My real-life friend Sara asked me a few questions in the comments of my engagement story post yesterday, and I thought I'd answer them in long form rather than try to smoosh my answers into a comment-sized bite.
1, so, when did you know? Obviously 6 months in you were cocky-certain. :)
I knew very soon after we started dating in July 2005 that Jason was the man I wanted to marry. I just... knew. The first picture I saw of him online, before meeting him in person, was helpful in that regard (yes, that's the one right there, and yes, we met on the Internet). Who wouldn't want him?
Seriously though, we both went into it wanting an exclusive, real, committed relationship, so we dated only each other (not that I had any prospects, but cute sailors can pick up a girl any old place).
He was exactly what I had been longing for: someone to love me and indulge me and take care of me (not that I can't take care of myself, because I did fine on my own, but having a partner to lean on is always better).
In August we adopted Jacob and Jasper together. And to me, kittens = commitment. How could a relationship with those three lovies go wrong? We do still butt heads about the dirty, smelly socks strewn around, though.
In September, when I learned that I would be losing my apartment in a matter of months if I didn't buy it for $300,000 as a luxury condominium, we had a conversation (on instant messenger--we are so mature) about living together during which he said "I planned on putting a ring on that finger after we've lived together for a year... that's my guarantee to you." I saved the conversation for blackmail, that's how I remember what he said word-for-word. So not only did I know that I wanted to marry him, after that I knew that he felt the same way.
Our relationship kicked into hyperdrive when I moved in with him in October 2005. We hadn't planned to cohabitate so soon, but it seemed like a win-win for both of us, so we figured we'd give it a try. And I was over there most nights anyway (sorry, Mommy), so what point was there in paying two rents?
By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, things were going better than well and his previous statements of intent had been backed up by his actions a million-fold. For instance, he learned how to give in to my every whim--an important skill that all husbands need to develop--and rule the world with me at the same time. Thus my familial assurances that a proposal was nigh. Because it was my (very serious non-whim) whim, and because it was what he, co-ruler of the world, wanted. And yes, that is the real Department of Defense press conference room at the Pentagon... we know people.
2, and perhaps more seriously, why were you dropping hints? was it an important next step for you both? was it the inevitable and you didn't want to wait? was it important for personal reasons? did religious guilt kick in? I'm just curious how you knew you wanted it.
I did get anxious to have a ring on my finger to legitimize our commitment in the eyes of my family. Not that they were super-worried about it, or disapproved of us shacking up (at least nobody ever said so). But it was inevitable, so why wait? But most of all, I was head-over-heels in love and wanted to be the future Mrs. Jason RIGHT NOW. Thus began my hint campaign. It was probably a little wannabe-fiancée-zilla of me, but I wanted it to be absolutely clear to him that I wanted to be his wife.
There was no religious guilt at all. Neither of us are particularly religious, nor are our immediate families. It was a relief to not have any of that in the mix.
I could get into all the feminist arguments against marriage, and there was a time in college during which I said over and over that I wouldn't likely get married, but I'll spare you the lecture (if you want that, go hit up a WS class at MSU). Once I earned my degree in Women's Studies (yes, really--but don't worry, I have another degree that is actually usable), I quickly got over being so self-righteous, left academia, and, for the first time, met a man I truly wanted to marry. And if marriage is good enough for Gloria Steinem, it is good enough for me.
We decided to elope in July 2006 after suffering through Jason's obligatory two-month deployment (which was actually short compared to what's normal) on an aircraft carrier (which meant no phone calls). We knew we were ready to be married. We didn't have a wedding event then because we didn't want anyone to be left out. So we had to leave everyone out to be fair. We went to court and that was that. Just me and my man in a sailor suit. It was bizarre and hilarious and romantic and perfect. It was one of the best days of my life.