I’M GETTING MARRIED BUT IT’S NOT AN ACHIEVEMENT
A friend of mine recently got engaged to a very cool dude. In fact, they’re both so cool it hurts. As I was writing what would be your standard, customary congratulations in an email, I had to suddenly stop and think. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, and I must admit that this whole congratulations thing bothers me a tad. I got engaged almost 6 months ago and as much as I was on cloud 9 when it happened, I quickly felt anxious because I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to deliver what would be then asked of me.
The first part being, jumping around like a squirrel on bloody G with a really content grin screwed on my face while everyone is congratulating me, but not so much my other half, for getting engaged. This I can almost handle without you noticing that I want to scream with frustration, but more on that later.
What I struggle the most with is part 2 of the post engagement ceremony: ransacking WHSmith for whatever bridal content I find (that I did, peer pressure and FOMO. You know) while I sign up my whole posse to the next 3 London wedding fairs, already feeling merry about the idea of having bottomless glasses of Prosecco poured to us, as we leaf through swatches of table cloth and browse floral arrangements.
I knew people would expect me to act a tad dramatic and spoilt, because try and find a woman who wouldn’t jump at the chance when society has deemed the bridezilla status acceptable and completely relevant to modern humanity (!), I knew no one would have flinched at the sight of me walking to said wedding fairs crowned with an Accessorize tiara, whilst allowing my bridesmaids just a limited time to talk about anything else than me and how amazing I’m going to look on D-day. Urgh.
– So why the agony here?
– Well, where do I start?
The problem is, we’re ignoring a whole side of the story here. And it’s breathtakingly annoying.
In most cases, the man proposes to the wife to be, so maybe it seems fair to expect the women to take it from there. After all, he’s the one instigating this new jump in your lives so perhaps it’s only normal to consider his job done for the moment.
He has spoken and decided. He brought the diamonds, got you teary and mentioned wanting to spend the rest of his life with you. Do you see what bothers me here? The problem is not the proposal – it’s a beautiful thing, the issue is the misinterpretation that follows it.
Because he took his commitment up a notch, we’re now going to congratulate you, scream at the size of your diamonds and quickly get going with frantic wedmin plans, always making sure not to bother him so much with our girl stuff. People will of course congratulate the man, for the bravery it took him to ask I guess, or for the wonderful woman he just bagged, but rest assured that the woman will be congratulated even more. “Congratulations! Show me the ring! Oh you lucky girl, you’ve done well!” You even have girls who will give you the exact amount of time, including days and hours, it took their now fiancé to propose, which adds to the confusion again: is getting engaged an achievement?
When I said that we are ignoring a whole side of the story, I meant the man. It almost sounds like the woman achieved something grand here, she managed to find a man who wants to live with her for the rest of his life, and she even got a ring out of it. Little attention is given to his cut in the trade. After all, if he put a ring on it, I assume that’s because he’s getting a sweet deal himself.
Because when it sounds like it’s some kind of reward, we’re flooding the world with even more unnecessary complexes. Getting engaged doesn’t sit in the trophy room, it’s mostly luck. You found someone you want to stay with forever, and it happens that the feeling’s mutual. You’re both sitting on the other side of the stalker spectrum but it doesn’t make any of you more special or capable than anyone else, it’s just compatibility at its best. And last time I checked, compatibility doesn’t validate someone, it’s plain random and not particularly fairly spread: Wasn’t Hitler married?
And in case you find this last example too dramatic, I can give you a long list of examples of terrible people who tied the knot too. Starting with Tom Cruise and Katie Hopkins.
While we’re at it, let’s stop with the congratulations altogether. The engagement in a new step in your life, so is each one of your birthdays and New Years. So instead of congratulations, I suggest we introduce “Happy Engagement” (I’m emailing Hallmark as we speak, don’t think you can overtake me on this) It’s a stage that we should welcome with blessings and warm wishes, not with congratulations.
Don’t get me wrong, I screamed at the size of Dewey, Huey and Louie, the diamonds on my ring, when I first met them on the South Bank. I had numerous bottles of prosecco (although I’d go with any excuse for a party) but that’s the wildest I’ve gone. I’m sure the wedding day is going to be a beauty, but I don’t lose sleep over organizing it, at all. I have friends giving me space because they assume I must be busy organizing the wedding! Bring back the party please, I’ll have to be on my best behaviour on the D-day (grandparents, relatives you last saw in the 90s, and all that) so can we be naughty now and have a Happy Engagement?
More than the wedding day, it’s the idea of the lifelong marriage, the friends and family I’m getting closer to through these past months of celebration, that keep me excited!
I’m getting married but it’s not an achievement. We’re just as bad as we used to be before the dazzling trio came in, but immensely happy to be lucky enough to share the same feelings and agenda. No congratulations de rigueur then, just a Happy Engagement and countless more glasses of champagne.
I’d love to read your thoughts on that – watchathink?