The Proposal Story

I follow a lot of reporters for the Washington Post on Twitter. One of them is Lisa Bonos who writes about dating and being single in the DC area. The articles don’t apply to me but Lisa did a program for me at the library so I always look at her posts. Not too long ago there was a lot of talk about Pete Buttigieg and his airport proposal. There was the question: Are airports romantic? All of that made me think of when I proposed to my wife in a very unromantic place – a parking lot. How did we get there? Keep reading to find out.

The idea of me proposing was not a surprise. We had been dating for a while. We had talked about marriage. We had looked at rings together. We already knew who we wanted as a wedding photographer(a mutual friend from college). All that remained was the actual purchase of the ring and the proposal.

I went back to the jewelry store and bought the ring she liked. I waited and thought about the perfect time and place for the proposal. I’m not good at stuff like that, so I decided on a night and decided we would go out for dinner and I would propose there. I told her to pick any place she wanted for dinner. I forgot that she would not pick any place fancy. I was hoping at least for a place that would not be a terrible choice for a romantic event like a marriage proposal. She decided she wanted to go to a new pizza place that has just opened. It wasn’t optimal, but I held out hope that it would be a romantic enough atmosphere for toe proposal.

It wasn’t It was very bright. The tables were very close together. It was way too casual for a proposal. I spent the dinner trying to decide what to do. Do I go ahead and propose there regardless of the atmosphere? Do I wait for another night and a better place? Can the plan be salvaged? I ultimately decided against proposing in the restaurant. It was loud. It was bright. People were sitting way too close. It was not optimal.

As we left the restaurant I decided that I still wanted to propose that night. I’m not sure why. It’s not like I was going to lose my nerve. We had already basically decided we were getting married at some point. So, since I decided tonight was the night, before we got to the car I said(not sure of this is the exact wording, but close)

“I really wish you had chosen a different place for dinner because now I’m going to have to propose to you in a pizza place parking lot”

She overlooked the very unromantic location(and all of my flaws) and said yes. And here we are – married for almost 29 years.

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A Mismatched Pair Meeting the Family

College Tater and Mrs Tater

Please excuse typos. Writing this on a tablet.

A friend sent me the above photo recently. It was taken a year or so after I started dating my now wife. We were a mismatched pair. She was an upper middle class suburbanite who still lived with her parents and commuted to school. She was on a full scholarship and on track to get a masters degree in four years. I was a poor small town kid who had basically been on my own financially since I started college. I eked by on grants and loans. I would take a bit longer than four years to even get my bachelors degree. If not for both of us being involved in the Baptist Student Union there is no way we would have ever met. So, you can imagine that meeting each family might be interesting.

Weirdly, I met her parents long before we were a couple. My friends Terri and Chi had invited me to go with them to something( I can’t remember where we were going). They picked me up early on a Saturday morning and then we went to pick up their other friend who lived off campus. That friend was someone I kind of knew, but not really. We got to the house and she was not ready to go yet. That is something that has never changed. Her parents were eating breakfast and asked if we wanted something to eat. A poor college student never turns down an opportunity for free food, so I said yes and had breakfast with these random people. At one point I remember trying to cut something and it flying off my plate. Not a great first impression. I’m not sure they remembered me when I was introduced as the boyfriend. I was much more aware of the impression I was making at that point. They were accepting of me as the boyfriend. They were obviously not happy with me as the fiancé. They grew to tolerate me as the husband.

I was anxious about the part of her meeting my family. I was not ashamed of my family, but after spending time with her in her suburban, upper middle class house, the small house I grew up in seemed even smaller. I was also a little worried about my family accepting her. I’m not sure why. The main thing I do remember is that there was a lot of drama between my mom and my little sister back then. I also remember that as we arrived at my mom’s house that day they had had a fight and my sister had taken off somewhere. She was an adult, but my mom was still concerned. The first thing my first serious girlfriend saw of my family was my mom frantically telling me my sister has disappeared. Not the first impression you want. She would eventually get used to the drama and the loudness of my family.

Somehow this mismatched pair worked.

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Platonic Tater

I feel like this one is a companion to the first love one I posted recently. Lessons learned from a life in the friend zone.

In a recent post, I mentioned that most of my friends are women and that this has been the case for years. In a recent conversation with some of those friends, I mentioned that many people don’t believe that you can love a person of the opposite sex without being in love with them. These two things brought to mind the topic of today’s post. My long history of being in the friend zone and why that helps with my current relationships.

When I was in high school this was not a happy thing. No teenage boy wants to be the guy that girls want as just a friend. That was the story of my high school and early college life.  There were girls around me all the time, but they were all just friends. None of them had any romantic interest.  It sucked back then, but it did teach me how to have good, platonic friendships with women. I did not appreciate the lesson back then. No teen boy would. Of course, I was an awkward, plain-looking late bloomer, so the lack of romantic interest is not a shocker.

I think back to my work with a church youth group and think the lesson above helped me when teaching a Sunday school class of mostly middle school girls and also with the group as a whole.  I was able to work with them and relate to them because of all of the female friends I had in my teen years. It also helped that I was not the type of young, male adult that would inspire crushes. There was no fear that the work would get awkward because teen girls were in love with the awkward, plain-looking Sunday school teacher.

