… or, how people think men and women should behave during courtship.
I am really, really suppressing the urge to write to people who are wrong on the internet today.
Now, granted, some of the posters had some really good insight and advice. I don’t agree with Melissa’s comment (more on that in a minute), for example, but I didn’t have a huge problem with it, per se. I thought Goose was a little harsh (and perhaps even a bit bitter?), but he has a REALLY good point about not worrying about what your families want.
However, there were some cringe-worthy themes:
1. The underlying theme that if you move in with your boyfriend without a “commitment” (i.e., a proposal), you’re a loose woman who is just asking for it.
This came through in varying degrees of very very subtle and not necessarily overtly insulting, to throwing around the overdone and completely derogatory “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” reference.
a. Can we refrain from comparing women to bovine, please and thank you?
b. If you’re going to INSIST on using this reference, fine. “Getting the milk for free” is getting a booty call once or twice a week with a girl (or guy, let’s at least be equal opportunity assholes here) without actually making a commitment to her, taking her out on a proper date, ignoring her except for when you want to get some, etc. Not, 8 years with someone and sharing a home.
Come on now, friends. It was bad enough when the Catholic Church referred to Sandra Lee as a concubine, can we laypeople please refrain from making similarly ignorant statements?
2. The inevitable “Proposing to a man is so emasculating!11!!1eleventy!” garbage.
UGH. Yes, OMG, what a HORRIBLE story to relay to your grandchildren, that their grandmother was a strong, independent woman who didn’t let their grandfather solely dictate their future. Now, there is a legacy to be ashamed of!
Give me a break.
Now, for the record, I don’t think this woman should propose if she’s been completely honest about the “talks” she’s had with her boyfriend (for argument’s sake, let’s say she actually has had an honest-to-goodness, “I want to get married, and soon” talk with him, and hasn’t just been playing games and “dropping hints”). He knows she wants to get married, and by not responding to her overtures, he’s putting her off. If she proposes to him, the odds are he’s going to say no.
I could be wrong. He might fall out of his chair with delight that the burden is off of him and his girlfriend (now-fiance) took charge.
Or, even, if it doesn’t do that, maybe it will force a good discussion that the couple should have – about how marriage is a decision to be made together, and shouldn’t just be the woman waiting around on pins and needles for her man to give her a shiny rock. But, this can be done without her “formally” proposing, which may only serve to further humiliate her, in this case.
3. The “Why do you care so much about the piece of paper?” comments.
These are inevitable. And, of course, I don’t disagree, that you don’t necessarily need to get married to have a meaningful relationship. You certainly don’t need to do it to have children, or buy a house, or anything like that, however:
a. Some people do not want to have kids without being married first. They have their reasons, and that in itself is valid. This is a perfectly reasonable life choice, just as not caring if you’re married first is a perfectly reasonable life choice.
b. If you don’t think getting legally married has significant economic and social benefits, you’re seriously misinformed. If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be so many LGBTQ fighting for marriage equality. Stop deluding yourself. There are cons to marriage, of course, and if it is not for you that’s fine, but there are some very serious pros. Being each other’s legal next of kin is the first that comes to mind.
c. Wanting to get married simply because you want to get married is perfectly valid in and of itself. Period, full stop.
4. “If he really wanted to marry you, he already would have asked. Move on already.”
These statements are almost as infuriating as comparing women to cattle. Give the poor guy some credit. She shouldn’t give him an ultimatum, but after eight years she really owes him a soul-bearing heart-to-heart about how she feels about marriage, why she wants to get married, and how she envisions their future, and a chance for him to respond in kind. Because, while I am trusting that she’s had “the talk” with him about it, I don’t think they’ve done this. And they need to. Because marriage should be decided upon together, yes? Yes.
5. Just because a woman wants to get married doesn’t mean she “cares more about a wedding” or bling on her finger. And, to add to that, just because a woman may WANT an engagement ring or may WANT a “real” wedding does not mean these are more important to her than the actual marriage part. I wanted pretty rings (engagement and wedding) because I like pretty things, not necessarily because I wanted C to drop a ton of money on something he couldn’t afford. I would have been happy with something far less expensive than what I got (and what I got was not expensive), but I did want something. I like this particular tradition.
In short, it’s an unfair assumption, especially when she says that “I have also said that a ring is not what’s important … I just want to move on with our lives, get married, have kids and start our future together.” Now, does that sound to you like someone who is more concerned about gemstones and parties?
6. “If you can’t afford the ring then you shouldn’t be getting married.”
No, really, someone actually said this in reference to having children.
I don’t even know where to begin with everything that is wrong with this statement. Clearly, only people that can afford to drop 3 months salary without a second thought should be getting married or having children, right?
Not to mention, it’s actually a REALLY good idea to have couple’s counseling before you get married. C and I didn’t, and I don’t necessarily think we’re worse off for not doing it, but I don’t think it would have been a waste of time, and in hindsight I wish I considered it more seriously while we were engaged.
And, finally …
7. Any woman who has successfully gotten her point across about wanting to get married is “manipulative” and “forced” her man into marriage.
No. Just … no.
I don’t agree with ultimatums as a tactic, but telling your beau that you want to get married and if he is not on the same page you are going to move on, and then moving on when he indicates (through words or actions) that he is not on that page, is not an ultimatum. It is expressing your needs and wishes for the future and making an informed decision about the consequences.
And, you know what? If this serves as a knock on the head that the woman he loves might leave him simply because he’s being ruled by inertia, this isn’t “forcing” him to do anything he doesn’t want to do. If he didn’t want to get married, he wouldn’t marry her.
And if he marries her just because he doesn’t want her to leave for whatever reason, but doesn’t really want to be married, there are much much large problems in play. (Please reference #6 where I note that pre-marital counseling is a good idea.)