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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Marriage Proposals

Today we have a couple of questions for the marriage minded. The first question was sparked by our other workplace dilemma of the witch in the cubicle.

I have a very different problem at work. One of my coworkers is recently married. She invited me to her wedding, but I could not attend due to a previous obligation. We belong to the same parish and work at the same store, but outside of that we do no socialize (I'm old enought ot be her mother!) Here's my problem: she keeps reminding me that I have not given her a wedding present yet. Is it customary? Expected? Good manners? Just one of those social mores?


Holy Toledo! What gets into people? My readers have had various comments about this situation, mostly pointing out that the poor new bride has poor manners. Although this is certainly true, it doesn't help poor Karen out, unless we expect Karen to throw her nose into the air and say, "It is the height of bad manners to ask for a gift. The meaning of "gift" is that it is a freely given thing. If this is your attitude, then please call it by its proper name, 'obligation."

I know Karen is thinking exactly that. We all are.

But, it doesn't solve the problem. If Karen doesn't respond somehow, the bride will probably (I'm going out on a limb there) give up eventually. But her long nagging period will also cause resentment to both parties, making going to work all the more.....work. It shouldn't be work to go to work. It should just be work when you get there.

Meanwhile, over in the Peanut Gallery, there has been added discussion about whether are not you are obliged to cough up this wedding obligation. The truth is, you are never obliged to give a gift. But bad manners go both ways, so all the etiquette books, which are really simply guidelines in how to treat other people nicely and not ruffle any feathers and make everyone feel at ease, say that if you go to the wedding, you should bring a gift.

This seems fair to me. Especially is you are partaking of the free party after the wedding.

The etiquette books also say that, if you are not attending, you are not obliged to give a gift.

This puts Karen squarely in the second category. She did not go to the wedding.

Being right doesn't really do much to not ruffle any feathers and put everyone at ease. My solution is to cough up a gift that doesn't cost anything. Once you have given a gift, the poor clod really has to stick a cork in it for good. I suggest a prayer card. I realize that it's not what she's after and that she'll probably be disappointed. But she can't point out to you that it's not a great gift, because she would insult you and because it actually is a great gift.

Make sure that you say, "OH! I brought your wedding present," when you haul it out to hand it to her. Make sure the card says on the front, "The Gift of Prayer", just to drive your point home. That should fix her wagon.

Meanwhile, this lady is looking for a ring.

I was wondering which saints might be helpful in getting my boyfriend to finally "pop the question". It's been four years now, and although I know he loves me and wants to get married someday, his idea of someday and mine are very different. I'm tired of living the way we are living and want to fulfill my vocation and raise some good Catholic stock of my own!
Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you for your time.

Are you sure you don't want to ask Dear Abby? I know Ann kicked the bucket, but Abby's still around isn't she? I think her daughter took over the column.

I know I'm a nun and might be missing something on which everyone else is clear. After four years you can't just say to this fellow, "When are we getting married? I have to fish or cut bait here."

I don't understand why you have to hem and haw and hint and pussyfoot around a very important question that involves the both of you equally. "We've been going together for four years and I'd like to know if we are going to get married, and if so, when."

It's not a timetable for pulling out of Afghanistan, for goodness sake!

Is it really just a matter of wanting him to be romantic and get down on one knee or have the question posted on the jumbotron at the ball game or put the ring in your pie at dinner?

After four years, I'd say, get over it. Apparently, he's not the type. We can't have everything.

St. Agnes is the patron saint for landing a feller.


Dan Lower / KKairos said...

Yeah, shoot.

Just propose to him. He might not quite expect it, but if it's what you want, at least be honest about it even if you don't want to totally reverse the traditional gender roles.

Maggie said...

This might be a little bit rude... but to the second lady with a conundrum:

Are you living together, or sleeping with him? Because, quite frankly, if so, he has very little to gain by marrying you, except perhaps a tax break. I know many people claim to have "marriage/committment issues" but in my anecdotal experience, my friends who lived with their boyfriends tended to wait years for the proposal (as many as six years, in one case). Those whose relationships were chaste where engaged in, on average, seven to twelve months. (for Grown Ups out of school, that is. If you're still in college or grad school it's a bit different).

