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Women take wedding proposals into their own hands on February 29 - but should they?

An Irish tradition is in the spotlight, but Abbey Smith writes its not a step she wants to take.

Australia has come a long way when it comes to marriage, but there's still one tradition dominated by men—the proposal. In 2024 we celebrate a leap year, an extra day in February and an Irish tradition will see women take the plunge and get down on one knee to ask their men to marry them.

The country voted yes to same-sex marriage in 2017, showing residents were open and accepting of LGBTQIA+ relationships and wanted anyone who wanted to get married to have the same rights as a heterosexual couple. When it comes to proposing between men and women though, it's still predominantly seen as a man's job but one Dating and Relationship expert wants to see more women feel empowered to take the initiative.

Woman holds up a sign saying 'Marry Me' (left) and 29 circled on a calendar (right).
As the leap year for 2024 is upon us more women are opting to do their own proposals. Source: Getty Images

Dating back to the 5th century, the Irish tradition is putting the power back in the hands of women, allowing them to propose to their male partner on February 29. Legend has it, women were given one day every four years, to propose to their significant other if they were taking too long to do so. We now live in a world where women can take their futures into their own hands, so there's one question to answer- is it common for women to propose to men?

Women turning the tables

When it comes to celebrity women bucking the trend, there are three who come to mind. Pink very famously proposed to her husband Carey Hart, a successful American motocross racer by holding up a sign during the PRO 250 in 2005 which read 'Will you marry me?' The 'Trust Fall' singer had to add 'serious?' to the sign when he didn't stop but after 18 years of marriage and a few well-documented ups and downs, the couple are still together. Carey and the kids even joined Pink on her Australian leg of the Summer Carnival tour.

Pink took matters into her own hands in 2013, making a sign for Carey and asking him to become her husband. Source: Getty Images
Pink took matters into her own hands in 2013, making a sign for Carey and asking him to become her husband. Source: Getty Images

Australian actress Sarah Snook, who is known for her award-winning role in TV show Succession proposed to long-term friend Dave Lawson after the pair spent lockdown together. The couple got stuck in Melbourne and fell in love while spending countless weeks in isolation, with Snook proposing to Lawson after a few weeks.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard waited until same-sex marriage was legalised across most of the United States before Bell popped the question on Twitter. Source: X
Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard waited until same-sex marriage was legalised across most of the United States before Bell popped the question on Twitter. Source: X

The other well-known actress who got down on one knee before her male partner was Kristen Bell. The Veronica Mars star and actor Dax Shepard maintained they'd wait until same-sex marriage was legalised in the United States, and just after the Supreme Court handed down the ruling in 2013, Bell took to Twitter to ask Shepard to marry her.

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'Break the mould'

Australia's leading relationship expert Dr Lurve spoke to Yahoo Lifestyle and is in favour of seeing more women take control of their love timeline. "While it may not be as prevalent as in Ireland, there has been a noticeable shift in recent years with more Australian women feeling empowered to take the initiative in proposing. This vibe shift where more Aussie women are taking charge and doing the proposing aligns with the broader societal changes towards gender equality, and it's likely to continue growing as traditional gender roles evolve. It's like a down-under version of breaking the mould, and it's catching on.

She agrees Australia is seeing a shift in the traditional marriage proposal and even relationship but there's something exciting about breaking the mould.

"The rule book for relationships has become more flexible, allowing couples to define their own paths. Couples are tearing up the rule book and rewriting their own rules. This shift is positive as it encourages authenticity and a personalised approach to commitment, rather than adhering strictly to outdated norms. It's like relationship anarchy in the best way possible," she said.

Dr Lurve is encouraging women to look at breaking the stereotypes around proposing, if both parties are on the same page. Source: Getty Images
Dr Lurve is encouraging women to look at breaking the stereotypes around proposing, if both parties are on the same page. Source: Getty Images

"While a good majority of men still hold traditional views on proposing, many are embracing the idea of shared decision-making in relationships. The key is to create an environment where both partners feel comfortable expressing their desires and intentions. Mutual agreement and communication are paramount. There is nothing wrong with an old-school approach if that works for your relationship."

Dr Lurve has this advice for any women thinking about a February 29 proposal, or any other day.

"Proposing on the 29th can be a unique and exciting way to break from tradition. My advice If you're feeling the vibes to pop the question, own it. But remember, it's not about power plays. It’s about connection, the emphasis should be on mutual understanding and respect," she said.

"Women considering this need to communicate openly with their partner about their intentions, just as if it was the other way around. Clear communication ensures both partners are on the same page regarding the future of the relationship regardless of who pops the question."

Keep with tradition

I recently watched Pink fly across the roof of the Adelaide Oval as she performed acrobatics in her Summer Carnival tour of Australia. She is a powerhouse. A force to be reckoned with, who allowed us to grow up with her, through her music and dug in and kept fighting for her marriage to Hart, even when times were tough.

Of course, I'm all for women pushing the boundaries, landing their dream jobs in male-dominated fields, and proving that we are just as worthy but I still hold out hope that one day I'll be able to look down and see my partner on one knee, proposing to me.

All the more power to those women who want to make their story a little different, but for me, I like traditions and it's one I'll be keeping.

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