One semi-famous tradition of Leap Year Day is that women are "allowed" to propose to their menfolk - any other day they apparently have to drop heavy hints and hope the bloke gets the message, because nothing builds a stable marriage like a complete lack of communication. So I suggested to Lucy that, being by far the more womanly half of the couple, she ought to propose to me, a bit of fun which gave rise to these tweets.
It was mostly just our usual flirtatious silliness, but there is a serious point at the heart of it all. If you're going to have a grand, theatrical, traditional, romantic proposal, by far the best time to have it is after you've already agreed that you're getting married. Nat explains very well why the big public proposal is a horrible thing to put a woman1 through if there's any uncertainty about whether she wants to. Once you've quietly agreed that you both want it, it becomes pure theatre with no coercive elements: far healthier.
Lucy and I got engaged in a very low-key way. As I remember it, I was sulking because Scunthorpe had got relegated and The Wedding was everywhere I looked, I complained that I wanted to marry her but didn't know how we'd ever manage it, and we started looking up marriage laws in different jurisdictions and vowing to find a way. The most exciting part was changing our social networking profiles to reflect our new status - a story to tell any grandchildren we might produce it certainly is not.
I have promised that next time we're in the same country, I'll get down on one knee and propose in the most flamboyant manner I can manage. Lucy has agreed to give me her family engagement ring beforehand to make it all proper and official. We're neither of us taking it very seriously: we're saving the seriousness for the business of getting our paperwork in order and building a life together. Frothy, playful silliness is a big part of our relationship, and it just feels right to formalise our engagement in a playful way.
The proper rituals, the proper stories, might prove especially important in our case. As a mixed-citizenship marriage, we're likely to come under scrutiny to make sure we're not counterfeiting love for the sake of a green card2, and you bet I'm going to do what it takes to prove the "real"ness of our relationship. A public proposal, in front of plenty of witnesses, should be a solid piece of evidence, I reckon. But even if nobody official is watching, I want to have a story and a set of rituals we can enjoy living out.
1I don't know whether any men have had similarly painful experiences on this or indeed any other day, but the social pressures bear much more heavily on women quite apart from the fact that they're almost always cast in the role of proposed-to.
2The plan is for Lucy to come over here, where we don't have green cards, but the basic point stands.