What Took Me So Long To Propose

November 27th, 2017JozenLeave a commentGo to comments

A post shared by Jozen Cummings (@jozenc) on Nov 25, 2017 at 4:14pm PST

Before this happened on Friday night, the questions about when I was going to propose to Gina started being asked before her and I even crossed our one-year mark as boyfriend and girlfriend. Most often the questions were asked half-jokingly, but I cannot stress that half enough. Perhaps it was because I was 32-years-old and in many people’s eyes, that is the age men should be dating strictly to marry. There was also the fact that early in our relationship, Gina’s older sister was engaged to be married, so naturally people would ask if we were next.

Either way, my answer was always the same: No time soon.

For a long time, there was a very simple reason why I wasn’t ready to propose to Gina: Money. When I say money, I don’t mean a simple lack of funds to buy a ring. (As a matter of fact, the ring I gave to Gina is my late grandmother’s ring, a precious, priceless way to keep her with us always.) My money problems ran much deeper than that. In our first year together, I was evicted from my apartment and Gina was making three times more than me. Many women before Gina had left me the minute they discovered just how bad my money issues were, but Gina did not and even though today I am still cleaning up a lot of the financial mess I accumulated through years of unemployment and underemployment, I’m way better off than I used to be and a path to financial freedom is much clearer.

A lack of income coming in stopped becoming a reason not to propose after about a year-and-a-half into our relationship. So what else was I waiting on? I wish I had some sort of good answer, but the fact is I don’t other than I was lucky enough to be with someone who was not in a hurry. When we met, Gina was 25 going on 26. People would joke how lucky I was that I was dating someone so young, but I had dated plenty of women who were Gina’s age that had their heart set on marriage and if I’m being real, I too was one of those people.

I started this blog when I was 28-years-old, and I always thought the title made my intentions clear. I wanted to be a husband one day, and I was actively searching for that. I had many, many, many distractions throughout my journey, but as often as my path zigged and zagged, the destination remained the same: Marriage. And even if I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was, the point is I thought I was ready and dating with that intent. Trust me, no one was more surprised than me that by the end of my 20s, I was not somebody’s permanent boo.

But hindsight is 20/20 and that was especially true for me once I began life as a single man in his 30s.

It didn’t take me long to reconcile with the fact that my 20s were meant to be my learning decade, and though I soaked up a lot of game during that time, I put very little of it into practice. All that time I spent trying to find the perfect woman for me and trying to be a desirable man to many women wore on me. It got to a point where the only woman with whom I felt comfortable enough to be honest about the man I had become was my mother.

I vividly remember a phone conversation I had with her outside of the office building where I was making less than $30K a year at 32-years-old. It was yet another frustrating day at the job and very often, that would cause me to spiral into a whirlwind of negativity. I said to her, “Mom, why would anyone want to marry a guy like me? I have nothing to offer anybody.”

When Gina met me she was meeting a man who was very uncomfortable with who he was. I knew how to exude confidence, but it was only a shell of protection from the truth that inside my confidence was running on fumes.

Why Gina stuck with me through my own maturation process is a question only she can answer. But if there is one thing I am certain of, Gina never looked at me like a project, and never treated me as such. She has never let me off the hook for my imperfections and she definitely did not sign up to be with me so she could rebuild me. All Gina has done is love me consistently and thoroughly. With her I have learned, marriage is not the point, forever with the right person is the point.

The moment that became clear to me, I started moving on from my past mistakes and stopped feeling sorry for myself. If I was going to ask Gina to marry me, I knew I could not be uncomfortable any longer with the man that I had become. I knew I couldn’t look at Gina and wonder what she saw in me, that I had to see a little bit of what she saw in myself. If she believed I was the man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life, I knew I had to believe I was that man too.

In the eyes of many people, I did a grown man thing when I proposed to Gina, but I was a grown man before any of this happened. I was not, however, together and it took me four years to get there. Proposing to Gina was not about me being the man, or a man, it was about being ready to be her man forever and I believe that’s what anybody should want, a partner who is ready to be theirs. And when you find that person, you will realize there’s no reason to hurry, but you cannot wait to get married.