DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boyfriend and I have been in definite agreement for a while that we would like to get married after I was done with graduate school. However, we felt that it would be in poor taste to announce an engagement for a wedding that was still years down the line, so few people know about our plans yet.
The problem I am having is that I have recently been hearing a lot of women say that you cannot be truly engaged unless a guy has bent down on his knee and given you a ring and said the magic words.
My boyfriend never offered me such a proposal, but he has expressed his sincerity in many other ways. I do not see the point of having him get down on bended knee to propose to me now when we are ready to announce our engagement considering that I already know he wants to marry me. Plus, I do not want an engagement ring, as there are other things I would rather spend the money on. I was hoping to simply announce that we are planning a wedding on a certain date and leave it at that.
Everybody else I have known who had plans to get married down the line has either gotten officially engaged when they knew they wanted to get married, or else their boyfriends "surprised" them with a proposal as the wedding date drew near. I do not mind not receiving a proposal myself, but I am starting to feel that I must be doing things improperly. Who is right?
GENTLE READER: Nobody.
A definite agreement to be married is the definition of an engagement. Rings, bended knees and announcements are merely optional frills.
But you are dangerously wrong in allowing the expectations of outsiders to make you doubt the decisions you and your fiance make. Miss Manners hopes you will correct this before you find yourself in a marriage being run by gossips.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother is in the final stages of dementia/Alzheimer's, and preparations are being made for her funeral arrangements. My concern is her headstone.
She was married three times and had children from her first two marriages. She is being buried in her parents' lot next to her predeceased third husband. Her first husband, killed during World War II, is buried elsewhere, as is her second husband. She will eventually have her grown child from the first marriage and one of her grown children from her second marriage buried next to her.
The executor, my brother, suggests her maiden name on the headstone and the saying "Beloved wife of... " with the names and years of her marriage to her three husbands. The thought is that this arrangement will explain the various eventual different surnames that will be at that lot. Is this idea acceptable? I conferred with a genealogist cousin and with the headstone company and received an affirmative answer.
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners is certainly not going to object. Nor, she imagines, are the future passersby in the cemetery, who are likely to be touched by how charming the lady must have been to be three times beloved, and how unfortunate to have been three times widowed.