Marriage: Why public proposals aren’t so cute after all

Friday, August 2nd, 2019 00:00 |
Men are getting more and more creative when it comes to marriage proposals. But are bride-to-be impressed or put under pressure?

Police arrests, bikers’ mob, Airport arrival… they’re not shooting a movie or video. It’s a marriage proposal. Hopeful grooms, it seems are increasingly willing to put in time, effort and money to impress their significant others. But just how many of these brides-to be fancy the idea of a public proposal?

Coercive? “It all depends with your partner. In my case, I had sort of given up on my bae proposing. So yes, it was quite a surprise.

In fact, of all things he’s ever tried surprising me with, this was an all time win. Since he knew me too well, it was clear that the idea of a public proposal would work for me,” Chebby Milly says.

Colluding with his friends and her family, her Prince Charming Terence Creative, brought Kimathi Street to a standstill.

You see, Milly was accosted by about 20 askaris and while trying to sort the matter out, a group of friends pulled up with placards reading ‘Will You Marry Me.’ He then got down on one knee holding an engagement ring and asked for her hand in marriage.

She acknowledged her boo’s creativity. “He has an impeccable taste and creativity…I said yes... those policemen wawawa… Kimathi street was blocked, Nation Centre was at stand still.

I felt loved,” she adds. She, however, insists public proposals would not work on everyone. “If your partner isn’t so much of an outgoing social person, then this would definitely not sit well with them,” she says. 

Ulterior motive?

It didn’t work for Karen Nzioka. She had been admitted to the bar and had a congratulatory party. Family and friends including her boyfriend had been invited. Although they had issues threatening to press the kill switch in their relationship, she still felt that he needed to be there. 

As the boyfriend everyone knew including family, he was called to give his congratulatory speech. He talked, and talked then he called her up. She joined him. Down, he went on his knee. A question dropped from his mouth. “Will you marry me?” he asked.

All at the party:  Father, mother, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, friends and enemies looked.  It was Karen who spoke next. She said ‘No’. You see he had caught his girlfriend with another man, few weeks before.

And now he was proposing? Anyone would read either malice or complete desperation and manipulation in this, no?

But how can you say ‘no’ when dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of people are eager for you to say ‘yes’? “Unless you have already agreed to get married and a proposal is just icing on the cake, public marriage proposals are almost always a form of manipulation,” says Syaviha Mulengya promoter of peace in marriage.

“If you know that proposing at her graduation party or your friend’s wedding or at a restaurant would add too much pressure to her, then you must not ask her in that way,” he says.

“And if you’re happy knowing you are essentially coercing your partner into saying yes, then you need to reassess your life and step back from the relationship altogether until you have fully understood the point of mutual respect,” he adds.

Be on the same page

But if you’re interested in proposing in public, what should you do? “It’s a personal decision based on the couple,” says Sammy Baya, relationship counsellor and expert in marriage. 

“First, you better be absolutely sure your partner wants to marry you before you ask in public. Make sure your partner is okay with public attention.

If this person is really introverted, private, doesn’t like attention, it’s probably not a good idea,” sociologist Jackline Wamunyu says. “Doing it in public is always a bigger risk. If you want to go the safe, conservative route and make sure all of the attention stays on her, do it in private,” she adds.

But some people may say “yes” in public, but then reconsider their decision later. Wamunyu advises people being proposed to in front of an audience to be honest and not get distracted by everyone looking on.

“Don’t ever get pressured into marrying somebody because you might end up looking bad in front of everyone else. If this is not the right person, say ‘no’. It’s okay,” she says.

So what do you do if she says ‘no’. “Well, It might be that turning down the proposal means that you will break up, so you should be prepared for this possibility. However, it may be that your partner wants to stay with you, but does not want to marry you (yet). In this case, it’s time to dig into the details,” Wamunyu says.

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