Wow, a lot of my friends have gotten engaged this weekend. Not even Michigan people with that absurd Sweetest Day. Maybe it was the nip in the air, pumpkin spice lattes and the crunch of dry leaves that gets people sentimental, thinking about spending the rest of their holidays with that one person. I don't know.
One of my friends, whose entire beginning of courtship I witnessed in medical school, proposed to his girlfriend of 4-5 years. Thank you, Facebook, for letting me know. He had a later post in which he said excitedly, "She said yes!" And thus my knee jerk response, "O RLY?"
You act like you're surprised. Or maybe that statement, like much of the engagement-marriage institutional tradition in the US, is just a matter of tradition with empty meaning. Because, seriously dude, you could have asked her to marry you 3-4 years ago and she would have said yes.
Hell, you could have asked her to marry you when she kept squeezing her petite body between us in the dance floor when I first realized she was interested in you, and she probably would have said yes.
Do I sound bitter? Hah! Let me explain.
I'm very happy for my friends. I was friends with the guy first. He was one of my guy friends who loved the ladies and dated around and "had fun" as much as he could before he settled down. He was one of my guy friends who had ridiculous notions about relationships and women, even after he was in a relationship. I think he was vociferous about these ideas to counteract the very obvious different persona he had with his girlfriend.
And I was very happy for them because I felt like he would be one of these guys content with a perpetual relationship with marriage not in sight. But really, she said yes? Hackneyed, unnecessary, and a no duh situation.
Now, there are, for sure, women who have said no, women who have hesitated, women who have said yes and get cold feet once wedding day comes, yes. That happens. I'm not talking about that.
I'm talking about men and women in relationships that I've accompanied for either part time where I feel like the guy needs to shit or get off the pot.
I'm tired of the standard male discourse, oh, marriage is just about a piece of paper, oh, the ball and chain, or as one guy told me, being "locked up in holy matrimony." Them's fightin' words! There's already enough gender struggle without the notion that one, marriage is something that only women want and two, men are just besides themselves in suffering once they are forced to marry. As the two genders who we're supposed to believe are here to be a comfort to one another, we have spent much of our history being the opposite, and really, that cycle needs to end.
But maybe, just maybe, my friend is surprised. Maybe he's recognized all the times when his actions weren't worthy of her devotion, the times they've been distant, the times he felt that she could do better, maybe still believes that she could do better, and she said yes anyway. I can't know. All I know is, he surmounted those ideas that he previously held, about relationships, about marriage, about women, to make permanent the life that he'd made with this woman in a way that is meaningful to both of them. And what's not to celebrate about that?