In an ideal world, your partner would know what’s on your mind. Intuition would trump logic and love would clear any cobwebs of doubt and indecision.
Unfortunately, what works in well-written romance novels may not work at all in the real world. So while you may be ready to get engaged, your partner may be clueless or scared.
How do you let him know that you’re ready to open up a new chapter in your lives?
- Do you casually bring up an uncomfortable topic?
- Do you wait with admirable patience for him to think it’s his own idea?
- Do you solicit advice from family and friends?
Take comfort in recognizing that your situation is not unusual. For centuries, this delicate situation has arisen on all continents and in all cultures. Here, then, are four practical solutions that have worked:
Solution #1: Signal you’re ready.
Face it: You have no idea why your partner is procrastinating. Is he naïve, clueless, or blissfully unaware? Is he scared, terrified of hearing a “no.” How do you stay subtle when you’re just dying to blurt out what should be obvious?
Here are 3 possible approaches:
- Converse about weddings, marriages, and anniversaries. Talk about a friend’s marriage or a relative’s happy anniversary.
- Rewrite scripts to a movie you just watched, wondering aloud if the hero and his love interest had tied the knot at the end instead of simply drifting apart.
- If you see any sign of interest using either technique but the conversation is not moving in the right direction, you can raise the ante by extrapolating on your own unique situation and getting his views about committed relationships.
Admittedly, these three ideas send a rather obvious signal, but at least it nudges him into thinking about something that he has carefully managed to avoid before.
Step #2: Talks about rings and things
If the first solution fizzles into naught, then you’re dealing with fear rather than naiveté. If after you raised his awareness, nothing happens it’s time to be a little more heavy-handed in your approach.
It’s now time to talk about details, say, a blue sapphire wedding ring and the different characteristics, such as a 1.15 carat, a 0.05 carat, and a 1.70 carat. You can also muse about the qualitative differences between black and white gold. Of course, you don’t have to be this precise and analytical—but the point is that some discussion about shape, size, weight, and stones is a way to talk about wedding rings. Naturally, you don’t have to talk about your own preferences. You can simply talk about what you think about the ring your friend just got during her recent engagement.
Step #3: Try the flexible approach
If you’re at step 3, you have now made your position rather clear. At this point, if your partner has not said, “yes, of course,” then he is going to resort to waffling and procrastination. He may use the calendar as his last defense, explaining that his heart is willing but his schedule stands in the way. When he whines about how he doesn’t have the time to break away from his hectic life, you have to stay flexible. This year or next year, is fine. February or November is fine. With enough wiggle room, he will finally have to admit that it’s impossible for his calendar to be completely jam-packed without any hope for living his own life.
Step #4: Closing the deal
While most reasonable men would have capitulated by steps 1, 2, or 3, you may be dealing with an unusual amount of denial, procrastination, or repressed panic. If this is the case, then your last and best chance for making anything happen is an honest conversation.
This can be tricky, so here are 4 suggestions on how to go about it:
- Don’t frame your frustration as an ultimatum. Instead work on envisioning a bright future where your combined strengths will overcome any career hurdles or other obstacles that are making him so jittery about getting married.
- Sketch out possible scenarios on how things can work out, but allow him to pick the date. If you insist on a date, it’s a disguised ultimatum. Use broad conversational strokes, encourage spontaneity, and keep the romance alive.
- Your conversations should not have a bitter, angry, or coercive element to them. It’s not your views vs. his views. No, it’s about you and him against the world and about getting on the same page.
- Avoid threats of any kind. Asking family or friends to talk him to his senses or withdrawing affection to get more leverage are not going to work. They will only push him away. Since you are dealing with some heavy resistance, you may either have to step back or get some kind of premarital counselingto work out some deep-seated fears he has about commitment.
Although Step 4 is the most trying, you will probably never get to it. Usually step 1 or step 2 works surprisingly well.