So...should we sit down tomorrow at 5:30 to talk about forever, maybe?
September 27, 2012 9:30 AM   Subscribe

How, exactly, did you start discussing marriage with the person you married?

I am not asking about how you proposed- though if that is the first time you starting talking about marriage, definitely feel free to share! What I am interested in is hearing how, exactly, you brought up and started discussing marriage* with the person you ended up marrying**. Did you joke about it? Casually drop it into conversation one day? Sit them down to have a Very Serious Conversation about it? Schedule a wedding date in his or her day planner? What form, and how long, did that conversation take?

I am asking for selfish purposes, of course. I love my significant other. Very much. And I've been mulling the idea of marrying them for a while now, and decided that I like the idea. Very much. But! I am having a hard time articulating what is in my head to the outside world. We have actually joked about marrying each other for some time, and we engage in long-term planning, so I know that they are not going to freak out over this conversation (even if the answer is "not right now"). But talking about this is making me nervous, because this seems like a big deal. And big deals make me anxious. And anxiety makes me a little avoidant, because I start psyching myself out and thinking that I shouldn't mess this up or say the wrong thing or bring up the topic at the wrong time. And then I get nervous all over again! The truth, though, is that while I am in no rush and feel that we have all the time in the world, I also would actually like to have this conversation at some point, and don't want to push it off indefinitely.

So: what did your conversation look like? Are there best practices here, or should one just jump in and see what happens?

* I am interested here in hearing about how you brought up the idea of marrying your spouse to your spouse, not about how you brought up the idea of marriage in general, or abstract, terms.

** This question is also open to anyone in civil unions or lifelong partnerships that might not be recognized by current marriage laws.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (67 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I think I said, "we should get married."
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:32 AM on September 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

Well, we needed a place to live. So I said, "hey, let's buy a house." And as part of that I mentioned that I was also planning on asking her to get engaged, but that would need to wait for a more romantic setting. But we were on the fast track.

I think having a Very Serious Conversation is a good way to go in your situation. You should think about your timeline. If getting married is important to you, how long do you want to stay in a relationship that isn't heading in that direction. And if it is, you should be able to reasonably talk about milestones and have everyone be happy about it. If you're feeling anxious, that might imply you don't think everyone will be happy about having the conversation. You'll probably be surprised. Have the talk. You'll feel better afterward, either way.

Buying a house, by the way, was the worst thing that came out of that conversation. That damn thing will be underwater for years. Everything else turned out great.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:37 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

In the car, on a road trip 12 to 13 years ago (We've been married for 7 but together for 14). I don't remember who brought it up. Nine years ago he proposed in the car too :)

Its where we seem to discuss everything important. You are sitting there side by side, with nothing but chatting to do, but there is no pressure that might come from looking at each other face to face.
posted by saradarlin at 9:40 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

We had been together for about two years and were talking about moving in together and I said something along the lines of "I don't want to live with you unless you see us getting married someday." He said something like "I love you and I don't ever see that changing, so yeah, I can definitely see us getting married at some point."

Six months after we started cohabitating, I walked in to the bedroom where he was studying. I said, "So, are we going to get engaged or what?" He said, "Uh, yeah. Sure." I walked out and walked back in a few minutes later and said, "Can we set a date?" He said, "Yeah." So we did. Turns out he was planning on proposing about a week after I asked, so it was pretty good timing. I was (and am) impatient.

We'll be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary in November.
posted by cooker girl at 9:40 AM on September 27, 2012 [8 favorites]

There was no Capital "C" Conversation. There were lots of small conversations that started out as vague (Well, if we're still together in ten years, then maybe we'll have time to _____) moved to hypothetical (If we got married, where would you want to live?) and eventually became less so (What kind of timeline do you have in mind for getting married?). I have no memory of the first time the topic came up -- probably it was part of the conversation about whether or not my husband and I would move in together. Neither of us wanted to unless we were pretty serious about the relationship, so we each asked and answered the question of whether or not we were potentially interested in getting married, assuming things worked out for another year or two.

By the time my husband actually proposed to me, we had had explicit conversations about the fact that we both felt like dating for three years first made sense, and had been dating for something like three years, two months.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:40 AM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

With my ex-wife: I was contemplating moving to another state for a job, she was contemplating coming with me, we were trying to work out how the practical details would go if she did tag along, and I asked "So should we be thinking about getting married here?" We pretty quickly decided that the answer was "yes."

With my current wife: We'd had a long tummultuous history together, including a couple high-drama breakups, so when I said "Hey, I think we should get back together" for the last time she was like "Well.... you're gonna have to convince me. And I've got some conditions." One of those conditions was, basically, that we should treat ourselves as "courting" rather than "dating" or "fooling around" — that we shouldn't get involved at all unless we were trying to move towards marriage. We still didn't actually get engaged for a couple years after that, but we were at least TALKING about marriage from the get-go.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:40 AM on September 27, 2012

Oh, also, my friend advised me at the time to ask that question only if I was prepared to deal with the consequences of "No." I was, so I did.
posted by cooker girl at 9:41 AM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

On our second date, he gave me a ring made out of a straw wrapper. Two-ish years later, he proposed for real-- though we knew from the beginning that it was just a matter of timing.

