February 13, 2010
On becoming engaged
This is about becoming engaged, which to me is the same as saying, 'We are going to commit to each other and get married.' This is not about the actual act of proposing. Who proposes or how is irrelevant in this story. What is relevant is the change in a relationship from testing the waters, learning who that person is, and why we spend so much time together, to saying, 'I want to spend the rest of my life with this person.'
In My generation and prior to that, becoming engaged meant committing for life. Now days it seems that becoming engaged, means, 'for now I'm saying I want to be with you, but I won't promise that I'm going to stick to a bad relationship just because. It's not worth living in hell.' And maybe that's a good thing.
The old man who used to live next door, before he passed away, was kind of a cranky old guy. Him and his wife slept in separate bedrooms and argued all the time. And they each had their own activities and lives. I wondered what the reasons were that they were still in that relationship. Convenience, obligation, familiarity, routine, fear of being alone, lack of resources to move on? Love? It didn't look like love to me, but as I have found, commitment is a form of love too and one part of the package of Love. I care enough to have an obligation to you.
When I became engaged, that was one of the things that ran through my mind. I asked myself, 'Do you care about this person enough to want to be obligated to her?' And I answered yes. Even today I feel a sense of commitment and responsibility that no matter what happens, I cannot abandon her. Over the past 26 years we've had our share of arguments, and had our relationship to the breaking point, but that commitment was there. We had become engaged with each other. The marriage then was a matter of making if formal and official. Luckily for us, both of us had the same ideals and engagement to each other. Sometimes in a marriage one person is engaged, while the other is not. A marriage can still fail when one person abandons the other, emotionally, mentally, physically. I guess that would be called disengagement.
We were both very young and thought we knew everything, but we did not.Here is what I remember the most about becoming engaged to my wife. I had graduated two years earlier than her from High School, and came home on leave from the Army to attend my brother's wedding and her graduation. That made me think a lot about the relationship I was building with my girlfriend. Before coming back to MN, I told a good friend that If my girlfriend accepted my proposal, we would get married. I had already made up my mind that I wanted to marry her. So to me the act of proposing was making that a formal agreement. I don't think a person should necessarily propose without first becoming committed to the other person.
So there I was, not knowing what I was really in for, but plunging in anyway. I did not think about the challenges of the future. I did not worry about if we would make it or not, or if that was even in question. But I knew this person was someone I could trust with my inner secrets and fears, and someone that I could count on to be as committed to me as I was becoming to her.
This topic is especially relevant to me as Valentines Day is tomorrow. Something to think about. I can honestly say that I am still engaged. And although it's not always easy working out that commitment to each other, it's totally worth it.
By the way, I dug deep into the center of the jar for today's topic, and this is what came up. Happy Valentines Day!