Make surprise proposals at your own risk

Author: Ivan Bwowe. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • When you choose to do your thing, do it your way well aware that actions have consequences.

“To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved, that is everything,” Themis Tolis powerfully noted.  Writing this article, I am cautious of the fact that I might also be advising myself considering that my current status is “not married”.

While arguing a divorce petition, in a short stand over of the hearing, I was treated to a video of a courageous young man who on Valentine’s Day attempted a romantic act. 

He staged a public proposal to his girlfriend. The girl’s initial reaction was beautiful- at least she did not reject the flowers he first handed her. 

As I watched, a soft voice lingered in my mind: “Love is a beautiful thing”.  Tables turned when the moment was extended to the surprise proposal. The events thereafter were sad but not necessarily unexpected. 
The crowd chanted: “Say yes say yes”.  However, she did not heed to the chants, she stormed out, leaving him on a bended knee.

I applaud the gentle man for the courage and brave act. I also applaud the lady for the authenticity.  Well, it is as though the social media algorithms were all focusing me to similar videos, and perhaps to help shape and share my views on this subject matter.  I still believe in love and nothing can scare me. However, we have an opportunity to do better. 

In the olden days, many of our grandparents and parents were introduced to marriages. The boy’s  family and girl’s family agreed, and the role of the couple was to be present and appear to be in love (If any). 

This practice is not extinct in Uganda. Some would grow to love each other, while others did not. Nevertheless, they did not have to go through the hustle of chasing a girl or boy, impressing the other gender, or the joy of acceptance or the feel of rejection.  That was then, the times have changed. With smart phones, we feel invisible as though we own this world. We have lost empathy and sunk into our keyboards. We are also too “Western”. 

We have watched many movies, series, soap operas that have impacted our view about love hence the  copy, cut and paste culture.

Many now days date before they court. We have introduced terms like ‘situationship’. I hear very many discussing  how they are sapiosexual, introverts, extroverts, in open relationships, name it.  Many assume the readiness of the other partner and therefore, find no need to ask the necessary tough questions. Some fear tough answers, an issue I find so unfortunate. 

In the Western style of doing things, engagements were announced. The practice is Victorian. More recently, we have had similar announcement from members of the British royal family. 

It is basically to communicate to the public  that “we two have agreed to get married” hence graduating from girlfriend to fiancé while warming up to another stage to wit; husband and wife. 

Why should you surprise your girlfriend/boyfriend into an agreement to get married? Discuss the details, if agreed, then the announcement can be a surprise to your friends. 

This does not rule out the fact that the lady may “appear surprised” at the announcement of the engagement.

The other practical model is to agree on the engagement  and then the surprise is on the time, venue, other luxuries or and the audience. You cannot surprise your girlfriend and the audience mainly composed of strangers. 

Engagements/acceptance of a proposal does not necessarily mean the couple shall get married. 
We know very many engagements that have been broken. There are very many examples, but allow me to preserve myself by putting the examples bit to rest. 

Pain might be inevitable but continuing to suffer is a choice, I am not saying do not try to surprise your girlfriend into an agreement to get married. 

Just make sure you leave enough room and space to be surprised instead. We shall say “volenti non fit injuria”, meaning you brought this to yourself.  Privately agree about the engagement, the offer must be clear and express and so is the acceptance. Stop assuming answers.  

To the girl child, you can equally turn down a proposal without destroying the boy child. Pick up the boy child, give him a hug and tell him that  you appreciate the effort, but you feel you are not ready yet. 

It is a respectful no. To the audience, learn not to pressurise the couple, recording, circulating videos; and making memes is not civilised.

I am picking lessons and sharing my thoughts. However, when you choose to do your thing, do it your way well aware that actions have consequences. I hope you are enjoying the month of love. 

Ivan Bwowe, Lawyer