I believe the first mention was a casual "when we get married" that one of us let slip on the first date.
posted by charmcityblues at 9:42 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I joked. It was probably our third date. I mentioned that if we were ever to get married, she wouldn't need to take my name. Of course, that's because her first name is my last name. The beginning of our relationship had a bunch of small coincidences that our families tended to sum up as "it's fate" and this was just one of them.

It came up again a few times over the next few years, but it didn't become a real Conversation until she started the process of buying us a house. I proposed less than 2 months after the closing.
posted by neilbert at 9:43 AM on September 27, 2012

I'm pretty sure the ball got rolling when he told me I was the one for him and I had been thinking since the begining that he was the one for me. It was probably about three or four months into things. Then, one night when we were about to fall asleep (about 6 months into things), I said "I think we should get married now" and he said that sounded like a good idea.

But I still kind of feel like I tricked him into it.
posted by smirkyfodder at 9:47 AM on September 27, 2012

This isn't mine, but my parents, and took place in the late 70's. They had dated for three months, broke up for a month or so, then got back together. A couple months after that, they started planning a road trip. They were attending college in Texas and had been planning to drive to California and stop in New Mexico so my dad could look at a grad school there.

A few weeks before the trip they were doing dishes and discussing details of it...where to stop, what to pack, etc. My dad said to my mom, "You know, we might as well make it a honeymoon."

This year was their 35th wedding anniversary.
posted by DulcineaX at 9:48 AM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

It came up for us in the course of conversation, in which we were talking about how neither of us likes conformity all that much, particularly when imposed from outside like weddings tend to be. We discovered that both of us hoped for a slightly different wedding that would be nice but confound expectations. Both of us suggested Halloween as a potential date that would fit that bill. We were, in fact, married on Halloween two years later.
posted by LN at 9:49 AM on September 27, 2012

Oh, also, my friend advised me at the time to ask that question only if I was prepared to deal with the consequences of "No." I was, so I did.


And I'd add: don't have the conversation unless you're certain the other person would be willing to tell you "no."

And: don't have the conversation unless you're certain that you yourself would be willing to say "you know what, never mind, this is sounding like a terrible idea."

I've known couples who ended up married because neither one wanted to dissappoint the other one or sound like they were waffling or whatever. I am so glad they've all broken up again by now, because oh holy shit did they make each other miserable.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:50 AM on September 27, 2012 [18 favorites]

I really don't remember specifically ever bringing it up. At some point it was just obvious that we were headed down that road. We were both greek in college so we did do the traditional lavalier and then pinning milestones. Pinning your girlfriend is pretty much saying you intend to marry her after college - but we never sat down and had a conversation about whether or not I should pin her. I just did it, and I had zero fear that she would reject it.

If you look back at my history on marriage related questions, not talking about it / planning stuff out seems to be a common theme. I don't know what to make of that but it's been working for 21 years so I'm not going to worry about it!
posted by COD at 9:51 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

On either our first date I said I planned to get married and have children relatively soon, and that it would be with him (love at first sight, I knew he was the ONE right away). The fact that he didn't jump out of bed and run screaming into the night even though he had never even considered marraige/kids before let me know my instincts were right. The topic was fully explored in multiple later conversations but that we agreed the goal was to get married. We took concrete steps pretty quickly, I added him to my private health insurance plan, integrated our lives/families, got engaged, got pregnant, got married about two years after our first blind date, and have now been married over a decade, four children later.
posted by saucysault at 9:53 AM on September 27, 2012

At first, the subject of marriage is like a joke:

Him: "We should have the house fully renovated in about 5 years."
Me: *Jokingly* "We'll probably be married before we finish our house!"

Then, as time passes, the idea of marriage becomes more concrete. Instead of "if" it's more like "when" :

Me: "Ugh, I have too many stuffed animals around. I'm too old for this!"
Him: *Jokingly* "When we get married, you should invite them all to our wedding. They can all have their own table. All quietly sitting together, drinking champagne. "

Then, as more time passes, you start playing with the idea of living a married life:

Him: "So, how do you like my last name? When we get married, you will Mrs. Nikkorizz."
Me: "It's got a nice ring to it!"
posted by nikkorizz at 9:57 AM on September 27, 2012 [7 favorites]

Spouse and I went out when we were in college, then went out separate ways. When we started dating again (12 years or so later), we both realized that it would either be pretty serous or kill us both.

