Engaged Before the Proposal

As a little girl, I spent a large chunk of my childhood dreaming of when I would get married. I loved Cinderella, and pictured myself in a large white dress walking down the isle to my own proverbial Prince Charming. But the fantasy wasn’t really about my Prince, per say, but about the grandeur and splendour the event promised. I could nearly hear the birds chirping and the bells ringing, and I was sure that my wedding would be nothing short of picture-perfect.

As a grown woman, I’ve spent even more time trying to forget and do away with all my lofty, fluffy dreams. Strange, you might think, but I have good reasons. Not only have I grown out of my childish tastes (no poofy white dress for me, thank you very much), but I’ve also realized that marriage is not what we often make it out to be. It’s not simply an event, a party, or an occasion to spend ridiculous amounts of money. It’s celebrating something much deeper, and much more sacred. Girls spend hours hunting through Pinterest in order to create the perfect idea of what they want, when, to be honest, it really doesn’t matter. You can plan and organize and create the ideal party, but it’ll be over in less than 8 hours. A wedding is one day in a story that will (or should) go on for the rest of your natural born life. Yet we weigh down the scale with our concerns and care for the day, and forget about the lengthy marriage that will follow. We’re lopsided. Willfully.

Putting this danger aside, we have yet another to contend with. We see this all the time with our friends, family, and even with ourselves. Christians are especially bad for this. Fully aware of the flack I may get, here it is : I think we are almost a little too intentional with our dating relationships, or at least too soon.

Before you all write me off as some non-committal hippy, hear me out. I think our culture has trained us to be outspoken and forward with our hopes and expectations for relationships. We meet someone, finally woo them, and declare our undying love before we even know their middle name. And this is all in the name of being intentional, or purposeful, or responsible. While all of these things are good and honourable, I think we’ve gone a little overboard. How many couples do you know who start dating and are completely enamoured with each other, and within a month or so they’re planning to get married? How many of us have been in that relationship? Where things go so fast from the get-go and all of the sudden you’re whisked away by someone else’s expecations? I know I’ve been in that relationship before, and it taught me a couple major lessons.

While I’m all for being up-front and honest, I think there is a time and a place for everything. I think, like Solomon, that there are wise times to say things and unwise times to say things. Even though we may feel an emotion, it might be wise to keep it to ourselves, before sharing it with our significant other. Having someone tell you they want to marry you while you’re on your first date is probably pretty unwise on their part. Not only does that communicate immaturity, but it also puts a level of expectation on the relationship that is far above what the relationship can handle. While it’s all fine and good to feel that way, maybe these are things we ought to be saying with our inside-voices. Sometimes it’s better to keep things close to the chest until our relationships are developed and we’re really sure.

I say this while being completely guilty on all accounts. I’ve found myself in this weird, limbo stage before. Someone communicates their desires to marry you a little too early, and suddenly you’re right there, on the bandwagon, dreaming of your future life. You automatically skip dating, and in your mind you’re engaged without the proposal. All you need is the ring and you’re set– everything else is planned out in your head. You see the other person as your partner. You have expectations that couples shouldn’t have when they’re just dating. You plan your life around someone who hasn’t truly offered you that level of commitment yet. And trust me, it’s all the more devastating when you realize your significant other wasn’t actually in a position to promise you the world. Things went too fast, and now you have a pile of snotty Kleenex and torn-up love letters to deal with.

All of this is to say, we shouldn’t treat marriage as the be-all and end-all of our lives. It’ll happen if it’s supposed to and in it’s own time. Until then, we shouldn’t fantasize and idolize. Marriage is not about a wedding day. Not only that, but we should take the pressure off our relationships and keep certain things to ourselves for a while. If you fall madly in love with someone on the first date, great, but maybe keep that locked away until the right time. Make sure you’re sure, and when you are, make sure again. Remember that our words are powerful, and we can put unreasonable expectations on relationships that could end up destroying it. And think of how much healthier a relationship would be if we allowed it to evolve and grow on it’s own, rather than rushing it along?

I’m telling you, friends, it’ll be worth waiting for. No need to hurry.