I always smile at the TV commercials for engagement rings. There’s a really silly one in particular, a Robbin’s Brother’s commercial, where the ring frames the center of the screen, and within that enormous dangling-carrot ring, you see a montage of a dozen wildly excited women.
“Yes, Yes!” everyone cries out in total shock as if they had no idea it was their engagement day. It’s almost as if they’re desperately saying, “Thank you for choosing me!”
But is a proposal something that should even be a surprise? And why is it all his idea? That’s what Mia wants to know.
Hi April. I’ve been with my boyfriend for one year. We’re both in our early 30s, have a great relationship, and are very much in love. I’m ready to get married but he hasn’t mentioned it, and I haven’t felt comfortable bringing up the subject. I feel like if I ask him if we’re getting married, it will ruin the surprise and my engagement day won’t feel as special. He might be planning on popping the question, but I honestly have no clue! Would love your advice! Thank you! – Mia
The bliss and apprehension of a pending engagement. Exhilarating. And, somewhat frustrating and confusing.
Mia, what if I were to tell you that it’s not meant to be that way at all? Consider that every commercial or movie you see about a man proposing is simply that. A commercial. Just marketing and entertainment. And absolutely not a good model for reality.
If you were planning to go into business with someone, you most certainly would take a while, days or even months, to make the decision. There would be lengthy conversations and meetings set up to discuss the partnership. Would you engage in a series of negotiations? Devote a lot of thought to the possibilities? Come to eventual agreements?
Why should entering a marriage be any different?
A Marriage is More Than a Proposal.
A marriage is a lifetime commitment to someone. To each others’ families, your friends, and possibly your future children together. Generations to come will be affected by your choice in a partner. It’s a serious, adult venture, not a party with balloons. It’s far more important than starting a business with someone, and yet, most women are under the false and misguided impression that it should be a complete surprise when a man proposes.
I love a surprise as much as anyone and yes, the day my husband proposed I was totally taken off guard. But, let me be clear here. The DAY was a surprise. I already knew we were planning a future together. I just didn’t know the exact date he was going to get on bended knee. (If I had known, I would have chosen a better outfit and had my nails done!)
We’d already talked about marriage for the better part of a year at that point. We were invested in each others’ dreams, goals, families and health. It was clear we were going to get married, it was just a matter of when. Did I get a bit nervous occasionally, wondering if my time was well invested with him? Yes, of course. But I was tuned into what we both ultimately wanted.
What is He Waiting For?
The first year of a relationship is always a little tricky. Most people (especially men under 40) believe that 12 months with someone is sufficient time to really get to know a person, and to see if the love is real and enduring. But it’s not only about having confidence in the woman they are dating, it’s also finding confidence in themselves, and deciding whether or not they have the chops to be a husband.
Get On the Same Page
Stop focusing on the fantasy of surprise and get real. With yourself and your partner. If you feel “uncomfortable bringing up the subject of marriage” with the man you’re supposedly ready to marry, you might not be as ready as you think you are.
Remember, this is your “partner.” You must be able to have candid conversations. This is the person who is supposed to know you better than anyone else.
But be careful: it’s not about the stereotypical conversations like “where is this heading,” or “are we ever going to get married?” That puts the onus fully on your boyfriend and places you in a position of being asked, rather than being a mature participant in your own future.
If this is the man you love, you need to be asking him what his dreams are for his future, as well as if the concept of marriage (more importantly, marrying you) is something he wants and feels he’s ready for.
Ask without agenda. Listen without fear. You’re simply attempting to learn more about him.
Own Your Future
So, how do you know if your guy is going to pop the question? You’ll know because you’ve already talked about it, and it’s evident you both want the same things. That is your only indicator that a real proposal is on the way. (My mother used to say that a man offers the actual proposal, but the woman has already asked him to marry her in the most feminine and subtle way.)
It takes two to make a marriage, and by no means should a proposal be only a man’s job.
Get excited about your marriage and the life you are going to co-create. The engagement day goes by quickly, but your marriage deserves planning and discussion long before there’s a ring on your finger!