Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I am not a patient person. I’m also not particularly fond of surprises. So when forced to wait for a surprise I know is eventually coming, I find myself in a very special sort of personal hell.

The surprise I refer to is Remus’ marriage proposal (this is written before said proposal has happened, with the promise to not publish it until afterward). Being one of those couples who knew pretty early on that we were in it to win it, the idea of us getting married was initially bandied about within the first month of our relationship (specifically when I was asked if I would take his last name if we were to get married, a topic to be explored further at another time). By the end of 2014, when we were already living together and openly acknowledging to anyone who cared (and probably a few who really didn’t) that we did plan to eventually marry, I made the prediction that he would pop the question by the close of 2015. I was told in no uncertain terms that he wouldn’t be asking by then. I scoffed, figuring it was a ploy to keep me off the scent. Then 2016 rolled around and no proposal had happened. That’ll teach me!

Having never seriously entertained the idea of ever getting married until I met Remus when well into my 30s, I don’t have a fantasy “dream wedding” in my head to work off of, so I really have no idea how I’ll go about making wedding plans and decisions. I’m also not dying to get a ring on my finger because, while I like fine jewelry as much as the next girl, I’m mildly concerned about losing it or getting mugged for it. And I’m definitely not looking forward to trying to arrange a fun party for all of our guests when there are certain long-distant relatives I already know will balk and stammer at the choices we’ll make (head’s up to all: there will be no bridesmaids or groomsmen! Clutch your pearls now and move on!). So for these reasons, I don’t mind postponing the inevitable. But for the very simple reason of, “What the hell are we waiting for?!,” I find myself going a little crazy waiting for the axe to drop (or insert your own more romantic-sounding proposal metaphor here).

The topics of our engagement, wedding, and future life together are all open for discussion at any time; we can apparently talk about these things ad nauseum, we just can’t actually do them. At the end of 2015 we jointly met with a financial advisor to discuss working toward our future goals--wedding, buying a home, retiring early and living a baller life--and cited 2017 as our (admittedly broad) target wedding date. We discussed the ideal time to host a wedding and decided that spring would be the least likely to conflict with preexisting birthdays, vacations, and holidays. OK, I thought, so a Spring 2017 wedding it is.

While visiting our families for the holidays we openly talked about our plans to have a wedding soon-ish, assuring them it would be on our home turf of Chicago. Remus even cited his fondness for the venue of a friend’s wedding we had attended earlier in the year, which was news to me. I was promised that we could go window shopping for rings in January, so he would have an idea of what I would like. OK, so proposal in early 2016. That coincides with planning a wedding for Spring 2017. All systems go!

It seemed like we were both on the same page, until a weekend afternoon spent casually discussing upcoming travel plans sent everything I had built up in my mind cascading down like dominoes. After talking about our big spring trip for 2016, some smaller excursions coming up in the summer, and a potential idea for a long weekend getaway in the fall, Remus mentioned how next spring he’d like to do a truly major vacation, like the Pacific Coast Highway trip we took the year before. I instantly felt my stomach drop out from underneath me.

That would be Spring 2017…is he not thinking that we’ll be doing something kind of important in that timeframe…?

I cautiously broached this very question with him, trying to make it clear that I wasn’t attempting to pressure him into making a decision here and now, while desperately trying to establish if I had actually created this phantom wedding timeline out of nothing.

“Oh…well, maybe. I wasn’t really thinking of that.”

“OK…well, we had previously said spring would be the best time to do it. And had set 2017 as the target year. So that would mean Spring 2017. And if we’re doing it then, that would mean we should be looking for a venue soon-ish…so…” I trailed off, hoping he would fill in the unspoken, do you think we might be getting engaged now…ish?

I got the exact opposite reaction I was hoping for, as he cited fall as perhaps a better time, or if we pushed things to 2018 it wouldn’t be the end of the world. And while either a fall or a 2018 wedding certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world, I felt immediately devastated because even hypothetical wedding planning can apparently push the most level-headed woman to the brink.

I was in a funk for the rest of the day, feeling sadly disconnected from the man I’m almost always in sync with, and troubled that he apparently wasn’t ready for this major life step that I didn’t seem to be afraid of.

When I finally came to him in tears that night, fretting about us not being on the same page, and declaring, “This is why I hate surprises! I’m a planner!,” he assured me that we were on the same page, and it wasn’t an issue of him not being ready, but that he simply wasn’t ready to propose that instant. While my practical nature says, “OMG, can we just do this thing already?!,” his slightly-more-romantic nature wants the time and breathing room to plan out and enact a proposal that I won’t see coming, will make for a good story to tell others, and neither of us will ever forget. And so I need to relax and let him have his time to plan the moment, because the proposal is the one part of the whole wedding circus over which men are able to have complete ownership, which I realized after he pointed out, “If it’s any consolation, once the initial ask is done, you’ll get to plan pretty much everything else.”

And that’s when I remember everything that goes into putting together a wedding--Do we have to have a theme? Who officiates when neither of us have any religious affiliations? When do I have to start watching Say Yes to the Dress?--and I’m in a whole new special sort of personal hell.

Follow-up: We got engaged on November 7, and are planning at Fall 2017 wedding.

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