I set at my desk in my office and began to notice some prolonged sounds of excitement. It was obvious that the noises were celebrity in intention. As groups often do when some exciting news is shared and it becomes loud the sound tends to roll like waves growing louder than softer and then ascending to a louder noise again. Jokes and laughing mixed in with the congratulatory noises. It was a happy group discussing something that was meaningful and joyful to them all. I considered the voices that I could hear. A single mother of a teenager, a middle aged married woman and a 30 something single woman. I wondered what could get them all so boisterously excited and concluded it was likely a pregnancy or an engagement. Knowing, somewhat, the circumstances of those involved I surmised that the 30something young woman had gotten engaged. I knew of her desire to be married and have a family and the stresses and difficulties of finding an upstanding young man to partner with had been difficult. I had seen the look on her face and in her eyes when another co-worker had brought her new baby in for the staff to see. I knew she wanted to have a child but also knew she valued marriage before getting pregnant.
A few minutes later she came down and with many smiles and body language that expressed her excitement and pleasure she announced her engagement to her boyfriend of several months. I congratulated her and expressed to her that I knew she had been searching for a long time and it must feel good to have found a young man, finally, who met her hopes and dreams. She almost gushed about him. I asked what she saw so appealing in him and the first thing she said was his honesty. Honesty, not only in telling the truth about happenings, but in about who he was. I understood that to mean that who he said he was matched who he actually was. He walked the talk we might say. I trusted her judgment because as a mental health therapist she is alert to congruities as well as incongruities.
What a joy the act of becoming engaged is! Sometimes the engagement can become a bit trying as it stretches on especially when the couple are being chaste. My oldest daughter told me not long ago that she had really looked forward to being engaged only to find that actually being engaged was "lame" as it stretched on to the wedding day.
It brought memories of the day Lisa and I got engaged. She picked me up from the Minneapolis airport. We hugged in the airport and we shared our first kiss in the car. She drove to Como Zoo where she was all set to have a picnic. As we sat talking I felt the weight of the ring in my pocket and was finding it difficult to carry on conversation with that reminder of my purpose. So I asked her there on the grounds of Como Park to marry me, it was exciting. There were some trying times to follow but things progressed to marriage and although life is not a fairy tale, the endurance times in life are bearable beside her and the happy times of life are lasting.
Coincidentally I had been talking to someone about engagement recently. It has gotten me thinking that engagement is only a part commitment. It is a commitment of intention rather than actuality. The intention to marry. The engagement period is a time to focus closely on a partner and make that final determination about the intended-to-be-permanent commitment. Engagement is a time to share more time and ideas with each other to get to know each other more fully in order to have confidence in the proposed marriage. Hopefully the vestiges of 'looking good' in dating fall away and the real person is fully revealed. Actually I encourage choosing activities that not only allow but call forth the real person. This is a time to ask any tough questions and reveal any concerns that are feared to impact the marriage. The activities chosen, when engaged, need to be selected wisely not just to reveal the couples personalities and character but to protect and ensure that the more physically intimate parts of marriage remain unsullied to be released after the sealing of the commitment. The engagement begins the process and promise of choosing to love each other forever after.
To me the engagement needed to be a surprise. I knew Lisa was anticipating I would pop the question when I flew out, but I had to have some element of surprise so that is why I asked before we got to her family home. My timing was a surprise for her and turned out to be a big surprise to her family as well. As a matter of fact it has continued to be a splash of surprise throughout the years whenever we tell the story of our engagement. You see it was our first date and it is lasting a good long time with the anticipation of never ending!