Where do I stand after my feeble attempt at a marriage proposal?
December 11, 2012 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to marry me and he said 'why not'. Now what?

My boyfriend (36) and I (33) have been together for about a year. We have already talked about wanting to get married and have children (I was always the one to initiate these conversations). We were walking home yesterday and I asked him "Do you want to marry me?" It had been on my mind and I just sort of blurted it out at that moment. He said "Why not" and that was that. We didn't talk about it any further.

Now I don't know how to proceed. I haven't felt about anyone the way I feel about him and I really want to marry him. Do I:

a) Not bring it up again and wait until he proposes properly (i.e. with a ring, ..). If so, how long do I wait?

b) Talk about it again to find out what he meant exactly (are we engaged or does he want to marry me sometime in the future)? However, I'd feel like I was nagging and he'd just be going along with everything.
posted by TMBelair to Human Relations (50 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Didn't you just propose to him?
posted by xingcat at 8:55 AM on December 11, 2012 [54 favorites]

Yeah to my mind he just said yes and the next thing is to decide on a date.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:57 AM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

You proposed, he responded with an acceptable variation on 'yes', and now you are engaged. If you want any of this other stuff (ring, specific wedding plans, public ritual proposal, etc) you need to ask for it. Wanting to get married at some point in the future is what 'engaged' means.
posted by steinwald at 8:58 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

I apologize in advance for the tough love. If you can't talk about this, reconsider marriage.
posted by murfed13 at 8:58 AM on December 11, 2012 [96 favorites]

It's not nagging to want to know if you are, in fact, engaged and need to be planning a wedding. A lot of posters are going to scold you for your non-communicativeness but IMO your partner is not great at it either (some sort of excitement or happiness in his response would have made it clearer, but maybe he's not that kind of guy). Ask him straight out.
posted by chaiminda at 9:02 AM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's not nagging to firm up wedding plans. Agreeing with everyone above that you are already engaged and that you need to feel okay with bringing this up.

The next time you see him say: "So, do you want to talk about this wedding thing or what? Let's figure out a date."
posted by something something at 9:03 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think it's fair for you to tell him that you're feeling like a nag and would like him to take initiative on (buying a ring, setting a date, doing a formal "proposal", something else that would make you happy).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:06 AM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

a) Not bring it up again and wait until he proposes properly (i.e. with a ring, ..). If so, how long do I wait?

Er, you just proposed to him. You're engaged. Congrats!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:09 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd suggest you find a free afternoon to go look at engagement rings! (note the plural!)
posted by acm at 9:11 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

You may well want to bring it up to clarify - "So, are we engaged, or were you just saying you'd be ok with the idea of marrying me, in general?" You asked him flippantly; he replied, flippantly. If you're not comfortable with that, communicate it! If you're comfortable enough with the guy to marry him, I certainly hope you're comfortable enough to discuss that marriage.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:12 AM on December 11, 2012 [52 favorites]

I second what ThePinkSuperhero said. Explain you feel like a nag, and decide (before you tell him) what you would like. Then tell him.
posted by commitment at 9:15 AM on December 11, 2012

IDK that I'd roll up and be like "sup dawg we're going shopping today so you can buy me a ring," but I would definitely have some kind of clarification conversation that involved upcoming wedding plans. Like, "hey so jsyk i was totally serious about the getting married for reals thing, let me know if we're on the same page here so i can book a bee gees cover band and the VFW hall".

(ymmv on the details obvsly)
posted by elizardbits at 9:15 AM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]

a) Not bring it up again and wait until he proposes properly (i.e. with a ring, ..). If so, how long do I wait?

Didn't you already propose to him? And he said yes? I must be misunderstanding the problem here. Are you afraid to talk about it further with him? If you are marrying this dude, you need to be able to talk about this stuff. Believe me, it'll only get harder from here on out if you can't. If you want to double-check what "why not?" means, I think tomorrowful's response is a good one.
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:21 AM on December 11, 2012

The answer of "why not" is not the answer I'd be looking for if I proposed to my serious BF. That said, I think you should sit down and explain that you were serious about your proposal and you're checking in with him to make sure he really meant for his answer to be "hell yes" and his mouth got in the way.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:23 AM on December 11, 2012 [19 favorites]

Did you intend for your question to be a proposal? To me, it sounds like you were casually asking if he wanted to marry you at some point in the future, not a serious "will you marry me now?" proposal.

