For some unexplainable reason I’ve been watching marriage proposals on YouTube. I guess I’ve watched hundreds of them; all kinds. Some are lavish, some are more tame; some are singing, some just talk. I’ve seen scavenger hunts, skydiving, flash mobs, trips to faraway places, trips to where the couple first met, or shared their first kiss, holiday proposals (Christmas, New Years, Valentines’ Day). I enjoy seeing all the different ways the proposals are carried out and I enjoy seeing the reactions to the surprise question “will you marry me?”
I think this may go back about 45 years ago, because I have always regretted my poorly executed proposal to Robin. We had been dating for several years, had discussed marriage on numerous occasions, and knew that was in our future. She picked out her ring. I never went to talk with her parents to ask for their blessing and permission. In fact, I never even asked Robin to marry me. We went to Vulcan Park in Birmingham and I gave her the ring on a park bench there then we went to a nice restaurant for dinner. But I never said the words “will you marry me?” I know we all have things that we would do differently if we had an opportunity and I have quite a few. This one is pretty close to the top of the list.
I actually think that the proposal may be the pinnacle of loves’ joy and excitement. Just my theory with no proof, but considering the time leading up to the proposal, love is passionate, maybe a little wild with a lot of excitement; those feelings are what get you to the point of proposing. Then there’s still a little element of doubt; will she say yes or will I be rejected? Once the proposal and ensuing celebration that SHOULD occur is over, wedding planning begins and consumes everyone. So, the love itself is placed on the back burner somewhat. The wedding itself should be fun but I didn’t particularly enjoy ours. I was so nervous and I can’t figure out why; the audience is friendly, loving and supportive; the ceremony is sacred, holy and meaningful. But I was really glad when it was all over and we had left the church for our honeymoon. We were married on a Saturday, and I had to be at work Tuesday or Wednesday, so we had a short, but memorable and fun honeymoon at Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga. I got lost on the drive over, but all of that’s another story. Back to the cycle of love.
Once all of the excitement of the wedding and honeymoon fades love tends to settle into a “steady state” for a while. Jobs, laundry, house cleaning…. All have to be done and can consume a couple for a while. Then if children come along there’s a spike in excitement quickly followed by a dip associated with lack of sleep and exhaustion. Love is often focused on the children instead of each other, and as the workload increases there is a danger that the couple’s love gets more and more ignored. Many marriages end at this point because the couple isn’t willing to give the 110% required to do all of the work plus make sure their spouse’s needs are met and that they feel loved and appreciated.
Once the children are adults, the couple often finds a deeper love. It may not be the wild and passionate love of the pre-proposal days, but it is a caring and appreciative kind of love that grows deeper and deeper. Time has often taken its toll on energy levels and physical things that could be done years ago so love at this point looks differently than the early years. Somewhere in time, the relationship concludes with debilitating illness, or death but I believe the love continues, I’m a big fan of the theory that “true love never dies.”