I have spoken with guys, too many in my opinion, who are waiting to save up the money for a suitable ring. I know guys who are anxious because their girlfriends have stated that they want a wedding that puts Disney movies to shame. I know guys who have advanced the marriage discussion only to have the subject changed by their girlfriends. I have one message to all these guys.
Make the marriage about LOVE by starting the proposal with love as its only foundation.
He may not have much money. He may not be able to afford the Disney wedding. He may not be able to enthrall you in the conversation about marriage. But, trust me, money, spectacle, and lack of communication are more often reasons for divorce than a loss of love. Couples can endure a lot of hardship when love is abundant. They can also achieve a lot when love abounds.
Defining Love in Marriage
Love is one! It has not variation. But, it has a multitude of applications. Maybe it is time that someone actually presented a practical definition of love to you in the context of marriage. Love, as the basis of marriage, is your certainty that this person is the partner you will commit to face the world with. Other suitors will be more in some ways, but they can never be ALL like your partner. They will be smarter, cuter, more fit, and other things. But, a fact of the human commitment function is that they can never replace.
For your part, you commit to stay vigilant to shore up anything that is lacking in your provision of active safety, honor, and support. For his part, he is consistent in active building of himself, you, and your life together. Love is a commitment to be what the other wants even as those needs change and evolve. You can never be replaced because you grow together to be irreplaceable.
Building and Growing
Whether your marriage will succeed or not is predictable from this moment. If you are not able to accept the ring and the wedding that you both afford right now, you will not accept less than YOUR vision of anything else in the marriage. If the union of the two of you is not enough for you now, it will never be enough. What is more, the modest ring and relatively small wedding of today can be expanded at year 10, 20, 25, 50 or any year in between.
Marriage success is much like any other success. It is not a destination. You do not marry and sit idle in the completion of the task. Marriage itself is a labor of love, a life-long dance, and vacation with your best friend.
If you are paying attention to the COACH Method, marriage can also be the ultimate business partnership. It can be a production team with the highest and most complete level of intimacy, regard, and certainty of commitment. Marriage can be the most productive years of life, and the most rewarding.
The Proposal Though
With all that said, I am not saying that you should settle. You should expect a level of intimate knowledge, decorum, and protocol from your potential fiancée. He may not have a lot of money, but the following three requirements are priceless.
Three requirements exist for a proposal. FIRST, he must demonstrate that he put some thought into it. An episode of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” did a great job in illustrating this challenge. In the episode, the groom-to-be attempted to propose to his long-time girlfriend in the way he had seen in a movie. Fail! The proposal must be original to your relationship. It should create a memory that can be handed down through oral tradition to your great-grandchildren.
SECOND requirement of a proposal: get down on one knee. Do not under any circumstances accept a proposal after an exciting, traumatic, exuberant or otherwise emotionally charged event–unless the event was the result of his planning. Getting down on one knee is the universal symbol, honored the world over to communicate “Will you marry me?” Expect it as a show of respect to you and the union.
Finally, the THIRD requirement of a proposal: If you have any relationship with your parents, he must ask your father for your hand in marriage before he asks you. Your father’s response is not as important as the respect he shows to you and your family by asking. The action demonstrates that he respects the job done by your parents, but he desires to assume the responsibility for your continued development and happiness. A father, traditionally, is expected to “give you away.” As a father, I need a potential son-in-law that realizes how hard that task will be.
I hope this series has caused you to think and discuss the choices before you. My intention in three parts was to impress upon you:
1. Marriage is what you make it.
2. The partnership is opportunity to produce something other than children. And finally this the current post,
3. Love is the basis for the union.
Whether you chose marriage or not, you are worthy of the best. Never be afraid to sustainably define the best and seek after it.
[ Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW is a father of two girls and a boy. He is also a 20 year veteran husband. He works as a leadership coach and organization consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. With over 16 years of experience guiding individuals to their goals, Michael has the techniques and patience to help you succeed. Follow @MAWMedia on Twitter or connect for a consultation at MAWMedia.com ]