Why I Proposed To Him

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Why I Proposed To Him
A change of heart leads the author to propose to her boyfriend.

The minute I spotted Andrew on the crowded dance floor, I had one thought: That man is going to carry my baby in a backpack.

It was the hair that got me: wavy, hanging below his ears, but not too full. It told me that he liked to hike, but wasn't too crunchy. It said he frequented rock shows, but not the metal kind.

Our first date was Thursday, the second Friday, the third Saturday. After two years of "my place or yours?" we moved in together. And with increasing frequency—usually at the weddings of friends—someone would inevitably inquire, "So… when are you two going to get married?"

It was a question I had been considering for some time. In 1996, shortly after meeting Andrew, I began working at Ms. magazine. I sat in editorial meetings with the smartest, most independent women I had ever met and nodded along when they said that marriage was an unnecessary social construct. Is Traditional Marriage On Its Last Legs?

These observations made sense to me. They weren't saying that women should never marry, but they were asking us to consider the institution on its own terms.

Historically, men fared better than women after marriage, they reasoned—so why do it? And how could anyone tie the knot in good conscience when it was a right denied to gay couples? Each night after work, I would continue the discussion with Andrew, who shared my views. "How could anyone? Why would anyone?" we pondered. And just like that, I had talked my future husband out of marriage.

Almost five years later and 2,795 miles from my home, I changed my mind. Andrew and I had moved to Los Angeles for his job—and while I was initially up for the adventure, life on the west coast left me lonelier that I had ever been. But returning to New York City without him was something I couldn't contemplate. I was in love, and I was proud of our relationship. 5 Questions To Ask Before Relocating For Love

As a child, I dreamed of a home that would be different—where respect, communication, and affection were fundamental and aggression was not welcome. Andrew and I had that and more.

When we discovered that we didn't like the clubs in L.A., we turned our living room into a dance party with house music, a disco ball, and fog machine. Those who attended our sleepovers were treated to banana splits and Andrew's classic-rock tutorials.

Slowly, I was coming around to the idea of marriage. But when I brought up our future, Andrew remained unconvinced. "I love you," he told me. "I know that I am going to be with you for the rest of my life. I don't need to get married."

But now I did. Marriage, for all its faults, was a public declaration of our love for each other. I was ready to shout, "I love this man!" And I wanted everyone we cared about to bear witness.

My brother proposed to his girlfriend in a helicopter over Maui; my sister got engaged at my grandparents' remote lake house in northern Vermont. I had always assumed that my own engagement would involve a comparably romantic gesture.

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