Why not just tell him what you meant and see what he says?
posted by Sal and Richard at 9:26 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

On the one hand, I agree that technically, you have proposed and he has ... accepted? On the other hand, hoo boy, I can understand not really loving "Why not?" as the response that means YIPPEE WE ARE ENGAGED. I would want more than that, too.

Ideally, in the moment, you'd have done something like ... reached out, grabbed his hand, and said, "Hey, no, seriously."

But you didn't. I think if I were you, I would not go directly to "let's set a date," just because ... yeah, just because I would want to be going on more than "Why not?" Because "Why not?" is not a good reason to get married, to me, and it sounds like it isn't one to you either. I would say, "Hey, can I talk to you?" And wait until you're sort of both focused, and just explain that you really did mean it the other day when you asked if he wanted to get married, and you really do want to marry him, but you're concerned that he felt a little caught off-guard. (You don't have to say, "Since your answer was kind of ... lame." But you can think it.) And see what he says.

The very last thing you want to do is spend your engagement and your marriage wondering whether he just kind of went along with it because he was paying attention to his shoes or something. Don't wait around for him to buy you a ring, knee, blah blah, because you already asked him, and you can't reframe asking him into asking him to ask you, because ... weird, I think, and a little unfair, like, "I want to marry you, and I want it to be your idea!" Just sit down and talk to him. As somebody else said, if this is the right person for you to marry, you can have this conversation.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:29 AM on December 11, 2012 [24 favorites]

I didn't get engaged in a big sweeping gesture and an unequivocal "I DO". Although when I did, I had known Mrs MM for some time so it was clear to us both we had got engaged.

There are people for whom getting engaged is a BIG STEP and others for whom it is a natural evolution of things and not a big decision. Being charitable, I assume he is the latter. Some people kinda drift into engagement and some get the full fireworks.

You can bring up marriage again. If he didn't mean it, he's made a dick move and the sooner you know that the better. If he did mean it, then it's not a big issue to tell him how you feel. Look him in the eye, tell him you meant it and ask him what he would like you both to do next*. That way you're not dragging him off to the ring shop, you're asking his opinion and you are reaffirming he meant it.

* Your fallback suggestion is that you go out to dinner.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:44 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

If romantic comedies have taught me anything, it's that awkward, non-traditional moments like this that move a relationship forward are both very human and as charming as you want to make them in your own mind. Congratulations!

But do look up things like the Marriage Lab's research findings and make sure the foundations of your relationship are solid as you start planning the wedding. It sounds like you're still in love and doing OK, but apparently you're not explicit with each other about your thoughts, needs, and expectations--think how many troublesome romcom moments could have been avoided by people just talking to each other politely but clearly about those kinds of things.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:46 AM on December 11, 2012

Sit down before you decide anything else and ask him how he took your question.

He might not have taken it like you just proposed to him but as a "do you even want to marry me someday?" sort of way.

Talk. talk talk talk.
posted by royalsong at 9:48 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd have a longer conversation about this.

"Hey, so, about marriage! I really would like to get married, and I know we had that brief conversation the other day, but I kind of want to talk about it a bit more. I want to make sure you're excited about it and really feel like it's the right thing for you and us, and if so, I'd love to talk about details! If you're not sure or need more time, I can understand and respect that, and I'd like to just make sure we both understand where we are."

And go from there.
posted by spindrifter at 9:49 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dude, just ask him what his take is on it.

Seriously, if you're intending to have him as your husband you need to start getting comfortable now with potentially awkward conversations (though I don't really think this one would be awkward). If you aren't comfortable bringing this up or talking about it then you need to think a little harder if you guys are ready for marriage yet.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:59 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Congrats, you're engaged.

If you want a ring, ask him for one for Christmas/Holiday you celebrate.

"Boo, I'm glad we're on the same page for getting married, I'd like to make kind of a deal about it, especially since we'll be seeing friends and family for the holidays. Shall we go shopping for a ring, or did you want to plan a surprise?"

You never know, he may be working up to some BFD proposal, complete with champagne and ring, and he's just trying to keep your lid on before you boil over. Give him the out for it, but start thinking about setting a date.

I'll tell you my story. I sent Husbunny a link to the ring I wanted. For my Birthday in Dec, he got it for me and handed me the box. I started planning a summer wedding.

