She Tricked Me into Marrying Her … Sort of

This week Jane and I celebrate our 25th
wedding anniversary. On March 12, 1988, we exchanged vows before friends,
family and God in the Waynesburg Presbyterian Church. I have to say, it doesn’t
seem like 25 years ago!

A funny thing happened on the way to the
alter; Jane tricked me into marrying her … sort of. Actually she employed a
principle of influence but I’m not totally sure if she knew what she was doing.
We met on our first day of work and started dating
a few weeks later. Within weeks of that, I was telling friends she might be
“the one.” Things went along smoothly until my ex-girlfriend called and that
threw me for a loop. A few months of indecision ensued and what made it extra
difficult was Jane and I still worked together and saw each other daily.
We’d stopped going out sometime in early April
and one day in late April I saw Jane in the break room and asked how she was
doing. She said she was doing fine and wouldn’t go out with me again even if I asked.
Less than two weeks later we were going out and I asked her to marry me on her
When I used to tell the story I bragged as if
I was some kind of stud that she just couldn’t resist. While I was doing that
Jane was probably telling her friends, “All I had to tell him was I wouldn’t go
out with him again even if he asked…and he asked me to marry him!”
In case you’re not aware of what happened,
Jane used the principle of scarcity on me. This principle of persuasion tells
us people want things more when they’re less available. I bet every one of you
reading this can think of a time where you stopped going out with someone or
were considering it but when you learned they liked someone else everything
changed. All of a sudden you wanted them more than ever!

In my defense, I’d like to think part of the
reason she said “yes” was because I engaged a little reciprocity. I planned to
ask her to marry me on her birthday to throw her off my real intention. I gave
her a dozen roses at work then showed up at her apartment with another dozen
roses and a bottle of wine that evening. She thought it was all for her birthday. Next I
took her to dinner in a Silver Cloud Rolls Royce I’d rented, driver and all. On
the way home I popped the question in the back seat and gave her the ring. She
couldn’t say no after all I’d done…she owed me!

Something happened after I asked her to marry
me. All the uncertainty that plagued me for months left and it was no longer an
issue trying to decide between the ex and Jane. I can honestly say I never
looked back and wondered “what if?” Because I’d made an active, public
commitment, the principle of consistency was now at work on me.
In all truthfulness, each of us was a bungler
of persuasion and we were lucky in our application of some of the principles of
influence. We were also bunglers in marriage at such a young age but overcame
obstacles and have been in a really good place for a long time. Just as life is
easier when you understand and ethically apply persuasion, marriage is easier
when you learn and practice two things to the best of your ability.
  1. Cherish the other person because time goes by quickly (scarcity). 
  2. Put the other person’s well being above your own. When you do,
    most of the time they will respond in kind (reciprocity).

I’ll conclude with this since it’s my
anniversary. I’d like to tell all of you that Jane is incredible! The more time
passes and I watch her continue to grow and mature, the more amazed I am at
her. If God had let me put together the perfect spouse I wouldn’t have come up
with someone as wonderful as Jane. Part of the reason is I wouldn’t have been
creative enough and the other part would have been a lack of faith that there
would be someone so beautiful, kind, smart, funny and so many other amazing traits.
I’m a very blessed man!

Brian, CMCT® 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
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