Coupling: Wedding Belle Blues

No one is expressing the right emotions about my engagement

Back home, I soon found that the reaction to my engagement fell into these two camps. There were the Squealers: women who were married or pre-­registered on, possessed a jeweler’s familiarity with the four C’s, and had never been cowed by feminist texts. Like my high-school friend Alyssa* in Boston, who had gotten engaged two months before, soon after she designed her engagement ring on and left a printout of it on her boyfriend’s pillow. “Ooooooomygoddude!!!!” she said when I called her. “Howdidheproposehaveyouset-adatehowbigisyourrock???!!!”  

Then there were the Cynics, like my dad. Their reactions, as you might imagine, were cooler. Sometimes too cool. “Oh. That’s great,” said one good friend. Then she changed the subject entirely.

A subset of this group were the condescending types. “Oh, we’re not getting married,” one acquaintance, who had been with her boyfriend for six years, said breezily. “We’re just going to do that thing where you have kids and aren’t married. You know, like Europeans.”

“Did you read that New York Times Magazine story last weekend about couples therapy, where all the couples hate each other?” my best friend Maria asked me one night.

“I saw it, but I haven’t read it yet,” I said. “I sort of hate stories like that, it’s like overhearing a couple arguing. Depressing.”

The next day I saw that she had posted about our conversation on her blog: “She had no idea,” Maria wrote. “Is the secret to a happy marriage utter and comprehensive denial about how bad it can be?”

To these people, it was like I had joined some kind of sorority, one of those really awful ones where all the girls wear pink and spend their time holding car washes in their bikinis and making pancakes for frat boys and being bulimic together, and joining up meant I was weak-willed and susceptible to societal pressure and a foe of women’s rights and, basically, a fool. As a result, some of the cool kids were no longer interested in hanging out with me.

“Oh, I can’t hang out with you,” a woman I’d enjoyed chatting with at a friend’s party said when she realized I was engaged. “You’re a boring old married lady.”