How to Deal With a Bad Marriage Proposal

Updated 11/08/19

El Marco Rojo

Real talk, everyone has pictured their marriage proposal. Will they pull a Prince Harry and cook an engagement chicken for me? Will they coordinate a flash mob in Central Park? Will they whisk me away on a romantic vacation and pop the question overseas?

But all of this unintentional imagining can turn deadly when the real proposal doesn't meet your expectations. If you find yourself embarrassed with a seemingly terrible proposal, read how two real brides handled the exact same situation below. While you can't change the past, the disappointment can actually lead to some major insight into your relationship with your significant other. Spoiler alert: both have happy endings!

If It Wasn’t as Dramatic as You Dreamed

For real bride Diane, she couldn’t get over the lameness of her now-husband Scott’s proposal. It went down two days before Christmas in her childhood bedroom of her parent’s house. There, Scott casually proposed to pajama-clad Diane without flowers, champagne or anything over-the-top.

It was humdrum and ordinary, and it definitely didn't hold water to her girlfriends' recent marriage proposals: in a hot-air balloon in Napa, on a ski lift in Telluride, in a swanky (and really expensive) restaurant. She felt embarrassed by how undramatic Scott's proposal was. Especially as she retold the story to family, friends, and co-workers. It was too mundane and almost too intimate a scene for her to share with others—that made her doubly uncomfortable.

But once Diane looked past the lack of sexiness and drama, she realized that Scott actually made the right choice. He knew Diane was anxious and worried about getting engaged and a grandiose public proposal would only contribute to her nerves.

"Thinking about it this way, my engagement was really intimate, private, and personal, and really reflected who two of us are together," says Diane. "And ultimately, that's what's really important, right?"

So, if you’re proposal isn’t as flamboyant as you would have hoped or not as ‘epic’ as your friends’, take time to think about your relationship with your partner. At the end of the day, was the proposal a good reflection of your reflection as a couple? Because that is what matters.

If It Felt Meaningless

Contrast how Diane now feels about her marriage proposal with Caroline's feelings about hers: Jeff, her boyfriend, got down on one knee at the base of the Statue of Liberty and blurted out, "Will you marry me?" and that was it. No lead-up. No words about why he wanted to marry Caroline. No gushy love talk or excitement about the future. To Caroline, Jeff's proposal felt purely transactional.

The lack of emotion rubbed Caroline the wrong way and after trying to swallow her discomfort about the proposal, she realized the brief experience reflected how emotionally unavailable Jeff was. The genericness of the proposal actually portrayed how little emotional connection there was between them, so she broke off the engagement.

In Caroline’s case, the disappointment was actually a blessing in disguise and allowed her to get out of an unpromising relationship. So, if you had a "bad proposal," take some time to reflect on it, particularly the question: Why did they choose that place, that time, those words? What does it say about them? About you as a couple? It may offer you a greater understanding of your partner and your life ahead with him.

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