Rules of Engagement

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of my marriage. Even all these years later, I’m still regularly asked to tell the story of how my husband and I met. I’m forever explaining how on earth a farmer from Kansas could have met a writer from Boston (the Internet), whether I was scared to move so far away (not really) or how much of a culture shock it was (freakishly huge). But the one story I don’t have is an engagement story. We met; we got married. As to how we got there, I couldn’t say. At the time it didn’t bother me, because being married mattered more than getting married. And I did have a ring–albeit one I picked out, a couple weeks before I moved. “I found a ring,” I told my now-husband on the phone. Great, he said, and gave me his credit card number. There was no getting down on one knee, no deep gaze into my eyes as he asked me to be with him forever. It was as if we already knew the answer, so the question didn’t need to be asked.

Maybe that’s why I treasure Laura’s engagement story. First, it exists. Beyond that, it’s just enough off-kilter to be interesting, which I think beats traditional any day.

“I was wondering …” Almanzo paused. Then he picked up Laura’s hand that shone white in the starlight, and his sun-browned hand closed gently over it. He had never done that before. “Your hand is so small,” he said. Another pause. Then quickly, “I was wondering if you would like an engagement ring.”

“That would depend on who offered it to me,” Laura told him.

“If I should?” Almanzo asked.

“Then it would depend on the ring,” Laura answered, and drew her hand away.

Then there’s the song. Do you remember, the one Laura sings? (And which you can listen to here — thankfully for me, since I’d always sung it in my head to the tune of “My Darling Clementine” and apparently needed to be corrected.)

Finally, there’s the ring, which has nothing whatsoever to do with diamonds. (Neither does mine. It’s a sapphire.)

What’s your engagement story? Does it compare to Laura’s?

Posted in Almanzo Wilder, These Happy Golden Years
13 comments on “Rules of Engagement
  1. Lauri says:

    I don’t have an engagement story. (Hence the name of my blog) However, my best friend and I were discussing how we would like to become engaged. She asked, in case she ever needs to provide advice, how Almanzo proposed to Laura since she pointed out I would be so happy if someone tried to duplicate it.

  2. Dr Laura says:

    My husband and I began “going together” when we were both 16 and juniors at the same high school. We have now been together 33 years. It was strange but from our first date on, I knew that I would always be with him. How does one know that at 16?
    We were both very practical and old beyond our years so we had everything all planned out. I knew when he was going to propose (the general time anyway) I just didn’t know how. Looking back, it wasn’t the most romantic way in the world but it worked. We had gone to a movie on the afternoon of Christmas Eve during our freshman year of college. After the movie he drove to a nearby park and then in the car ( a ’65 mustang!) he pulled a ring box from his glove compartment and proposed. Ken’s dad was a jeweler and so the ring came from him. It was just a simple solitaire but to me it was beautiful. Sadly, about 15 years later I lost that ring but he replaced it a few years later with another beautiful ring. We married on Jan. 2 two years later and have lived happily ever after so far.

    I just acquired a pearl and garnet Victorian ring that looks very similar to the catalog picture. I tried wearing it all the time but promptly lost one of the pearls. I had the pearl replaced and now only wear it for LIW presentations.

    Dr. Laura

  3. Connie in Colorado says:

    My one and only dear husband and I have been married for 16-1/2 years, wedded at the ripe ‘old age’ of 39. We were introduced by a mutual friend, making phone calls first (he is from Oklahoma and knew how to ‘talk right’ as I hale from Texas), then meeting for dinner (he went to the wrong restaurant first!), then seeing each other once a month for a while. We were both in our mid-30s and gun-shy from past relationships. After dating for 2 years we broke up – again out of fear of the c-word, ‘commitment.’

