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A Decent Proposal

by Stephen Lautens

July 2, 1999

For some time my friend Dianne has been after me to tell how I proposed to my wife. More than that, she wants to know what makes a man propose. Specifically, how does a man know when it's time to pop the question?

I'm not talking about those shotgun engagements either, where the proposal goes something like: "You're going to have a what??"

No, I'm talking about the real deal, where both parties walk into it with their eyes wide open and of their own free will.

With my 9th wedding anniversary this week, I thought this is as good a time as any to reveal the mysterious workings of the marriage-minded male mind.

I'm not sure I qualify as an expert. I've only proposed once, and luckily she said yes, so I don't have to do it again. But I'll admit, it was a struggle.

I had been away on holidays for a week with my father and brother. Being away from Rhea made me realize I had something pretty special. I came back from our trip determined to propose.

It was already on my mind. I had been asking my male married friends how they could tell they had found the woman of their dreams. They just looked blankly and said the same thing: "You just know". Big help.

So I bought a ring. I went to a toy store and bought a brass ring with a big piece of glass in it. Not because I was cheap. I had two very good reasons. First, if she said yes, I wanted her to pick out her own ring. Second, if she said no I didn't want to have to go back to a jewelry store for a refund.

I carried it around for a week. For the first time in months we never seemed to be alone. Then she was having a bad time at work and I couldn't get her to talk about anything else. It just made me more determined to propose.

My chance finally came when she fell asleep on the couch. I woke her up and finally asked, dime store ring in hand. Maybe it was because she was still groggy, but she said yes.

So you want to know the secret to getting a man to propose? Here it is: Let him think marriage is his idea. Men are like strange dogs ­ let us come to you. The more we think marriage is our idea, the more likely it is to happen.

I had previously been in relationships where the M word was thrown at me about twice an hour. Bad idea.

Things had been serious with Rhea for some time, but we never once discussed marriage. More to the point, she never raised the subject in three and a half years.

Sure, there will be those men who if left to their own devices will never propose. The question you should be asking yourself is do you want to marry them if you have to pressure them into it? Heard about the 50% divorce rate?

And please try to act surprised when we do finally ask. Don't immediately pull out all the tux catalogues and bridal magazines you had stashed nearby.

We need our dignity too.


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