Such a tough space. Please give me some hope.
May 8, 2014 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Please help me to stop comparing my relationship to others.

I'm looking for help or advice on how to stop comparing my relationship to others, or hope from someone who has been in a similar position. I've seriously considered DTMFA, but really do not want to. Instead, I'm looking for some coping mechanisms or just some hopeful anecdota.

I'm 36 and my boyfriend is 40. We've lived together for the past 3 years and have been dating for 3.5 years. We are happy and friends on top of having a solid, healthy relationship. We never fight about money because we have plenty. We have regular sex. We have our own interests outside of our relationship as well as shared interests that we love as a couple. We are a great match and make each other laugh and are supportive and commited to each other fully. It was never always this way though. We did go through a rather bumpy patch where we were constantly fighting and went through couple's therapy, but it DRASTICALLY helped us. My boyfriend did have a past prescripton drug habit which he kicked through the help of narcotics anonymous and has been clean and sober for well over a year. We are in a good place now and things are peaceful.

However, it has been a dream of mine to get married. I've always wanted to ever since I was small. In terms of kids, I would love to have a child with him and he with me because he would be a great father. However, I don't want to have kids after age 37, and the reality is that we are really old. I just don't want to at this age. I'd much prefer to focus on retirement and travel and don't want to be an older mom, when we could be enjoying life exploring new areas of the world and/or opening my own business. We are 100% open to adopting though. My boyfriend would prefer to have a child, and I don't think he understands that there actually are age limitations to that where health risks are very real. Personally, I think in this regard he is in a complete dream world. We are not in our twenties.

Anyway, I am extremely jealous lately because it feels like everyone around me who is leftover is getting married or is already married. We truly are the last single ones standing. I've been feeling this frustration for over a year. Yes, I know we have worked through our share of issues and are now in a good place, but it still doesn't help. I really just want to stop comparing myself and ourselves to others because deep down I know it is not our relationship, but theirs. However, I'm also feeling really frustrated because I don't know why we can't just do it already. It's depressing. I know that he wants to get married to me, but I don't know why his heels are still dragging. I've talked to him so many times and he just keeps saying it will happen and then it...doesn't. It's gotten to the point where DAILY I have someone in my life (work, parents, friends, whatever) asking why we haven't gotten married yet and it makes me feel awful and sad. I don't even know what to say to them and practically burst into tears. I've also seriously considered leaving him because it feels like it will never happen, but I just haven't. I don't think I could (or want to) imagine my life without him. :(

Recently my younger sister got engaged and it was the final blow. I don't have the best relationship with my parents who tend to pit one of us siblings against the other so now it's suddenly this big competition as to who is getting married first so now I'm on the outs.

Again, I'm 36 and I know I shouldn't give a flying fuck what anyone thinks because we are happy. However, how do I get my brain to understand this and to stop comparing myself? It's so infuriating. What should I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Propose to him.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:44 AM on May 8, 2014 [18 favorites]

What should I do?


I don't mean it to be flippant but if the thing that's bothering you is, you're not engaged, well...go on and make it happen.

But it sounds like there's probably a good reason you're not engaged, which is that you and he are not on the same page about kids, and that's a pretty huge thing to not be on the same page about.

A great way to stop comparing yourself to others, in that case, would be to devote your energies instead to trying to resolve this huge, huge! impasse in your relationship. You will likely find that you have almost no time whatsoever left over for your parents' ridiculous dramaz or any of that other stuff either.

(p.s. sorry about your ridiculous parents, that sort of thing is just hard regardless.)
posted by like_a_friend at 11:46 AM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know why we can't just do it already.
I've talked to him so many times and he just keeps saying it will happen and then it...doesn't.

I agree with showbiz_liz completely here. If you want to marry him, ask him to marry you!
posted by phunniemee at 11:47 AM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I see you talking a lot about other people and how your relationship measures up to theirs. I could focus on that (because you shouldn't compare and you don't know what's going on with those relationships behind the scenes). However, I can tell from your post that those other relationships are more about the reminder of what you don't have and not the comparison in and of itself.

