While there has been a great deal of recent criticism of how old fashioned marriage proposals are, the tradition might not be as old and obsolete as you think.
In the last few years, there has been a rising sentiment that the traditional marriage proposal was an outdated concept.
This growing sentiment has been discussed at length in long-form think pieces that numerous magazines published looking for those sweet clicks.
It isn’t marriage that is under siege as much as the proposal because it doesn’t seem very egalitarian.
Some even have gone so far as to label it an instrument of oppression. However, we couldn’t disagree more.
In fact, in this era where the idea of what marriage consists of is rapidly changing, the traditional ritual of the proposal is more important than ever.
Why are marriage proposals being criticized?
The recent trend of deriding marriage proposals as saccharine, arcane, and antiquated is as troubling as it is inaccurate.
It seems to grow out of an idea that it is a symbol of a kind of relationship that women no longer wish to have.
However, for every person that feels that way, there are hundreds that see a proposal as one of the happiest and most notable moments of their life.
While it may seem a great deal of trouble to go to ask a yes-or-no question, it is not only a social norm but an opportunity to create an occasion of joy.
There are some criticisms of those proposals that double as public spectacles, but this element is not a component of the traditional marriage proposal.
In most cases, a proposal is a quiet and intimate moment where a very important life chance is being offered.
In fact, it may be preferable for the moment to seem more spontaneous as less planned, and it is hard to make that case when you do it on camera in a sports stadium.
#1. The history of the proposal
Historians disagree on how proposals were executed in ancient times, but records of marriage go back to the very beginning of recorded history.
The first reliable records of engagement rings in the western world come from Republican Rome, where women were given two rings that they could display while declaring in public that they would be married and name the family of the man she was marrying.
This act had great religious and societal significance. Mens wedding bands would only appear later in history, during the early days of Christianity in Europe.
Marriages actually became more formal during this period, and betrothals followed suit. Accounts of betrothals in this period sound more like negotiating a contract than a proposal.
Still, this was when the gift of a single gold ring became the tradition of sealing the marriage contract.
These simple rings would become more bejeweled in the late medieval period, but diamonds were not the jewel of choice until the 1930s.
With the liberalization of marriage and the growth of romantic love as a prelude to a proposal rather than more pragmatic marriages of convenience, what we recognize as the modern proposal ritual emerged.
# What is the modern proposal?
The traditional proposal is interchangeably called the modern proposal since it made its first appearance in the modern period.
It is characterized by a strict sequence of events. The one giving the proposal (almost exclusively the man) kneels on one knee and reveals the ring.
Men’s wedding bands may be a part of the engagement ring set but are often purchased separately.
The bride-to-be’s ring is often held between the index finger and the thumb, but just as commonly left in the display box that is opened to reveal the ring.
The proposition is delivered, and the woman is given an opportunity to answer it before further action is taken.
In the event that the proposal is accepted, the engagement ring is placed on the third finger of the left hand.
It can be a very emotional moment and is often followed by a display of affection such as an embrace or kiss on the lips.
This is colloquially referred to as “popping the question” as it is regarded to be more romantic if it seems spontaneous and is a surprise to the future bride.
It is often a very private moment but sometimes is performed in front of friends and family at a special occasion.
# The traditional proposal has an important place in married life
Now that we have gone over the historical context that the marriage proposal exists in, we can speak to its importance in modern married life.
For those that know little about the history of marriage, the proposal can seem like a strange ritual.
Even those well versed in the subject can find a few incongruous portions.
Why do men kneel when they propose? What are the significance and symbolism of the ring? Who proposes in a same-sex couple? Answers to these questions may be difficult to find.
There is a suspicion that what we view in the western world as an ancient tradition might have modern origins.
It can’t be denied that one of the most successful advertising campaigns of all time made the diamond ring the premier jewelry for wedding proposals.
There is something courtly about the entire exchange, and it was doubtful that a proposal of marriage was anything like it in the medieval period, but the ritual is very important to the structure of the modern marriage.
It is the beginning of the married relationship, and it is an occasion where the potential groom can make a delightful first impression or really get the marriage off on the wrong foot entirely.
# Why a traditional proposal is so important
The act of kneeling before popping the question is very important symbolically.
It shows that the one making the proposal is not just asking a question. It is not “Would you marry me” it is “Will you marry me.” It is not about intentions, as those might change on a whim.
It is about creating a moment where commitment to marriage is either affirmed or denied. The ritual creates an important moment in time where two people become affianced.
Despite the portrayal of popular culture, proposals are just as important to men as they are to women.
It can be a tough moment to humble yourself and to open yourself to rejection.
A proper proposal is an act of courage, although some can be acts of hubris. Kneeling is a symbol of many things. Surrender, worship, or humility prime among them.
In all cases, it is about ending one form of relationship and creating another through reconciliation and renewal.
# How a proposal echoes into marriage
It can be said that marriage may never be as romantic as the proposal. Marriage is an intensely personal relationship intended to be a fairly permanent state of a great many years.
Any person will have a cavalcade of emotions over such a long period of time. Anger, resentment, exasperation, and disenchantment with a spouse at certain points of married life are more than likely.
It is in these moments that cherished memories such as the proposal and the wedding day can be a balm and smooth over these all-but-inevitable rough patches.
While a much less ritualized and casual proposal is certain to lower the amount of pressure on both parties, it will certainly be less memorable.
As with all things, the feelings of both partners must be taken into consideration, but a traditional proposal makes a strong statement to not only your partner but also to the world that marriage is a relationship that you will take seriously and view as your highest duty.
It is almost magical how so few words can be so strongly reinforced in their importance by a few simple actions.
Do you agree that the marriage proposal is more important than ever before?
Are you thinking of making a proposal of your own?
You’ve come to the right place one could find for many expert advice on engagement ring sets on the internet that will make the perfect impression when you get down on one knee.