After nine years and three months together, my boyfriend decided that it was time to take our relationship to a new level. He proposed.
It was probably the least surprising proposal ever.
As is probably fairly common for relationships that span almost a decade and see all friends and family ask at some point or another about the marriage issue, it’s something we have, of course, discussed.
And it’s something we decided we’d like to do at some point when we could afford it/felt grown up enough to do it/went to enough awesome weddings to make us want one ourselves.
If I’m honest, I’d been subtly putting him off for a little while. Not because I didn’t want to marry him, but because I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t think I could handle planning a wedding (our parents would have a fit if we eloped to Vegas as I suggested). And because, like many women of my generation, I’ve been in a general state of denial that I’m approaching 30 or am in any way a responsible adult – certainly I didn’t think I was wife material yet. I still sometimes eat pesto pasta from the saucepan to avoid excess washing up. Time-saving, yes. Responsible and grown up, no.
[Why getting engaged now means a long wait]
[The third year of marriage is the happiest]
And I genuinely thought that if the time was right or if I suddenly decided I really wanted to get married I would just tell him and we’d probably have a nice chat about it and make a decision together.
But as Adam’s 30th birthday passed and the not-so-subtle pressure from the families grew, I began to get an inkling that a ring was in the offing. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised I was OK with that.
I was right. He chose to propose on holiday in Borneo, which was pretty special, and thanks to the time difference and not being able to decide how to tell people (should we phone the mums or wait until we get home to tell them in person?) it gave us a day or two to be engaged without anyone knowing.
It felt a bit strange. Of course I was happy – I want Adam to be my husband and the way my heart leapt when he asked was quite incredible. Adorably, the ring was one I’d mentioned I liked over a year earlier, that he’d bought and hung onto. And on closer inspection it's utterly perfect.
But I also felt a bit bemused. Yes there was a ring involved but really it was just the two of us who’d made a deal with each other agreeing to do something. Not much different to a couple of mates who’ve agreed to do something pretty cool, like go on holiday, right? We hadn’t even shaken on it.
In my head I kept thinking, ‘what does this actually mean?’ and wondering if I should feel, well, more.
We rang the mums, who were suitably excited, and then waited until we got home to tell everyone else or even think of making a mention of it on social media.
But even then I was struck with a sense of ‘so is that it’? It just didn’t feel quite real. Was it because we’d been together for so long and had always been pretty set on spending the rest of our lives together anyway, marriage or no?
Did this even mean anything at all?
[10 factors to consider before you get married] (Yet to read this one.)
[Is this the coolest wedding ever?]
‘Maybe when we get home, see people in person, show off the ring and tell the story it will feel more like something,’ I thought.
But it didn’t.
At home friends kept telling me how excited they were for me and for us. Which just made me wonder why I wasn’t more excited. Why were they so excited?
Should I be bouncing off the walls? What's wrong with me?
I didn’t really know how I was feeling, I just knew it wasn’t how I should be feeling. Hearing about friends’ proposal stories and watching popular rom coms for the last 28 years had given me the idea that when you get engaged, it’s super exciting and all-encompassing and you just feel utterly wonderful and it is the BEST FEELING EVER. So why did I just feel really quite normal? Pleased, yes, but normal.
If I was feeling anything, it was disappointment in myself and guilt for not feeling dizzy enough about it all.
Over the next few weeks I went for a few celebratory engagement drinks and meals with friends and family (all of whom were very pleased/happy/excited for us), engagement cards started to land on the doormat and slowly things started to feel a bit more real, a bit like something was going to change, that we really had made an actual grown up decision and it was really quite important.
It took about three weeks until I really felt anything near to what I thought I should feel (if Hollywood’s to be believed).
After all my fears, something did finally hit me. What this all meant (to me at least) was that we were finally ready to make legal and public the commitment to each other that in reality we’d made years and years ago.
And rather than the ring or the Champagne or the foetal wedding plans we began to come up with, that was what made me start to be excited. After nine years and everything they’d brought, good and bad, we both still really, really wanted to be with each other for the ultra long haul and wedding planning fears aside, I’m pretty excited for us too.
Next week on Don't Tell the Groom: Is the proposal the most outdated thing about weddings ever?