    But, as his mother says, ‘in his misery’ Mac called and we started seeing each other again, this time with more resolve and purpose. We set a date to decide by April if we would pursue marriage. When April came and went I was beginning to worry that ‘here-we-go-again’ worry. He asked me to a very nice restaurant (The Broker) for May 1st, 1993, where we had a lovely dinner. Mac excused himself from the table to supposedly get his jacket from the car, and returned with the jacket folded over his arm and a little wrapped box in hand. From across the table he handed me the box with a little grin, and I was starting to feel warm inside (almost surreal). I unwrapped the box to find an oil filter box (he always changed my car’s oil – and still does) and then found a little jewel box with a diamond solitaire set on a simple gold ring. I looked at him, and all he said was “Well, will you…?” “Will I what?” said I. “Will you marry me?!” I smiled but did not answer him until the next day (Sunday) when he picked me up for church. As I was wearing his ring, he smiled and knew that I was saying “yes.”

    We were married December 18, 1993, in my hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas. I turned 40 two weeks later!

  4. jodi says:

    I always found it interesting how “she felt something cool slip over her first finger” when he gave her the ring. The finger we wear the ring on has changed! If you look at old pics of young victorian couples you will often see the ring proudly worn on the first finger of her left (or right, if the image is backwards) hand.

    My engagement story – I lived in Pittsburgh my whole life. Went to college here, met my boyfriend who took a job on the west coast. As graduation loomed, it was like he expected me to follow… as his girlfriend… and I felt like either our relationship had to either move up to another level or else end, and he didn’t seem to want to move uo. I was not going 3,000 miles as just his girlfriend. We went for a walk one day to the cemetery (near our college apartment, I liked to walk there and he followed one day when i was in a particularly pensive mood) and we started talking and I basically said I would not follow as just his girlfriend – and he said “Then I guess what I need to ask is will you marry me?” So I got my proposal in the Homewood Cemetery next to a pond as rain started to fall. We went ring shopping a day or two later.

    Our marriage has had its ups and downs… funny thing is so has my ring. I lost it while looking for our first house (after moving back to Pittsburgh 6 years later) and thought I would never see it again – but after being run over by a car and hit by a lawnmower, it was found and returned. Cockeyed, but intact. I just wore it like that. Then a month or so ago I smashed my finger while putting a tricycle together and the stone popped out, the prongs were bent beyond hope so I took it in for repairs and just got it back yesterday – shiny and whole and looking better than ever. I kinda hope it’s some whacky symbol that whatever dings our marriage endures, it will always remain whole and shiny, too.

    I have tried putting my rings on my first finger a la the victorian way but they don’t fit. 🙂

  5. Joyce says:

    My husband and I met at school when we were 6 yrs old. He asked me to marry him when we were 8 one day while we walked home from school together. We were 18 and freshmen in college when he gave me the ring. It was at a local park and he did go down on one knee. We were married 2 yrs later at the age of 20.

    For our 10th anniversary, he took me to DeSmet. He’s awesome! Of course, we did go golfing one day at the Kingsbury County Golf course and one day of fishing on Lake Thompson – so it wasn’t a total loss for him. But I’m a bit of a tomboy so I enjoyed all that, too. We ate our anniversary dinner at the North Shore restaurant and went for a sunset stroll on the shores of Lake Thompson. I though it was awesome to spend our anniversary at the place where Almanzo often took Laura during their courtship.

  6. Eliza says:

    Heh. I always expected that when I got engaged I would ask my fiance to get a garnet and pearl ring, like Laura’s. But the only garnet rings that we could find were super cheap. It didn’t occur to me that we could find an antique garnet/pearl ring that would have been more like Laura’s. As it was, we ended up with an antique mine cut diamond ring (from a pawn shop, where, I am not kidding, we were able to sift through piles and piles of antique rings until we found one that was just right. And a lot less expensive than modern rings, since most brides these days apparently only want what they see in magazines. Our treasure hunt was a blast).

  7. jen says:

    We were riding in Jay’s sportscar and talking about possibly living together and the cost of rent. Jay remarked that we would be better off buying a house than paying rent. As a reflex, I said no, I would not want to enter into that type of committment without being married. He said…well…why don’t we get married then? I said “OK.” So we married two months later, sold the sports car and bought a house. Will be married 15 years in December!