Here's the question though: Are you prepared to walk away from this relationship? I don't know when the marriage talk started with you and your boyfriend, but if it was at least a year ago, you have a problem. I could see how he may have wanted to get a handle on his substance abuse before committing to marriage. I can also see that you probably needed to get past whatever difficulties were leading you to counseling. However, if those things are at least a year in the past and communication hasn't led to a mutual understanding of what comes next, I think you may have to admit that this guy is not ready for marriage. Ultimately, he doesn't seem to want what you want.

Unless you can compromise your vision for the future, I would advise you to think about what your real timeline is and whether you can leave. Maybe it's 3 more months, maybe 6. Maybe a year, but you do need to set a limit and communicate this to your partner- even if it seems like an ultimatum.

However, if your happiness in the relationship outweighs your desire for another level of committment and a child within the confines of marriage, then wait it out. Just be prepared for the fact that it may never happen.

Good luck and don't forget that your needs are important too.
posted by superfille at 11:49 AM on May 8, 2014 [9 favorites]

4th to agree with the initial suggestion.

If you want it, go get it.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:50 AM on May 8, 2014

He's not going to propose.
You want him to propose.
You must radically accept that he will not propose, or you will forever be upset.

On preview - what superfille said.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:51 AM on May 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

But it sounds like there's probably a good reason you're not engaged, which is that you and he are not on the same page about kids, and that's a pretty huge thing to not be on the same page about.

Yeah, this is what stood out to me. I understand your concerns about pregnancy, but my mom had me at 35 and my brother at 40 and we're both physically/developmentally normal (actually, we were both advanced as little kids - but every situation is different). Also, if you adopt you'll still be an older mom and won't focus on traveling, retirement as much so I'm not sure how that was part of your narrative.

I still can't really tell where you guys are with kids, but if you think he's in a dream world then my thoughts are that you haven't really talked about it much. This might be part of his hesitation and you should really talk to him about it.
posted by sweetkid at 11:57 AM on May 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

Either you can live this way, with the relationship, exactly as it is, and you can be okay with it, or you need to move on.

People marry because they want to build a future together and they want to have the blessing of the state and in some cases the church.

Would you be okay with it if you both just eloped to Vegas? Is it the married part? Because that can happen really quickly and easily if you want it to. Do you want the wedding, which is a much more expensive and hassle-prone proposition.

But here's where the rubber meets the road, if you 100% want to be married, and for whatever reason he doesn't, then you're not in the same place, and you're likely never going to be.

Husbunny and I became engaged about 6 months after dating each other, but after knowing each other for a couple of years. We both believe in marriage and once we decided that we were right for each other, it was a natural decision.

What you need to do is sit down with your BF and find out if:

1. He wants to be married

2. He wants to be married to you.

If he answers in the affirmative to both questions, then say, "Great, how does June 2015 sound?"

Because frankly, if that's what you both want, what's the point in waiting?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:02 PM on May 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

I will bet you $10 that he knows you want to get married, or at least move forward and get proposed to.
My then-girlfriend, now-fiancee was chomping at the BIT for me to propose and I knew it.
The overt and covert signs were there and finally I had to either shit or get off the pot, so I bought a ring, asked her father for permission and got down on one knee and she was the happiest girl EVAR.

If he knows, and he's not doing anything about it, you may need to revisit this scenario where you spend the rest of your life together.

Are you willing to be living together forever?
Are you willing to walk away if he does not propose?

These are the hard damn questions that you need to be asking yourself before you go any further.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 12:25 PM on May 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

It's gotten to the point where DAILY I have someone in my life (work, parents, friends, whatever) asking why we haven't gotten married yet and it makes me feel awful and sad. I don't even know what to say to them and practically burst into tears.

