Ladies: Just Because You Can, Is It Wise To Propose to Your Lover?

Duduzile Nhlabathi August 15, 2016

Marriage proposals by women have become more common in recent years to the extent that some jewelers have started manufacturing engagement rings for men. In the United States, alone, about 5 percent of marriage proposals are made by women. Having said this, just because you can propose, does it mean you should?

Recently, I researched the origins of the marriage proposal since the idea of a man going on bended knee and producing a shiny ring is more of a Western culture practice. Apparently, hopeful grooms would send their relatives or friends to visit a family on his behalf to deliver the message of interest to a particular young lady he fancied to wed. This original practice is similar to many African customs.

The conclusion I came to was that for centuries past, it was always the job of a man to assemble his trusted representatives to send to his prospective in-laws. Thus, the idea of a woman doing so has always been more of an exception than the norm.

Even though the times have changed and women are more liberated than ever, why is the idea of a woman going on bended knee still strange and even totally unacceptable to most people? Does this mean that some societies are evolving at a rate slower than that of change, or is there a far deeper dynamic at play? In order to try and make sense of this, I had to ask myself if I would propose marriage to my bae and consider my reasons behind that decision.

No matter how totally captivated you are by a man, you should never utter the four words “Will you marry me?” due to the following: 

Social Conditioning

In fairy tales and romantic movies, the guy does the asking; thus, as long as I remember, my idea of getting whisked away into the sunset by Prince Charming never included me getting my knees dirty. I am even trying to figure what planted the idea of a man showing up with a ring to begin with in my mind, since in my culture, cows secure the wife and not the ring. Then I remembered that the images I had been exposed to as a young woman have influenced a lot of what I expect when it comes to love and relationships. Can I unlearn this? Yes, most probably? Do I want to unlearn this? No, I still want that 2.5 carat ring. Will I teach my daughter otherwise? No don’t see any need to.

My mother.

My mother will kill me first and then disown me should I ever ask a man out on a date, never mind ask a man to be my husband. While there is nothing much she can do to stop me from doing so, the idea of not getting my parents blessing with regards to whom I chose to wed would break my heart. I guess my dad and brother could never take a man whom was proposed marriage to seriously, and I would not want to take the man I love down that path.

The psyche of a man.

I am firm believer that men fall in love by doing and not by receiving, and hence why men love the thrill of the chase. I believe men love to win over their conquest and not have her thrown across his front door. Men assign a high value to that which they have worked hard for, as this gives them a sense of achievement. I believe that I am a woman of high value, and a man must prove that he is worthy in order to have the pleasure of spending the rest of his life with me. How will he see me as high value if I go around buying engagement rings?


I am the girl who goes around preaching that if a man wants to be with you, he will make a plan. I can’t image going back on my word and kneeling in front of a man declaring “Since I love you so much, I decided to make a plan for you.” What story will I tell my kids one day, and will I be filled with pride when I am relating this story?

In reality, my thoughts and feelings around this matter are all influenced by how and where I have been brought up. My parents and the society I live in have greatly influenced my frame of reference. Thus the question with regards to whether you should or shouldn’t is really immaterial. The question that one should ask, rather, is apart from what I have been taught, does my decision resonate with the person I chose to be now? Just because I chose to be the girl with clean knees does not mean there is anything wrong with getting yours dirty for the man that you love.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: August 15, 2016


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