An Unconventional Proposal

5 years ago

I recently read a post here on BlogHer by miss_sarcasm that gave me some serious Marriage Fever flashbacks. The post Still Waiting ... to be Engaged, is excellent. What I loved best is that it gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own experience with the dreaded waiting game. I remember it well, and it wasn't pretty. miss_sarcasm, wrote:

My traditional values tell me I must wait until the man courts me, until the man asks me to be his girlfriend, until the man asks me to marry him. Why in the heck does the man get to make all the decisions?! When the tables are turned, whenever women make the move they are viewed as such unpleasant adjectives as: desperate, needy, insecure, clingy and domineering. Society has taught us that men make these decisions, and we should all be so lucky for one of these wonderful men to ask for our hand in marriage.

Oh my, oh yes. When I lived in Chicago, I asked my ex to move in with me after about a year of us being back together. He initially declined. A year later, he asked me to move in with him. Suddenly, it was perfectly fine to live together because HE asked ME. Right? So I went with it and we went on with our lives. Years later, I found myself waiting for a marriage proposal that would never come.

Photo by Lori Greig.

While I strive to break the glass window in the corporate world, I am held down by the glass window of my relationship without much fight. I am not alone. As often as women fight for equality and proposing to a man becomes more and more common, there are still many more of us waiting for the man to decide our future.

Here is where I veer slightly away from the norm. After much discussion, I basically proposed to my ex. I didn't get down on one knee. I didn't have a gift or anything. We were having some beer one night at a bar, and I just asked. Will you marry me? Period. The answer? No. He wasn't mean about it, but it was still a no. It wasn't the right time; there was still so much to do; he wanted to travel the world and be a rock star; he couldn't bear the thought of a child asking him to not leave town. There were many reasons he didn't want to get married. He was not ready. Plain and simple.

So I stuck around for a few more years, and then it was over. I had the Fever. I wanted to get married SO BAD because all of my other friends were married and getting married. It was all I could think about. I probably destroyed our relationship by talking about it so much. When he broke up with me, I was 28 and he was 29.

Now that I'm 34, I see how YOUNG we were. Sure, many of my friends got married in their early 20s, but that wasn't my path. I was still growing and learning, and I'm now grateful that I got to become a fully-formed human before ever entering into matrimony. My own growing pains are hard enough. A husband and a kiddo might have pushed me over the edge -- especially a reluctant husband.

Recently, my niece, Little, showed up at my parents' house looking like a full-blown tween. She had a bit of summer sun on her skin. She was wearing little shorts and a cute shirt. Even though she was carrying stuffed animals, my 7-year-old beauty was also carrying a super thick book that should be way above her second grade reading level. (*swoons*)

Little told me about her reading challenge (50 books -- love it), and sounded so grown up that it ruffled my feathers a bit. How is she getting so old? I was supposed to give her a cousin while she was still young. She was supposed to have a child from me to play with just like I had the same-age cousins when I was growing up. If I have a child in the future, she will be waaaay older. Less bonded. This makes me incredibly sad. (Yes, my rational brain knows she will love any cousin I give her whenever I give it to her, but I was having a moment.)

To be clear, if I really wanted to have a child, I would have one. I wouldn't let the lack of a partner stop me from artificial insemination or adoption. What I've found after all of this growing and aging is that it's me that isn't ready. I'm currently terrified by the thought of single parenthood without a loving partner. For me, I need that live-in husband/dad. (Perhaps in another 10 years, I'll change my mind on that, too. Who knows?)

And I've also learned that forcing marriage on someone is a bad idea. I was young, in love, and so crazy about my ex that I bypassed all of our problems when I saw the shiny rings on two of my girlfriends' fingers one night at dinner. I wanted what they had. In the next few months, two of my coworkers got engaged, and I turned into the green-eyed obsessive bride-to-be that wasn't to be. Oh, such memories. Poor, young Blondie. Her heart was in the right place. Kind of.

So yeah, I proposed to someone once, and he said no. I was tired of the waiting game. I wanted to take control of my own life. And because he did say no, I was eventually able to stop waiting and move on to have a whole new life in a new state with a new career and new friends, experiences, and loves. Do I regret asking? Not one bit. I put my cards on the table. Even though it didn't work out, at least I made my intentions clear. I think I would regret it much more if I'd never asked. I would always be wondering -- what if?

It's taken me a long time to realize that my ex and I simply had a case of "the wrong place/the wrong time." There were MANY other personal factors in the relationship that I won't mention because I still respect his long-lost privacy, but they had an affect on what went down. I was a train wreck when we broke up and thought my world was over. It was. For a long time. But you can always rebuild. All of these years later, though I still wonder about him and if we will ever connect again in the future, I'm grateful that he cut me loose. I needed it.

Even though I often think my time for love has come and gone, I know that there is always something shiny and new just around the corner. And, even though I like to pretend I'm 90 and should be in the nursing home by now, the truth is: I'm still young. The possibilities are endless.

Blondie writes at Tales From Clark Street.

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