Is it ever OK to propose because you feel guilty for cheating?
On Monday night's episode of "Smash," the NBC drama that follows Broadway performers as they prepare a musical about Marilyn Monroe for the stage, one of the castmembers, Karen Cartwright, and her boyfriend, Dev Sundaram officially got engaged.
The proposal, however, came after Dev kissed his coworker while Karen was out of town. Ridden with guilt, he flew to Boston, where Karen's show was in tech rehearsals, popped the question and then told her about the tryst. She initially turned him down (understandably), but eventually agreed to marry him. (However, she said yes after he drunkenly slept with her one-time arch-nemesis in the cast -- which she, of course, knows nothing about -- but that's a whole other story.)
Watching "Smash," I couldn't help but recoil and yell at the TV when Karen accepted Dev's proposal. "He's just feeling guilty!" I shouted at Karen. "Walk away! RUN away if you can!" But, I started to wonder, could a post-cheating proposal actually be a positive thing? Could it prove to your partner that you're ready to commit and you're sorry for your transgressions?
"I had a client call us and tell us that he was with a girl for three years off and on and he was not faithful," Michele Velazquez, proposal planner and co-founder of The Heart Bandits, told me. "He said she is sick of his crap and so he thought proposing would be a good idea to prove he was committed. However, he never did end up proposing because he obviously can't commit!"
Getting married is a huge commitment, one of the biggest -- next to raising children -- that you can ever make. Proposing because you feel bad for failing to be committed, to me, does not a successful marriage make.
Dr. Tammy Nelson, a HuffPost blogger and relationship therapist, agrees. "Proposing out of a sudden sense of responsibility for your actions is not a way to make amends. Remorse isn't a great way to start off a marriage," she said. "If you are proposing because you got caught cheating, or because you feel bad about yourself because you had an affair, chances are your relationship won't improve with a wedding vow and a three-tier cake. More than likely, the ceremony and the vows will only reinforce that your anxiety is the only thing driving your marriage and not a sense of true commitment."
Nelson adds, "If you aren't ready to commit to monogamy, why drive your partner crazy trying to figure it out on their time? Don't let your guilt be the one thing that drives the need to buy a ring or rent a hall. Sit down and take your time to think about what you really want and why you cheated in the first place. Do you really love your partner and are you ready to sleep with one person for a lifetime of marriage? Or do you have a hard time with commitment and do you feel you may just not be ready for the big marriage proposal? Don't rush into a decision that may affect the both of you for a lifetime."
Despite the fact that to some, proposing may seem like a viable way to show your partner that you're ready to commit after cheating, it's not. It's best to fess up to the infidelity and let the relationship work itself out before getting hitched, rather than starting your marriage off with a lie.
Velazquez said, "You should only propose to someone because you love them and because you want to spend the rest of your life with them. Not for any other reason. If you propose out of guilt, both parties will become resentful."