My friend Nora got engaged this summer, and her engagement story actually felt kind of revolutionary…

Here’s her story:

In early August, my boyfriend, Stan, and I went to a B&B in Vermont for a long weekend. We wanted to get out of the city and hike. I had been thinking for a couple months about how to talk about getting married. Our past conversations — about, say, dating exclusively and moving in together — had always been very organic and easy. So, one afternoon, we were lying around and I said, “You know what I’ve been thinking about?” And he said, “Tell me.” And I said, “I’d really like to get engaged, I love you and want to spend my life with you.” And he said, “Me, too!” And we started kissing and crying, and it was so romantic.

The whole rest of the weekend turned into a very chatty weekend. We talked about what marriage meant to us, the religion of our future children, when we would want to have kids.

When we got back from the trip, we invited my parents to brunch at our favorite NYC diner. We told them that we were going to get married, and my dad said, “Welcome to the family!” and my mom started crying — which is exactly what I had told Stan would happen. Then we went to design a ring together, and Stan and I made decisions together on what looked best.

Later, when we were telling our friends the story, they really struggled with details — like, what’s the date of the anniversary of your engagement? And we were like, um, not sure, it has been a process. My friends would ask, So, are you actually engaged? Did he propose? What did he do?

Our conversations in Vermont, and talking to my parents, and going to design the ring, and telling people, and picking up the ring, and telling my sister and his mom…all of those things were joyous. There was never any moment where I was waiting or wondering or anxious or analyzing. I was never in the dark, I was just happy and calm every single step.

I love big proposal stories for sure, but a few of my friends will be the first to admit that they’re a little twisted up, they’re waiting, they feel at sea and out of control of the engagement decision. They hesitate to bring it up to their boyfriends, as if it’s a decision that he has to make, a trigger he has to pull. That can be an unsettling feeling. For us, it worked because we took ourselves through it every step of the way. I never felt like I was waiting for him to do anything. We decided together, and we moved through it together.

Thanks (and congratulations), Nora! What do you guys think? Alex proposed on a boat and I adored it — but there were a few months beforehand where I wanted to discuss getting married, but I felt like I couldn’t bring it up without looking desperate. Which is kind of nuts when you’re making such an enormous life decision. There’s no other major decision — moving in together, having children, buying a house, moving cities — that you wouldn’t discuss together as equal partners, right? What do you think? Did your partner propose? Would you consider talking about it openly and moving through the process together? I’d love to hear…

P.S. Will you change your name when you get married? Or elope?

(Illustration by Nan Lawson; photo courtesy Nora and Stan)