If you are a woman who is happily involved in an exclusive relationship, your thoughts have probably turned to marriage. This is understandable. For many people, the act of getting married is the ultimate expression of a couple's love for one another.
The phase just before engagement can be one of the trickiest for a couple to navigate. If you have been dating for a year or more, you may feel that your guy should already be Instagramming ring ideas to your BFF. Though he may not show it, your boyfriend may be struggling with his own expectations and pressures as well.
Don't let your insecurities ruin a good thing. Follow these four tips to ensure that you're moving in sync, and you and your man will build a solid foundation for your life together.
1. Take a deep breath. Although you may have good reasons for wanting him to hurry up and propose already — a madly ticking biological clock, family pressures or other very real concerns — practice stepping out of the "I want" mindset. Many women come to me saying "I want a husband" or "I want to get married."
It may be helpful instead to say, "I am ready to become a wife" and fully embrace the major changes you will face when your wish becomes reality. In many religious traditions, marriage is viewed as a covenant with God or a spiritual union — a solemn undertaking indeed. Marriage is also a joining together of communities, forever altering your relationships with parents, children, relatives and even your friends. Appreciate that you stand at a momentous threshold, and choose to cross calmly and with intention.
2. Open your eyes to the truth within. I get many calls from women who want to get their boyfriends to propose. But as the conversation continues, it becomes clear that the future groom has been MIA for several days or otherwise has a pattern of disrespecting the caller.
Ladies, please take note: A man in love who has made the mental commitment to propose is very easy to spot. He may not specialize in fancy seduction moves, but he respects you and is supportive. He follows through on his promises to you and makes sure you know where he is and who he is with. If your boyfriend is a triple-D (regularly disappoints, disrespects and disappears) recognize that you are just his good-enough-for-now girl, not his future wife.
3. Embrace his perspective. Even when men and women face identical cultural pressures (such as marrying by a certain age or producing an auspicious number of offspring), men typically balance these expectations with practical considerations.
Of course, if he is a junior attorney postponing engagement until he makes partner, that may be a red flag. But if he is waiting another six months so that he can receive a bonus, a promotion or clear up some financial issues, consider yourself lucky to be in a relationship with a man who takes his role as your future partner seriously. The first year of marriage is one of the hardest. Addressing practical concerns in advance can be a wise move.
4. Create positive momentum. While your expectation may be that marriage is the inevitable next step in your relationship, your man may think that things are comfortable just as they are. A cozy holding pattern can set in when a couple is already living together or otherwise treating each other like spouses without having made a formal commitment. In this case, someone has to rub two sticks together or the relationship may lose it's sizzle before you have a chance to reach the altar.
You may think the solution is to confront your guy and detail all the ways in which he is not meeting your needs. Bur this talk is likely to be received as an ultimatum. It's one-sidedness could cause him to retreat rather than opening up an honest exchange.
Instead, start creating your own positive momentum. Have you been avoiding the gym? Tomorrow, get up early and go. Have you fallen into a rut at work? Register for classes to help you transition to a new career. Start reconnecting with old friends. Dress and look your best at all times. If your guy loves you, he will take note of these changes. Just keep going with your positive energy and let things percolate. Over the next few months, it will become clear whether your guy is willing to step up and join you or if you will be moving forward solo.
Passively waiting for him to propose may require more self-restraint than you think you can muster. Especially if you are a woman who is used to making things happen in other areas of your life. But the proposal is an important way for a man to express his feelings for you. Accept this gift graciously and you will both share a wonderful memory that will help sustain your connection throughout married life.
Be the woman he loves, respects and cherishes. For more dating and relationship advice that reveals the best version of you and positively impacts all areas of your life, try Robyn's FREE New Direction Dating Newsletter.
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