Horror Stories for Halloween 3: The Unexpected Proposal

Yes, I know that Halloween is well and truly over, but the horror within relationships continues!

Thankfully the issue discussed in this post is not so bad, definitely not as bad as in “Kings and their Queens“. And yet it is still a horror story, just in another kind of way.

So I’ve just read this external article about marriage proposals – and I almost fainted.  Because I have just read it, I’m trying to digest what it says, collect my thoughts and present them to you in a coherent fashion, so please bear with me if this post is a little all over the place!

What shocked me about the external article is this idea:  that a couple might get to the point of a proposal without discussing any background details about their marriage!  And I realised that I find this utterly incomprehensible because this blog, Huggie-Wuggie, is utterly based on the idea that 1.  relationships are deliberately directed towards marriage and 2. discussing or assessing marital compatibility is essentially what you do before the proposal. And then I realised that this idea of an undiscussed proposal – that is, before the issues of marriage have been thoroughly discussed – might be alien to me, but completely normal to many people, possibly even most people!  For many women, they might happily embrace the “dating” mentality, where they will go out with this man on a succession of dates, perhaps for many years, discussing nothing serious, beyond perhaps a few emotional heart to hearts, “I love you”s etc, and they will be sitting there patiently waiting for him to propose. And then he will, perhaps after many years, and then the women will happily throw themselves into wedding planning. So what I might call an “undiscussed proposal”  they might call “finally he proposed!”

So in my mind or my expectation, this is what an ideal relationship would look like.  I use “relationship” for want of a better word – courtship?  I mean that period between that time when you agree to consider one another romantically, and the time when the proposal is issued: basically you talk about compatibility, you talk about life expectations, you talk about who you want to be, you discuss lots of difficult issues honestly.  Then mutually you decide to get married, and then he can do the elaborate proposal, after you have mutually agreed compatibility, after you already know that you are right for another another.

This though, is why the idea of an “undiscussed” proposal filled me with a sense of horror:  if you have not been discussing these things, then what have you been doing with all that time?!  I thought what if you have been “courting” this man for years – say four or five years, and then he proposes just like that without establishing any background structure for a future relationship – that could mean that you have effectively been “dancing around” for four or five years, without truly establishing anything.    So you might “date” for eg 4 years, then cram all the talk about your expectations into a month or so.  And because you have already established emotional compatibility for four whole years then your discussions might be seen as a formality; getting married might be seen as a given, you might not give sufficient weight to the possibility that actually you are not all that compatible. And yet for some women, this might be completely normal. But I am not most women.

For me, the thought of just dangling around just like that, for years on end is itself unthinkable. I would be asking myself “How long is this going to go on for?!” Because it could be 4 years, on the other hand it could be 14 years! Not loving that idea!  And then to face a sudden proposal, just like that, out of the blue, when we have not discussed anything – and you expect me to say yes to that?!  When I don’t know what I am saying yes to?!  No baby!

So you know what this made me realise?  From the very outset, when a man asks me out, I have to know that he has a plan, and I also have to know what that plan might be – for the courtship, that is. This is another one of these tricky areas because I have read in different reports that as women we should let men decide the pace of the relationship and when to move on to the next stage, and we should not pester the men.  I struggle at this time to remember the exact phrase that I once came across. It was something like “Let him decide/define the status of the relationship, and when to move on to the next stage!”  Candidly speaking, I have no problems with that. I am not suggesting that as women we should badger the men to propose to us before they feel ready.  No, that is definitely not what I am saying. (Although I do unapologetically advocate that if a man fails to propose within an appropriate time frame, then the woman should just walk away. I mean seriously – fourteen years?!)

What I am saying is that from the very outset, I am going to ask the man when he asks me out: “Please give me an idea how you envisage that this courtship thing might go!” The point of this is to establish whether he has any kind of plan at all for the courtship; whether he is just asking you out because he finds you attractive, or whether he really is going somewhere. You know how people say: “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”?  Well I believe that regarding a courtship if the man fails to plan and to communicate that plan then in effect he is planning to keep me dangling in confusion and uncertainty while I’ll be sitting there wondering what might be happening in his head, not wanting to pester him but also quite wanting to not be confused! For instance, I might be asking myself if he does actually intend to discuss the big issues beforehand, or whether he might eventually present me with an unexpected proposal without discussing these issues, and expect me to enthusiastically jump right in. If the man does not have a plan for the courtship, even if he were to propose really early on, that would not necessarily be a good thing if it was an undiscussed proposal. That said, if he did propose early on then I guess it would be quite natural for us to start talking about big issues, and that is a conversation I could comfortably start after a proposal without fear of seeming to force his hand.

Let me change tack here:  Ultimately, my point in this post is that these serious issues have to be discussed, before we can seriously consider marriage. Candidly speaking I am not going to sit around waiting for years and years for him to bring up these issues, because for me discussing these issues is the whole essence of a courtship.  Actually, I am not going to wait even as long as one year.  But then that is all tied up in who I am anyway! So of course I would ask him right at the outset what his plan might be.  Also if I am romantically considering someone then of course I am going to send him the link to this blog, so that he can read all about my views, and decide whether he wants to pursue a relationship with me! So if it did so happen that a man asked me out and I would be interested in him, but he does not appear to have a concrete plan even for the courtship, then I would send him the link to this blog, and ask him to please think of a plan and kindly tell me what it is.

When I say “plan” I don’t mean something set in stone, or a set timeframe.  I just mean a serious commitment to discussing serious issues.  And if after asking him for his plan, and sending him the link to this blog, he still cannot or will not come up with anything, please believe me that I would simply walk away. I would also walk away if we actually embarked on a courtship, and he failed to take these issues seriously, and neglected these important conversations.

 

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