But anyway, after we'd been going out for a few months, I was in a position to fill out forms at a new doctor and I put Spouse down as my contact person. And then got mulling what that meant. And then I sent an email saying "so I put you down as a contact person, and then I wondered what that meant" and Spouse rushed over to propose. That is, there had been a couple of near-miss proposals already (who knew?!?) and this email kind of forced the matter to the fore. Still sort of amazed that I was behind the ball this time around. :)

Anyway, 8 years in, no inclination to wander off.
posted by acm at 10:05 AM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

We said things like, "This feels like it's going to last a long time." And "I can see myself growing old with you." And "Let's never, ever break up."
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:15 AM on September 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

My boyfriend and I started discussing it after we were living together about three years in. We still talk about it occasionally but have remained on the same page. We love each other to bits but neither of us are really interested in marriage in general, so we're still in agreement all these years later that we have no plans to get hitched in the foreseeable future. FWIW, neither of us has ever been married, nor do we have any terrible breakups or betrayals in our past relationships. We are 100 percent committed to each other but marriage just doesn't seem necessary for us at this time.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:16 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

For my wife and I, it was essentially a series of small conversations rather than one big Very Serious Conversation. I don't remember the exact moment that it first came up, but it probably started with jokes, then it moved to long-term planning, and then it basically became various conversations that involved words such as "when we're married."

By the time I actually proposed, it was almost a formality. We had discussed the idea often enough that we both understood that we were going to get married (to each other!). The only surprise was the specific moment that I proposed (though, even that wasn't much of a surprise because we went to a Romantic Location and I was acting weird as hell until I pulled out the ring because I was nervous -- she pretty much assumed that I was going to do it at that moment).
posted by asnider at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2012

My spouse and I had no interest in getting married, to each other or to anyone else, ever. But we were committed to each other. He graduated from grad school first and got a job in another city (a 2 hour drive away). He said he'd come back to our town to see me every weekend. I said "Great! But it seems like if we're going to do this then maybe we should be married. That feels like a lot to ask without a more significant level of commitment."

We talked about other kinds of commitment, like domestic partnership (which was not very common back then) and ultimately decided getting married would be easier and more fun. So we did.
posted by OrangeDisk at 10:20 AM on September 27, 2012

We were sitting in a ski lodge during our first vacation together, which was a nice treat since we lived 2000 miles apart. I had just put my house on the market, assumed it would sell soon (wrong) and was reviewing the pros and cons of various neighborhoods under consideration, ending with "I just haven't decided what to do yet." "That's easy," future Mr. Carmicha replied. "Marry me, move to [his city], quit your job, and start the company you've been talking about. You have to figure out the order, but I'll support whatever you choose." It would take about four years, but that's what happened.
posted by carmicha at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

It just sort of slipped out in conversation unconsciously when we were talking one day and I said said something like "When we're married we're going to have to figure out where we're going to live." and my husband laughs and goes "Hey I'm supposed to ask you remember."

So he did a few weeks later, came into the room in a suit while I was watching TV dropped down on one knee in front of me and proposed. By that point though it was kind of a formality though as we'd been talking about our futures together as if that was the destination anyway without saying the actual word "marriage".

Also I'm loving reading everyones stories.
posted by wwax at 10:27 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

My hubs and I had been dating long distance for about 6-7 months. One day we were talking on the phone and I said, "You know my intention is to marry you, right?" He didn't run screaming and a year later we were saying 'I Do'. Obviously this approach wouldn't work for everyone, but we are both very direct people. Good Luck!!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:31 AM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't remember the first time teradude mentioned marriage, but he was the first to approach the topic. I first told him I was going to marry him so hard (that's right, marry him so hard) during our first New Year's Eve together, drunk in my friend's kitchen. (We later had sex in her bathroom, so overall it was an all-star night.)

We talked more about it, without a decision, when we discussed moving in together. Throughout our relationship, we talked about how we would want to deal with money, kids, holidays, etc etc, if married. (Note that some of those discussions were both of us saying "We don't know!" But at least we both knew that we didn't know.)

You can make it serious without being...I don't know, binding, or very grave. You can joke, that's ok. You can also ask questions like "if you were married, do you think you would deal with money/vacations/whatever any differently? Because I always thought I would alternate holidays/have a shared checking account/never change my name" Have fun with it, be loving. Good luck!
posted by teragram at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

What other people said: Came up gradually and naturally and over a period of a year or two became more serious and concrete. We actually reserved the wedding venue before the formal proposal.

What's fascinating is how things have changed. An older aquaintance tells the story of calling her parents about 50 years ago: "John proposed, and we're getting married." Her parents: "Which John?" [She was dating two men with the same name.] Her: "John Smith. Oh, but I have a date scheduled with John Jones next week. What should I do?" Parents: "Cancel it."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:38 AM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

Husbunny and I were pretty upfront, pretty early on. We had known each other online for over a year, and met IRL in July.

I bought him a Cigar Band Ring for his birthday in October and told him that it was a promise ring. He bought me a ring for my birthday in December.

On a long weekend in New York in February, I dragged him all over town looking for paper for our Save the Dates. He proposed to me, formally, at the Russian Tea Room, later that evening.

