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A Ring on . . . Well, You Know

I'm continually amazed at the number of women who complain about their male partners' lack of a proposal.  Here we have the latest:


This woman moved in with her boyfriend five years ago, and she's become more and more upset that he hasn't proposed.  She doesn't want to hint or "nag" (her word) him.  She doesn't want him to propose because he figures he's supposed to.  She wants him to propose because he WANTS to.  So she doesn't bring it up and she gets madder and madder and madder when the Big Moment never comes.


Listen, toots, the days of sighing on the porch swing amid your hoopskirts and waiting for the Man of Your Dreams (tm) to drop down on one knee and open a ring box in your face are over, if they ever existed in the first place.  Marriage isn't something you spring on someone by surprise.  You discuss it.  You say, "We need to talk about our future together" and make sure your answers match.  If you want to get married one day, you don't move in with a guy and then wait for him to propose.  You have The Talk BEFORE you move in.  Duh.

Yes, I =know= you want the bended knee proposal.  I =know= you want the ring.  I also =know= you want to be a fairtytale princess.  But this is the real world, dearheart, and you need to live in it.  Internet flash mob videos to the contrary, grownups =discuss=.  They don't do surprise proposals.  (And before you yell at me that this person or that person got the flash mob or bended-knee proposal, allow me to point out a great many times when the flash mob fell apart, when the horrified target of the public proposal said, "No," and when the bended knee bride discovered the ring was ugly and had to find a nice way to ask if she could exchange it.)

Grownups =talk= about these things.  Together.

It's actually distressing to see women trap themselves in what they think is a traditional role.  "Oh, I want everything about my wedding to be =traditional!=" they weep.


Nothing else about you is "traditional."  You're living with your boyfriend.  You have a couple children with him.  You have a job outside the home.  You demand an equal say in household decisions.  So why are you sitting on your hands waiting for a "traditional" marriage proposal that will never come?  And why do you have the gall to get mad about a problem your boyfriend doesn't even know exists?  You didn't talk about it before you moved in.  He probably thinks everything's great the way it is.

I talk about this topic with my students when we talk about gender roles.  I ask about marriage proposals, and the senior girls overwhelming say that not only do they want their boyfriends to propose with a ring, they want their boyfriends to ask their future fathers-in-law =permission= to propose, as in, "Sir, I'd like your permission to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage."

"Really?" I say.  "Why?"

Because it's =traditional=, they respond.  And it's sweet.  And it's romantic.

"Okay," I respond.  "What if your dad says no?"


"What if your dad doesn't =like= your boyfriend and refuses permission?" I continue.  "Now you have a ticked-off father who knows your boyfriend wants to marry you BEFORE you know it.  What might your dad do then?"


"Or what if your dad loves the idea," I say, "and gives your boyfriend a big hug.  Then he shares the news with your mother, who screams with joy.  And then your boyfriend comes to you, and you =don't= want to marry him?"


"Awkward!" I say.  "You might pat your boyfriend's hand and say, 'Maybe we should just live together and see how it goes' while your parents stare in shock."

Lady, if you can't talk to your long-term boyfriend about whether you're getting married or not, you probably shouldn't be with him.
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