As I rolled out of bed at 7am this morning, I heard a text message ping through on my phone.
The message, from Blind Date Man, read: “Morning Lara. You lost your phone? I have had no proposal from you this morning!”
It’s the 29th of February today. The day that traditionally, a woman is allowed to ask a man to marry her.
I chuckled to myself before sending the reply: “Hahaha! I don’t believe in girls asking… Even on 29th February.”
As I drove back from the school run I started thinking about the time, many years ago, when I was proposed to. It was a very happy time in my life. I’d found the man I believed was to be my partner for life and when he ‘popped the question’ I burst into tears, barely able to get even a ‘yes’ out of my mouth.
And it was at around that age that various friends, who had been in relationships for a few years, started wondering whether their partner was going to be the one they marry.
I am sure that there will be notable exceptions, but on the whole, I honestly believe that if a man really wants to marry someone, he’ll ask. And if he’s not asking… it’s because he’s just not that interested, but happy to continue ‘having his cake and eating it’. And this was most certainly the case with my friend Louise.
Louise met her boyfriend shortly after he’d broken up with a long-standing live-in girlfriend. He was clearly still besotted by her and whilst he took the decision to start seeing Louise, it was obvious that his feelings for her were not in the same league.
Unfortunately, Louise was besotted. And in addition to being besotted, she was getting parent pressure to get married before being ‘left on the shelf’. After a year of dating and no proposal, Louise decided to take matters into her own hands. Having been given notice to leave her flat, she put immense pressure on him to let her move in. He conceded. When six months had passed and there was still no proposal, she threatened to leave him unless they got engaged. After several weeks of arguments, he finally conceded.
Five years and two kids later, she discovered her husband had been having an affair with his secretary for over a year. He cleared out their bank accounts, moved out of the matrimonial home, and left her high and dry.
Being a divorcee myself, I can hardly claim that ‘I got it right’ and Louise ‘got it wrong’. But my marriage lasted more than three times as long and I don’t regret it. And the crucial point, is that when we got married, we both wanted to.
I have given Louise’s situation as an example, but I know many more women who have put enormous pressure on their loved one to get married. Some have blackmailed men into it. Others have ‘accidentally got pregnant’. And then of course there are those whose parents have involved themselves to apply pressure. With few exceptions, it has ended catastrophically.
I honestly think that the best chance any marriage has of turning out to be happy and last, is where the couple have taken the traditional approach. This is not because I think that a woman shouldn't be allowed to ask. It's purely because on the whole, men are far more resistant to commitment than women. When a couple fall in love and when the man feels ready and confident that he has found the ‘right’ woman - in my experience, he will ask her to marry him.
I guess that this sounds old fashioned and ‘romantic’. Well, it is. With all the external pressures that there are on a marriage, in addition to the daily grind of life, the demands of small children and related strain on finances, a marriage has got to have very strong foundations.
As I sit here today, a single woman with kids, marriage is not something I need to worry about. But it is something I would like to have another stab at.
Well, maybe I should have a pact with Blind Date Guy that if, in four years’ time, we are both still at a loose end, maybe on the next 29th February I will concede and ask him to marry me! But then again, maybe I won’t. The fear of being alone is never a good reason to marry someone - and I will never ask.