WEDnesday: How do I love thee?

423770_10150585512713277_949023898_n

The first question my dad asked me after we announced our engagement was, “Are you 100% sure about this? As long as you’re sure I’m fine with it.” I answered, “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

I’ve been in and around enough relationships to know that it’s not always the case, the kind of confidence I have in us. Sometimes we are caught up in the initial infatuation only to find that the person you are with annoys the shit out of you six months later. Sometimes we think we can shape the other person into exactly what we want. Sometimes we think we have a good relationship while simultaneously hiding part of our being from our partner because they wouldn’t approve. Sometimes we just don’t want to be alone. Sometimes we’ve been together so long it seems easier just to stick it out and hope for the best.

I love my sweetheart for all of the usual reasons: funny, cute, makes me laugh, shared interests. But the things that stand out for me aren’t even really about him. It’s about me. It’s how I’ve grown being with him. It’s how I’m my best from being with him. We met when I had just graduated from college. The whirlwind of working 3 jobs and doing research and taking classes left me with no time to even think. I could barely keep my head above water. Graduation brought me relief. Freedom. Time to actually explore the woman was becoming and decide how I was going to live my life. I was a little confused. Ideals were forming in my head but they were blurry and I couldn’t quite make them out.

Then along came this guy, this guru with a confidence in himself and a totally empowering worldview. We spent so many late nights discussing life, the universe, and everything. Culture, consumption, the lack of spiritual nourishment in our society, the busy trap. His words were the lens that brought those blurry ideals into focus. He encouraged me to live how I wanted to, with intangible experiences at the forefront and affection for people. The whole world opened up to me. I could see everything for what it was, without the illusions and facades we place on ourselves and our surroundings. We don’t worry much (only about our loved ones) and we play a lot. He was the sunshine that helped me grow and I have never been more at peace. The lessons he taught me and those we have learned together are what makes me proud of the person I am. And that makes me sure.

The Proposal

IMG_0576[1]

So I’m taking a break from Minimalist Monday this week in favor of a rather exciting development. Tristan and I are now OFFICIALLY engaged (following like, 11 months of “we’re totally getting married but we’re not quite engaged”) and since people can’t help but love a good proposal story, here’s mine.

We took a lazy morning, I made breakfast for us, then we headed over to a winery for a glass of wine and a walk around the cute little winery village. After, we picked up some shrimp cocktail, cheese, and crackers and headed over to a park for a romantic picnic. We rode the antique steam engine around the park then found a secluded spot to enjoy our picnic. We spent 10 minutes trying to open the shrimp cocktail packaging, only to discover they were completely frozen. Fail. We snacked on our cheese and crackers and laid out on the picnic blanket listening to the band that was playing in the park. Tristan started talking to me about how I was his best friend and inquiring if I felt the same way. Of course I did! Then, as the music swelled to a fanfare he whispered, “I have one more question, will you be my wife?”

It was sweet, peaceful, and understated.

The thing that surprised me the most was how not different I feel. We are exactly the same people, although now Tristan insists that I refer to him as Beyoncé since he feels fiancé is way too fancy for us (too true). Actually the biggest difference is now that it’s official I have no desire to wedding plan. I just want to float around in the contentment of being engaged.

The Engagement vs. The Proposal

A year ago, Tristan made it clear he was going to marry me. We had both decided that was a step we wanted to take with each other, however it was not an official proposal. Over the course of 2012, he gave me a ring, not THE ring, but a beautiful simple ring to show his commitment. Then last November, his grandmother offered her engagement ring. And we are still not engaged.

At this point I began to unravel. I questioned why, if Tristan really wanted to marry me, he hadn’t proposed. Why it felt taboo to have an open and honest discussion about my anxieties. If I brought up getting engaged, that made me either the “nagging girlfriend” or that I was ruining the surprise. I resented the patriarchal society that didn’t allow me to be a part of this decision that affected me so profoundly.

Finally I exploded. Of course I know Tristan wants to be the one to propose, and that moment belongs to him. I never wanted to take that away from him. But what about my feelings? Maybe my timeline? How can one half of a partnership get no voice in this huge decision?

That’s all it took to restore my sanity. Openness with one another, honesty. Yes, he is just as excited as I am. Yes, my thoughts on engagement count. The Proposal is still his to plan, but The Engagement is for both of us. Making that distinction, involving both parties, that is important. Engagement is a new chapter of a relationship, not just a placeholder for marriage, and it’s a leap that should be taken together.