Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Question of the Week

Here, Betty Keira indulges in some somewhat gratuitous excitement over the upcoming Royal Wedding.
It's going to feel like a long engagement.

In The Edge of Winter (a mostly awesome book that comes off like marijuana laced brownies--loveliness unnecessarily spiked with icky things) Crispin, our hero, informs Araminta '...I think that when I do marry I shan't want to waste time over an engagement'.

In the interest of full-disclosure, this Betty is of a similar mind. Still, that didn't prevent me from being engaged for two months and one week--just long enough to have finals out of the way but not so long that we couldn't keep our hands to ourselves.

So, my question is: What are engagements for?

Getting to know each other?
(I am not in love with that reason as I adopt the fairly hard party line you shouldn't be getting engaged unless you're dang sure you want to trip rosily into eternity with your intended. Along with an extensive list of laundry and cooking instructions to be given to my college-bound children is 'Thou shalt not ring shop unless thou plan to put a ring on it and not be serially engaged.' But then, if I think my kid is making a rotten choice then I might have to pump for a long engagement...'so that you can get to know each other, sweetie.')
Planning the nuptials? (Okay. Sure. I'll buy that. Not everyone is content with lemonade, a slap-dash buffet and servers press-ganged from friends and family. But when we wander into 'my fiancee' of five years...' territory then I think it's time to get a new wedding planner.)
To give family and friends time to gather? (I'll buy that too. But, then again, it only took the Wise Men a couple of years to find baby Jesus...)

What are your thoughts? No hitting below the belt. Shake hands. Let's keep it clean...Fight!


  1. Betty Barbara here--
    Hmmm, trying to remember back that far (married 38 years now).
    We got engaged in November and decided against a Christmas wedding--so we got married 6 months later, over the Memorial Day weekend. As we both worked for Uncle Sam, this gave us time to save all the vacation days we could (plus we got the holiday off)-so we had a nice 2 week honeymoon.
    Plus, it gave the family time to get travel plans together, etc, etc, pre-marriage counseling (required by church), ordering flowers, and so on.
    All our Betty heroines who had long engagements or 'understandings' came to regret them! So maybe it is just as well that they didn't rush to the alter with Nick the Houseman or that guy in banking/insurance/etc.

  2. Betty Barbara here, again--
    Betty Keira, you have obviously let your excitement over the coming Royal Wedding impair your memory.
    Winter of Change is Mary Jane and Fabian--the really dreary book.
    Crispin and Araminta are The Edge of Winter.(Tante Maybella, remember?)
    Or was this a quiz to make sure we were paying attention??

  3. Ugh. Thanks. I'll fix it. I am working on a few books at a time (catching up for Christmas!) and muddled them.

  4. Oh no, a Fabian? Founding Bettys--I'm begging you--pleeeeze don't go there--it's too dangerous--send Jolly.

  5. Long engagements are silly and dangerous, in more ways than one. It seems to me that the more time you have to plan a wedding, the more money you'll spend on it! And that's leaving chastity (which I consider to be an even more important issue) aside.

    Ours was a "shot-gun" wedding (Betty Magdalen, you'll have to tell your kids to wiki that, too, I'm sure, as no such thing seems to exist these days!) so we were all about FAST! We celebrated our 35th anniversary in June and, while we certainly had a rough few (try 7?) years, our marriage has been blessed in numerous ways. We are happy and content.

    Our son Jason got engaged and moved in with his fiancee (much to my consternation but he was 33 years old and didn't particularly care what I thought about it.) They got married a year to the day from when they got engaged. Sweet idea, I guess.

    I have a British penpal (we started writing when we were both 13, 38 years ago!) and hers was a long engagement - one of the very few I know of wherein not only did the couple remain chaste throughout (trust me on this one) but they have had a long, happy marriage and just became inlaws themselves a couple of months ago. They waited to marry because she was studying to be a doctor and he an engineer. They'd face long separations and both had exhausting workloads. It worked for them.

    My niece had a long (3 years?) engagement but they didn't hold out for the long haul, physically, and although they've been married 22 years, none of us understand how. They are both very unhappy.

    I figure if you don't know one another well enough to get married, you don't know one another well enough to marry.

    But I'm old-fashioned, conservative, Christian and just a BIT opinionated. ;-)


  6. Let's see -- I got engaged to Betty Henry during a transatlantic phone call around 4:30 a.m. my time. We needed to get engaged because he was coming to the U.S. on a K(1) "fiance" visa. We got married on my grandparents' and parents' wedding anniversary, roughly four months after the phone call.

    I got engaged to Betty Ross on or around Valentine's Day (my birthday is the next day, so I'm a bit confused). He wrote me a crossword puzzle that had "WILL YOU MARRY ME" and then either I WILL or I WONT (both would have fitted in the grid) lower down.

    We needed to get married pretty much as soon as possible because Ross had outstayed his visitor status, so we had to submit a bunch of paperwork to get the U.S. government to let him stay. So our first wedding was in May, and our second "big dress" wedding was the following April. I think I needed about six months to plan that event -- it was small but had all the trimmings: photographer, fancy flowers, little girl bridesmaids, etc. Plus, I was planning it from 4,000 miles away!

