Thursday, October 17, 2019

“I Got Engaged!!” [Cue Mechanical Excitement Response]

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

“Oh, congratulations! … [Does my smile looks as real as it is fake?]

When someone tells you that they got engaged or married, what do you say?


Not-So-Great Expectations

I’ve never bought into this whole marriage deal.

Something about it has always rubbed me the wrong way, but for most of my life I hadn’t questioned my thoughts or feelings. Indeed, I didn’t want to for the sake of fear and change.

I therefore continued along with the status quo beliefs and expectations embedded within our culture such as
  • Serious/long-term relationships should roll into marriage.
  • Marriage is a good and necessary thing.
  • You should approve of the marriages of family members and friends.
  • You should be happy for others when they’re getting married.
  • You should lie about your true feelings to yourself and others.

Well, I got tired of being fake and decided to thoroughly question my motives and feelings and be myself instead of a phony.

“Guess what, John!? Marissa and I got engaged!!”


I’m such a let-down.

Marriage is an opinion as to how to live life. People can call it a religious necessity or a validator of love or a tax break or whatever they’d like to call it, but it’s merely an opinion, albeit a very popular one.

If it’s an opinion anyone wants to accept as their own, that’s wholly their business. But, like anything worth calling one’s own, it’s important for people to understand what and why they are calling it their own to begin with and why they are approving of others who’re of like mind.

It all starts with integrity.

Here’s Why…

If you’re truly happy for an engaged couple or newly-weds, then by all means share in their happiness. But if you feel any other way, then you would be lying to respond contrary to those feelings.

Rebuttals may arise to this such as, “But I’m afraid to hurt their feelings,” and, “I’m afraid they’ll hate me and gossip about me if I show disapproval, or, God forbid, they find out I think it’s a horrible idea.”

I get it. It sucks to see others hurt, and it sucks when others reject us because we didn’t live up to their not-so-great expectations.

But I also get that:
  1. It’s all programming, conditioning. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that any of it is right or sane, but just simply the accepted norm.

  2. Their disappointment is based on an expectation based on an imaginary depiction of “who he/she is” and “how he/she will respond to my good news.”

  3. This is not so much a fear of hurting the feelings of another: It is a fear that in hurting someone else’s feelings—even if we’re fully in integrity—our own feelings will be hurt.

  4. If another is going to reject us in any way because “we” have upset them, we can accurately assume that we’re merely stoking a fire that had already been burning. The trigger for this reactive negativity had been embedded long before the current circumstance; we thus only trigger what is already there and are not the ones creating it.
If you must, when the engaged excitedly tell you, “We’re getting married!!!” in integrity you look at them and say, “Okay.”

Because you know just as I do that to lie about this is going to make you miserable. Especially if the person is a family member or close friend, you’re going to have to uphold a lot of fakery. If you tell one lie, you either have to come clean immediately or keep on telling them.

And what does the lie get for you? So you didn’t hurt their feelings in order to avoid hurting both their feelings and your own. But now you hurt anyway because you carry a guilt which makes you wish you’d told the truth. Now you have to either fess up, which will make them double miserable, or keep lying, which will leave you feeling bad repeatedly and embed you with guilt for life.

You better hope he or she doesn’t then ask you to be in his or her wedding party. (Yikes!)

In fakery, everyone gets hurt and unhealthy expectations and behaviors perpetuate.

Seemingly Reasonable Approval

Now, let’s say you do approve of a given engagement/marriage, or you know of a currently unengaged couple and think that if they’d walk up to you right now and tell you they are getting married you’d congratulate them.

My question is: How reasonable is this approval?

To answer this, I’m going to look at a few different scenarios and their underlying mentalities. Keep in mind with each that I’m making up scenarios in order to illustrate a point: As needed, read in between the lines; insert details from your own life or from the lives of people you know or alter the details to make the scenarios more or less fitting.

The Little-Known In-Law-To-Be
Suppose you have a nephew who you only see three times per year. As far as you’re aware, he’s more on the up-and-up than the down-and-down. He seems nice and friendly and all that, and he’s your relative, so how can you say anything bad about him? However, you don’t know him all that well.

Your nephew has a girlfriend. And maybe you’ve only see her once or twice per year. Maybe you’ve never even seen her in the five years they’ve dated.

If your nephew comes to you one day and says, “Hey, guess what, Uncle Ripley!? Believe it or not, me and Tina are getting married!” what are you going to say? I would hazard to guess that you’d say, “Oh, how wonderful! Great to hear!”

But is it? You hardly know your nephew, and what you “know” about his girlfriend, if anything, you’d learned second-hand. What do you really have to base your judgment of approval on?

Marriage is, after all, at least traditionally speaking, a rite meant for those who are truly in love and wish to be together their whole lives. Aside from merely seeing ideas such as, They should get married because “it’s time”, or, They must love each other since they’ve been together for so long, how much of a feeling do you actually get that they’re a really good match? Is it enough to endorse a marriage?

