On the first Sunday in December Rob and I will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of our engagement. He didn’t mean to propose, it was a horrible accident he tried to take back three times during our six month engagement but I wouldn’t let him out of it. I am spiteful like that.

We had dated casually for months but Rob was a recently returned missionary who was determined to get the first college degree in his family so I understood there was no immediate future with him. I dated him strictly because he was cute.

I went away for the fall school semester so we lost contact until Halloween. We ran into each other at a Regional Young Adult Dance. Rob describes our meeting as a highly-charged encounter. All I know is the guy I went to the dance with got his nose out of joint over the attention I was paying Rob and almost wouldn’t let me into his car for the three hour drive back to school. He then loudly told the whole student ward we attended that I was the biggest flirt and tease he had ever seen. I was shocked. I didn’t know he was interested in me. I thought we were just friends. But it didn’t really matter because after that dance Rob was smitten. He came to visit me on the weekends and we talked on the phone nightly. There is a price for romance. My long-distance phone bill was over $300.

All along Rob kept telling me that he liked me but that marriage was out of the question until he got his degree, at least three years away. I was fine with dating. I was living in a dorm away from home for the first time, going to school myself so our long distance arrangement was working for me, other than that pesky phone I couldn’t afford.

On the first weekend in December Rob once again came to visit me (staying with mutual guy friends). We ate at Denny’s on Friday night. After our meal we went back to the apartment. In a gentle way, with trembling hands, Rob produced a ring box. I was surprised. For a guy who protested he didn’t want to get married, he was moving fast. In what can only be described as the work of angels, for the only time in my life, I let Rob speak without interrupting him. Good thing I did. He showed me a simple gold band with intertwining hearts and a tiny diamond chip. He once again reminded me that he was in no position to marry, but that he was offering an exclusive friendship. Would I consider being his friend? Accepting the ring would mean we would date exclusively but with no other long-term attachments until after college graduation.

I was smiling so big my mouth almost cracked. I was laughing on the inside but I didn’t want to hurt Rob’s sincere attempt at landing his first ever girlfriend. He was trying SO hard to be true to his heart and his head at the same time. I accepted the deal. I went back to my dorm and showed all the girls on my floor my official friendship ring. Everyone was very confused as to its meaning.

For the next 24 hours as Rob and I hung out, I proudly showed off my ring, explaining each time that it signified Rob’s and my friendship. It was corny, but very sweet. The girls in my student ward were happy for me because that meant I was officially off the market for the rest of the boys.

We attended church together on Sunday morning. During the opening hymn of “Hark ! The Herald Angels Sing” Rob leaned over and whispered in my ear, “ Will you marry me?” I didn’t immediately reply. We continued singing until last stanza of the song. I leaned over and whispered in his ear, “Yes.” He looked at me and while closing the hymn book he responded, “Oh shoot!” The church service began and we sat together in silence, pondering what had just happened. I was wondering what the “Oh shoot” was about. I assumed he regretted his proposal. After the Sacrament was passed I couldn’t stand the silence anymore. I whispered, “What do you mean, “Oh shoot?” Did you make a mistake?” He put his arm around me and said in my ear, “No! I wanted to ask you, but not like this. I wanted to wait and do something really neat. I just felt compelled to ask. And now I have ruined my chance to do something unique and I will be forever stuck with this.”

I love that every year we get to celebrate his mistake. I will be calling the ward chorister tonight to make a special request for the opening hymn on Sunday. I do it every year and no music leader has ever turned me down. And every year as the ward unknowingly sings “our” song, Rob sheepishly sings along, waiting for the critical part when I lean over and whisper “Yes” in his ear.

Whenever I have the chance, I also tell anyone who will listen that Rob and I were only friends for 24hours before he proposed. It explains a lot about our marriage.