Marriage proposals: Mixed feelings over new fad

By Olakunle Olafioye

When about three decades ago he was in search of a life partner, Mr. Idowu Shodiya said he had everything but the courage to make his heartfelt desire known to the lady he considered met his standard. 

But after months of dilatory attempts, he confided in a colleague who tried unsuccessfully to embolden him to take the bull by the horns. 

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The lady involved, according to Shodiya, was the company’s receptionist and a junior colleague to him. “So her seeming popularity among the workers in the company couple with her status as a junior staff combined to instill in me the fear of becoming an object of ridicule should she rebuff my advances and make public spectacle of it,” Mr. Shodiya recalled.

A ray of hope however emerged when the shy-admirer got wind of a report that the birthday of his dream girl was around the corner. 

“I informed my confidant who encouraged me to get a decent but subtly romantic birthday card, a suggestion I considered pretty ‘risky’. Instead, I opted for a simple birthday greeting card. At the end of the day it turned out that I was the only person who presented such item to her on her birthday in that office and that was the ice breaker,” he stated.  

Gradually, the duo got closer, and later started visiting each other as the relationship become more intimate until they sealed and consummated it about two years later. 

“Sincerely speaking,” continuing Mr. Shodiya, “I can’t recall if either of us ever made any formal marriage proposal to each other as it is being done nowadays. 

“The closest to such move, I think, was when her aunt asked me what my plan for her was. I can still recall vividly that came at about the same time my mother asked if I truly wanted her as my wife. So I feel somehow uneasy when I see youths of today glamorize and make public show of marriage proposals, especially when they come in front of cameras in dramatic fashion and without the fear of getting their proposals rejected.”

Times have indeed changed and a lot has equally changed about the approaches and stages leading to marriage nowadays. 

One of the notable changes is the fad of making marriage proposals public events. Many intending couples have been seen at places like restaurants, malls, churches, recreational centres and many other places with relatively large presence of people, both invited and uninvited, making open declaration of their love and requesting the other’s party consent in taking their relationship to another level. In some cases, lovers have been seen accompany this hitherto private practice with theatrics.

Not a few believe people that most of these publicly made marriage proposals are pre-arranged between the lovers for reasons that are best known to the parties involved.

 However, getting to see instances where one of the two parties openly decline the marriage offer by the other party and cases of marriage proposals that have gone awry in recent times accentuate the fact that not all publicly made marriage proposals are pre-planned.

 An instance of celebrated cases of theatrical marriage proposal that boomeranged is the case of a young female soldier who openly accepted a marriage proposal from a male youth corps member. 

The incident made many to wonder as to whether the lady-soldier involved was not aware of the rule forbidding members of the Nigerian Armed Forces from engaging in such public show. 

But there are those who are of the opinion that even if the lady was aware of the rule forbidding her from engaging in such practice in public, the need to save her lover from the attendant ignominy of openly declining his offer could have compelled her to play along and damned the consequence of her action.  

Indeed, the consequences of getting marriage proposals openly rejected could be more devastating. 

Recently, a young man who got his marriage proposal publicly rejected was reported to have slipped into depression following what he was said to have referred to as public humiliation by a lady he had dated for over a year. 

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A source close to the victim told Sunday Sun that family members of the heartbroken young man have continued to pay close attention to him to prevent him from resorting to doing the unthinkable as all efforts to get him put the disappointment behind him have proved futile. 

“I believe his frustration over the event stemmed largely from the fact that the humiliation happened at one of his siblings’ wedding and in the presence of so many people including family members, friends and colleagues from his place of work who attended the ceremony. Nobody could say why the lady acted the way she did because the two of them had been together for a long time,” the source revealed.

A relationship counselor and CEO, Re-glow Consultation Service, Mrs. Shola Abayomi Ogundimu, said that a number of reasons could necessitate the rejection of marriage proposals when it is least expected.

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 According to her, a partner might be happy in a romantic relationship without having the intention for a lifetime commitment with the other partner. 

Her words: “You must consider the fact that your partner may not be feeling the way you are feeling about marriage. Yes, she might be happy about the relationship but that doesn’t expressly mean she is ready for marriage. She might be committed to the relationship but that doesn’t mean she’s ready for a lifetime commitment. She might be catching full fun in the relationship but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to fulfill the marriage vows with you. Hence, it is important to have a clear intention that is void of assumption before going ahead to propose to your partner, especially publicly,” she cautioned.

Mrs. Ogundimu, therefore, urged people in romantic relationships to endeavour to test the waters by asking reasonable questions that will give them the clues to what to expect when proposing. 

“While getting to know each other, ask questions that are reasonable enough to give you a clue of what to expect when you propose to her, be it openly among friends, family, strangers or just between the two of you. It is important to also know that proposing to a lady in front of the camera can prompt her to make decisions she’s not comfortable with which might not go down well with you either.

“If she says, ‘no’, it could mean she is not emotionally or psychologically ready for the responsibilities attached to saying ‘yes, I do’ for a lifetime. It could also mean, you are not whom she really needs; she’s just enjoying your relationship but yet to make a decision about whether to stay with you forever or not. She might not be comfortable with the relationship as a result of red flags she can’t handle. It could also mean that you’re not the only one she’s dating, or might not even consider you as a real date, she is just catching fun with your money and material possessions as long as they make her happy. And it could be any other reason best known to her.

“In order to avoid public embarrassment with the attendant emotional trauma, be sure you’ve asked her out properly and she has given you a reply before you start the relationship. Also ensure you confirm from her if she really wants to spend the rest of her life with you before going ahead to propose,” she advised.

Speaking in the same vein, a marriage counselor, Mrs Lilian Chukwudubem said proposing to someone one intends to settle down with in the public does not violate any known rule. 

But she advised that a partner planning to do so must understand the other party in the relationship before going ahead.

 “We are all different in every aspect because what one partner may consider interesting and fascinating may appear offensive and unnecessary to the other party. This is why I will encourage that intending couples understand themselves very well before taking such decision,” she said.

Looking at the issue from biblical point of view, Pastor Olumide Refined-Falola of Gospel Faith Mission Intl., Overcomers’ Assembly, Lagos, said the Bible is not emphatic on the approach to deploy when making marriage proposals unlike the instructions on whom believers should marry and the injunctions about how intending couples must conduct themselves before they finally tie the nuptial knots. 

He, however, urged the party planning to propose to the other partner to exercise caution in doing so to avoid disappointing outcome.

According to him, “the practice of how intention should be made known to the other partner in a relationship has more to do with personal conviction, individual creativity and trending practices. The baseline is that the moment you are convinced about whom you wish to spend the rest of your life with, go all out and deploy every acceptable and creative approach as permitted by relevant law. Caution should, however, be taken because some people have ended up with disappointments with lasting psychological consequences.” 

Also reacting, an Islamic scholar, Alhaji Abdulganiyu Mustapha said that the practice is alien to the Nigerian culture and has no place among the laid down procedures for intending couples in Islam. 

“In the first place, making marriage proposal a public affair is alien to our culture. Also, Islamically there is no room for such practice. It is a borrowed practice.

“Marriage is a serious affair because the parties involved will be accountable to Allah on the day of judgment regarding how they go about it. It is more of a religious duty. That’s why Islam has laid down the procedures for the intending couple to follow before tying the knots. Kneeling down for one another and presenting ring are never part of the laid down procedure,” he noted.

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