As mentioned before, I have a lot of female friends. Part of this is because I work in a field filled with women(not a literal field full of women) and part of this is because I am weird and not like a lot of men and have trouble with friendships with other men because of this. This is also helped by my early years. I learned how to be friends with and love women without falling in love with them. It also helps that the one weird woman who actually did fall in love with me knows that I love her and would never cheat on her. It also helps that no husband is going to think “I fear that my wife will fall in love with that weird, socially awkward, short, fat balding guy”

Anyway, the point of this rambling is that it is possible to have friends of the opposite sex. It is possible to love them without being in love with them and the earlier you learn how to do this the easier it is.

Tater Takes on a Marriage Quote About Becoming One

I was looking for another post and this one came up. I fixed an appalling number of typos in it.  It reminds me of the irritation I have about people who have decided they know what a marriage should be and that everyone’s marriage should fit in that box. It is especially irritating when people who have never been married think they are qualified to tell someone what a marriage should be. Anyway, enjoy a corrected version of my post dissecting a quote about marriage.

I saw the following quote on Facebook this weekend. It was directed at Christian couples on the topic of “becoming one”:

“Separate bank accounts, individual political views, clashing parenting styles, and private friends is not “becoming one.”

I am going to make an effort to coherently give my opinion on each of these areas.

Separate Bank Accounts:  I have mixed feelings on this one. I can see how separate bank accounts could be both good and bad for a marriage. It could be good in a case where the only major difference you have is on how you spend your money.  In a perfect world, you would just say you could compromise and come closer in your ideas of how to spend your joint money.  This is not a perfect world and we are not perfect people. If a separate bank account can help a couple get along better and avoid major money arguments I think it would be a good thing. The bad side is that a separate bank account could lead to suspicion and distrust, especially if it comes later in the marriage. It could lead someone to think there are nefarious reasons why their partner suddenly wants a private bank account.  I think the bank account thing has to be a couple by couple decision. One size does not fit all.

Individual political views: This is an odd one. Are you saying that one person has to change their political beliefs in order to make a marriage work? I don’t think “becoming one” means giving up your personal beliefs. Are you saying that you should never marry someone who has different political views than you?  I can see this in extreme cases. If you are strongly anti-gun you probably shouldn’t marry a gun-owning NRA member. If you feel so strongly about an issue that disagreement would be a deal-breaker hopefully you know where the other person stands before you marry them. In general, though, individual political views are not a bad thing. Becoming one does not mean you become less of a person.  You should still be able to have opinions and views that are different from your partner’s.

Clashing parenting styles: I can mostly agree with this one. You have to be in agreement on how you are going to raise your kids. You can’t have one parent undermining the other when it comes to raising and disciplining your kids. Again, this is something that should have been discussed before marriage. It shouldn’t be a surprise if your partner is for or against spanking. Again, though, there are going to be differences. Even if you agree on the basics of how to parent, you each are going to do it a little bit differently than the other. Even if you become one, you are still not going to be robots. There will be differences. I agree that the overall parenting style should be similar, but it can’t be exact.

Private friends: Again, it depends on what they mean by private friends. If the private friends and people who your partner doesn’t know about and you are spending time with them without their knowledge that is likely a red flag. Why would you keep that from your partner unless you are hiding something? If your partner doesn’t want you to ever meet their work friends, but they are going out with them on a regular basis, there might be reason for concern. If you’ve met these friends and your partner is going out with them alone because you don’t want to go, that is a different story. I think it is healthier to have some couple friends instead of each person having their own individual friends. I have friends I spend time with on a regular basis without my wife, but she has met all of them and knows when I am going out with them. This is normal behavior.

In general, I think it is not a good idea to try to fit each couple into a standard box. Everyone is different and every couple is different and what works for one won’t work for another. Also, unfortunately, there are churches out there that think women are not equal to men and a lot of this is a way to make sure they are kept in their place. Your marriage should be patterned in a way that works for both of you.

I Hate Travel Day

I love being on vacation. I love heading out to visit family for the holidays. I’m not fond of a nine-hour drive, but that isn’t the main reason I hate travel day. I hate travel day because of the very different ways my wife and I feel travel day should go.

Me – Pack your suitcase with enough clothes and toiletries for the trip. Make sure you have a book for the car and enough books to last for the entire trip. Make sure you have your phone and your phone charger. Throw the luggage in the car. If Christmas, pack the gifts as well. Start driving.

Her – Wait until the last minute to pack. Decide we need to vacuum before we go. Possibly schedule a work conference call that morning. Pack clothes and phone as above. Also pack enough food for the car to ensure we don’t suffer the same fate as the Donner Party. Walk through the house and possibly decide more cleaning needs to be done before we can leave. Triple check doors and stove. Now we can hit the road.

Me – Let’s drop the dog at boarding the day before, pack the car that night and hen get up and leave early so we can drive mostly in daylight.

Her – Let’s drop the dog off the day we leave, pack the day we leave, sleep in and leave midday and drive at night.

Me – In the summer it might be fun to drive another route and maybe stop to see some sights on the way.

Her – The goal is to get there as fast as possible. Let’s take the same, shortest route and only stop if absolutely necessary.

Her way always wins. I’m still struggling with not being cranky about it.