We were married in July, one year after our first date. We celebrated our 10th anniversary this year.

My cousin told her husband on her first date, "Look, you seem like a great guy, and I'm interested in getting married and starting a family, if you're not on the same page, then let me know." He was a bit taken aback, but he agreed that marriage and a family were his object too. They're married and have two kids now.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:43 AM on September 27, 2012

We had been dating a few weeks and were still all twitterpated when my husband picked me up and swung me around and said, "when are we going to get married and have babies?!" kind of joking but kind of not. I didn't run screaming, although I was a little startled that he brought it up first, and so soon.

From there, it was small conversations over the next year and a half--as we discussed our dreams for the future, we started to include each other. We talked about last names and whether I'd change mine, baby names, whether we wanted to live abroad. We clarified which things we'd be willing to do without being married (move across the country) and which we wouldn't (have a baby) and eventually he told me he needed help picking out a ring.

The contrast between the ease of talking about the future in this relationship and the fraught feeling of talking about it in previous relationships was pretty stark. If it comes up easily and naturally, I think that's a good sign.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

We'd been going out for about five years when I started thinking about it. I was out of college, a lot of my friends were getting engaged. He'd said early on that he wasn't sure he believed in marriage, and I started to feel some angst and anxiety about it. So I brought it up here and there: "Would you be okay if I changed my mind about the whole marriage thing? If it turns out it's something I want?" And he said he would. And then weeks later I was all, "Would you be offended if I ever proposed? I'm not doing that now, mind you. Just theoretically." And he said he wouldn't. I proposed on our next anniversary, and though initially I was all "very long engagement," we were married less than a year later.

Come to think of it, that's how a lot of big discussions have gone in our relationship--with me nervously venturing forth questions in the abstract and then plans becoming increasingly concrete from there.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2012

My husband mentioned that it was important to him to get married fairly early on (when talking about a breakup with someone who is still a friend of his, and now of mine as well, he said something like "She's an amazing person, but I couldn't see us enjoying being married because we want such different things") and I sort of digested that, having been pretty ambivalent about whether marriage was for me at all.

Then, a bit later, I went to a show he was singing in, and met one of his singer/songwriter friends for the first time, and the friend joked, "So, are you engaged yet?" and I thought, "Shit, this guy is going to ask me to marry him and what am I going to say?"

So I asked him to marry me. Six weeks after we met. So far, so good 14 years in.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:58 AM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

MY partner is 15 years older than me and the rising question among her friends was the question of our marriage. As soon as I could, probably a month after we started dating and faced with that question at a cocktail party, I answered: I am going to throw a party and we're not going to get married. Not getting married is as powerful as getting married and it makes the same amount of difference because nothing changes except on paper when one marries. A year after we met, some friends of hers got engaged and it gave me a chance to actually look at the Christian vows. "To have and to hold" struck me, and so I told my woman that as long as I can have and hold her, I do. She said, "I do." The rest, like marriage, is history :) YMMV
posted by parmanparman at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2012

Personally, I'm all for the direct route. Everyone is different, but it has been my experience that men function best with clarity and directness. Hints can be missed or misunderstood.

I "officially" brought it up one evening, about a month or so* after we started dating, as we sat on the couch watching Iron Chef Japan. I was just struck with how easy it was to be with him and how happy I was.

Me: "You know, I am really happy and god damned in love with you. Can we get married some day?"
Him: "Sounds good to me. Oh look! Michiba is making his broth of vigor again!"

It wasn't a particularly romantic moment, nor was it said with any great drama or suspense. I probably would bring up buying new pillows for the bed with about as much effort. But it was a clear question and I got a clear answer, plus a wink (his trademark).

Just bring it up.

Datapoint: We picked out my engagement ring yesterday. :)

* from day one I don't think either of us questioned whether we'd get married. When we started dating we had already known each other for four years and we work together and the fact that we even decided to take the plunge, risk everything, and try to date meant a major thing. Both of us have said "I never would have considered kissing you that night if I didn't think we could have major long term potential". Maybe you guys are different, maybe it isn't such a given, so maybe don't ask after just one month... ha ha
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I lied my way into an emergency room "I'm her fiance" so that I could fill out my girlfriend's medical forms and stare at her to make sure she was not dead.

Later when being discharged, I think I said something akin to "That's not something I want to have to lie about"

I know, tres romantic
posted by French Fry at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2012 [15 favorites]

I had just moved away for grad school, and she flew out to visit me for the first time. We got home from the airport and decided we wanted to go shopping. Shortly after getting to the mall, we decide "Hey, it would be funny to look at wedding rings!"

We spent the next several hours shopping for them, and got engaged two months later.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:11 AM on September 27, 2012

After many years of living together and mocking the institution of marriage, we had started talking about buying a house. One night we were driving home from a long day in which someone was trying to sell me on taking a high stress job about two hours from where we were living. She said "You know, if you take this job that's fine, but I don't want to leave my job". I said "I know you never wanted to be Mrs. Straw, but let's make sure the money differential isn't an issue. Could we do this if that income were offset by mine?".

