How I let go of waiting for a proposal story, and created my own

December 10 | Guest post by Heather Bell
Will You Marry Me folded book art by Etsy seller LucianaFrigerio
Will You Marry Me folded book art by Etsy seller LucianaFrigerio

I was a girl who didn’t dream about her wedding day, but instead envisioned her proposal story. Since high school, I have wanted a romantic story to tell others and show the worth of my relationship. Once I got into adulthood, I loved hearing other’s proposal stories. When I saw a glittery ring on another girl’s hand, I would feel compelled to ask about her story, and relished in living vicariously through her.

A little over five and a half years ago, I met the person that I would spend the rest of my life with. After about six months, I started thinking about the proposal. My partner was getting deployed and I started to wonder if he would propose before he was shipped out. After driving myself insane thinking about it, I finally got up the courage to ask if there was to be a proposal in the works before he left. He said “no” and asked me if I really wanted to spend the first year of our engagement apart from each other. He also pointed out that after a year deployed he wasn’t sure how either of would have changed and specially expressed concern about coming back with trauma. I understood and was thankful to have my mind put to rest for awhile.

My partner returned from deployment, and we went on living our lives and being in love. My sister got engaged to her husband and I was thrilled. Except for the fact that she didn’t have a proposal story. After months of waiting for a proposal, my brother-in-law didn’t “pop the question,” instead there was an adult conversation about marriage and they decided to get married.

I finished graduate school and we moved back closer to our families. Our relationship continued on with loving support and open communication. The only issue was marriage, and it became a dirty word that I didn’t feel like I could say. Over time, the word marriage became less of a dirty word and more of an idea that would happen at some point, but still no proposal.

In December, I thought my partner was going to propose, but when he brought out Christmas gifts instead of a little box, I was perplexed. We ended up discussing my disappointment, and it turned out that he was thinking about proposing but was unable to get the finances for a ring together. However, this opened the door to be able to start talking about rings and wedding plans.

I continued to wait for my proposal, and began to get frustrated with my partner and myself. I felt angry with my partner for not proposing, and I was angry with myself for wanting it and being angry with my partner.

At one point, my sister sent me a an article about women proposing. This started me thinking about taking matters into my own hands, and I started researching women's proposal stories, thinking about how I would propose and what this would mean for my relationship. Then one day, I decided that I was going to do it because I loved this person and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with them, and who cares what other people think.

I was able to plan my story and make it a special moment. It wasn’t over-the-top, but it was sweet and fit us, and he said YES! I got to call my family and friends and tell them the good news. My sister had the best response and expressed how romantic she thought it was.

Everyone was supportive and no one seemed to care that I proposed, well expect maybe one…

My partner and I have since discussed the proposal, and he has expressed guilt that he couldn’t give me what I wanted. I assure him that I got what I wanted, and the important thing is that we love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together.

Through these experiences I have learned a lot. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter who proposes, how or where they propose, or what the ring looks like. What matters is that you are lucky enough to find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with! Everything else is just fluff and icing on the cake.

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  1. Jeez, ok. This one hits home for me, in a number of ways. Woo Heather (we have the same surname! That's funny.)

    My partner and I have had this conversation many of times (yes, I'm on a wedding blog without being engaged *gasp*!!!). I have asked him to marry me. For him, it boils down to him wanting to be the one to do it. We have both expressed, several times, that we want to end up married. We've talked about wedding plans – details, where we want to have it, where we want to go on our honeymoon, who to invite, etc. Hell – we're attending Lovesick Expo next month! However – he straight up told me that if I proposed, he would say no. He apparently prescribes to whatever patriarchial BS we (as Americans, I suppose) have grown up with and are led to believe.

    I still think it doesn't matter who does it; clearly he and I are not going to see eye-to-eye on this one. It just sucks, because I want to go ahead and get the ball rolling, but I don't want to risk being disappointed. Bah. So happy for you that things ended up OK in the end! Congrats!

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    • February 29th is coming up, and if you check (google) that is the generally accepted day for women to propose to men (only happens every 4 years) I think this started in Ireland (its been a long time since I looked it up). That was my back up plan, and I told my bloke about it – if he didn't propose by Feb 29, 2016 I would do it. We have also had the wedding/marriage conversations over the years and I was lucky enough to be completely surprised by my blokes proposal in August of this year where he gave me a promised pack (ingot of metal and the gemstones) with which to design my own unique ring. He said he would never have let it get to the day where I had to propose, but I think he needed the deadline LOL. Also it meant that I had organised an engagement present for him as well (part of the back up planning).

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      • That could work. I hate the idea of putting an ultimatum on things… but I do agree there has to be some sort of set "ideal" when it comes to settling down…. if it's what both parties want.

        On another forum I'm on – this one lady said to her (now) husband that their relationship was like leasing a car – after 3 years, you either buy the thing or move on! He proposed to her 2 months after that convo lol

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  2. I love that this is becoming more common these days! My partner and I actually had a combination of the three. We discussed marriage and decided we wanted it, and he proposed a few weeks later. Very shortly after he proposed he expressed a desire to have an engagement ring and be proposed to as well. It was so much fun planning it! I wrote a "Choose your own adventure" style book in a blank journal and punched out a little section in the back of the book where the ring could sit. The story was about winning a spelunking trip, and there was one path that would lead to the ring. If he picked the wrong path, it ended the story right away and had him start over. It was quite funny because he is a cautious guy in real life, and this was causing him to pick the wrong path. "Spelunking sounds dangerous. I don't think I would want a free spelunking trip, if I could not research and plan the details."