Seems to me the only reason people would keep asking you this is because you talk a lot to them about your relationship, or about things that you as a couple do. Something is making these people think about this every time they see you, and think that it's OK to keep bringing the topic up.

Otherwise, it wouldn't be really normal for all these different people to keep mentioning the same thing, like it was the weather or something. Plus it's kind of rude.

Although I suppose it could be because other people, or even people in the media, are getting married and that's how the subject comes up, and it then seems natural to ask you this.

Anyway, it could help if you made an effort to take control of these conversations, changing the subject and politely letting them know that you'd rather not talk about this at the moment, without going into detail. They'll get the message.
posted by serena15221 at 12:40 PM on May 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Most couples I know have at least skirted around the whole marriage thing a bit by the time they are at the point you are at. Has he given any direct indication that he is opposed to getting married? Is it some sort of taboo subject between the 2 of you?

My wedding proposal went something like this. Husband turns to me during a computer game he's playing and goes "We could get married by {friend of family} you know?" and I went yeah "Yeah I know." and "So he goes so do you want to?" so I said sure, and we were engaged. Thing is that question was the basis of a good lead up where the phrase "If we got married" popped up in conversation pretty regularly. Are you guys having those sorts of pre getting engaged conversations? If so and you both seem happy with them then I'd just ask him, if you haven't even gotten to that stage yet, then maybe it's time you got the ball rolling.
posted by wwax at 12:52 PM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by RJ Reynolds at 12:54 PM on May 8, 2014 [8 favorites]

I think first you need to figure out what you really want to do about kids and then act accordingly. It doesn't sound like you've really thought it out at this age - you say you have always wanted kids but only if before age 37. But then you say you would consider adoption? But you also say you don't want to be an older parent and would rather focus on enjoying the rest of your life. So, what does that mean given your current age? Which one is it?

Once you have decided, you need to go to your partner and say "I've decided that my future involves (having/not having) kids and I want to marry you and have kids with you. Are you in or out?" Maybe he hasn't proposed because you haven't given him this information and he's waiting to make sure it matches what he wants?

If he's NOT in, then dump him and figure out how you are going to get the kid (or the kid-free lifetime full of travel and adventure) on your own.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:56 PM on May 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

At age 19, my then bf came by one Sunday afternoon in October and I went "Let's get married. Like in the next six weeks. Cuz, gawd, Georgia is hot as hell and I would like to have a fall anniversary so it is cool enough to spend anniversaries in bed."

He sputtered. We already agreed we would marry but, you know, like "some day." But he got over it. He never did spend anniversaries in bed with me (the cad) but he did marry me about 4 to 6 weeks later in November. We were married for 22 years.

At 36, I think I would just find out what is involved and see if I couldn't do a drive-by marriage. Find a jurisdiction where you could do it at the drop of a hat, take him, walk him into the courthouse or whatever the fuck and say "So, wanna get hitched today?" and possibly let him know that this is my alternative to DTMFA. "So, dude, you say you want babies and everything (And I am NOT intentionally getting preggers out of wedlock, not happening) and you say you wanna marry me. Do ya? Or doncha? Last call."
posted by Michele in California at 12:59 PM on May 8, 2014

Ask him to marry you at city hall. If he doesn't want to, you probably want to find someone else more in line with your marriage goals.

As far as your age and having kids, have a look at this.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:00 PM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of the most helpful phrases I've ever heard is,

"Don't compare your insides to other people's outsides."

There's a lot going on in your question I'm not addressing, but in terms of not comparing, really trying to internalize this phrase has helped me a lot.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:02 PM on May 8, 2014 [10 favorites]

You're only 36. I don't understand why you've already decided not to try to get pregnant. Have you talked to a doctor about the realities of the various health risks, etc? Because mid 30s is a perfectly normal age to have a child.

Especially if you are otherwise open to adoption, since really the issue with deferring childbearing until you're older (and, again, this is a category you're not yet a member of, anyway!) is the fact that you'll be putting a kid through college in lieu of retirement. That will be the same whether the child is biologically yours or not.

