In Quiet Times and Busy

When we got engaged, we realized that part of marriage would be balancing frenzied everyday life and special moments together.

This is the first installment in an engagement-to-wedding journal by Michael Kress.

I am not proud to admit this, but I had trouble finding time to propose to my girlfriend. We'd been dating a year, had gone ring shopping weeks earlier, and were both ready to announce our engagement. But our busy lives didn't make it easy.

We both longed for an old-fashioned engagement scene, with me "popping the question" at a romantic locale and presenting the ring to her. I even knew where I'd do it--the DeCordova Museum, a contemporary art museum in rural Lincoln, Mass. Overlooking a lake, the museum and its extensive outdoor sculpture garden was a favorite spot of ours and had been the site of one of our early dates.

But when could we get there? Our lives were infinitely complicated and busy. Stephanie was finishing school for the semester, and my job kept me more than busy. Whenever we'd both find that a bit of free time miraculously coincided for us both, we seemed to be previously committed: an end-of-school celebration with Stephanie's friends on Sunday, another group of friends coming to my place for dinner on Friday, and so on. We were leaving the following week for several days in New York to visit our family and friends, and I was eager to be engaged before we left so we could celebrate in New York. I spent hours arranging and re-arranging my schedule to make time. It was admittedly no way to launch an engagement, but it was necessary.


At moments like that, I often marvel at the fact that Stephanie and I--or any couple, for that matter--found the time to develop a meaningful relationship at all. Deadlines and duties, responsibilities and commitments, conspire to complicate and potentially stymie any budding relationship.

For us, we have the Jewish holidays and summer academic break to thank for our success. We met on Sukkot, the Jewish Festival of Booths, two autumns ago. On Sukkot, Jews build hut-like structures in their backyards or patios and eat in them for a week. I invited some friends to dinner in my Sukkah; one asked if she could bring along someone who was new in town, and that person was, of course, Stephanie.

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Michael Kress
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