The smartest thing I’ve ever done is ask Britt to marry me. That and writing this book, so rest assured you’re getting some of my best stuff, but that night I asked Britt to marry me was a master stroke.
We’d been friends for a few years, dating for six, and I was creating a breakfast radio show in Cairns in Far North Queensland. Britt flew up to visit on the hottest and most humid day Cairns had felt since the day the dinosaurs were wiped out so obviously it was just a lovely day. Because I had barely any dollars to my name, and no car, I rented the cheapest lemon the Cairns rental car scene could find, a small hatchback with no air-conditioning. So the scene is set for a weekend of luxury as we explore what it means to have gone from “just a friend” to lovers barely a month ago.
We’re walking along the Cairns foreshore, a boardwalk over a dark and foul-smelling mud plain when the tide is out as it was that night, but we’ve just enjoyed a pizza at one of those famous installations, the Italian restaurant located and designed to suck tourists in for an average meal, and our spirits are high.
Reflecting on the beauty of the moment, and the joy in my heart, I spurt out the words “we should hang out together forever.”
Britt, reflecting on the words she just heard, replies as Phoebe from Friends would, “what a beautiful lukewarm sentiment.” Considering myself cornered, painted into a corner by my own stupidity, whilst also wanting to reinforce the meaning and the depth of the casual statement I’d just made, bit back like a scared little Taipan, “will you marry me?”
Now, I don’t know if my proposal is one to be replicated, considering its perfection in execution, and the overtly personalised nature of the event, but there is one aspect of it I would encourage all of you to engage in: the humanity of it.
By that I mean, real life isn’t the movies, and marriage proposals, the act of getting engaged, should reflect both of your humanity. Who you are. How do the both of you, individually and as a couple, show that you care, that you value the other person, that you’re listening, and that you would like to get married?
It’s no use hiring a mariachi band to walk in on your date night and sing a romantic song if your spouse would find that awkward and horrible, but its equally offensive to roll over in bed and ask casually “do you want to get married” if you both hold moments like this dear.
The one thing I also know after hearing thousands of proposal stories is that the person doing the proposing builds the moment up in their mind and gets far too stressed about it, which actually takes away from the moment being special.
So make it special, but not so special that you’re going to blow up because you want to propose at this particular point on the hike but they’ve decided they don’t want to hike today.
Find the balance between humble and human, and special with meaning.
Because getting married isn’t as good as being married, but to be married you need to get married, and this is step one.
Also, one more thing: ask the question (the “will you marry me” bit) but only if you already know the answer. Don’t become a viral video of a guy asking someone to marry him on national TV and they have to walk away.