From there it became "Okay, the easiest way to set up the legal structures for house and other financial stuff is marriage".

Aaaaand: One of the best things that happened to our relationship was sitting down and writing the prenup. It was a fantastic way to look at the various different ways which society views marriage, and how we wanted to define our relationship around those views. Not that we haven't had some challenges with that, society wants to define married relationships in various ways that we aren't always comfortable with and sometimes we find ourselves falling into those traps, but definitely take the time to do a prenup, even if that's just going through the Nolo Press book.
posted by straw at 11:14 AM on September 27, 2012

We were very direct from the get go. The conversation started with him saying how he didn't see himself in our state for much longer and I told him I'd never leave. We decided to give the relationship a go anyway but put a half-joking deadline of three years on it. As the three year deadline came closer the "jokes" about it became more frequent until they weren't even jokes-with-airquotes anymore.
posted by rhapsodie at 11:27 AM on September 27, 2012

My guy said he was never gonna get married when we first met (Jan 2012). I was watching a program where some couple had been engaged for something like 15 years. He said something along the lines of, "if you're engaged that long you might as well get married." I said something about him never wanting to get married to which he replied, "I'm seriously reconsidering that because of you."

And we're engaged to be married - date set and everything.
posted by patheral at 11:34 AM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I must have deleted a paragraph.

...Two days later, we were sitting in Carl's Jr. (fast food place) and I said to him, "Did you mean that about getting married some day?" To which he replied that he was, indeed serious, and I said "sooner or later?" He said something about, "sooner is always better than later." I suggested that we not jump into things hastily so I brought up the idea of handfasting and the idea of waiting a year and a day. He thought that was a great idea. And there we are....
posted by patheral at 11:38 AM on September 27, 2012

We started joking about it in that ha-ha-only-serious kind of way. I was delighted when he first started calling me his lovely wife, and I responded by enthusiastically calling him my handsome husband. We talk about growing old together. I told him I have no doubt that he's the right one for me, and he told me he feels the same way about me. We exchanged promise rings; the ring he gave me once belonged to his late father.

We've been together for six months. We aren't officially engaged to be married yet, but it's there in the subtext of all our discussions, especially with respect to financial planning and where we're going to live. This is a long-distance international relationship - I'm in Portland, OR; he's in Germany. We're making plans to live together in Germany as soon as we can figure out the logistics. We both knew right from the start that the relationship had serious long-term potential, and because of the distance I doubt we would have gotten involved at all if it didn't. (I actually knew I would marry him after only seeing a photo of him, before we'd even met in person!)

I suspect that he may be planning a more formal proposal via Skype. In any case, it won't be much longer before I ask him: "So when are we getting married?" It's a big deal indeed, but I feel pretty confident about it, because I have no doubt that he'll be thrilled.
posted by velvet winter at 12:00 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

About four years in, after we'd been living together for about a year, we were discussing our respective health insurance premiums and realized that it would be WAY cheaper to add him to mine than to keep paying separately. Cheap enough that we could go on vacation with the extra money saved over the course of a year. I asked him if we ought to get married, to move him to my health insurance. He agreed that it was a good idea.

What can I say? We're pragmatic folks.
posted by juniperesque at 12:01 PM on September 27, 2012

We have actually joked about marrying each other for some time, and we engage in long-term planning

Congratulations, you've already started talking about getting married. If you're not going to tackle it head on (and there's nothing wrong with doing so but a lot of people want to preserve the particular romance of the surprise proposal - and there's nothing wrong with that either) - well where many people go from jokes and plans which are obviously compatible with marriage but not specifically invoking it is into specific timelines. How will timing of graduate school and having kids work out? If you haven't had serious conversations like - kids: absolutely, lots or absolutely never or somewhere in between, well they are a necessary prerequisite and obviously signal the topic is in the air. Property ownership timelines.

More direct... "so if/when we do get married someday..." Will we invite crazy uncle Bill? Will you honor my lifelong dream of being married in a blimp? How do you feel about epic cheesecake? These are hypothetical example questions by the way. And so you start to work it into the dialog about the future. At this point if he's amenable he will start scheming his question-popping strategy, or if she is acting amenable you start scheming yours (this is assuming a hetero couple who are content with the traditional "man does the asking" model, nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with breaking conventions either. I think I would have been happy enough if my wife had proposed to me... though I suspect I would harbor a sliver of "you took away my manly man rights to be mister down on the knee guy!" Totally unsupportable in the 21st Century but there you are, traditions.
posted by nanojath at 12:03 PM on September 27, 2012

Just to put my 2c of anecdata in here, do not start with "ARE WE GETTING MARRIED OR NOT?"
posted by rhizome at 12:16 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