If you don't want a kid, you don't want a kid, and that's perfectly OK, but you seem to be manufacturing a problem in your relationship that doesn't exist.

Marriage, on the other hand, is a different issue. If you want to get married, just say, "I want to get married. To you. Soon." If he doesn't take it well, DTMFA. If that's not something you can say after 3.5 years together, cohabitating, battling addiction together, etc, that's not great.
posted by Sara C. at 1:03 PM on May 8, 2014 [10 favorites]

As someone who used to regularly compare my relationship to others (mostly because of inexperience and lack of knowledge about relationships in general), I overcame it with the help of my partner and a little time. Ultimately, I came to the realization that I can't compare my relationship with the relationships of others because those relationships aren't mine - the people in those relationships are not me - they are not my partner. Different people have different needs. As such, how can the needs of their relationship be identical to the needs of my own?

That said, one thing my partner did that helped tremendously was to push for answers about WHY I idealized those relationships - what was it that I felt I was 'missing'? This made me think about the relationships of others and what -I- needed in my relationship. Unfortunately, I focused on behaviors/gestures that I made assumptions about (ie: Oh, other couples do this, it must be important, we don't do this... what's wrong?) without really bothering to wonder if those couples did those things because those things were something -they- needed (and we did not).

So it appears you've identified what you want that other relationships have - marriage. But WHY marriage? Your relationship, per your own admittance, is strong - great even, so what would a marriage add? It won't suddenly make your relationship more legitimate (surely, it's already committed - your relationship is well established already), traditional (lots of straight couples don't get married anymore) or better (it's a piece of paper...). But I get it - everyone around you has made their 'forever' commitments and you want the same. So is it marriage itself you're pining for or the concept (promise of commitment) behind it? And if it's the latter - why is a ceremony or license needed to convey that? You may also have to accept the fact that marriage is more of a desire for you than it is for your boyfriend. I have married and unmarried friends - for some marriage is a big deal and for some they could really care less.

But I digress... You're in a committed relationship. You're both pretty much on the same page. You both want to get married (at some point). You both want children (at some point). I think once you work out the details of having children, the issue surrounding marriage will 'flow'. But it's also 2014 and if you want to get married so badly there's nothing at all stopping you from proposing to your boyfriend. Go for it!

Good luck!
posted by stubbehtail at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2014

You are letting him have all the power over your timeline for no reason. Tell him you want to set a date for a wedding next Spring. Or this Fall. Whenever you want to have it. See what he says. Don't worry about the fact that he is "supposed" to propose. Figure out whether he's willing to set a date for a wedding. If he's not, you need to decide if you're willing to stay with this man.
posted by amaire at 2:30 PM on May 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

It may be that the idea of marriage has some uncomfortable associations for him that are holding him back, and it would be worth finding out what those are. It sounds like you both have a strong, committed relationship and therefore would be able to have a deeply personal discussion about why each of you feels the way you do about this topic.

If you can structure the conversation so it's not about you trying to wear down his resistance and make him see things your way (which will only make him seek to avoid talking about marriage at all costs), but instead about you trying to understand why he feels the way he does, and expressing to him what factors in your life make this so important for you (influence of family & friends, ticking clock, etc.), then it will be much easier for you to come to terms with each other.

Nobody likes to feel like they're wrong for feeling opposed to something that is very important to their partner, so the more that you can frame this discussion as being about trying to understand _why_ each of you feels the way you do as opposed to _how_ you can convince him that he needs to marry you, the more satisfied you'll be with the results.

Be prepared to discover that he has as compelling a reason not to get married as you do to get married, and be prepared to love him all the more for being willing to share that with you, intractable as it may be. The whole point of getting married is that you're taking a formal step to commit to vulnerability and openness with each other.
posted by elasticExplosive at 4:05 PM on May 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Your relationship, per your own admittance, is strong - great even, so what would a marriage add? It won't suddenly make your relationship more legitimate (surely, it's already committed - your relationship is well established already), traditional (lots of straight couples don't get married anymore) or better (it's a piece of paper...). But I get it - everyone around you has made their 'forever' commitments and you want the same.

