Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Tell Me About It: Dad frowning on public proposal

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: My boyfriend and I have talked about marriage. I expressed that my big dream for an engagement is something big and public. I don't mean expensive, maybe just like one of those cute, on-camera things at a sporting event.

My predicament: My dad told me my boyfriend has asked permission to propose. And, that he's going to propose at a sports event. My dad expressed concern that my boyfriend's coworkers will make fun of him and cause problems at his job. My dad wants me to tell my boyfriend not to do this.

I think my dad is projecting his own concerns onto my boyfriend. Should I tell my boyfriend not to propose this way, or let him make his own decision? This is supposed to be a surprise to me. We are both 30, no previous marriages, responsible professionals.

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  • Answer: I hope your boyfriend is comfortable being told what to do, marrying into this family.

    Tell your dad you've already tugged your boyfriend's strings to extract the public proposal in the first place, and so you'd appreciate his not tugging his strings in a different direction.

    Or tell Dad that, even if he's right, Boyfriend might respond better to workplace ribbing than to having his confidence betrayed - especially when all your dad had to do to avoid that was to express his misgivings to your boyfriend directly.

    Or please let life happen, versus trying to direct it into the scene you've always envisioned. Have your boyfriend show his love his way versus yours, and love him your way versus his, so you can see what that means and whether that works - unless and until there are small adjustments you can make to your ways that you're eager and able to make for each other and that don't compromise who you are.

    That way you're not constantly working at being the person the other needs you to be. Instead you can save your effort for pulling your weight, showing kindness, having each other's backs.

    When you feel the impulse to start directing someone else's actions, consciously stop yourself. Wait. See what happens.

    If you don't love the result on a reasonably consistent basis, then don't take that as a signal to start directing again. That's a sign you need to make changes in your choices, up to and including your choice of mate, friends, career, hobbies, locale, anywhere you seek satisfaction in life.


    tellme@washpost.com

    Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

    Carolyn Hax
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