In Feb, we were in Manhattan and he was sick as a dog, but I was running around to different Kinko's trying to find the 'Save the Date' paper that I wanted to use. We had a dinner reservation at the Russian Tea Room (where we had our first date) but he wanted to go to Lincoln Center first. He felt crappy and my feet hurt so we went to the restaurant early. I pretty much squashed his planned proposal at the Lincoln Center fountains. I was officially proposed to at dinner at the Russian Tea Room. I was a bit confused, but it made him happy.

So, give your fiance room to do it the way he wants to do it, if he's that kind of guy.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:03 AM on December 11, 2012

I'm a little worried about the "I'm always the one to initiate these talks" thing as well as the casual response. I'd be pretty insulted, frankly. Is he just letting you drag him in, or does he actually want to be married to you?

Marriage isn't for casual relationships. You have to deal with death, kids, illness, money, job loss, getting older, family drama, and all the other baggage of life, together. You have to deal with each other's annoying quirks or flat out failures. At some point, you may have to rely on this person to make a life or death decision for you, or to take care of you and or your kids if something happens. Do you think he's up to it? Does he even want to do it?

Talk some more before you go ring shopping. You deserve somebody who really wants to be with you through bad stuff and good and who can carry their share and sometimes more. Otherwise they'll end up just being a lead weight that you have to drag through life.
posted by emjaybee at 10:09 AM on December 11, 2012 [16 favorites]

Jesus, some of you people have really weird ideas regarding marriage. If a girl asked me if I wanted to marry her and I responded only with a casual, "Why not?" I would IN NO WAY CONSIDER MYSELF ENGAGED TO HER.

When my (now) wife asked me that very same question, I considered it a good time to clarify both of our feelings toward each other. We discussed our feelings on marriage, what it meant to use as individuals, what it might mean to us as a couple, and what the practical considerations might be. We also discussed what a 'proper' proposal might be, how important it was to each of us, and when it might be appropriate to do it. Neither of us is particularly religious, but we were raised in very different religious traditions, so we more or less had to decide how and when to do things based on our own whim. But that's the important part: WE decided, as a couple, what we wanted to do. There was no mystery for either of us.

Talking to him about one of the most important decisions a couple can make together is not nagging. Rather, it is an intelligent thing to do, and will likely give you a better sense of his feelings on the matter. Good luck.

TL;DR - What Murfed13 said.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:15 AM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

It's only been a year, so it's not shocking to me that you haven't nailed down a really solid kind of pattern of effective communication (you should, but it's not shocking that you haven't.)

I suggest you have a really simple, straightforward conversation, of the sort that spindrifter described. Make sure to be looking him in the eye, and have it be at a low-stress, not-distracted time for you both. In other words, not during a "National Championship" broadcast or while packing for Christmas with your parents or anything like that.
posted by SMPA at 10:16 AM on December 11, 2012

Oh, and if you're both as old as you are, it's also not shocking that you each have crappy communication habits. It takes a lot of work (intentional work) to break out of bad patterns, and it's easy to get stuck doing counterproductive things like never, ever bringing up "define the relationship" kinds of conversation topics.

I'm not saying stick with the status quo, I'm just saying it's something that's totally workable/fixable - if you're both willing to do the necessary work. I suggest that as next week's question. :)
posted by SMPA at 10:19 AM on December 11, 2012

Jesus, some of you people have really weird ideas regarding marriage

I would generally agree, BUT in the OP's own title she calls it a proposal...

Anyway, the only way to know "where do I stand?" is to ask HIM, not the random Internet. So, option B. Nag? No, this is serious business, not asking to take out the trash. And you aren't 20; you are mid-30s.
posted by TinWhistle at 10:32 AM on December 11, 2012


As the asker, you have taken on the responsibility of guiding future discussions (defining your transitional goals re: financial, logistical, religious, etc.) and initiating all of the planning up to departing for the honeymoon. Yes, the other person will be "just going along with" the conversations you start and carrying out some of the actions that you delegate (by consensus). That's how these things work. Every now and then they will add a new issue to the agenda, or reconfigure/improve upon the framework, but generally speaking the ball will be in your court. It is a partnership, 50/50 all the way, but one person will always be the primary initiator. That person is you.

So get after it! It's a lot of preparation but starting a future life together is a very nice reward.
posted by 99percentfake at 10:44 AM on December 11, 2012

You are absolutely not engaged. "Why not?" is not an answer. And to be frank, anyone who responded with "Why not" if they actually thought it was a proposal of marriage is not someone I'd ever want to get married to, anyway.
posted by corb at 10:53 AM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

"Why not?" isn't an answer to a marriage proposal; it's an idle thought (or no thought at all). I would be surprised if your boyfriend thinks of himself as engaged after that non-proposal. He might've assumed this was just another time you brought up the idea of marriage and children, not an actual step in that direction.

