I once mentioned here that Mr. Parkhurst and I are involved in a long distance relationship. This complicates the whole engagement and marriage process. We thought about not really having an official engagement period. We were planning on getting married this August, instead. We figured we’d have a big, traditional wedding (dress, tux, family, etc.) after we got legally married in August. (That idea was largely motivated by the lengthy, complicated immigration process.) Neither sets of parents liked that idea — especially mine.
In this situation, I am the daughter, the woman. I am the one being given away, as it were. It seems that because I am THE WOMAN, I should be proposed to with a ring. Furthermore, Mr. Parkhurst should ask my parents permission to marry me. We should, evidently, have a period of “engagement,” wherein frantic wedding planning ensues. Even though this is not the big, all-family-included wedding, this is the real thing, so it needs to be nice. I need to find a dress. Holy shit.
I am finding it extremely difficult to cope with all of these expectations (I can’t emphasize that enough). I don’t quite know what to do with myself. I’m torn between the desire to buck all tradition and the unwavering guilt I feel for not wanting the traditional fluff. I do not care about white dresses, especially since the idea is fucking wasted on me at this point. I do not want to be “given away” by my father because of the meaning behind that gesture. I do not want my boyfriend to have to ASK my parents whether or not he can marry me.
Most of all, I do not want to wear an engagement ring. I see very little romance in this. Wearing the ring is like carrying around a giant sign saying, “EVERYONE, I AM ENGAGED. DISCUSS.” I do not want people to judge me for being a married lady in my early 20s. I do not want colleagues and other professionals to look at my left hand and know that I’m married. My relationship has always been something I’ve kept so private, and having some kind of public symbol of my relationship on me all the time freaks me out.
As much as I hate all the traditional bullshit, I’m finding that my mother’s and grandmother’s quiet insistence that there must be a ring, an engagement, and at least a small ceremony (because, after all, the wedding ain’t only about the bride and groom) to be highly pressuring and influential. I’m starting to want an engagement ring, and I have no real reason as to why. I did not want one before it came to light that Mr. Parkhurst and I were scheming a marriage for August. I certainly never cared about being engaged before. But now, if we weren’t, it wouldn’t feel right. In fact, when we announced that there were no plans to be “engaged,” it felt like we were doing something wrong.
So, I’m caving to the pressure. We’re taking things slowly, and incorporating all the traditional fluff into what we originally wanted. It’s hard to differentiate between standing by your values and being selfish. Maybe I can’t stand by my values without being selfish, and without denying people something they really want to see. Don’t get me wrong — this is NOT an issue of commitment. I am wholly committed to Mr. Parkhurst and never intend to be without him. It just feels like all the built up social pressure around being engaged and getting married is one giant trap: at least someone will be unhappy with what we do, traditional values are enmeshed in the whole thing, and there is absolutely no escaping the drama.
Persephoneers, to the rescue: how have you dealt with this stuff? What do you think?