I’m Ready For Marriage, He’s Not: How To Deal

Engagement_question_1Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
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It’s been four years and he still hasn’t put a ring on it. There’s a chance he might propose this Valentine’s Day but if he doesn’t, I think I’m going to end it. I am very happy with him but I think he’d be fine staying like this forever, and that’s not what I want. He knows how important marriage is to me and I don’t want to beg or wait anymore. Is there any way I can convince him, or should I leave and look for someone who wants the same thing I do?

Dr. Erica Goldblatt, Doctor of Social Work
I'm sorry that this Valentine's Day is coming at a cost of high anxiety for you, but it’s healthy to set deadlines for yourself and Beyonce would be proud! I can certainly relate to being in a relationship where both partners want different things and one person ends up going along just to get along, but how is that fair to you? If you put too much expectation on getting the ring by V-Day, the proposal may be forced and not genuine. And, worse, if you don't receive a ring, you'll be doubly disappointed. I guess the question you need to ask yourself here is: Will being engaged change your relationship for the better, or is it possible that it's just extending a relationship where you're both dissatisfied but afraid of change? It does sound like you’ve mostly made up your mind, so remember that even though it will be hard in the short-term, you’ll ultimately be better off in the long run.

Rachel Becker, Licensed Master Social Worker
Your frustration at this point is completely understandable. But, take a beat to make sure your frustration isn’t negatively influencing your approach to the situation. It sounds like you’ve been putting a lot of pressure both on yourself and him to make the ring happen, which can’t be fun for either of you. So rather than leaving out of frustration or “convincing” him to propose, I think you owe it to both of you to shift gears and try get a better understanding of where his head is.

Engagement_question_2Illustrated by Ly Ngo.

My suggestion would also be to avoid trying to convince your partner. An engagement should be entered into willingly and mutually. If that isn't the case, and your partner isn't willing to change, it might be best to reconsider either what you want from the relationship and lower your expectations (but will you be happy with that?) or move on. Lasting long-term relationships require compromise from both parties. So, if your vision for the future includes marriage and children, but that’s just not as important to him, no amount of begging or waiting will get him on the same page. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to stay with them.

You said that you “think” he’d be fine maintaining the status quo forever, but are you 100 percent certain? It’s possible that marriage isn’t on his agenda, but he may also have a reasonable explanation about why it hasn’t happened yet. Make it your goal to really understand what he’s thinking and feeling and then decide from there. Bottom line? You don’t want just any marriage, you want a good marriage, and that involves both people taking the other person’s perspective into account — especially during stressful times. This is a great opportunity for you to practice doing that. Whether you end up married to this boyfriend or the next, it’s a skill that will serve you and your relationships well over time. Good luck, lady!

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