A year in a relationship isn't that long, and it sounds like you have some communication issues that should be worked out before getting married. I don't know why you wouldn't feel comfortable having an honest discussion about marriage with the man you want to marry.
posted by wondermouse at 10:58 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just because you randomly blurted something out that you were thinking about and you consider it a proposal doesn't mean he did. "Why not," is kind of a crappy way to answer but it's entirely possible that he didn't realize it was a Here and Now thing. Also, some people decide to get married and don't plan the actual event for YEARS. A few months into dating, I asked my husband that same question you asked. He said, "Of course!" And I smiled and we walked on and didn't say anything after that. In a sense it was a proposal because I proposed an idea and he agreed that it was a good one, but it wasn't a "Let's book the hall and the JP" proposal where we decided to plan. For what it's worth, he got down on one knee and have me a ring three months later, but it was no surprise to me at that time that he loved me and wanted me to be his wife, it was just a nice surprise of a gift and something that sounded official. We were just talking about our future and we were happy together when I asked him that original question. I think you're the one who decides if this is a big thing or not but I wouldn't be scrambling to decipher motives or wonder if he's going to do a "real proposal." Poor guy probably thinks you were all a flutter and blurted out a thing about wanting to get married. He said he couldn't think of a reason not too. Not too shabby! But if you wanted him to be official and say that, yes, he loves you madly and deeply and let's buy a ring and find a band, you probably might have been better to stop, grab him by the hand, and be a little more specific about your desires than a blurted "Do you want to get married?"
posted by takoukla at 11:06 AM on December 11, 2012

My experience was similar to Pecinpah's above. My (now-) wife posed a very similar question to me. She thought she asking, right there and then, if we were going to get married. I thought she was asking if I was open to the idea of being married in the future. I answered her seriously but didn't really pursue the matter, and this was upsetting to her.

Later, this misunderstanding was cleared up, and I proposed in unambiguous terms.

So yes, I think Tomorrowful's advice is absolutely spot on.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 11:12 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Something similar happened to a female friend. Good news is that your boyfriend is not against it. Let him grow used to the idea a little bit, wait, say at least six weeks, and bring the topic back.

Unless he catches the clue and does the ring buying by himself of course but I doubt it.

I think your boyfriend is perfectly happy the way things are and sees wedding/marriage as uncomfortable (his family history maybe ?). In the carrot/stick logic, you may need to show him how huge a carrot the wedding/marriage is.

Hope it helped.
posted by Baud at 11:32 AM on December 11, 2012

Whoa, hold on.

My husband and I had plenty of conversations about marriage before we got engaged, including "will you marry me?" "I'd love to/I can't wait to/our life together is going to be amazing", but we didn't get engaged until there was a very firm understanding, on both sides, that we were actually going to get married, not just hypothetically.

You need to talk to him. Tell him, "hey, love, last night? When I asked you if you wanted to get married? I meant it and I meant it seriously. Will you marry me?" Or, if you're more comfortable, just bring up the subject again and ask him how soon he envisions the two of you getting married. Next year? In five years? As soon as he can book a spot at the courthouse? Tell him you want to be engaged because you want to be married to him. Tell him where you stand, and ask him where he stands.

You are allowed to propose. You are allowed to ask him to clarify if he understood exactly what you meant. You are not going to be a nag, let me repeat that, you are NOT GOING TO BE A NAG, you are going to be an adult and you are not just going to fret and assume and panic and end up being the one who is passively letting things happen to her. He will only go along with it unwilling if he is the kind of person for whom inertia is a supreme force in life and you guys don't talk about it.
posted by lydhre at 11:57 AM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yeah, you guys are not engaged at this time. His response suggests very strongly that he understood your question -- not "Will you marry me?" but "Do you want to marry me?" -- just as you said it: not, "are we going to be married" but "is getting married to me something that you want," which is quite a different story -- people often want one thing and also another incompatible thing, or want something but don't want it right this second, or .. well, there are many possibilities, but what I do know is

1. You're not engaged
2. You should talk to your boyfriend about this
3. When you talk to your boyfriend you should not act as if you two are engaged to be married because I think this is likely to lead to a different conversation than the one you want to have.
posted by escabeche at 12:05 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

So you're getting three answers:

1. You are DEFINITELY not engaged.
2. You are DEFINITELY engaged.
3. You really don't have any way of knowing what that conversation between the two of you meant unless you sit down and talk to him about it.