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  3. I had a ring made by a goldsmith friend & proposed to my dude. Afterwards we decided the engagement wouldn't be official/announced until he proposed back; it was set that we were committed, but he also wanted a chance to plan something, & I wanted time to get used to being engaged before "coming out" to my family. He proposed a year later, & then we had a crazy fun story to tell those interested. I've noticed recently that not only have lady proposals been on the rise in my friend group, but the "dual proposal" thing has been cropping up, with an extra romantic storytelling layer of being "double bound".

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  4. My first wedding, I was told I wasn't allowed to propose…That should have been a clue right there. Neither of us got what we wanted out of that proposal or our marriage.
    Fast forward to the present:
    This time around, there was an adult conversation about marriage, we decided we wanted to get married and my partner told me it was important that he get to do a full proposal with all the trimmings. I told him I didn't want him to wonder what my answer was going to be if he was going all out. He was still adorably nervous and we have a great story, even if he knew what I was going to say before he did it.

    It might not be the story you thought you'd get, but it sounds like you and your partner can talk about that and clearly came up with a solution that works for both of you!

  5. It's nice to see other ladies proposing to their male partners! My fiance was engaged once before we met, but that relationship ended badly and when we started dating he said 'I don't think I'll ever propose to anyone again.' So when we started talking about marriage and living the rest of our lives together, I never really expected him to propose to me, despite of all of these grandiose ideas that I had when I was younger and expected someone to propose to me instead.

    Thus, began to save up to get him a nice ring, making sure to get his favorite type of band + gemstone, and once I had it, I took him out to one of the first places that we had a date in and popped the question there! The look on his face is something i'll never forget! He was so happy!

    Unfortunately, because I proposed to him, my dad doesn't find the engagement valid saying that he doesn't know if my fiance really wants to marry me since "it's harder for guys to settle down than girls" so that's one thing we're struggling with. But, we're getting married in less than a year, so I guess we'll see if we prove my dad wrong!

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  6. This is why I tell people "You have to be grown ups & say exactly what you're wanting, rather than wishing super duper hard for your partner to read your mind."

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  7. I actively did not want to be proposed to, and he was rather relieved! I had already once been there and done that once, and I wish I had had the courage to say 'no' then. Being presented with an expensive ring, a romantic location, and then being asked to make a snap decision for the rest of your life hardly has the makings of an unbiased, informed decision. How many other big life decisions are made like that? None. We are equal and respect each other, we are open about our expectations and needs. As we both knew within weeks of meeting that this was 'the one', it was just a matter of timing the 'when'. We naturally drifted into an 'engaged' status which suits us both fine. Every day we 'propose' to each other in some way or other – and I'd rather have thousands of little everyday proposals that one big 'proper' one. As for the ring, I asked not to be given one as I would much rather wear just a plain wedding band on its own.

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  8. I have a similar situation to Meredith and I can totally agree with the author about the anger. I feel angry and humiliated and guilty that I want this so badly as getting married goes against the grain of who I am. I wasn't the little girl planning a wedding growing up – if my dolls were to get married it was a quick and painless affair because they needed to get back to work the next day, so me wanting it makes me feel ashamed and un-feminist. I am not under any illusions that "everything will change once Mr Rage and I get married", in fact – I am happy with nothing but my last name changing.

    I am ashamed that I want to get married so badly but we've been together for the better part of a decade and we own a house together and we are beginning to feel a lot of pressure from friends and family as well. I always say "I don't actually want to get married, I want to marry HIM" – it's about the person more than the wedding.

    Anyway, my comment makes no sense.

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    • Getting married is always a joint decision, it has been historically on the man to initiate the proceedings. However as more couples, including myself live together and make life choices together a lot of the commitment and discussions about marriage have changed. I made emotional and life commitments long before engagement was anywhere to be seen.
      There is nothing un-feminist about wanting to get married, figure out which part of "marriage" you actually want, emotional security, financial security, an easy identifier ect. and go from there.
      We had a small elopement type service where we live abroad, it was great. We plan a fancy shindig when we are back home, for us that is the most scary part of marriage, the wedding! We could've waited and done both parts together but after we got engaged I had a lot of feelings about life being on hold because of living away, it made me feel better. I always thought weddings and marriage were things that happen to other people, I just needed to do it on my terms.

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  9. I proposed to my fiance last Tuesday! It was mostly practical, we've been saying for ages that marriage would happen but I've been crunching numbers for a little while and figured out if we start saving from January we can have a great wedding in 2017. I always saw engagement as a specific commitment to start concretely planning and saving for a wedding, and there's never been a better time for us financially than right now.

    It was partly an emotional choice though – he has proposed and been married before, and said in the past that he loves the idea of being proposed to. Now we have each proposed once, which seems fair! I also told him early on in our relationship that we weren't allowed to commit to anything until two years in, as it takes 12-18 months for the brain chemistry of lust to run its course and I didn't trust my own judgement before that. I was convinced he was going to propose on or around our two-year anniversary in January so wanted to get in there first. Turns out he hadn't been planning to propose until Easter or later, so I made the right call – that's four months of financial planning we could have lost!

    I am sad that the Offbeat Tribe has closed down though, I went there to sign up the day after proposing (as prompted by the brilliant Offbeat wedding checklist) and found I'd just missed the boat. 🙁

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  10. No proposal for me, we just had a conversation about it and decided to get married. It wouldn't have bothered me if some people hadn't been so mean about it (they got a romantic proposal and an expensive ring, clearly their partner loves them more than your partner loves you). I ended up buying him a engagement ring for our anniversary which he refused to wear, and six months later he bought me one for Valentine's Day. I still feel a bit bad about it, because it felt like he was being forced to buy me a ring to conform.

    1 agrees

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