  8. M Murphy says:

    I just came back from vacation and my friend stopped by to see if I wanted to get a hamburger. She was on a split shift from her job and did not have much time, so we decided to go to McDonald’s. We were sitting in a booth and two guys walked in and sat in the booth next to us. They ate and left, and we didn’t think much about it until we were leaving and found out that they were parked next to my friend’s car. We started talking and they asked us to go the movies with them. We told them we couldn’t, since my friend had to go to back to work. That was that, or so we thought. It turned out that she didn’t have to go back to work and we decided to go see a movie. We walked into the theater, and there sat the two guys from McDonald’s. We ended up sitting with them at the movie, and by the end we had made plans to meet again. THREE WEEKS LATER, Mike and I were engaged and 8 MONTHS LATER we were married. The other two (his friend and my friend) were married two months after us. We will each celebrate our 27th anniversaries this year – we have three grown children and they have four. The only bad part about the whole story was that my friend left the “cat out of the bag” and told me that I was getting an engagement ring, and I had no clue that was going to happen. So…..I had to act surprised when he presented it to me……at a drive in movie…..in the front seat of a car.

  9. Judy Green says:

    ( what a sweet idea Sandra!)

    Not much of an engagement story. One day he just said, “Don’t you think we might get married someday?” We went ring shopping in my hometown together, with very little $$. Consequently , it was a very little diamond that I loved.
    The ring came in the mail, at college, and I had a “Candle passing” in the soroity house, a silly custom back then.
    My wedding was more “Laura like” in that it was us, the JP and two wittnesses.
    No family at all. I really didn’t ever want a big celebration or whoop de do. I have never regretted that decision. My dress wasn’t black, it was a pink minidress!
    Well, it was the ’70’s. I had it made into a pillow as a keepsake. ( yes there was leftover material!)
    40 years this August

  10. jodi says:

    Oh! My wedding. My husband and I were engaged in March ’02 and planned a wedding for Oct ’03 – but then we realized when we moved west (so like Laura LOL) I would not have health insurance under his plan as a “domestic partner” – we had to be gay for that. So. We decided to have a quick legal wedding with the JP just for insurance and all. I could not bring myself to wear a black dress but I did make my dress which was a blue sundress with daisies on it. I felt VERY Laura making my wedding dress.

    Then after the non-ceremony I changed to shorts and t-shirt and we went backpacking… which I can’t say was very Laura but we did see a bear in the woods. First and only time.

  11. Shae says:

    My husband was from Framingham, MA and I was from Ohio living in IL when we met through a listserv (old school Internet hook ups represent!). We were friends for a couple of years and seeing other people when one weekend at a meet up for our list we realized that we were supposed to be with each other.

    From that day we just knew we’d be married one day. Six months later I moved in with him. But it was always a big deal to him that there be an official asking for a good engagement story (asking by him not me, I tried) and that it be a surprise. It became a joke that out of no where one of us would say, “Hey, want to get married?” and the other would say, “Sorry, no, this wouldn’t be a good story.”

    A year after we moved in together he was in England and Germany for three months on work and I flew out for a long Thanksgiving weekend together. On my last day there we did a tour of Dover Castle.

    We were in the chapel and I was looking through the gate at the alter when I heard him say behind me, “Hey, want to get married?”

    I laughed and said, “Sorry, no.”

    He cleared his throat and said, “Could you turn around? Because I’m actually asking you to marry me.” When I turned around he was down on one knee.

    I said yes, of course. The next day before my flight out we went to a shopping center and found a ring (a small emerald though he got me a diamond ring for Christmas after we’d been married a couple of years) and two little toy figures for the top of our cake.

  12. Laura W says:

    The day before Thanksgiving we were waiting at the airport for the Most Delayed Flight Ever to fly home to my family and I was teasing my guy about all the pretty jewelery he had gotten me except a ring. He just kind of laughed it off. On the plane we were in the very last row next to the bathrooms, surrounded by a lot of people who had been passing time in the bar. Not the greatest flight. Then about an hour into the flight the attendant came on the speaker to say that a passenger named Rob had a question to ask his girlfriend Laura. I realized he was talking about us, so I turned in shock to see Rob on his knee in the aisle with a ring, asking me to marry him! I of course said yes, everyone on the plane applauded and they brought us champagne. It turned out to be the BEST flight ever!

  13. Hallie says:

    Those are all really cute stories!

    I’m also glad you posted that song link because I have also definitely been singing it to ‘Clementine.’