    So I seem to be in the camp of "planning the nuptials" as a reasonable basis for getting engaged. In one case, we needed to get the K(1) visa, the second case, we needed to dissolve the first marriage in order to enter into the second marriage, and in the third case -- wait, can I say I was engaged if I was already married to the man? I guess not.

    Never mind.

  7. I think each couple has to determine the right timing. For the Prof. and I the length of our courtship was dictated from on High. We met on a pilgrimage. He was almost engaged to another woman, she was making announcements before he even asked. I was almost engaged to the Lord,I was the one assuming the relationship here. The Lord let me know through bible passages and signal graces that He was giving me over to another and that we'd be waiting a year. If you've ever read Maria Von Trapp's story, you'd know how I felt. I got over it! The Prof. still tells people that he stole me from Jesus and has been paying for it ever since. Thirty-one years and counting.
    If your commitment to each other and your values are strong enough, the engagement won't matter, long or short. My older sister was engaged 3 months, she met her husband a year before I met mine on the same pilgrimage.
    My oldest son and DIL were courting for 5 years. They knew each other in high school, starting dating in college and married four years later. They waited for the wedding night, much to the amazement of their wedding party, one of whom had the crassness to mention it in her toast.
    Now on a purely selfish standpoint as a reader, I prefer very short 'novel' engagements! Betty Mary

  8. @ Betty Magdalen--your birthday is the day after Valentines? So is my third baby, Spencer! I shall probably remember you forever for it. Also, I am so loving that we have a fiancee' visa...

    @ Betty Mary--In my head I am singing '...a dream that will need all the love you can give, every day of your life for as long as you live...' I am utterly charmed by your story.

  9. Well, we did climb a few mountain in Colorado while stationed in the Springs, but that was after we had the first five. Yes they marched with us, but they didn't have to wear the curtains. But my sisters and I did. Gramma sewed slipped covers for a living and every summer we ran around Detroit dressed like the VonTrapp kids before America knew it was cool. The song that most applies now is "How do you solve a problem like Maryyyya!

  10. Betty Magdalen's got a movie, too. I loved Green Card! That's one plot Betty never attempted. Picture it: Florrie Burns is being chased by the unscrupulous stepfather. She's hiding in Holland, working at the Day Care for handicap kids. Prof. Wob Van Otterloo finds her in a freezing canal, rescuing a sack of kittens, while being pursued by a rejected suitor leading the Dutch Immigration service sent by her evil step father. Wob marries her to keep her from being returned to her selfish mother and the two grasping stepsisters.

  11. Even though Andie McDowell isn't my favorite actress -- Gerard Depardieu acted rings around her -- I loved Green Card! But it was a little bit different in our case. For one thing, I was the poor half of that union. I had to swear that I'd pay the government back if he ever went on welfare, when in fact he'd saved for MY retirement!

    That interview in the movie -- the one where he doesn't know what brand of shampoo she uses -- is called a Stokes interview. Some couple named Stokes sued the government when they were forced to have separate interviews. They lost, and the interviews have borne their name ever since.

    Henry and I -- as two lawyers -- were all prepared with photos of us doing stuff together, but the USCIS (as it was known then) officer really didn't care and wanted us gone. We forced him to look at our wedding album!

    Ah, good times.

  12. Betty Mary, that is just the neatest story. I love the "I stole her from Jesus and have been paying for it ever since" line!

  13. @Magdalen--If I had been in a sweat about passing that interview I would sure as heck make them pay attention to all my preparation. On a side note, were you taking a bunch of those pictures together and thinking, 'Hey, this will be great in the interview...'

    And dang it, Betty Mary, now I want to read that story!

  14. Professor van der Hertenzoon and I managed a three-month engagement (my mom says no more than 5 months at the outside limit--otherwise, you're either misbehaving or not really in love) without a trip to Brighton--of course, we lived a couple of thousand miles apart, which helped. In fact, our deal was that I decided the limit of our itinerary at the outset, and he was in charge of staying under the speed limit (kiddies, don't try this at home!) His integrity as our travel agent indicates an exciting yet mature man with whom one would want to spend the rest of one's life.

    Of course, these modern Cecil B. De Mille wedding productions need years in the planning....

  15. Betty JoDee -- That's so funny. My mother's rule was that she needed six months to plan a wedding. So my sister called in February (1970) to say she & my B-I-L were engaged.

    Mum: Have you set a wedding date?

    Sis: August 29.

    Mum: That's during my vacation.

    Sis: Well, I'm not moving the date.

    Mum: Then I guess you're getting married in Maine!

    That's where my parents' summer house was -- and I know that sounds grand, but it was an upside-down plywood box with built-in bunk beds, so don't go thinking it was a sprawling "cottage" in Prout's Neck, where one of the elderly Roosevelt cousins had her summer place.]