This past week a friend of mine got engaged and left this comment in her status,
“the MINUTE you stop nagging…the ring appears!”
This led me to reflect on my own engagement and the journey to getting engaged. My husband and I dated for 2 1/2 years before getting engaged. At the one and a half year mark I brought up marriage.
Initiating Marriage Talk
I remember reading an article that stated that women in long term relationships WOULD need to bring up the topic of marriage. Even in healthy happy dating relationships men get comfortable and unprompted to push things to the next level. Women would need to be the ones to present the idea.
So in January of 2016 1.5 years into our relationship I brought the topic up over breakfast one day.
“Is marriage something you are interested in?”
I already knew the answer to this question as he’d stated on our first date that he was not interested in casual dating. “I’m looking for a wife.” he had confidently stated. The Taboo Question: Is Purposeful Dating Still Okay?
“Do you see this relationship leading to marriage?”
“Yes” he answered, uncomfortably adjusting in his seat. He was 35, gainfully employed and the last single guy in his group of friends. Most of his male friends were 2-3 years older, married and already 1 child in. His parents were still happily married. All great signs of his potential openness to marriage. The one troublesome red flag however was that he was the youngest of four boys all unmarried. Did this mean anything?
Over breakfast he explained to me that he did in fact want to marry me but that a few things needed to happen first. I hadn’t met most of his family or friends, as they all lived out of state. It was important to him that this happen first.
At the close of the conversation I felt unsettled. I loved him and wasn’t willing to walk away from the relationship regardless of his willingness or unwillingness to commit, but I also really wanted to feel assured that the relationship was in fact leading to marriage. I wasn’t sure if his requirement to meet friends and family was an excuse to string me along or if it was genuine.
Waiting for the Proposal
In February, 1 month later, he booked us a flight to go visit his brother. In the months that followed, we took a few road trips and booked a few more flights to meet additional friends and family. This definitely felt assuring and on track. By summer, the heart of wedding and engagement season, I started to feel anxious again. Relationship Envy: 5 Ways to Avoid it Was this engagement ever going to happen? What was he waiting for now? I didn’t want to nag but boy was I anxious.
So why was I so anxious? I was 31, confident that I loved him and wanted him as a life partner, and ready to start a family. The article I read about initiating the marriage conversation had said it would take another 6-8 months for him to propose if in fact he did intend to propose. I also knew I wanted to be married at least 1 full year before starting a family and that I ideally wanted 2-3 kids before the age of 35. My friend who had recently married and had her first child at 40 encouraged me to be patient. Life was too precious to rush, and he was too good of a guy to lose due to impatience.
In October of 2016, 10 months after I’d initiated the marriage talk he took a job across the country and moved. We took a vacation to Las Vegas for a mutual friends birthday just one month before his big move. I was certain he would propose on that trip. He didn’t. I resisted my urge to nag him further, but committed in my mind that I would not be moving or leaving my job without a marriage license.
The Proposal – getting engaged
Finally in December of 2016, almost one full year after I’d initiated the marriage conversation, he proposed. We were on another birthday trip for a friend, this time in Puerto Rico. On our third day on the Island, he booked a private boat ride, took me out on the ocean and proposed. It had all been worth the wait. Four months later in March of 2017 we married and I moved across the country to join him.
Planning & Spending while engaged
I recently asked my husband why it took him a full year after that conversation to propose. Much of his reasoning had to do with long term planning and finances. In the 3-4 months immediately preceding the conversation he put in genuine effort to take me to meet friends and family in various parts of the country. After those visits had gone well, he had privately transitioned into planning and saving mode. Between June and December (the month he proposed) he was saving for an engagement ring, wedding ring, the wedding itself, and planning for his big out of state move. Things I honestly wasn’t considering in my impatient waiting period.
Ultimately I was grateful he had waited. Shortly after returning home from Puerto Rico with my beautiful new engagement ring, reality set in. We knew we didn’t want to wait a full year to get married because it would mean a long distance relationship. After coordinating with overseas and out of state family we set our wedding date for March of 2017, just three months after his proposal. In that three months we purchased wedding bands, two moving vans, a storage unit, a deposit on an apartment, a wedding dress, a suit, a photographer, a venue, a cake, wedding food, and the list goes on. Our wedding cost including clothing cost less than 6k yet still we were hemorrhaging money. I was grateful he had spent so much time planning and saving for the logistics of our upcoming life changes.
A year and a half later we are happily married and expecting our first child. While we plan to have at least two and haven’t completely ruled out the possibility of three, we also realize that the responsibility and life change of having children is too much to overly plan. I’m grateful for my friend who advised me to be patient, enjoy life and not calculate every moment of life on a timeline.
What are your thoughts? Are you currently in a relationship patiently waiting for marriage? Do you agree that women need to initiate the marriage talk but also be careful not to nag? Tell us your story.