Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our Engagement Story: Under Pressure

There was a lot of pressure for me to get engaged to Mr. Magic. Some of the pressure came from external sources, some from internal sources (like, you know, my mind). It’s kind of like when you had to identify whether a conflict in a novel was either man versus man, man versus himself, or man versus his environment. This was like a perfect storm of all these conflicts, which resulted into a lot of pressure on me.

So here's the real deal on how our engagement went down. I know some folks rewrite their how we met stories or proposal tales to make them shinier and happier, but life isn't always 100% shiny and happy. I didn't edit our
less than romantic how we met story, and I'm going to be honest about our proposal story too.

Mr. Magic and I reunited at the end of 2004, and basically began living together soon after. Towards the end of 2005, I started talking engagement and marriage. I had just started my new career after graduating from UNC with a Masters in Social Work. We had a house and two cats. I felt like we were already "playing married" and thought we should make it legal. In my mind, I had us getting engaged in 2006 and getting married on October 27, 2007.

Yes, I had picked out the date. And isn't October 27, 2007 such a lovely date?

This is NOT the part where I say "Man, was I a crazy girl," because I don't think that is accurate or fair, nor do I think that statement sums up all the factors coming into play in our situation (which, while unique to us, I think many others can relate to).

Factor One: I think society, as a whole, puts pressure on us modern women that we should want to have it all, we can have it all, and we should have it all - so we need to make that happen, STAT! On the one hand, we are supposed to be successful career-having home-making breast feeding mothers. Actually, wait...I think that is enough for two hands!

We are supposed to find a man (
not a woman, society's not into that), and settle down, get married...but don't be desperate or fretful about it. We are supposed to move up in the career world, but not be too forceful or bitchy about it. And as mothers, we are supposed to basically be superheroes who use all organic products, breast feed, puree our own baby food, and God only knows what else - I don't know, because I am not a mother and haven't experienced the full brunt of societal expectations on that one.

Oh, and did I mention that us women need to do all this (career, spouse, kids) by age 35? [OK, that's my scary age for procreating. Your "scary age" might be slightly different, but science agrees still that having children after 35 has more get crackin' y'all!]

Mr. Magic loves My Cousin Vinny and does a great reenactment of this scene, which I think sums up my frustrations better than I ever could!

Factor Two: Family pressures came into play as well. First I heard the "joking" remarks that I wrote about
here. But later, it became more serious. "If he hasn't married you by now, he's never going to marry you." I heard this more than once from a close family member. I have no idea what this person's intentions were, if not to make me feel doubtful, resentful, angry, and sad (towards that person, myself, and Mr. Magic). Doubt makes people react in not good ways - like pleading "Just tell me if we are ever going to get married or not!!!!!!"

Factor Three: Anxiety. I am definitely one who is caught in the vicious circle of Anxiety and it's twin brother Depression. Know what makes people anxious? When they don't know what to expect in a given situation. I constantly perseverated on "When are we getting engaged?" and "When will we get married?" and "When are we planning on having all these kids that I don't even know for sure I want but I do know I'm getting older so we need to have these kids soon" and, scariest of all, "Are we ever actually going to get married?" Since I didn’t know what was going to happen, I became anxious, and then depressed, and then irritable. I was a joy to be around.

Factor Four: My personal history. My mother and father divorced when I was young. Both parents have remarried, but my mother is currently separating from my stepdad. In the past, I reacted to all this divorcing by being really anti-marriage. In fact, Mr. Magic once gave me this t-shirt as a funny gift!
I still have it and wear it to bed sometimes!

But in the past five years, I changed my tune. I decided I wanted to be with Mr. M and for us to be together forever. To make that happen, I needed to cling to him like a barnacle. This may have been a bit suffocating.
I also needed him to propose to me, as this promise was the first step in us being Together Forever. No, it doesn't make sense that I was (and still am) both totally embracing the sanctity of marriage and completely skeptical of it's longevity. I’m a Gemini, remember...that's just how I roll.
Factor Five: Communication was a problem for us, and still can be at some times. I'm direct and blunt and possibly inappropriate. I'm still not going to say I was acting "crazy" - I think again that folks are too general to label and judge in these situations (always labeling the woman, mind you). All the other factors were stressing me out, it was hard for us to talk about it, and I wasn’t getting an answer that would satisfy me.

We went to look at rings and I would feel hopeful. Months later, still no proposal and I would feel devastated. I was angry at myself for waiting, for wanting this so badly. I was angry at him for not proposing already. I was angry at those damn ring commercials that start playing in overdrive around the holidays.

By Thanksgiving 2009 there was no proposal. I had waited literally years and my October 27, 2007 date was long gone. I wasn’t getting the answers I needed. I'd watched friends, coworkers, and family members get engaged to people they had known for only a fraction of the time we had been together. I was starting to become really bitter.

It was, definitely, bad times but don't worry, it gets better because [SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!] we get engaged! Have you had a bad spot in your relationship?


  1. This was a great post. Lovely writing. I can't relate to you because our proposal happened within a year but my brother in law's girlfriend is wanting a proposal. They have a house and 2 kids and still no ring. MEN! I can't wait to hear the rest of your story!

  2. Amen.

    While we weren't dating as long as you and your FI were, I was still absolutely getting the outside influences.. namely my mom and stepmom. It eventually started wearing on me, causing me to get anxious and antsy and my FI and to get into "arguments" over the whole thing.. we were living together, two cats, we were practically married anyway, so why not get engaged?

    I love what you wrote about society and expectations. I fell into that trap, thinking that I HAVE to get engaged/married now, not later, NOW. I also come from divorced and remarried parents, but it had the opposite effect on me - I feel like I'm even more determined than normal to get married make sure my marriage works, although I do sometimes have my doubts "if anyone can really stay together", etcetc.

    Sigh. Anyway. I hear you. But in the end.. you're engaged, and going to marry the love of your life. :)))

  3. We are no October date twins. I was expecting to be married by Oct. 2009 after being with the mister for over 5 years. Of course that didn't happen but thankfully he pulled it together eventually! Your wait is way longer than mine. Glad Mr. PB finally proposed.