I recently got engaged — via text message. There was no formal proposal, no diamond ring. Just a mutual decision with my partner, Dane, that we made over text as I was getting ready to walk our dogs, and he was wrapping things up at work. It may sound strange, but it actually made perfect sense for us, as our entire story began online.
We met on Facebook while living thousands of miles apart and got to know each other initially through texting, phone calls, and FaceTime. A few months after our very first message, I flew to New York to see him. We've known since that first weekend that this was it. We did a formidable amount of work laying the foundation for a future together. Our relationship was built through sizing each other up on a host of different values, from politics to religion (or the absence of it) to how we'd like to raise kids someday. Where we didn't agree, we kept the door open to continue those conversations, and respected one another's beliefs. The discussion about marriage was pretty much inevitable — if only for tax purposes, otherwise we might've been fine with a strong verbal commitment. Perhaps this all sounds incredibly unromantic, which is why at this point, even a few weeks later, I've held off telling many of my friends. Generally, when you say that you're engaged, people’s eyes migrate to your ring finger (I don't have a ring, and I won't), and then they ask for the elaborate proposal story. But the few people I have told have been immensely happy for us, because they know that our brand of romance is uniquely ours.
For a growing number of couples like us, the discussion about marriage is just that — a discussion. For some, it's a conversation that's been happening from day one of the relationship. For others, it's something that happens a few years in. But however and whenever that discussion is introduced, I believe it should be mutual, not a total surprise to one party, nor a decision one partner is pressured into making due to antiquated gender roles.
When I was young, I never really dreamed about my wedding, and I certainly never dreamed about my proposal. I think part of that is because I never saw examples of the proposal I wanted portrayed on TV or in movies. Now I know that my dream proposal exists, because I got to create it — it just doesn’t look like what was expected of me, and that’s okay. Dane and I are about to enter another phase: wedding planning. While we don't intend to get hitched right away, we are starting to talk about what we might want to do, and we are aware that this phase will likely present a whole new set of challenges. We may do a courthouse wedding in New York and throw a big party back in California with all our friends and family. We may decide not to get wedding rings at all. If we do decide to do a bigger ceremony, one thing is for sure — we want to walk down the aisle together. We see each other as equal partners, and we want to have a ceremony that truly reflects our relationship, as well as our values and the life we want to lead. Yes, we want to have a day of celebration with the people we love, but we also want to put our relationship at the forefront. It’ll be challenging, but I think we’re ready for it. After all, we make a pretty good team — and if we're willing to buck one tradition, why not take on the whole wedding industrial complex?