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Open Mike           July/August 2000

Welcome to Open Mike

Open Mike is a forum for readers on a specific topic that will change every one or two months. The forum includes Your Turn, an opportunity for readers to share anecdotes and opinions related to the chosen topic. Conversely editors and writers select the most interesting entries and post them the following month In This Corner!

For our readers who don't have time to write but want to share their opinions, Open Mike also features a Three-Minute Survey - not the typical, simplistic Internet poll, but a set of five questions related to the monthly topic. When the survey is completed, we will publish Survey Says: a brief article analyzing the results.
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In This Corner!

This summer's Open Mike question - whether the romantic marriage proposal was dead, generated a lot of interest. For the most part, people think the proposal is as romantic as it's ever been - which is to say, not very much. Of course, people's definitions of romance vary, and exquisite drama for one can be tortuous boredom for another... Still, there were enough supporters for the notion of a meaningless proposal to make it feel like a real debate. Click here if you want to read the results of our survey.


The dissenters...


From Paula

I completely disagree that the romanticism of a marriage proposal is gone. In my experience, discussing the possibility of marriage is a completely rational, and ultimately necessary, occurrence. Do we honestly want to believe that lovers of days past never talked of marriage before the man suddenly got down on his knee and proposed? Simple discussion of the possibility does not mean that the recipient of a proposal will be ready or willing to accept at the moment he/she is asked. Discussing a future marriage is more an ideal than a reality. Who hasn't talked of marriage to a lover whom he/she doesn't honestly expect to marry? The romantic part of a proposal isn't just about being surprised. It's about not truly expecting it, while knowing all along that it's a possibility.

From Janet

I don't think the marriage proposal has been a suspenseful moment for a long, long time. I doubt if this is a new development. In the past, both parties often just pretended to be surprised or in suspense. Now the pretense is gone. Also, I think it's a side effect of the women's movement. Women are a lot more open about our wants and needs nowadays, so the guy usually knows if we're marriage-minded before he gets around to asking. In fact, quite often it's the woman who does the asking. I fail to see this as a bad thing. Women are no longer considered to be some kind of 'prize' to be won. We're partners, not 'submissive helpmates.' Why shouldn't we voice our desires?

From David

I met a wonderful woman (after a disastrous relationship) with whom I fell in love with and, against my own moral compass, moved in with before getting married. In my mind and heart we are already married - we have that ultimate commitment. You know, 'Till death do us part.'

About four months after moving in I took her to a beautiful little park, in front of a fountain, got on one knee, and proposed. (With a very nice ring, might I add... :-)) Even though we had the full commitment and are completely in love (the romantic, mushy kind of to-die-for love like in the moves, not the 'I'll hang around until something better comes along' kind of 'love'), she was speechless. She almost cried.

Since then we have had our ups and downs like any two people who were living single lives and now are trying to get used to someone else's way of doing things... but through all the good and all the bad (very little bad) we both look forward to the wedding day.

P.S. We're not married yet because we are saving up for a nice wedding and a very nice honeymoon vacation...

From Hankhoudini

You must be kidding. The proposal is no more dead than the whole act of marriage. Who cares where you ask, or how? The whole thing is already figured out in the minds of all your relatives. Funny how the idea of romance usually follows the pocketbook, i.e., if you take your honey to a beautiful restaurant and present with a beautiful rock, etc., THEN it's romantic. Romance is not marriage, kids. Don Juan is not a famous romantic figure because he MARRIED anybody. It's because he didn't marry anybody. So what in the world are you talking about?

The supporters...


From John

I think the romantic proposal is gone. I've already had three discussions with my girlfriend about when we would get married. She practically knows the exact day I will propose. There's no way she'll be surprised. It's so anti-climactic.

From Charisse

I have to agree. Before we got engaged last year, I had a dream of falling in love and having a surprise proposal. I soon got caught up with everyone's opinions and ideas on the proposal and the wedding, such as 'pick out the ring for him since you will have to wear it for the rest of your life.' So I found a ring I liked, we looked at it and bought it. I thought I was going to wear it right at that moment but I was totally wrong. The saleswoman asked if we wanted it boxed or did I want to wear it. He said, 'box and wrap it. I have not asked her to marry me yet and have my own plans when I am going to ask her.' When we first talked about getting married, I told him my dreams of the proposal and wedding. He remembered them and was not going to let peer pressure ruin our surprise proposal. He gave into buying the ring I wanted. He even thanked me for picking it out but the proposal was a total surprise. Five months later when we went on vacation, we got to the hotel and as I sat on the edge of the bed, he kneeled in front of me to give me a hug but asked me to marry him instead. I was totally surprised and of course, we had a great vacation.

From Peter

The romance is gone from marriage proposals because the romance is gone from marriage. It's that simple. The biologically uneducated, overly religious and highly traditional mating rituals of the past have been replaced with logic and reason. It's boring and terribly bad plot lines for daytime television, but fortunately or unfortunately - depending on what side of the bed you woke up on, it's reality.

Humans are consciously or unconsciously realizing that a marriage is, in its essence, the ultimate investment of future time, income and sanity that sadly has a 50% chance to succeed. There's not a lot of romance in the flip of a coin is there? 'Heads, we work, tails, we hire lawyers'.

Couples are having pre-marital sex and 'shackin' up' in increasing rates so logically, those two motivating factors to actually get married are removed from the equation. When sex and living together, the two fundamental reasons to get married and declare undying love for one another are already practiced, the marriage proposal, and the wedding itself for that matter, becomes nothing more than a formality. Is this good or bad? It depends on if you think with your heart or with your head.

So, since the concept of marriage itself has taken on a less romantic, more business-like purpose, it's only natural for the proposal to follow suit. It doesn't have to be that way of course. We, as humans, still have the free will to be creative and original and with the right amount of effort we can bring 'love' back into a tradition that has evolved into a carefully planned risk/benefit analysis and decision process.

I can't believe I used the phrase 'carefully planned risk/benefit analysis and decision process' when talking about marriage. I obviously need a vacation.

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