Sunday 13 November 2011

Will you marry me? (And stay married for more than 72 days?)

When I heard about the guy who proposed to his girlfriend at The New Paper Big Walk last week in front of thousands of other Big Walkers at Resorts World Sentosa, my first thought was: “Spoil market!”

There was also this Malaysian guy who proposed to his girlfriend with a fake Groupon ad online.

And then there was this other guy in Thailand who trained his elephant to write “Will you marry me?” in the sand with its trunk, but the careless quadruped misspelled “marry” as “carry”, causing much hilarity among the girlfriend, zoo visitors and more literate animals.

Okay, I made the last one up, but what’s with these guys making a big production out of popping the big question?

They’re just making it more difficult for the rest of us. Now our girlfriends will have more reasons not to be satisfied with a simple “Let’s a book a flat together” over a greasy plate of char kway teow.

Haven’t we spoiled these women enough? Before you know it, they want extra lup cheong with the char kway teow. Give ’em 2.54cm and they’ll take 1.6km.

The thing is, although we seem to read a lot about these creative marriage proposals, newspapers don’t usually keep track of what happens to the couple afterwards.

Usually (but not always), the woman says yes to avoid embarrassing the guy because of the public nature of such proposals.

It's hard enough to reject someone - or be rejected - without it becoming a YouTube sensation.

Let’s say the woman says yes and goes through with the nuptials, we don’t know how long the marriage actually lasts.

But I suspect a creative marriage proposal - along with a big expensive wedding or an "auspicious" wedding date like 11.11.11 - does not guarantee or even improve the chances for a lasting happy marriage.

Take Kim Kardashian for instance. Her marriage to basketball player Kris Humphries lasted all of 72 days. I have eaten leftovers that lasted longer than that.

How did Humphries propose? He spelled out the words “Will you marry me?” with rose petals. That was pretty creative and romantic.

I repeat, 72 days. If only he had the elephant.

And the wedding reportedly cost US$10 million (S$13 million). I would’ve hated to have to give a hongbao for that wedding dinner.

And now that the celebrity couple have divorced, I don’t think I would’ve gotten my hongbao refunded.

Fortunately, I didn’t give any hongbao for the two local celebrity wedding dinners I attended. (Let’s say I forgot.)

The first was that of Gurmit Singh, who is still married to Melissa. So no refund would’ve been necessary.

The second was that of Mark Richmond and Vernetta Lopez, both of whom have since divorced and married other people. I doubt any of the original wedding guests got their hongbao refunded.

But at least their marriages lasted more than 72 days.

So has mine - and let me tell you, my marriage proposal didn’t involve rose petals, Groupon or Big Walk. But it did involve a big commute.

Before we were married, my wife lived near Katong and I lived on the other side of Singapore in Jurong.

After about a year of dating, she got tired of transversing the island almost on a daily basis and suggested we should get married just to cut the travelling time.

So it wasn’t so much a marriage proposal, but a suggested solution to a logistics problem. I took her suggestion under advisement and eventually agreed to its implementation. Viral videos are not made of this.

But despite the less than reality TV-worthy beginnings, my marriage still outlasted Mark Richmond and Vernetta Lopez’s - and two of Glenn Ong’s. (Touch wood.) I’m now gunning for three Glenn Ong marriages.

So guys, don’t be deterred by all those market spoilers.

Just be reassured that Singapore law requires you to be married for way longer than 72 days before you can file for divorce.

Skip the elephant.

- Published in The New Paper, 13 November 2011

EARLIER: Will Glenn Ong run out of colleagues to marry?