborate, very likely a result of the shift that has occurred in real life.
There was a time when women didn’t care how their guy proposed (or maybe they did but weren’t vocal about it?). All that mattered is that he did. And the sheer fact that the moment they had been waiting for was happening was enough to move them to tears, eager to call their family and friends and declare, “I said yes!” (insert excited shrills and screams from family and friends). But not only have the ways proposals are done these days changed, but so have expectations. I’ve heard a few married men joke about how they proposed just in time, because nowadays, proposals aren’t just proposals — they’re productions. And these days, it seems a good number of women want to experience more than just their partner asking them a question.
According to an article by Women’s Health, 33 percent of women were disappointed with their partner’s proposal. While some attributed this to location (were they disappointed they stayed on land rather than in a helicopter while overlooking the city?), a number of women shared that it simply was not romantic … enough.
Now, I could be way off here. But something tells me the “enough” part is attributed to comparison. And we all know that comparison is the thief of joy. Watching all of those proposal videos on YouTube and reading about elaborate celebrity proposals has changed the way many people think proposals should happen. Everyone wants romance. And the rest of us eat it up. Videos go viral because we are all watching, sharing, and all the while (unless we are already married) hoping that our partner will be inspired to go big when they decide to pop the question.
When our partner goes all out for us, it makes us feel special. I will be the first to admit that. And there is nothing like knowing that they put their heart and some thought into whatever they do for us. I can’t imagine how my husband would feel if he thought I was disappointed by how he proposed, if I felt like he was simply going through the motions, as opposed to putting his heart into it. What if he had to listen to me gush about how someone else proposed, knowing that I felt what he did wasn’t good enough for me?
You see, when my husband asked me to marry him, there was no one standing there recording. No flash mob. No kiss cam and a stadium of people. We were in a restaurant booth. I was seated beside my daughter, and in the middle of a conversation, out came a ring. I’ll never forget the smile on her face or the way joy seemed to instantly overtake me. No one was watching around the corner. No one cared except him, my daughter, and me. And that was everything.
My husband isn’t an over-the-top kind of guy. He stayed true to who he is, which is something he has always done, and yet, it was perfect. It was perfect because he included the most perfect thoughtful detail he could have ever dreamed up the most important person in my life, in our lives, was there beside me.
I remember after he proposed, people would ask how. My story was short. It didn’t result it a ton of “awwws” or people declaring how exciting or creative my husband was. We’ll never get our 15 minutes of fame on YouTube either. But I’m okay with that. Because at the end of the day, I got all I ever wanted, which was him and our family. And he doesn’t have to stress out about how he is going to top that proposal each time we celebrate our anniversary 🙂
I’ll probably never say no to watching a great proposal on YouTube. I love them. But I’ll never go so far as to say that I was disappointed in my husband’s proposal. Several men have shared with me that the day they proposed was one of the most important days in their lives. It’s kind of a big deal. And in my eyes, the fact that he loved me so much that he wanted to take the next step and make things official was more than enough for me. See, when I dreamed of my future, I didn’t imagine jumbotrons, choreographed dance numbers, or everyone in my family watching from afar. I simply saw the three of us building a life together. Everything else was secondary.
In the case of the elaborate proposal, I say to each their own. But sometimes, it seems like we are too focused on that wow factor. We want people to oooh and aaah. But then what happens? So your spouse didn’t propose to you beneath the Eiffel Tower. Does he meet the needs of you and your children? Does he put thoughtfulness and care into the life that the two of you have created? Does he remind you each day that you and the life the two of you have created are enough?
In the grand scheme of things, the way he proposed shouldn’t be a cause of disappointment. Who cares if it was romantic enough? The two of you loved each other enough to take things to the altar or the courthouse or wherever it was you decided to say “I do.” The two of you decided that you were enough for each other. More than enough.
So the proposal wasn’t “amazing.” Fine. That doesn’t mean your marriage won’t be.
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