I love my boyfriend very much. We have a wonderful relationship and I would like to get married. We would both like to get married. We've talked about it, and agreed that we share this goal. Yay! However, we have very different ideas about when to get engaged. I want to shout it from the rooftops, but he wants "more time". Please help me understand his reasons for waiting to make our intentions official and public.
Some background: we have been dating for about two years. We live separately (my choice), but I spend weekends at his because he doesn't have roommates and I have two. We are in our very early 30's, and work in the same industry, although in slightly different capacities. We get along famously, love one another to pieces, and share similar career, life and financial goals. We have a close-knit group of mutual friends/colleagues (though we do have separate friends that we spend time with as well). We both want children, pygmy goats (thanks to a recent thread) and a garden. Everything is wonderful, and I want us to start planning our life together with the confidence of an official engagement and impending marriage.
My boyfriend says he wants to wait, however, until I have had a chance to meet and get to know the rest of his family. He is from another country (which is also my mother's native country), where we will be doing our Master's come this fall. I met his mom and sister during their visit here a while back, and "met" his brother and sister-in-law over skype (we've all sat and talked this way several times). His father and stepmother friended me on facebook, and we've kept in regular touch this way. He has met most of my family, and the ones he hasn't met have friended him and keep in touch with him as well.
To me, this is adequate for two people whose families mostly live very far away. At this point, since, with a couple exceptions, we're not terribly close with our families anyway, I can't foresee any event or personality difference between myself and someone in his family that would make me change my mind about wanting to be with him. We all seem to get along very well when we do talk or write: sharing jokes and memories. I am close with my brother and my brother's partner, who live here in the same city, and the four of us hang out quite often. With everything between us feeling so great, and aligned so well for an engagement, I don't understand his hesitation. He brought up getting married before I did, so I know he's not freaked out about it. I was a little put-off and surprised by the idea that I need to pass some sort of family approval test, although I can understand why it might be weird for him to get engaged to someone that most of his family hasn't actually met yet.
I would like us to get engaged before we leave for school for a couple of reasons: 1) We will be in separate cities (about two hours apart), but are planning to get jobs in the same city when we finish our year-long programs. I feel that I could deal with separation and tandem career moves a bit better with the commitment of an engagement, rather than as just boyfriend and girlfriend. Especially after more than two years of dating.
2) Once I leave for school, I don't envision returning to my home town anytime soon. I also don't want to have a big wedding. I would us to get engaged before we leave so that we can celebrate with our wonderful and supportive group of friends, since I likely won't have the kind of wedding that they could attend. I'm having a difficult time imagining just making a bunch of long-distance phone calls upon getting engaged, rather than being able to jump up and down with my best friends.
I didn't give him these reasons when we last talked about this because I was a little taken aback and disappointed when he said I needed to hang out with his family first. He did say he would like to get married after we've finished school and have stable jobs again, which is fine with me. But it all just sounds pretty vague, when I would like things to be more defined. I also have a problem with the fact that he can say he wants to marry me, but balks at making it official.
Although we usually communicate very well, this is a very emotionally overwhelming topic and I'm worried about being pushy. I'm also worried that maybe my reasons for wanting to get engaged sooner are not really valid to anyone but me, and that I need to just cool it and let things happen when the timing is good for the both of us.
This is a really strange place for me to be in because I've always been sort of a commitment-phobe. However, now that I'm over 30, I'm taking my desires for life-partnership and family making more seriously. I'm excited about how right this feels and I want to get the ball rolling!
So: am I over-excited and losing sight of practical issues surrounding preparations for marriage? Could the idea that I need to spend more physical time with his family be a stall tactic? Is it possible that he just needs more time to get used to the whole idea of marriage (since we just started talking about it openly), and may eventually come around to getting engaged sooner? Should I bring this up again, or let it be? It felt like he had the last word, and that isn't quite sitting right with me, and feels unusual for us.
Sorry for the long story, and thanks in advance for any advice or personal anecdotes about how to respect and live with his needs on this issue and/or making a better case for getting engaged soon.
p.s. I've made it clear that having a ring/fancy proposal is unnecessary. We're both pretty non-materialistic, so having to save up for a diamond is probably not what's holding him back.