We'd been dating about 4 months and had the chance to go to Hawaii with his family. About 2 weeks before we left, he was at my house - he'd brought over some bills he wanted to get in the mail the next day.
As he was writing the check for his truck insurance, he said, "I wonder how much my rates will go down when we get married."
I said, "Probably quite a bit, we should find out."
He said, "Hawaii would be a nice place to get married."
And that was that. 13 years later and I would not undo a single day.
We hadn't discussed it at all prior to that, but it turns out after our first date we each ran to our respective friends to announce we'd met the one.
posted by hilaryjade at 12:17 PM on September 27, 2012

Another part of my story that I should have included because it is awesome (and also because it illustrates one of the signs that we were moving toward marriage, as per your actual question): we got a Costco card together. The spot for the secondary cardholder on the application form is listed as "spouse" by default so I started referring to my then-girlfriend-now-wife as my Costco wife.
posted by asnider at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

June 2010: I think I'd been dating my wife a relatively short while...maybe three months.
But I sensed something beyond the giddiness of a new relationship. I've had partners I liked and not loved and I've been with partners I've loved, but not liked. And I realized she was the first one I liked and loved.
On this particular night we snuck downstairs to make out (my roommates and I had some people over) and I told her that I was going to marry her someday. It sort of flew out of my mouth but I didn't really care, even though I was a bit surprised myself.
At the time she shrugged it off, thinking it was all bravado. I think she said something like, "Oh, you think so, do you?"

Four months after that, we were drinking (and pretty sloshed) at a friend's house and she walked up to me and said, "I think we should get hitched."
I said, "OK"
She said, "I'm not joking."
I said, "Neither am I."

She called the next day to see if I remembered the conversation and give me an 'out'. But I didn't want out. I wanted her...and we got married in August. I have rarely been so sure of anything in my entire life.

Recently, she told me that the night in the basement freaked her out a bit, she'd been through a divorce and wasn't really thinking about being married again...ever.
posted by black8 at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm posting my story second - but my favorite is my best friends. They'd known each other 18 months, been officially dating for 6. She was in school about 3 hours away and was driving his car back to school after a weekend visit while he dozed in the passenger seat. About half way there he sat bolt upright looked at her and said "you are going to marry me right?" and she said "of course" and that was that.
posted by dadici at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hubs and I dated in HS. We went to separate colleges, about an hour away from each other and saw each other on the weekends. We had a rough first semester, hashed out a ton of issues over Thanksgiving and where happily dating over Christmas break. One day in January during a mundane conversation I uttered the phrase "our kids". Hubs stopped the conversation and said, that made him really happy to know that I saw a future together as a real possibility, then asked if we should talk about marriage, so we did. He proposed officially in April.

It was all very matter of fact. If you've joked about marriage I would suggest asking, in a straightforward, but not overly dramatic way, "Should we talk about getting married more seriously?" and see what the reaction is.
posted by dadici at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2012

Boyfriend and self are in kind of a strange situation wrt to marriage.

We want to, but:

1) gay couple in a state where it's already outlawed and there's a state constitutional amendment on the ballot this year to make it extra-illegal
2) it feels like a thing Established Adults do and we've never really felt like we're that

So to be honest I don't specifically remember. I think we were just talking about whatever random things and boyfriend said "I think we should get married eventually," and I was like "...yeah, we should."

We just haven't established how or when or where or what it might mean in a state and country that has no respect for it.

Dunno if that helps or not, sorry!
posted by kavasa at 12:43 PM on September 27, 2012

She told me that she would never live with someone again unless she was going to marry them. The she bought a house and asked me if I wanted to live in it with her. That started the discussion, because I was the type of dullard who would say "But you said . . ." and she was the type of spectacular person who would say "No shit, Sherlock." From there the topic had been broached so bringing up the topic again in casual conversation was easy. I had been in the same position of wanting to discuss but not knowing how.
posted by Seamus at 12:44 PM on September 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

We were still in the butterflies stage and making comments about "I love you so muuuuch" and "I want to be with you foreverrrrrr" and anyway one night about six months into the relationship I got mushy enough to ask if he'd marry me and he agreed and welp here we are almost seven years later. :)
posted by agress at 1:05 PM on September 27, 2012

We are one of those couples that just hit it off and got serious right away. I think we had already discussed getting married in the future by the end of our first year together. We'll be together 5 years in December and we're getting married next summer. We've been living together for just over 2 years now.

Our engagement was super unromantic. I was on the phone with my mom and she said, "you know you guys can have a long engagement, right?" I told her to hold on a minute, went to the other room and said "do you want to get engaged?" He said yes and the rest is history. Except that my dad thought we bullied him into saying yes so he had call my dad later that week and reassure him.
posted by amapolaroja at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

We started fairly early in our relationship with some general discussion about it -- "do you ever want to get married" sort of a thing. There was an implied "to me" at the end of the sentence, but I don't think it was stated at that point. Just generally, if all goes well, would you want to get hitched or would is that a BIG RED FLAG for some reason? With no red flags on either side, we continued onward.