Misplaced Trust
Trust—as in, “I trust [my nephew, niece, second cousin thrice removed, etc.] to make the best decision.”—may be claimed in cases where knowledge and interaction with those getting married is sketchy.

Here, trust seems a reasonable thing, but maybe only at surface value.

Following the example above, your nephew and his girlfriend could turn out to make an outstanding couple. Alternately, maybe what you view in your nephew as being “quiet and shy and kind toward his partner” is actually a major lack of self-confidence. Maybe his girlfriend, the one you’ve only just met, now, as they tell you of their engagement, pushes your nephew around all the time because she’s a miserable snot and he’s too weak to stand up for himself.

To congratulate is to give approval, and to give approval in blind trust is, potentially, misplaced.

Two-Faced Approval
When I’d written the post “Silly Traditions: Permission To Wed,” I’d said:
When you realize, if you realize, the depth to which the average person is making nearly every decision not by free will as it appears but as driven by subconscious (i.e.: unknown) fears, errant beliefs, and trauma-based directives, you will also realize how it is that a grown man can “give his daughter away” … to a man he disapproves of.
I still feel this is true. And similar can be said, or asked, here.

Even if you knew a newly-engaged couple fairly well, on being told of the engagement, how many of you would offer prompt congratulations even if you didn’t agree with such a marriage?

How many of you would, perhaps, smile and say something like, “Oh! Good for you!” only to say to you spouse or friend or a coworker later on while rolling your eyes, “Isn’t that the girl who’d told us that she’s only marrying him to get citizenship? That’s mad whack, yo!”?

Or would you put a justification to it? You might congratulate the couple while thinking, I’m a Christian, and they’re Satanists. But it’s not in my place to tell anyone, if unasked, that I find their marriage unacceptable.

On one hand, sure, if a couple wants to get married, their marriage doesn’t cause harm to others, and they don’t ask for the input of others, it’s not really anyone else’s business to be negatively disagreeable. On the other hand, why did you offer congratulations? That’s effectively your approval, your agreement. You don’t have to say, “I disagree because you’re Satanists who want to get married in a black mass and will go to hell and burn forever—die, die, die!” but neither do you have to extend congratulations if you believe the marriage is wrong.

It is so important that people give conscious attention to what’s actually going on in their minds, to notice the obscene number of rationalizations and all the non-integral thought-to-deed behavior to result, and then internally align themselves as needed.

The Over-Eager Marriage Endorser

Another way people offer junk marriage approval can be seen in the instances where someone is over-eager for someone else to get married, such as a mother or father persistently insisting that their son or daughter get married to their partner.

Unless there is direct harm being done to others in not making a marital commitment (which seems very rare, at best), one’s discomfort over someone else’s relationship choices and path is solely on the person who experiences the discomfort.

If anyone who is in this category of over-eager approval would look deeply enough, they’d find these words to be 100% accurate. The proof would be found in beliefs such as, They better get married because my religion demands it, and fears such as, If my kid isn’t married but he sleeps in the same bed as his partner, what will my family think of me, what will my friends think of me, what will God think of me? I could go to hell. I’m a lousy parent. Oh, my parents would roll in their graves if they knew my son lived with his girlfriend out of wedlock. Oh, and the sinful things they must be doing with each other. Oh, God, please have mercy on our souls!

To prod another in this way is interference; it’s arrogant, selfish, and immature.

Also, while the one doing the urging might claim unconditional love, what they’re actually projecting is conditional love. Do this, or else…

Inadequacy is also implied: What I want for you is more important than what you want for you. And, I know what you need better than you know what you need. And, You can’t run your life properly, so I’m going to tell you how to do it.

No one appreciates being told what to do as though they’re an ignorant and irresponsible dope. You don’t like it, I don’t like it, and no one else likes it.

To those who do this: Learn to take control of your own lives rather than seeking to control the lives of others as if this could actually, somehow, maybe, eventually, if you only finally say or do the right thing at the right time and say or do enough of it, give you what you want.

As You Be, So You See

There are things I point out in my writing that go straight to the core of our fears, false beliefs, and behaviors in such a way as to immediately reveal distortions. While it’s possible, and even likely, that a person who carries a resonant distortion will try to deny it, since the points I make are sometimes so sharp the person will not be able to deny in honesty.

Yet there are others who may honestly not see the distortions for what they are.

This is one of the reasons I see self-inquiry and the general practice of self-help as so important for everyone:

As you be, so you see.

Earlier, I’d thrown out the hypothetical instance of Uncle Ripley’s approval of his little-known nephew’s engagement. Then I questioned the potential behaviors of his nephew and fiancé.

It could be that Uncle Ripley is quite blind to the fact that his nephew is weak-willed and his girl pushes him around even if he knows both of them well and sees their negative behavior regularly. This would be so under the condition that Uncle Ripley has the very same dynamic playing out in his own relationship.

