You’re daydreaming about the elegant A-line gown that you’ll wear as “Canon in D” plays, but you’re not sure if he even knows your ring size. You certainly don’t want to be the one getting down on one knee, but it might be time to bring up the “m” word.
Men today are increasingly resistant to marriage for a number of reasons. So, if you’re thinking that your man is the one, then you may have to encourage some honest conversation about sealing the deal with some gold bands. The last thing you want is a dead-end relationship where you’re acting the part of his wife without actually having the commitment of marriage. If you’re not sure where to start, try these approaches:
Talk about the Future
If you’re in a serious relationship with someone, talking about the future as if you’ll still be together is not a crazy idea. Really, the assumption in any solid relationship should be that you’re working towards marriage. It’s okay to say things like “when we’re married” in conversations between the two of you. See how he reacts when you drop phrases like that. If he takes it in stride, then you can easily move forward with deeper questions about the topic. If he looks at you like you just spoke in a foreign language, then you may want to clarify where his intentions lie. If he doesn’t think marriage is in the cards, then it’s probably time to say “hasta la vista.”
Ask Him about His Expectations
It’s important to know not just whether or not he wants to get married, but also what his overall perspective on marriage is. Does he see it as a necessary evil? Does he think that divorce is an option if times get tough? Does he expect that the two of you will lead separate, but parallel lives? Or does he see marriage as a gift? Does he desire to stay by your side through the good times and bad? Does he want to become one with you and share life completely? Ask him what he thinks married life will look like for the two of you. And don’t dance around the serious stuff like faith, finances, and starting a family. Dive right in – those topics don’t become any less important.
Ask him what he thinks married life will look like for the two of you.
Ask Him about His Experiences
The marriages that he has witnessed in his life will influence his views, so ask him about the ones that have made a deep impact on him. Did his parents express their love for each other well, or was their marriage defined by conflict and tension? Have other couples made a positive or negative impression on him? What important lessons has he learned from the marriages that he has seen throughout his life? What would he like to emulate, and what would he like to change?
Talk about Your Expectations
Marriage certainly isn’t one-sided, so these conversations shouldn’t be either. Let him know what kind of expectations you have. How long are you willing to wait for him to propose? Do you want to have children right away? How do you want to raise them? Do you want to combine finances? Where do you want to live? Pour out these desires to him. Don’t hold anything back for fear that it might “scare him off.” If your expectations scare him, then he probably isn’t the one you’re meant to be with for the rest of your life.
Discuss a Timeline
If the conversations have gone well thus far and he’s ready to talk details, start by discussing a timeline. Do you both want to wait until you’re finished with grad school, or are you okay with juggling wedding planning and studies? What’s a reasonable amount of time for the engagement period? Ideally, in what month and year would you tie the knot? What do you both need to get in order first? He may, for example, be concerned about finances. Does he feel that he needs to have his student debt paid off and/or have a certain amount in savings before asking you to marry him? Talk through these things in order to come to an agreement that leaves you both feeling at peace and excited about the rest of your lives together!
Discussing marriage isn’t the same as being married, so set boundaries to preserve your girlfriend status.
Just because you’ve discussed marriage doesn’t mean that you are married. So, be sure to set some concrete boundaries that will preserve your status as girlfriend (there are, after all, steps required before becoming a fiancée and a wife)! You may, for example, want to make clear that you will live apart until after your vows. You may also want to avoid traveling and vacationing alone together, staying overnight at his place, combining finances, and even doing his laundry. He can’t get all the perks of marriage just yet!
You may get to wear that gorgeous A-line dress soon, but first, you need a ring on your finger. Be bold in inciting these important conversations with your boyfriend. If he’s the one, he won’t shy away from such discussions. He may even be glad you brought it up! And he very well may have already been thinking about it (and perhaps even have your ring size written down).
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