To me, the fact that you're getting both (1) and (2) means that (3) has to be right. Please, don't start asking about dates and rings and planning. You could get hurt that way, a lot. You have nothing to lose by clarifying where you stand, unless you're afraid that if you give him a chance, he'll back out, but if you just go on acting engaged, he won't want to contradict you and you'll get married on the basis that he didn't want to be rude. If that were the case, you wouldn't be ready anyway.

Talk to him. It'll be fine.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]

I can't believe some of the answers here. Whether your question was taken as a proposal or a casual inquiry about marriage is context-dependent. Only you and your boyfriend can really know. Ask.
posted by anthropomorphic at 12:20 PM on December 11, 2012

FWIW my husband and I had previously talked about and agreed we were headed toward marriage. One night in a very very drunken stupor after a conversation a bit like yours, he proposed. On bended in knee. In the canned food aisle at the local 7-11. At 3 am. I said yes.

The next morning, I didn't say anything and he didn't say anything and I wasn't even sure he remembered let alone if we were engaged. I think it took 48 hours for me to say something.

"So, are we engaged, or were you just saying you'd be ok with the idea of marrying me, in general?" seems just right to me.

I kind of hope he says yes, you're engaged because seriously, "Why not?" is going to make the BEST story to tell in years to come. Don't get hung up on the proposal or the wedding; get hung up on the marriage!
posted by DarlingBri at 12:28 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]

"When I asked if you'd like to marry me, you said 'Why not?". Let's try this again, as a formal proposal this time: [Name], will you marry me?"

And if he says "Yes," then you talk about plans. Like engagement ring(s) and timeframes.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:44 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would say "My little roast chicken, when the minister says 'Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife', I don't want you to say 'why not?' like you did when I proposed to you yesterday."

I don't mean this as flippantly as it sounds because there is a risk he could scream "proposed?!??!???1!!?" and hit the roof. But at least you'll know, if he does that. If you would be absolutely distraught at that kind of response, and who could blame you, then maybe this isn't the disambiguation tactic for you. But that is what I would do, because I would rather disambiguate now and have a heavier conversation later about how disappointed I was, if that were actually the case. I'm a bit weird like that.

If he didn't freak out and express that he had no idea you were serious and that you're actually engaged, you can add, "Okay, now what would be a romantic way for you to respond to the fact that we're engaged? Hint! [make circle gesture in the air and make a dot for where the stone goes] Hint hint!"
posted by tel3path at 12:51 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Ask. There is a decent to good chance that you are not at all on the same page.
posted by cnc at 12:59 PM on December 11, 2012

"So, did you realise last night that I was actually proposing to you?" Might be a way to do this one.
If clarifying your positions/needs/feelings feels like nagging, maybe you personally are not ready to get married. You're going to have a lot of needs, positions, and feelings in the coming years and not being able to talk about them enough that you actually know what's going on in your relationship will create a lot of misery and resentment in the future. Misery and resentment do not a happy marriage make.
posted by windykites at 1:44 PM on December 11, 2012

I have been in your position, except that my beau was just like, "Sure!" and then that was that.

Here was my take: when I asked him, it was always a spur-of-the-moment question after a long night of carousing, and it was really just a chance for us to determine that we loved each other and were planning on getting married to each other at some point. But he always seemed happy and excited when I asked him, so maybe our situations aren't exact. Maybe I'd be pissed if he'd say "Why not" with minimal enthusiasm? But only you really know how to read his reaction - if my boyfriend were more restrained with his emotions (he's not), I might have let that slide.

Anyways, after feeling confident that he was on board, I did the proposing with the ring. He was way surprised and totally delighted. We've been married for a year and now we have a pretty cute proposal story out of it.

And to be honest, we didn't have a lot of ultra-serious "should we or should we not get married" conversations, though that may sound crazy to other people. I pretty much just knew he wanted to marry me and that I wanted to marry him, so the idea of waiting for him to pop the question struck me as stupid, especially since I'm more of the planner in our relationship and he generally goes with the flow.