Obviously I don't know you or your boyfriend so it's easy to sit behind the anonymity of the Internet and judge, but I would certainly not stand for that. For Catholics, knowing your vocation (as you seem to) means fence sitting no longer applies. Either he wants to marry you or he doesn't. After four years he'd better know the answer. (for more insight, written in a more charitable way and with far more wit, I highly recommend Seraphic Singles by Dorothy Cummings McClean. She's a doll. She's found at http://seraphicsinglescummings.blogspot.com/ )

slimsdotter said...

I am delighted to be invited to the wedding of a lovely, devout, young Catholic girl. Please tell me, when I attend the wedding, is it more respectful to try to copy along with making the sign of the cross, etc, or is it more respectful as a non-catholic if I don't. I have wondered this before when with Catholics when they pray before meals, etc.
Also is there anything I should know to avoid embarassing myself. I know about not being eligible for Eucharist. Besides that. I appreciate being able to ask questions in this forum-- I could ask my friends but it feels awkward. They would say "whatever you want" but I want to do what is proper.

Janeee said...

Thanks Sister for your insight. I had a feeling I'd get a response like that, I've even told myself the same things sometimes. It's not the romantic hoopla I'm egging for. Just the commitment. But it's hard to keep bringing it up with the same response over and over.

Dan Lower, I tried that already a few years ago. He didn't want to rush it.

Maggie: you hit the jackpot. At the time, I didn't think it was a big deal and I'd finished school and didn't want to move back in with my parents. Stupid girl. Thanks for the link, I will peruse it later on tonight.

In any case, I've also talked to Father about this conundrum and finally just decided to sit down and have a proper discussion with the man about the whole thing. So I'll give him a bit longer (I think HE'S more romantic than me, he said a serious talk was not a nice way get engaged. I suppose I agree) and then...

I just might have to cut bait.

Thanks again.

Claudia's thoughts said...

I would buy the etiquette book and make the book chapter where it states that a gift is not required...and hopefully she gets the hint...

For the second is the saying "Why buy a cow if you can get the milk for free."

Since the 60's with all the free love and sexual equality the women have not done themselves many favors.

Janeee said...

Oh! and Sister, I didn't go to Abby or Ann or Daughter because they aren't nearly as good at saint matching, and that was, after all, what I was in search of.
Perhaps I'll throw the whole engagement thing aside and pray for the intercession of St. Augustine, patron saint of new beginnings (I'll leave it to God to decide which type)

Anonymous said...

To slimsdotter --
As a Catholic I can assure you that the no-receiving-Holy-Communion thing is the most important point for a non-Catholic attending a Catholic Mass. After that, as long as you are quiet and reverent, it's totally up to you how much you participate. You are most welcome to follow along in the book, sing the hymns, say the prayers, and make the Sign of the Cross. You can also approach the priest or deacon at Communion time with your arms crossed over your chest, and he will give you a blessing instead of Communion (please note that this can only happen if the person distributing Holy Communion is a priest or deacon).

On the other hand, you are also welcome to remain in your seat during Communion. And you certainly don't have to say the prayers, make the Sign of the Cross, or sing the hymns if you don't want to. No one should mind either way, as long as you are respectful. I will say that it looks a bit odd when people don't sit and stand at the appropriate times (just follow along with what everyone else is doing). When the congregation kneels, sitting is also appropriate if you'd rather sit, but we kneel to show reverence for the Holy Eucharist.

I hope this was helpful!!!

slimsdotter said...

Thank you, Anonymous .

Paige said...

Sister, I am a wedding planner and your etiquette is incorrect (though it probably should be correct for the sake of argument, because I see the point being made about attending the party). In fact, newer etiquette states that if you are invited to a wedding, you should always send a gift, even if you cannot attend.

berenike said...

The not-yet-fiancee should be reading Seraphic Singles :)