Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Promise, You're Still Engaged

This post was going to be a lesson. A lesson to all those people out in the world (read: "the bubble", oh, Provo...) who have this idea of what the definition of "engagement" really is. A definition that I disagree with, and that, frankly, I find stupid.

But as I was doing research for my article (read: I looked it up on Wikipedia) I noticed a small wrench in my argument, and so this has turned in to a full-fledged rant.

You have been warned.

See, for those of you who are not Mormons, you may not understand the process of Mormon courtship. It moves at such lightning speeds and therefore is hard to observe, so I honestly don't blame you for not knowing the details. Of course, by worldly standards, I'm just as baffled by non-Mormon courtships...but that is another topic for another time.

From what I understand of non-Mormon relationships, there may be some talk of "eventual" marriage, but the actual proposal is not usually anticipated or known. Non-Mormons get to have a little more surprise when it comes to their proposals, because they never know when to expect it. A couple may pledge their love and devotion to one another, but that doesn't always mean lifetime commitment, and so the proposal can be presented in the heat of a moment, after months of planning or through some elaborate concocted idea that the other has no idea about.

Mormons follow a little different pattern. There doesn't need to be snooping around in underwear drawers and such for a ring if a girl wonders if the guy is planning on proposing. She might sit and wonder and hope... but she doesn't want to rush him into it, or...whatever. Because, after two months of dating (or less), the two will sit down and have a serious talk about marriage - it might not start out seriously, but if the other sounds remotely interested, it could turn serious pretty quickly - and then the couple will each turn to prayer and see if they get a confirmation from Heavenly Father as to if the person is the right person.* If they do feel that their marriage is sanctioned by God, then the wedding plans start. Interviews are scheduled with the bishop, the stake president; the stake center is reserved...

And yet, in a lot of couples' minds - the girls being the most guilty - they aren't engaged.

Sorry. My definition reads something like this:

ENGAGED [en-geyjd] : adjective pledged to be married. 

Their definition reads something more along the lines of: Engaged [en-geyjd] the moment she has the ring on her finger.

(Incidentally, the wrench that was thrown in my argument may also work as their definition, it went along the lines of "engagement: the period between a proposal and marriage." Which, I suppose is true, however, since we skip the actual proposal part before we decide on what the answer will be... I feel that you become engaged BEFORE the Mormon proposal.)

I've known girls who have their dress being altered, final say on the invites with the correct date printed on them, who, because she does not have the ring, she refused to say that she is engaged. I get that when the decision is made before an official proposal has taken place, it gets a little confusing. But I sort of don't get the big proposal, anyway,  when you are LDS, because you've already decided that you are going to be spending eternity with each other. What's the point of the big gesture, when there isn't the thrill and the surprise in it? ... Ok, I can't back up that argument. I am a romantic, and I love the idea of a guy taking the time and ingenuity to plan some great way to tell his affianced that he is utterly and desperately in love with her. It doesn't hurt to hear that over and over again, after all. But still, there is a practicality (I know, shocking, right) that still wants to gloss over the fact at how wonderful it is to hear it and to see it, when it's basically already been spoken for in your intent to be married from the first. Also, let's be honest. The point of the proposal is to shower grand speeches and masterful affections, but it also to present a ring.

What about those that don't have money for a ring just yet? After all, there are so many young couples getting married around these parts that I don't know how they managed to afford all the diamonds* I've heard of one girl being given a fake ring, because her fiance (not that she called him that) couldn't afford a ring... why not save the "proposal" for when you can actually get the ring?

If there is no ring, and no surprise.... why do you need the proposal since you're are already engaged? Or, since I basically answered my own question above, WHY don't they just wait until they have saved up for the ring? Especially if they intend for an actual ring eventually.

Ok. Rant finished, I think. For now. I've just seen so many people deny that they were engaged, even though they had every intention of getting married... and it is just silly to me. Please see my definition if the details of this rant have lost you somewhere.

*Also, I need to clear up the fact that I'm not against this process. I think Heavenly Father plays a very important, indeed, dire, role in a decision this monumental. When Mormons marry in the temple, it is for eternity. So a question that has eternal consequences should not be made in a moment of passion or because you've been together for five years or whatever. It very much should be presented to the Lord as an option, and He will then support and create a stronger relationship.


  1. While I agree completely with you on the whole not-saying-you're-engaged-until-you-have-the-ring thing is stupid, I would disagree that there is a lack of pomp and circumstance to the Mormon proposal process. Many I know waited to "officially" propose until they had planned it out perfectly. For instance, our friend Ben, my former roommate, wrote a song for Michelle and planned a whole romantic thing to sing to her and propose. My cousin, from what I understand, planned and planned for just the right moment to go to the canyon to ask for his intended's hand. My brother was in the middle of performing in a show when he proposed in the middle of the song with dozens of roses, tons of family and friends in the audience and a photographer. Just saying that many Mormon proposals I've seen or heard of are done to be special and remembered as opposed to many non-Mormon proposals that are just decided upon after communal living for a few years.

    The thing that really irks me are the lackluster attempts at a big wedding celebration. You would think that with Mormon marriages lasting for eternity the celebration would be a pretty big deal, but a cultural hall/basketball court or even quaint reception centers and halls just don't count for a celebration of an eternal union. Just sayin.

  2. I LOVE THIS POST. More to come later when I have more time to fully comment.

  3. Ok, I will generally agree with you.

    Cary and I knew we wanted to get married before he proposed, he even wanted me to go ring shopping with him because he was clueless as to what to get... however, I still didn't say I was engaged... BECAUSE, he didn't really propose. He was so content with me just planning the wedding and yeah, while I was sure I wanted to marry him, before I did all the leg work he had to do his part!

    And that only consisted of ASKING... which took him over a month!

    So as much as I wish it had been a fun story, and romantic, it mostly boils down to the fact that you feel kind of stupid planning a big to-do when the boy hasn't actually asked you to marry him.


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