Me and my now-fiance have been going out for almost a year now, and I really want to scream to the world about our engagement. But the problem is he doesn't want me to tell anyone, especially his family, until he has graduated college (he's getting a PHD in veterinary practice). It's really killing me inside not to tell everyone I love and care about. I mean, it's just a moment that every girl dreams about and every girl figures once it happens she'll get to parade around town and all the cool hangouts showing of her ring. I can't even wear my ring on my engagement finger, or even wear it in public.
I was hoping that you could help me figure out how to endure these next eight to nine years of keeping this HUGE secret from everyone. I mean, it's completely understandable why he wants to keep it a secret, because his mom is against young marriage and he doesn't want to sabotage our bond by outside sources, but I just want to stand up on a table in the middle of a restaurant and scream that I'm his forever.
Funny, this letter kind of made me want to stand on a table and scream, too! But, y'know, for different reasons. Because forget about eight years of secret engagement—the way things are going, you guys aren't gonna last eight months.
Sorry, I know that's harsh. But according to you, it's also the truth: that this relationship, to which you are committed for life, is nevertheless so fragile that it'll fall apart if someone so much as looks sideways at it. And if you guys can't get it together as a couple to own your commitment, whether or not you have the support of your friends, family, and society at large, that doesn't exactly bode well for your ability to spend the rest of your lives together. Because, y'know, teaming up and facing the world is kind of the whole point of marriage.
Which is to say, if you can't work up the nerve to tell your mom that you're planning to tie the knot, then you have no business making plans to tie the knot. Because marriage is for grownups, and grownups don't predicate their choices on whether or not their parents say it's okay.
So, what does this mean for you? One of two things: either you and Fiance need to have a serious conversation about the terms of your engagement—specifically, about how there's nothing "understandable" about treating it, and you, like some kind of embarrassing secret—agree on a timeline for sharing the news, and (most importantly) present a mature, united front to anyone who throws you shade for your decision. Not that many people will—after all, you're still waiting until roughly 2019 to tie the knot, right?—but any disapproval can be easily met with a polite, subject-defusing dismissal. Ex: "I understand your concerns, but we're thrilled to be planning a life together and hope you can find a way to be happy for us."
And if you can't do that? Then call it off. And if he won't do that? Drop him like a hot potato. Because exciting as it is, engagement isn't really about the chance to parade around town with your love-rock hanging out for all to see. It's about building a life with someone you love—and that's something you can't do without a foundation of honesty, trust, and mutual respect.
And as far as those things go, being willing to publicly acknowledge your relationship is a non-negotiable requirement.
Ask Kat is SparkNotes' advice column for the post-high-school crowd. Got a question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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