Then law school ended and we needed to move somewhere to do things like work and eat, and we decided that we wanted to be in the same place. I got a job in a new city and she had a job in no city. New City was not near either of our hometowns, so it arose whether she was going to follow me to New City. Again, "I will if you promise that we're going to get married" wasn't explicit, but it was hinted. We weren't ready for the full-blown commitment yet, but we were close. We've been married just over a year now.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:35 PM on September 27, 2012

In bed one night, being snuggly.

Me: "You should marry me"
Him: "Okay"
Me: "What?"
Him: " Well, I'm planning on being with you forever, so why not?"
Me: "Okay"

It didn't feel real until he'd called his parents. Then a few months later, on the way to see third LotR movie, we stopped at the jewelers and ended up buying a ring.

We've been married for 8 years (together for 11) and have 4 kids :)
posted by Abbril at 1:51 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

My now-husband took me to the cemetery associated with his family's church and where his family's plots are. There were 2 inches or so of snow on the ground. He explained: "this is where my dad is buried, and my grandmother and grandfather. This is my mom's plot. And this..." he drew and X in the snow on an empty spot "is where you will be buried." It was totally consistent with his warped sense of humor that he introduced the topic of marriage this way but I was laughing too hard to realize it was a quasi-proposal. Regarding the cemetery: we're both atheist and neither of us intend to be buried there anyway.
posted by tidecat at 1:52 PM on September 27, 2012 [17 favorites]

After living together for five years:

She: "Are we ever going to get married?"

Me: "How about next year."

She: (Resignedly) "OK."

She: (Realizes that it is November) "OK!"
posted by Midnight Skulker at 1:55 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am with a (wonderful and adorable) tax lawyer therefore one day, as he was filling out our taxes, he turned to me and said "You know, we would save a lot of money on this if we were married."

I use that as our "proposal" story as well. :)

Honestly though, I would go the honest-and-true route with this. That, for you right now, might mean turning to your beloved over burgers and saying something like "Hey, I've been mulling the idea of marrying [you] for a while now, and decided that I like the idea. Very much. But! I am having a hard time articulating what is in my head to the outside world. This is just the start of the conversation, but what do you think about what I'm saying?" Not in Big Serious Conversation mode, but the way you would tell them whenever anything's been on your mind for awhile and you want to share it with them.

I'm just saying that you don't have to try to make it a jokey, light thing or a by-the-way businessy thing if that's not how you feel, though of course you can do either of those! You can just say how you're feeling, and that's usually a pretty good way to do things.
posted by EmilyFlew at 1:57 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

At about six months of dating my boyfriend, we went out to dinner and while pounding back some edamame, he said, "So are you ready for me to drop a bomb?" I am never ready for anyone to drop a bomb. But I'm a good sport, so I said, "SHURRRRRRE." And then he proceeded to tell me about how he had been married to a woman for six years.

Crucial datapoint: we're gay. o_O

So in the moment, I didn't really discuss us. This wasn't about us. This was about them. And I wanted to reassure him that I wasn't freaking out about this. (I was, by the way. But that was about me. And my anxiety. And my baggage. And that wouldn't have been fair to dump on him.) So I said, "Look, I think you're wonderful - and so whatever experiences that you've had that made you who you are, and that brought you to me, well, I think they're wonderful too."

So that was sort of the end of that. Handled. Done. Moved on. Until I got to thinking later. And after a while, and a long time of freaking out about this issue, I said to him that I didn't have any questions about why he chose to marry a woman because whatever his reasons, they wouldn't change the way I felt about him. But, that there was part of this issue that might have some sort of an impact on my life and I'd like to know a little more. So I asked him if he had any kids. Cause, you know, that's important. And then I asked him if that colored how he viewed marriage in the future and if it was something he wanted to do.

He answered cautiously, noting that we had probably not been dating long enough to be talking about marriage with each other (totally fair/reasonable/true), but that he did someday want to get married. I told him that was good, cause I was kind of like Beyoncé in that I feel like if you like it you better put a ring on it. We've discussed it since, and we disagreed on the path toward marriage (but not that we were on it). He really likes incremental commitment. I'm kind of more of the "decide-and-go" type. But ultimately I think we recognized (okay, I recognized) that the net effect is very much the same, either way - since we live in Texas and we're gay. Move in together? Get married and move in together? We'll have the same rights, either way.

So now we live together. And we're pretty much constantly talking about buying a house and starting to have babies. With some changes in the legal landscape, marriage might be a little more practical/pragmatic in the future. And when it is, we'll have been talking about it for long enough that it'll practically all be over but the crying. (Also, he wants to get married in France, which wont be legal until 2013 anyway. So there's been no rush in that respect either.)
posted by jph at 2:09 PM on September 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, and as to when I think it really clicked for him that we were going to get married / that he was ready to propose for real?

We were looking for something in his storage unit, and I jokingly put on his hockey helmet. It had a name tape in the front with his last name, and the way he looked at me when he saw it told me instantly that the proposal was close.

