I have been thinking for a while that I would like to propose to my boyfriend, but upon telling my close friends and family I got a bit of a negative reaction that I wasn’t expecting. I would have thought that in this day and age that it would be perfectly acceptable for a woman to propose to a man, but it seems that it is still frowned upon!
I would love to marry my boyfriend, but do I have to wait around for him to pop the question rather than just going for it when I feel it’s right?
I’m so glad you brought this subject up for discussion. You have certainly hit on an important point, and it’s a question that needs to be considered carefully. Women have made so much progress in so many ways in modern times, and our society and culture are much more amenable to things that couldn’t have happened even 50 years ago. From female CEOs and astronauts to the phenomenon of the stay at home dad, we have seen many old ideas of patriarchy and a male-dominated society fade away. Given all that, it seems just plain silly that a woman cannot propose to a man with the blessing of her friends, parents, and relatives. Why is this the case?
Historically, men have been in charge of the marriage proposal for several reasons. But the most outstanding explanation is the fact that our kinship system – how we decide who we are related to and how to make a family tree – is male oriented. A woman marries a man, takes his name, and their children bear his name too. It seems that because of this simple truth, it follows that the man is the one who initiates the relationship we call marriage. But there is really no reason why this should be so – what difference does it make to the family tree who asks the question?
Maybe it’s a matter of keeping control in a male-dominated culture, and the question of who does the proposing is certainly not the only area of life where gender roles determine what happens. But it does strike me as strange that this is absolutely a situation that requires the agreement, cooperation, and commitment of both partners – so why shouldn’t the woman be able to propose?
I would also say that it’s possible that you are looking for approval in all the wrong places by putting so much importance on what your family feels and says about your notion. After all, your future husband’s reaction to your marriage proposal is the most important thing to consider in this case. And here’s something else to think about – would you really want to marry him if he doesn’t like the idea of you making the proposal?
So we probably have a good idea as to why your family and friends don’t think your proposing is a good idea. But you have to consider your feelings, your fiance’s feelings, make a decision based on reality, and do what you think is right. There’s another way to handle this problem, too. If you think of the marriage proposal as a cooperative decision to commit, reached in private and between the two of you, the way it’s actually done can remain a mystery – until after the wedding.
Thanks again for your question,