Among my broader circle of friends and acquaintances who are getting their marriage on, I’ve noticed a mini-trend. When the guys are imminently planning to propose to their girlfriend, it seems that inevitably, one of the ideas that gets tossed around is some sort of fake out where the guy will make the girl think he is about to propose and then doesn’t.
First, some background. In this broad circle (my wife and I included), it is very common for couples to go through some sort of pre-engagement counseling in addition to a pre-marital program. Now pre-marital counseling is nothing new, but pre-engagement counseling seems to be a newfangled thing. Impersonally, it seems to be a pervading value to make the best decision possible with the most information possible. More appropriately, couples usually do it to grow more deeply in their own understanding of self as well as explore more deeply the dynamics of their relationship.
As an aside, I highly recommend it as it was really helpful to “ask the hard questions” outside the context of being “locked in” (ie. a ring) and without the added overhead and the all-consuming process of planning a wedding. Said another way, it was helpful to prepare for a marriage instead of just preparing for a wedding.
Anyhow, doing so much relational processing as a couple will often times take out most, if not all, of the surprise of getting engaged assuming the couple discerns that they will be getting married (it would probably be a shock if they broke up). However, inevitably, the guy will still have some traditionalist sense of wanting to surprise his girl and it seems that the only way to reintroduce any surprise is to try and throw her off the trail.
This is why I think some sort of fake out idea is always tossed around. “I know she knows we’re getting married so if I ‘help’ her continue to think she knows what’s coming and then BOOM! not do anything, then I’ll be in the clear. Problem solved.”
I’m not saying that a fake out always ends up making the final cut. Sometimes, another female is introduced somewhere along the way who provides perspective for how extremely emotional it can be for a girl. But it seems that guys should get a little credit for wanting to keep some chivalry be it a bit misguided.