Perhaps belittlement of husband by wife is what Uncle Ripley had learned to be “love” by his parents. So, weak-willed himself, when he went seeking love he found a “perfect” match with a pusher-arounder female. Now, he sees nothing particularly wrong with such relationships. They may not be perfect, but “What is perfect?” or, “It’s the way life is.”

In this light, we can understand why there are occasions when a person could be both ignorant and of distorted perception and still honestly offer marriage approval: The person is seeing an unquestioned external reflection of what they perceive as true within.

Easy it is for the mind to see whatever it wants to see, especially when it’s been looking at life from a skewed perspective since birth. Self-inquiry then becomes the required key for pulling together the whole picture in order to heal, see clearly, and make quality and truly self-integrated decisions.

As You See, So You Be

As I make points as to what to be on the lookout for, I realize there are things that the average person doesn’t or can’t know about others. But much of this is simply due to our high levels of self-ignorance.

This is where the ever-useful tool of self-inquiry comes in—again. The more you open up to yourself, the more you’ll be able to observe the world clearly with your outer eyes, and the more you’ll be able to perceive intuitively with your inner eyes.

With practice and healing, what you’ll come to discover is that whether you meet someone once per day or once per decade, they are presenting you (and everyone else) with signs, both subtle and coarse, as to what they believe, how they were raised, what they really feel about this, that, and the other thing, and so on. The average person has no idea how much they’re “saying” without saying anything at all or even speaking to the contrary.

As this applies to the current marriage engagement topic, I can’t help but think that if people actually knew what they are offering congratulations and approval about and why then they’d be doing it far less.

…Or maybe not.

Because if self-inquiry leads to healing and everyone were self-inquiring, then everyone would be healing, and everyone would be making healthier choices, and fewer people would be getting engaged and married under false pretenses, and fewer people would have to deny approval, and we’d all be happier, more integrated people!

Option 3

This whole time I’ve been talking in terms of approval and disapproval. Are there other choices?

Yes, at least one: indifference.

Personally, for plenty more reasons than discussed in this post, I feel an overall indifference to marriage in nearly all circumstances.

I intuitively see a lot of the more subtle issues of relationships, but, except maybe in cases where significant harm is involved, what others choose relationship-wise is irrelevant to me.

Everyone has their personal life lessons and thoughts and behaviors, some for the better and some for the worse, and if people want to attach a marriage onto it all, it’s not mine to be concerned with.

In indifference, I don’t offer congratulations or attend weddings, but I do, if only in mind, wish them the best.

It’s Personal

Although at times I’ve been more direct with saying that certain behaviors (such as the over-eager marriage endorser) are thoroughly distorted, I encourage you to find your own answers (which you should be doing anyway, regardless of whether I claim a thing to be right or wrong).

This is far more about you than anyone else. This is about using self-inquiry to personally see circumstances more realistically and then using that awareness to make wiser, more integrated choices.

Again consider the “little-known in-law-to-be.” I’ve provided you a couple guideposts to follow, my intention being to lead you, not to “the right answers,” but to the answers that work for you.

There are many perspectives by which a person can look at a given situation, but how diverse and meaningful are they?

My sense is that most people haven’t reflected on relationships and marital circumstances as I have here. I therefore hope that you’ll find this to be a useful tool in moving forward, in engaging with yourself to come ever closer to living in whatever way works best for you.



    I like your blog so much I went back to 2015 when you began and I have been reading your blogs in the chronological order in which you created and then published them. I am at 11/24/2016 and continuing to now through deep reading.
    I hope you have not quit blogging because you are great. Have you written a book I could buy? I am a retire public school educator who wishes your ideas could be an after school hours self-learning program for teens and young adults. Actually, you are teaching me that the parent is your audience. How do we connect with those parents who abuse or abandon their children so the social pattern does not continue on forever? Thank you for telling it like you know it is. We should live our lives by unconditional loving each other.

    1. Thanks for the compliment and glad you like! No, I haven't quit--things have just been "off" lately. I'm sure they'll be "on" again soon enough. In terms of other works, I don't currently have anything aside from this blog.

      To answer your question about connecting with abusive parents, that's a touchy subject. Parents have to be informed, but abusers (even in the mildest sense) typically have too much ego-identity and repressed pain invested in their perceived need and rightness for abuse to want to change. When we try to change people who aren't yet willing to accept self-responsibility or to voluntarily change, they become resistive and matters are worsened. As my blog focuses on, the most important thing is for people who do see, who do hear, to change themselves and allow others to learn from them. This will also positively shift the collective consciousness.

      In terms of abandonment, it's a reflection of ourselves, of our culture. We have to stop abandoning ourselves INTERNALLY. Until we're willing individually to turn inward and ask ourselves why we think (in one of a million examples) that it's okay to work 80 hour weeks while our spouse and 5 kids are at home without us, we can't begin putting an end to abandonment trauma, and those who seek to help abandoners will remain misunderstood. Again, it goes back to one's self.


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