Weather Updates

Sometimes a simple marriage proposal is best

Updated: March 18, 2014 4:15PM

People make such a big deal out of proposals. I’ve heard of “Will you marry me?” in skywriting. Rings baked into cakes. Strolling violinists. But sometimes, a simple “Waddaya think?” works just fine ...

WILLIAM: I had just moved back to Chicago. My parents fixed me up with the daughter of friends of theirs. She was from a nearby small town and had just finished college. She would be in Chicago for the summer, working. We dated throughout the summer. That autumn she attended grad school in Washington, D.C., but we continued to see each other every other weekend.

The following summer she got another temporary job in Chicago. We continued to date. Occasionally she’d make a subtle remark about where our relationship was headed. Although I liked her a lot, I wasn’t thinking about marriage for at least a couple of years. But one night, toward the end of the summer, when I dropped her off at her place, she said we had to talk. We were standing outside her apartment on the sidewalk — well within hearing distance of several neighbors who were on their porches or just walking by.

Suddenly she began to yell, “When are we getting married? I’ve got to return to school soon and make plans for my future!”

All conversations around us ceased. Being a naturally shy person and not wanting to cause a scene, I begged her to lower her voice and to go inside so that we could discuss our situation.

Needless to say, I promised to marry her, and within a few weeks I bought her an engagement ring. We got married around Christmas. Luckily it’s worked out for 37 years. We’ve had a pretty good life and two great kids, no grandchildren yet.

MARK: I met my wife in law school. I didn’t have a dime. Neither did she. The night we decided to get married, I gave her my favorite ballpoint pen to signify our engagement because it was the only damn thing I could afford. That was in 1971, and we’re still very, very happily married. And she still has that ballpoint pen and she still cherishes it, and so do I.

Of course, the “Waddaya think?” approach doesn’t always work ...

SUMMER: John would talk about getting married and having kids. Every birthday and holiday, he would hint at an engagement, walk me up to jewelry store windows and ask me what kind of ring I liked. But for some reason, I never got a ring. After four years of this, I finally confronted him. I asked, “When are we going to get married?” He replied, “I don’t know. I haven’t thought much about it.”

It wasn’t so much the statement as the body language. We were sitting on the floor in my living room, and he picked up a big floor pillow and backed up against the wall, clutching the pillow to his chest, staring about wildly, like a deer in the headlights. At that point I figured I had stuck around way too long.

A few days later, as we were parting ways, he informed me that he never had any intention of marrying me — he just told me what I wanted to hear so I would stick around because he was having a good time.

What was your proposal like? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to And check out my new website

Creators Syndicate

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.