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Do Viral Engagement Videos Cause Unhealthy Expectations for Marriage?

Another day, another creative and over-the-top marriage

proposal, or so it seems. First there was the flash-mob style proposal to the

tunes of Bruno Mars. Last week RELEVANT Magazine linked to another one — a

similar surprise engagement with a choreographed number on the beach. And who could

forget the guy who made a movie trailer and showed it at an actual theater

filled with his soon-to-be fiancée’s friends and family?

This recent trend in elaborate proposals, and similarly, the

endless wedding boards circulating on Pinterest has been on my mind as I’ve

been reading through Tim and Kathy Keller’s The

Meaning of Marriage (anyone else score a $4.99 Kindle version a few weeks

ago?) Lots of what the Kellers write about has to do with the idea of expecting a

perfect soulmate in marriage. You know, the idea that you’ll marry someone who

is already pretty close to ideal and that means marriage will be all

butterflies and rainbows every day. He makes a very compelling case for why

this idea is inherently flawed. Gary Thomas also illustrates the danger in this

way of thinking in his beautifully-written book Sacred Marriage. Both of these books look at marriage less as a means of making us happy and meeting

every need we’ll ever have in one person, and more about marriage being a tool

God uses to make us holy.

So I can’t help but think how we spend so much time on the

planning and executing of an engagement and wedding, and less time preparing

our hearts to be centered on Christ and preparing to live in union with another

flawed person. I’m the first to admit I get a little swoony over seeing a guy pull

off the perfect proposal for his beloved. I have a board on Pinterest with

ideas for my future wedding, and I look forward to implementing those one day. But

I’m asking the question of myself, and the Christian community as a whole, can

this do more harm than good?

Do these trends cause us to put incredibly high expectations

on the perfect proposal and the perfect wedding? I feel bad for the guys out

there who now think that along with simply asking a girl to marry him in a

sincere and personal way (and probably having had “the talk” with her father),

he has to make it incredibly original, elaborately creative, and then record it

for YouTube to be viewed by millions. I wonder how many guys think, If that’s what she’s expecting, how can I

ever compete?

And I’ve seen women drive themselves, and their bridal

party, crazy with trying to plan every detail to Pinterest perfection, down to

the exact shade of teal for the cupcake icing.

If this is the expectation we have for just one simple

question and just one day of celebration, does that mean we have even higher

expectations for the person we marry and the actual purpose of marriage? Maybe

we know that we don’t need a viral

YouTube proposal or a wedding worthy of a six-page spread in Martha Stewart’s

magazine, but does part of us hope for this anyway? I know that at times I

have. I’m not saying that hoping or ever wanting a fun proposal and a pretty

wedding is necessarily a bad thing, but I do think we can get so wrapped in it

that we lose sight, even if for just a moment, of the true purpose of marriage.

When the excitement of the proposal story wears off, and

the wedding pictures have all been posted on Facebook, are we disappointed with

the reality of marriage in real life — the very unglamorous things such as doing

the dishes, getting the tires rotated, and deciding which family to spend

Thanksgiving with?

Talk to any married person, and they’ll tell you that part of

being a newlywed is adjusting to sharing a life and house and bed with another

person. Like any relationship, the reality is often different than the

expectations. But is getting caught up in all of the hype putting unfair expectations on your spouse and


Maybe for some it is and for others, not so much. But as

singles, we can use this time to prepare for marriage and learn to adjust our

expectations now. Whether your engagement goes viral or your wedding decor is

the envy of all your friends, we can learn to cultivate a heart and attitude

that esteems marriage beyond the proposal and wedding day.

What do you think? Are these elaborate proposals and

weddings just a fun way to celebrate marriage? Is there any danger in how they

might affect our view of marriage?

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