If any of that sounds like you and your guy, maybe it's proof you're over-thinking things and that he simply thought you were testing the waters instead of legitimately proposing.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:48 PM on December 11, 2012

My wife and I had a similar conversation on a beach in Nova Scotia. We were staring across the water at Prince Edward island, and we just kind of arrived at the clarity that we should get married. Not sure who brought it up, I think it was me, but it had all the quality of a "why not?" but uttered with the kind of optimism that one experiences when embarking on a great adventure with no certain outcome.

20 years later, we're still happily at it.
posted by salishsea at 2:15 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

My (now) wife and I once had a brief discussion somewhere along these lines - "Wanna get married? Sure!". Then, some time later, we had a conversation about when might be a good time to get married. Then, some time after that, I got a ring and asked her to marry me - on a day when she was pretty much 100% sure that I was going to be proposing to her.

Magic words that make a proposal "real", and secret surprise romantic proposals down on bended knee play great in movies, I know, but for something like marriage, it might actually be intelligent to talk about it, I figure.
posted by Jimbob at 2:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wow, I am shocked that people think this means you are engaged. You need to have a serious conversation with your boyfriend, asap. I would tread very carefully here. You're putting the cart like a million miles before the horse.
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:53 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

My dad "proposed" to my mom in a very unromantic fashion, very close to "why not get married?". This year they are celebrating maybe 40 years of marriage?

Some people just aren't romantic. I would just act as if you are now engaged. Next topic should be date & location.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:06 AM on December 13, 2012

Yeah, if someone considered me engaged to them after an exchange like that, I'd be bemused and and a bit disturbed - no matter which side of the question I'd been on.

Talk to the man and find out what he meant. It's not nagging to want to make sure you're on the same page about this - and if he thinks it is, I'd personally be rethinking my future with him.
posted by Someone Else's Story at 7:34 PM on December 13, 2012

A few thoughts:

Yes, you need to have a check-in with him on his impression of the conversation.

You guys live together, right? Engagement is a weird thing because we have this idea that it is an immediate state change. You say some magic words and now you are Engaged. As you can see in this thread, lots of people explicitly agree that they will marry long before they Become Engaged. So he may think you're in that pre-engaged state of testing the waters and that's totally cool.

Going back to living together, when my partner and I approached marriage we did it much the same way we decided to move in together. It was a gradual conversation, about intentions and then general themes and then concrete details. Moving in doesn't have an official Engagement Period, so it's expected that there is this gradient between Not Living Together and Preparing To Live Together and Shacked Up. You're somewhere in this gradient with regards to marriage.

I understand being hesitant to bring it up. Marriage is loaded with cultural significance about being The One, long term commitment, depth of commitment, becoming family, the type of family you want to become, settling down, what it means to be a wife or a husband, etc. Lots of potential minefields.

This is exactly why this is an excellent conversation to have with your beau. Take your time, cool off for a bit if it gets tricky and then come back to it. Get on the same page. Hell, figure out how many pages there are in this book. Explore the minefields together. If you can do that, you have a solid foundation for tricky phases of life (like wedding planning!).

Books to check out NOW include anything by John Gottmann, and Hold Me Tight. Learn to have and value these conversations rather than allowing cultural shame-triggers around "nagging" to block this type of intimacy. Long term relationships need this type of strength training.
posted by heatherann at 8:16 AM on December 15, 2012

Oh, and why not buy an engagement token for him? Get him. Ring or bracelet or necklace or something.

Propose to him directly. There's this societal pressure and expectation for a man to propose to a woman (in a hetero relationship), but there's no real reason it has to be that way.

If you actually propose to him, the conversation will be clear and direct! :) As above, to me (a guy) your question seemed like a "sometime in the far future kin of thing).

My wife and I have been married for just over 12 years. We agreed to get married and got some rings (one for me too!) and I did a "formal" proposal at some point after we got them. In fact, before I proposed to her with the real ring, I used a RingPop. She still has it, although its pretty melted at this point.

You can't reall make him propose to you if he's not that interested or isn't on the same time scale as you. You may have all these expectations and notions about weddings and "the process" and all that that's he's never considered before.

There's no shame in directly proposing to him. That would be a much better solution to sitting around waiting to be proposed to. If he says "no", you can go into a discussion of "not ever" or "not now". Of course, proposal can last years. Ours was almost 2 years.

But agree that it's best to have more detailed chats up front than expect him to be able to guess your intentions. You may have to take the lead on this in any case. Is that something you'd be happy with?
posted by reddot at 5:53 AM on December 31, 2012

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