Celebrating an Engage-a-versary

Thursday is September 30, which just happens to be Pete’s and my “engage-a-versary.” Yup, thirty-two years ago this week, my husband and I got engaged. It didn’t quite go like in the movies. In fact, we more or less got engaged that day by accident.

Mind you, we were already planning to get married. We’d been talking about it since spring. Pete had even formally proposed that summer—in a field of wildflowers on the slopes of Washington’s Mt. Rainier. We had then asked my best friend if she’d be my maid of honor, as she was moving out of state and I wanted to talk to her in person. But the engagement wasn’t official, and we hadn’t talked to anyone else.

Wanting to honor his parents, Pete called to ask them for their advice—what sorts of things should we be considering in making this very important decision? He particularly wanted to give his dad a chance to express his opinion. His dad was noted for having strong opinions when his offspring were considering marriage.

So here’s Pete on the phone, with me sitting beside him, listening in.

“Hi dad… Leslie and I are considering getting engaged, maybe around Christmas time, and we’d like your wisdom. [A little flattery never hurts.] What sorts of things should we be thinking through?”

“Congratulations on your engagement!”

“No, no… we’re not engaged yet. We just wanted to ask for your advice. You were very concerned when [Pete’s two older brothers] got engaged, and had lots of things for them to think about.”

“Congratulations! We’re so happy for you!”

“No, you don’t understand. We just want to know what you think! Oh. Uh-huh. I see. Okay. Thanks!”

At this point, Pete hung up the phone, looked at me and said, “We’d better call your parents!”

So we did, and after they recovered from the shock, they agreed that I could marry this young whippersnapper I’d been dating. And lo and behold, we found ourselves engaged.

Celebrating our engage-a-versary has me thinking about engagements and betrothals. (An engagement is a verbal agreement that’s not legally binding—you can walk away if you change your mind. In Biblical times, and in some cultures today, a betrothal is a legally binding agreement that can only be broken by a divorce, but the marriage is not yet consummated.)

Why spend time being engaged? Why not just decide to get married and then go do it right then and there? Why torture yourselves, knowing that you’re meant to be together but waiting months or even a year or more for it to actually happen?

I’ll post my thoughts on this topic next week, but first I’d love to hear what you think. Is an engagement necessary? What does the Bible have to say on this topic? What benefits do we get from spending some time promised but not married? How long should the wait be, and why?

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2 thoughts on “Celebrating an Engage-a-versary

  1. WOW WHAT DEEP QUESTIONS!!!

    I guess the engagement may not be necessary, and in most cultures, it doesn’t exist! Engagements vary so much, that it is hard to nail it down to a certain measuring stick….but I personally think for many couples it “ups the ante.” In other words, it is fun to date and pretend we will be together forever, but the engagement makes it more real. Many couples end relationships when this step is taken because the gravity of the marriage becomes more apparent. So, in that light, I would say it can be a good time for evaluation.

    But then we can get into the whole courting vs dating debate, and that would take forever.

    So, in a typical relationship in our culture today (which can’t be defined), I would say it is a thing. And yes, that is as clear as I want to be!!

  2. I think that even though you’ve probably thought about marriage while dating (especially if you got to the point of engagement!) it makes it more definitive, and gives more time for reflection. Also, during that time you can do pre-marital counseling (WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!!!) which helps you work out things like: What are your desires for the future? What are you $$ habits? Do you want no kids or 12? Being engaged makes it less awkward to discuss issues like that, than when you are dating. Ideally, when you become engaged, both people are on the same page in the relationship, which helps communication.

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