He totally denies this, by the way, and doesn't remember that day at all. But I knew. He formally proposed about a month later.
posted by charmcityblues at 2:21 PM on September 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

I was all of about 18 and the relationship essentially brand spanking new -- I mean the romantic part. We had been best friends prior to that. I accidentally said something stupid in terms of "I worry about your crap diet because I worry how that will impact your health when we are old." I expected him to say something like "Whoa! Time out! I am still getting over (soap opera teen drama where previous gf dumped him) and we have been together all of (x# of days -- like 2 weeks). I am not ready to talk long term commitment."

But he didn't object so I idiotically spent the next six months telling all our mutual friends that we were getting married. One day, it dawned on me that I was the only one saying it. So I confronted him and asked him "Do you or don't you plan on marrying me?" He very lamely replied "I don't know."

I had already given up a prestigious scholarship in part to remain with him. I promptly dumped him. I pretty much immediately had flowers from another guy. A week later, he was clear now: he definitely loved me and definitely wanted to marry me. I rolled my eyes at that but took him back.

About a year later, I said something like "Let's get married in the next six weeks. Fall would be great weather for spending anniverseries in bed." And we eloped about maybe 4 weeks later.

We were together 22 years. The divorce was amicable. No regrets.
posted by Michele in California at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

We have actually joked about marrying each other for some time, and we engage in long-term planning, so I know that they are not going to freak out over this conversation (even if the answer is "not right now").

To me, it sounds like this would be the junction at which you should propose. Because, you know, "Will you marry me?" is not actually saying ""Will you marry me tomorrow?" You can have a long engagement, a short engagement, or get married with no engagement at all. This is what's called a modern day elopement.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:18 PM on September 27, 2012

Cuddling after a really hard day. I asked him, "Do you see us getting married someday?" And he said, "Yes." I don't remember what happened after that, except that he proposed a couple of months later.
posted by hishtafel at 4:23 PM on September 27, 2012

I was pretty up front very early on about looking for a SRS RELATIONSHIP with marriage and babies. My partner was similarly up front about never wanting to get married. About two years in, he decided to buy a house and asked me to come along for the ride. That was the point where we had the "So are you ever going to marry me?" conversation, to which the answer ended up being, "Nope. The legal institution freaks me out. But that doesn't mean I'm any less committed to you."

Three years after that, we had a baby. When the baby was five and a half months old, I left my job, which is the job that was providing us with health insurance. We had a pragmatic discussion where we looked at a number of factors: ease of getting health insurance, protection for me if he died/our relationship went south, tax benefits, etc. -- your standard privileges of a heterosexual marriage -- and decided to get married.
posted by linettasky at 8:07 PM on September 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

asnider - We did a Costco wife thing too! My partner put me down as his "spouse" on his costco membership, and we made lots of jokes about how "We're married in the eyes of Costco. That's practically legal!". And actually the whole "Costco wife" thing was something we joked about to our respective parents, which I think was our way of telling them we're intending to get married.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:34 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I met my wife at university. After a few weeks of dating, I was following her up a flight of stairs, put my hands on her waist and said "You have such a small waist". She said "Keep saying that and I'll have to marry you." I said "OK!". We've been married for 13 years.
posted by LittleFuzzy at 9:04 AM on September 28, 2012

we joked. then we dropped it. we discussed the practical reasons for getting married. then we dropped it. repeat a few times. i told him over the phone while he was at work that i thought i wanted to marry him and then changed the subject quickly. a few weeks later he told me he had been thinking about it and he also thought that marriage was somewhere in the future. a couple months later our dear friends (who are married) came to visit us with their child. after they left, we laid in the living room and i told him that i wanted to be married to him. he agreed. we asked those friends to perform the ceremony.
posted by nadawi at 11:52 PM on September 28, 2012

Convince yourself. List the pros & cons of marriage itself & marriage to SO specifically. Think about how you want marriage to change your life, about what you want life to be like in 5, 10, 25, 50 years. Think about how you'll feel if the answer is No, Not Now, Maybe.

I absolutely agree about the pre-nuptual agreement process; it gets you to think about the logistics of marriage, and to be honest about how you'll deal with money.
posted by theora55 at 6:59 AM on September 29, 2012

We'd been dating about two months-ish. I knew he was crazy about me, and I'd been initially uncertain, but that uncertainty was rapidly disappearing. He'd dropped the idea of a trip home to the states to visit his parents, and casually asked if I wanted to come too. I said yes. A few weeks after that idea had been broached, we were lying in bed talking about the trip and he mentioned something about moving in together around the same time. We discussed a second trip around Christmas 2012, and he mentioned casually that we'd probably be married by then. I was surprised but he told be he was too scared of my mum to move in with me without being engaged. I bought my wedding dress a couple of months later, and we got engaged around 8 months after we met.
posted by jonathanstrange at 1:48 AM on October 7, 2012

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