Testimonials. – They are between 25 and 60 years old and tell us why they did not wait for their partner to ask for their hand.
“Cap ‘, am I proposing to you?” A sentence pronounced like a game, a joke, almost a provocation. Yet Juliette is serious. At 25, she has shared her life with Bastien for a year * but, she is sure, “it’s the right one”. On vacation after nine hours of traveling the roads of France in Kangoo, the couple made a stop in the north of Barcelona for the night. The place is deserted. They settle at the top of a hill, facing the setting sun. Juliette kneels on the ground, between the green olives and two lukewarm beers, “we couldn’t be more spontaneous,” she laughs. He answers “yes” and adds that he, too, was planning to make his request soon. The wedding is scheduled for next October.
The situation may surprise. Much like this scene, in the eighth – and final – episode of the series Heart plan, broadcast on Netflix, in which “Snowy” (played by Joséphine Draï) asks for the hand of his companion. The initiative is indeed “rare”, underlines the sociologist Florence Maillochon. “In recent years, we have seen a decrease in the number of marriages for the benefit of PACS. Those who get married are often more traditional and religious, and therefore less open to these egalitarian questions, ”says the professional. For those who dare to take the plunge, however, a little more numerous in the past ten years, the sociologist believes that they have been particularly influenced by the Anglo-Saxon series.
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Proof of a commitment
When asked the question, Isabelle assures us that his request could not be more spontaneous. It is one of the “precursors”. We are in 2005, she is 46 years old and has never been married. It is during a “banal” conversation that this sales assistant questions the man who has shared her life for four years: “What if we get married?” He accepts, moved. “I didn’t plan on having children anymore,” she explains, “so asking the man I loved in marriage was the most beautiful proof of love and my commitment.”
Agnès, 42 at the time, for her part launched after feeling a peak of jealousy. “Marc and I were spending New Years eve in his brother’s hotel in Le Touquet. During the evening, a woman is flirting with my husband in front of my eyes. To cool her off, I tell her that he is my companion, but at the time, I regret not being able to use the term “husband”. At that precise moment, I knew I was going to ask for his hand that very evening. ” She does it in front of 250 people, mostly strangers. She goes on stage in front of the audience, retraces her love story by evoking a “love at first sight”, then concludes: “Marc, do you want to marry me?”.
Myths that stick to the skin
The approach seems natural for these women “far from conventions” who say they are all concerned about “gender equality”. But their relatives are sometimes doubtful. When Agnès tells her children about her request, her then 15-year-old daughter answers: “shame, I would never do that!”. Women of her generation are often “on the defensive, as if we were in competition,” she adds. Julie, 30, is seen as a “hysteric who wanted to rule everything” in the eyes of her fiancé’s friends.
Hardly surprising for the sociologist Florence Maillochon. “As soon as a woman arrogates to herself a place usually intended for men, she is qualified in this way. This shows that the stereotypes surrounding masculinity are still very much present. ” Upon hearing the news, Julie’s cousin raises a question: “if you pulled the rug out from under him, how can you be sure he really wanted to marry you?” “If he hadn’t wanted to, he wouldn’t have said yes,” retorts the thirty-something.
“To give up a certain idea of romanticism”
“Asking your partner in marriage is accepting to give up a certain idea of romanticism,” adds the sociologist. Not to mention the difficulty of getting rid of the myths that rocked our childhood. Young girls grow up with the image of the enterprising prince charming who will come to deliver them from a curse. We are already in this idea of passive woman and active man. ” A vision also fueled by popular culture conveyed in series or romantic comedies, according to the sociologist. Without seeming to, Julie admits all the same that she would have “preferred” that her companion made his request. “I think I was secretly hoping, but as I saw no warning signs, I used it,” comments the 30-something.
Florence Maillochon admits that “it is difficult to change mentalities, even in a society that is interested in gender equality. All of this shows that expressing your wishes is still complicated for many women. ”
Juliette remembers the reaction of one of her sisters, when she tells her about her proposal for a country wedding. “She said to me: ‘if I had done the same thing, he would have taken it badly'”. An obsolete vision for the thirties. “I often heard friends around me telling me that they were waiting for their friends to request. Why ? It’s a two-way decision. ”