Sink or swim ... can a proposal affect a marriage, long-term?

Sink or swim ... can a proposal affect a marriage, long-term?

She was tired. They’d taken a beach holiday because they both agreed life would be better with a bit of sleep and relaxation. Somewhere along the line she’d agreed to his suggestion they climb to the top of the headlands to the spot overlooking the beach they’d discovered some years prior – a special spot.

But when the morning came, the dawning sun barely penetrated the sprawling, wet-grey clouds. A walk was the last thing she felt like. But he insisted. She reasoned the weather was foul – sleeping in, snuggling, why couldn’t they do that instead?

The idea was less palpable several hours later when – muggy, hot, bothered and very frustrated – she arrived at the spot, flung her body down on an unfurled picnic rug, and glared at the back of his head.

“I wrote you a message in the sand,” he began, before she interrupted.

“Not now – just don’t speak to me right now,” she said. She’d be fine, in a minute, when the fatigue, sore body and intense exasperation dousing her spirits had subsided.

“But you should look – now – at my message,” he insisted, gingerly, trying to soften the mood.

Begrudgingly she acquiesced.

Scrawled on the sand below were the letters M, A, R, R, Y – she drew a sharp breath – “Now lift up that corner of the blanket and read what it says,” he said.

“Me,” she sounded out. Next to the letters was a box. She knew what was inside.

“Will you?” He asked.

“I need to pee!”

This is the story of a friend’s mate who was proposed to a few years ago in circumstances memorable for reasons seemingly all wrong. She didn’t really need to use the bathroom; it was merely the thing that slipped out before the hoped-for, emphatic “yes”. Happily they’re still together, and the story is more a source of laughter than shame or embarrassment.

But listening to her recount it got me thinking – how much does the proposal really matter? What does it mean if the deed is done wrong, and how do you handle a less than perfect response? Might the proposal be a deal-breaker?

It’s worth noting that everyone’s approach to marriage is different.

For example, another mate of mine has a pretty firm idea about how she’d like it done. She’s also thought about how she’d like to phrase her response. There are also plans in place for the events immediately following the proposal, ideas developed over years thinking about this particular moment. While I’m not the sort of woman who grew up dreaming of marriage and all its sundry particulars, I do appreciate her preparedness. In the moment, surely elegant eloquence is preferable to a mouth-fart about Mother Nature’s call?

Of course, great expectations bring great danger. An event over-hyped and over-planned can often be overly disappointing. What if things don’t go according to plan? Is it an omen? Is everything ruined?

Common is the story of the proposer who tries, but fails, to execute according to design. How common, I wonder, would it be that a botched bended knee brought forth a response in the negative?

I want to hear your stories.

What happened? What did you say? How did the reality stack up against the fantasy? And have you heard of a love blighted by a badly done 'be mine'?

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