Other reasons: health insurance, easier legal arrangements, next of kin rights, getting far more respect (from what others tell me) as a married couple than you did as long term partners, your families can trust that you will be officially family and remain that way, getting your parents and relatives off your damn back (OP cites that specifically). And yes, I think being treated as "the only leftovers left" is a factor as well because that just sucks. You get treated as lesser when you're the only single one left and literally everyone else is married off already. I think it's fine for the OP to be sick of that, especially if she already has a dude and everyone she knows is nagging her daily about it.

Anyway, I nth everyone else that the OP should just propose already. If he says anything other than an enthusiastic yes--he hems and haws, he's dumbstruck, he goes on about how he's just not ready yet but won't tell you when he will be--break up. You've been together 3.5 years and gotten through some bad shit and made it to the other side. You both supposedly want kids. There really isn't any justifiable reason for him to not want to get married soon by now--you know exactly what you are getting into with each other, there's no need to wait around unless he wants to make sure you aren't fertile or that you will break up with him because you're sick of waiting or he just doesn't love you enough to marry and have children with you. And it's time you know whether or not that's true so you can move on if you have to.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:42 PM on May 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

lready. It's depressing. I know that he wants to get married to me, but I don't know why his heels are still dragging. I've talked to him so many times and he just keeps saying it will happen and then it...doesn't.

I know you say you're happy and he's happy, and you're 110% positive he wants to marry you, but it might be that he's just keeping you around because he thinks he can do better. Or else he would have already proposed.

You should propose but think about what happens when he doesn't actually want to and wastes more of your time. If he says no eventually, are you willing to just keep going as you are?

I think you've expressed yourself and your needs and he's doing nothing. It's time to start contemplating ending the relationship. Some ppl have an incredible capacity to lie believably just to meet their own emotional needs.
posted by discopolo at 5:48 PM on May 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, something else that just popped into my head: a sentence from this advice column about a wishy-washy long-term relationship guy who spontaneously dumped his girlfriend: "Because even without the wishy washy on and off bullshit, he was going to leave you one day. That was predestined and it has nothing to do with you."

If he doesn't quite wanna marry you, then it will end someday anyway, whether it's sooner or later.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:58 PM on May 8, 2014

"My boyfriend would prefer to have a child, and I don't think he understands that there actually are age limitations to that where health risks are very real. Personally, I think in this regard he is in a complete dream world. We are not in our twenties."

I'm not sure I could trust my partner about anything if I couldn't trust in his ability to assess such an important aspect of our shared reality.
posted by macinchik at 9:02 PM on May 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oooookay. Hold your horses. First off, screw your parents. If they are pitting you against your sibling like that, they are terrible people and you should disregard their game instead of playing it.

Second, there's no reason the "get married" thing has to involve a big proposal. I think what you need to do is to start initiating, like, approximately weekly conversations about "the idea of us getting married." He may have some big concern (e.g., that he'll end up repeating his parents' divorce) that needs dealt with. It obviously needs dealt with fast. Maybe via couples counseling.

I think proposing will be unnecessarily dramatic and formal, and therefore could backfire. He obviously has some hesitation about "marriage," "a wedding," or marrying you. Amping up the formality and pressure will make it harder for that hesitation to get dealt with, rather than easier. I expect you'll be driving straight into a wall of trees called "I love you, but I don't know if I'm the kind of guy who believes in marriage" or whatever.

I mean, it's your perfect right to bring things to a sudden decision if you want to. But I think it'd be kinder if you tried to help you both find a path through whatever his hesitations are via more casual conversations about what it'd take for you guys to get married. You'll get to hear and discuss his concerns (I'm assuming) and then (hopefully!) move into discussing logistics.

