Call me old-fashioned. Call me dull. Call me uncreative and unsentimental (which in fact I am). But when I read a recent Wall Street Journal piece about the trend for splashy public wedding proposals, I was left cold.
Proposals from a scuba diver in a fish tank? C'mon.
I guess I'm out of step because I think proposals should be private. Something special only between the couple. The news is meant to be shared, but the moment is meant to be intimate.
Making our private moments public diminishes their value and distorts the focus. Too much emphasis on flash and not enough on substance.
These spectacular proposals (like Tom Cruise's now famous one atop the Eiffel Tower) seem to be all about spectacle. About one-upmanship (can a proposal in space be far behind?). And they seem to detract from the developing relationship. From the deep and crucial discussions that need to be had. From the serious planning necessary to begin the implementation of shared goals.
And perhaps they send a confusing message about marriage, setting the bar too high for the romance and fun.
Don't get me wrong. Marriage can (needs to!) have a lot of fun moments and a lot of romance. But it has its share of drudgery as well. Highs -- and lows. Are we prepared for the latter or are we misled by the flash?
It's not that a creative proposal and a good marriage couldn't go hand-in-hand (although the article mentions the public proposal of sportscaster Ahmad Rashad to actress Phylicia Ayers-Allen during a NFL telecast in 1985 that kick-started this phenomenon -- and their later divorce). But it seems to suggest the wrong focus. Just as over-emphasis on the flowers at the celebrations seems to reflect inappropriate values.
We like to keep our precious, holy items safely guarded behind a fence of privacy.
Both the excess and the public nature of these proposals give rise to impossible expectations. Can you feel only quiet joy after your fiance parachuted down in front of you? Can you evaluate your future with thought and care in front of millions? Can you express your true feelings or do you need to act a part?
Marriage is a holy institution. We like to keep our precious, holy items safely guarded behind a fence of privacy. It seems to help build a better foundation. It seems to give the marriage a greater sense of heaviness, a perspective on the awesome responsibility that follows.
Engagements and weddings should be fun. But it's not about the party. It's about the new creation. It's about the future. It's about building something sanctified and eternal.
We don't want to miss that opportunity in a confusion of glitz and publicity.