I recently got engaged. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life. My partner of five years proposed during our family vacation in England. Since my dad lives in London, little did I know, this allowed him to ask my father for my hand in marriage. Most of his proposal was a blur as I laughed awkwardly, trying to figure out what was going on. Once it became clear, I was in shock. Becoming his wife was always a discussion, but the excitement of being asked was overwhelming.
The day was not complete without the photographer who captured this moment perfectly. I couldn’t help but smile while looking down at my ring. I felt like the luckiest woman on the planet. We took a few days to ourselves before sharing the news publicly. Like most millennial couples, we posted our engagement photos online. We were met with an abundance of love and support and questions we expected, such as when’s the big day?
Something felt off about this line of questioning, like our engagement was a magic pill for all our problems, and I ascended to untouchable status.
What I didn’t anticipate was the number of people asking me if I felt different. At first, my response shared how thrilled I was to marry the man I love. Then the beauty of solidifying our family (we raise my 6-year-old daughter together) and taking the next step in our relationship. But something felt off about this line of questioning, like our engagement was a magic pill for all our problems, and I ascended to untouchable status. Being engaged was never a goal for me. I’ve always known I wanted to be a wife, his wife. Without legal status, not much would change. It seemed the focus was zeroing in on our wedding and it was becoming more significant than our union.
We began getting messages from wedding vendors during the first week of our engagement, but everything felt very surface. I understood people wanted to share their business and put in their bids, but we didn’t have a chance to enjoy the moment, let alone know what we wanted. It felt odd this beautiful moment started to look more like a performative stunt. I never wanted our engagement to become more substantial than what was most important-a happy, healthy, and loving relationship. I wasn’t waiting around for him to propose; this was a constant conversation in our household.
We knew this would be a huge step for us, so in the effort to not waste each other’s time, we asked the important questions early into our relationship and often: How will finances work? Would you move across the country for a job? Will we have children, and if we do, will you change diapers? What religion would our children practice? A marriage is, ideally, a partnership. In most cases, the proposal set the tone for this partnership, but we were already moving as a team.
For some, an engagement may feel like a badge of honor; however, for me, it felt as if I became a glorified girlfriend. I was not too fond of this feeling and had to question whether there were deeper issues. Like if the focus on becoming his wife devalued my contribution to our relationship. Or if the documentation of our wedding would outlast our marriage. Maybe I was overthinking this whole thing, but my feelings were valid.
The end goal is the union, not a hashtag, or viral photo. Those things are great, but they don’t bring value to our relationship.
Instead of getting caught up in a moment, I shifted the focus on what we could control, such as ensuring our families would feel represented during our wedding. Also, how to incorporate our daughter into the ceremony. She is one of the most important people in both of our lives. But ultimately, a wedding is a great party, and we don’t want to take ourselves too seriously!
The end goal is the union, not a hashtag, or viral photo. Sure, those things are great, but they don’t bring value to our relationship. I’ll admit, I look forward to walking down the aisle and seeing the look on my fiancé’s face while celebrating with the people we love the most. Until then, we are working on our communication and outlining what’s non-negotiable in our marriage, for instance, weekly date nights: next stop, couples’ therapy.