Also, start asking your friends how they got engaged. You'll probably hear a bunch of stories about who was super hesitant and how they worked through it. This is probably more common than you think.
posted by salvia at 9:38 PM on May 8, 2014

Words are cheap. I spent almost a decade with someone who burned through my prime childbearing years promising me we would be married onedayonedayoneday. There was always a reason why it couldn't happen at that point, but don't worry, it was going to. He told me he was wanting to buy a house first to get some security, then went out and bought a ridiculously expensive sport car, telling me after that that of course he couldn't get a house now, he had to pay off the car, and so on and so on.

Eventually I got tired of waiting and grew more and more bitter. The final straw was one of my best friends meeting a guy and getting engaged and married after a year when I'd invested 8 years in empty promises, following this guy around the world and sacrificing my career to support his, while he fed me a pack of lies.

At that point it didn't matter if he proposed, the relationship had soured and there were many other issues. I broke it off, explaining why and he said, if he asked now, would it have married him? I told him I would run like the wind because I couldn't imagine anything worse than being married to a man who had to get his arm twisted to walk down the aisle. I wanted to be with someone who couldn't wait to marry me, and was as excited about our future together as I was.

Long story short, I met someone else, he proposed after a year, first child at 37, second at 39. (And so far as your older mother comments, there's not that much difference in my energy levels from age 35 to 40, kids are exhausting no matter how old you are so don't let that be your deciding factor - there's still time to get the life you want)

Sometimes things work out, just not the way you plan (insert standard smooshiness about husband, life etc.) And ultimately what I learnt is that someone who wants to marry you, they will - my husband is the classic example. The reason your man isn't proposing is that for whatever reason, he doesn't want to. Don't listen to what he says, look at what he does. That's where the truth lies. Best of luck, I know how hard this is - I could have written your post. All I know is that staying stagnant is the worst thing you could do. Get answers and make a decision - soon.
posted by Jubey at 11:06 PM on May 8, 2014 [15 favorites]

If you're uncomfortable proposing marriage because you perceive it as a gender reversal, I recommend Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior.

The relevant guidelines for proposals (both in general and to men in particular) appear on pp. 360-61. At least, those are the page numbers in the 2005 'freshly updated' edition, which I found by googling 'miss manners proposal marriage' and scrolling down to the Google Books link. Highlights include:

Say "I can't live without you. Will you marry me?" Got that? Not "I think we might make a go of it," or "My mother says she's tired of her friends asking when we're getting married," or "I've talked to my tax consultant, and I think we can get married without getting hit too badly."

When proposing to a man, no ring is used:

Mind you, [Miss Manners] believes it is as appropriate for a lady to propose to a gentleman as it is for a gentleman to propose to a lady. It is just that there is a difference between that and playing "Okay, you be the girl now and I'll be the boy."

Miss Manners supposes that those contemplating marriage know what is acceptable to their particular sweethearts.But she happens to favor dignity. No one who is otherwise favorable was ever put off by being told "I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

posted by feral_goldfish at 7:27 AM on May 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had my second son when I was 37. It's not too old. The truth is that you always just feel like you, it's just reflective surfaces that fuck you up. If you want to get married and he wants to be with you then you propose, he hopefully says yes, and then you start organising it until it gets done. You love one another and you want to be together so that's an excellent start. He's not going to organise it, that seems pretty obvious. If you want children together and falling pregnant is not in the cards then there are a million children out there who need good and decent foster parents - that could be an option.

The best thing you can do is to try very hard to stop comparing what you've got to what other people have. I can guarantee that there are people who would look at what you've got and envy that and that probably seems ridiculous to you. Do yourself a favour and stop being so hard on yourself. You have love in your life, that's wonderful. Take it from there.
posted by h00py at 8:15 AM on May 9, 2014

Yeah, I'm sorry but I think your boyfriend is being an ass. He's wasting what remains of your youth and your time.

