Getting engaged is not as simple, it seems, as it used to be--the moment the question is posed, (Will you marry me?) the hoped-for response stated, (Oh, yes! Yes! Of course I will marry you!) and the ring is revealed from a hidden pocket or jewelry store box, applied onto the left hand ring finger with somewhat unsteady hands, (a diamond is traditional but a quality birthstone or other gemstone is quite acceptable) the veritable parade of emotions, events, conversations, purchases, and actions are already marching through the couples‘ lives. Getting engaged is complicated, especially at this time in our American society, and the dichotomy is that because of our penchant for providing and exploring choices, decisions that must be made are nothing but complex.
The people involved experience the emotional high of declaring their feelings, believing in the others’ true, lifetime love for them, and a security in the knowledge that their lifetime mate has been chosen. This lasts for the rest of the day. It should be enjoyed and reveled in to the fullest.
The following day, the morning is awakened to with an enormous change of usual thought patterns; there is now another human being to be considered with almost any, and perhaps all decisions about everything from now on. Where to live, what job to accept, what pets to keep/adopt/let go of, what size TV to own, cell phone company plans, silverware patterns, the right model of SUV to acquire, and the thread count of sheets for daily use and guests.
How one takes their coffee may mean supplying extra or none of something barely thought about. Now we must stock creamer, cream, milk, non-fat, soy, or goat’s milk to please our mate. When is coffee “put on” in the morning? Who wakes up grumpy and in need of “quiet time” each day? Who will start dinner because they get home earlier?
Family, friends, coworkers, and other acquaintances do not remain a constant. Which sister is not allowed in the house alone with the Jim Beam? Why does it seem that Andrea flirts a bit too much after a glass of wine? Can the TV be reserved during football, baseball, and basketball seasons during weekends? Must this house always host such events? Can Uncle Bob camp out on the couch, again, for a few more days? It is ok to dog sit for the brother again? He promises to pay for the hall carpet within a month.
Weekends are never the same. The lawn must be mowed, the plants must be pruned, the weeds must be pulled, the house must be cleaned, dusted, vacuumed, picked up and straightened out. The major shopping must be done. The errands need to be run. As a usually dual-income family, these things must be met with compromise, patience, tolerance, and, oh yes, love.
Getting engaged means planning a wedding date and day. This is where family, friends, coworkers, employers, and acquaintances jump in, jump around in, and bump into the couple and each other within the big bubble of love enveloping the happy, hopeful couple.
It requires acknowledgement of many concepts, ideas, and beliefs: religion, politics, blood relatives, culture, social dictates, engrained principles and traditions, and personal preferences and desires, coupled with each person’s “track record” and a genuine need to not repeat the past. Along with all of these items, each and every person involved has their express opinion, advice, history, experience, and education which is their true mission to share with you. One will learn many interesting anecdotes as you listen, nod your head, and tolerate these well-meant diatribes. You will find out things about close relationships you had no idea were concerns and actual reality, for these people. You will probably be so very glad to have your life and your problems and your past that you will gleefully do anything you believe is required to get this marriage off to a great start, and not do that…
There is nothing more anticipated than the actual day of any wedding. The church, the ceremony’s dogma, the officials, the time of day, and the casting and blocking of said ceremony participants hold the premiere place in decision making efforts on the part of the couple. Then there are themes of color, flowers, wardrobe styles, and chosen lines spoken and responded to that must be decided next. What to say, when to say it, who authors it, and what it must contain and cannot contain are all important issues to be chosen, again, by the lucky couple. The cake bakery, size, flavor, champagne, hors d’oeurves, entrees, and coffee brand is only slightly less important but still a choice that needs to be made. The photographer captures all of this, in high-tech detail, in video, onto DVD, and in glossy or matte photographs to be reflected upon for years to come when placed on furniture pieces in several different homes. Perfection must be the acquisition in the memory banks by all, if not most guests and wedding party members.
Honeymoons, perhaps the most desirable, of two days and two nights, home, at rest for most couples usually is spent in Hawaii, Tahiti, Mexico, and Europe, which, in this order, are most often the chosen destinations. The funds, which have, of course, been somehow appropriated for all of this hard work will be withdrawn via debit, credit, and gift card accounts and the couple now stands…married, ready to go back to work Monday morning.
Engagements are a promise for a future between two hopefully, equally yoked human beings. The day two lovers get engaged really means remaining engaged, for many days to come, in each others’ lives. Complex, complicated, and involving more than the two people who agree to marry, it is the mark of the beginning in sharing--a new kind of living, a mutual love and respect, and, along the way through the years, a simpler way of life. The choice to continue living in our hectic world with a true companion is the simplest one of all.