I seriously regard it as near-criminal for a man to steal both a woman's only chance to have children AND THEN LEAVE her once he's used up her fertile years. It's staggeringly, mindbendingly cruel and horrible. It's a certified stone-cold rat-bastard thing to do.

A lot of guys "just don't think about it" or "are just taking it one day at a time" or "totally intend to marry you one day" but what they're actually doing is stealing your time.

Hell, even a stranger you don't know from Adam should be able to think clearly enough about this to tell you beforehand, "Look, I can't give you what you want, but I realize women only have one chance to have children and I'm not going to prevent you from going out there and finding it with someone else."

It takes a level of either oblivious stupidity or cruelty far beyond what I'm willing to tolerate for a guy to just keep you around in the meantime 'cause he feels like it and doesn't want to give up the comfort/sex/whatever. And then let you know he's done with you after it's already too late for you. He should at least be honest going into it so you can make up your mind if that's good enough for you.

You need to have a come to Jesus talk with him. And accept that things may not go your way, sadly.
posted by quincunx at 8:20 AM on May 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

I think proposals are an archaic remnant of a time when wives were property.

So I don't necessarily think you should "propose" to him in the formal, down on one knee sense, but you shouldn't wait for him to do that either. In reality getting married is a mutual decision just like any other decision a couple makes together, like where to live or whether to adopt a puppy, or have kids.

So, ask him if he wants to marry you. But don't think of it as some big gender reversal thing, just treat it like any other decision you make as a couple. If he's already said he wants to do it someday, it shouldn't be a big deal for "someday" to be "next year."

And if he doesn't want to, well, you'll have to decide if you'd rather be his girlfriend or go find someone else to marry. Personally, I'd do the latter, but that's your decision.
posted by Asparagus at 9:15 AM on May 9, 2014

I refer you to my question of almost a year ago Marriage.... urgh.
In it, I received some wonderful advice from many, many Mefites.

There was some advice that didn't work for me ("Dump him, he'll never marry you", "Propose to HIM" etc) and there was some advice that really resonated with me.

All in all, I took the bull by the horns and had an actual conversation with him whereby I literally gave him a timeline to work to. I advised him that I wanted a proposal before my birthday, or else I'd have to move on. It wasn't because I didn't love him, it was because marriage was something I really wanted, and he was constantly saying that I was the "one" for him, and we'd get married "some day" but it just wasn't happening.

Anyway, he proposed on my birthday last year and we are very happy. He admitted he really needed a "kick up the butt" and my ultimatum was the thing that gave him that nudge.

Would he have proposed on his own? Maybe, maybe not.
Would I have actually left him if he HADN'T proposed by my birthday? Probably.
It does sound as if you are in a VERY similar situation to me and I hope by reading this, you'll know that you really CAN be the master of your own destiny, you just need to be firm. If he really does want to marry you, have faith that he'll pull his finger out and do it!
posted by JenThePro at 10:14 AM on May 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

Do you want to get married? Or do you just want a wedding? You know you're totally allowed to have one without getting legally married, right?

If you're happy together, no piece of paper from the court is going to change that. If you're not happy? Guess what. It's still just a piece of paper. It's not a guarantee.

Marriage is no guarantee of anything. Not happiness, not security, nothing. Marriage is a legal document that makes it (slightly) more expensive for you to break it off with someone. There are lots of reasons to marry someone, as mentioned above, like tax breaks, next of kin rights, stuff like that.

Your relationship is YOURS. Not your parents, society's, or your friend's to judge or have expectations of.

But yeah, if you have your heart set on a marriage, and not just a wedding, ASK HIM. If he says no, or won't set a date, well, at least you know where you stand and can figure things out from there. Would you still stay with him if he says no, but does say he wants to spend his life with you? If so, you might want to really examine what it is you are really equating marriage with, and determine if what is in your head is a)realistic and b)healthy.

Have you thought of going back to your couples' councilor about this?
posted by ananci at 2:56 PM on May 10, 2014

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