Samara O'Shea

To Propose or Not to Propose….

My boyfriend/fiancé and I have been living together for four years. I say (slash) /fiancé, because we have talked about getting married but I don’t see a ring on my finger. How can I push the issue – I would really like a ring (and a solid commitment) for Christmas. I think he thinks marriage is only for when we want to start a family, but I am not prepared to get pregnant and then married. I want to do it the other way around. As it is, my family thinks it’s horrible that we are living together and not married.



Dear Jane,

I wonder what your conversations about marriage have entailed because it sounds like neither of you has said much. Moving in together can be tricky for this reason. One person (sometimes the woman) moves in thinking marriage is imminent and the other person (sometimes the man) views moving in together as a way to avoid marriage. He figures this gets him off the hook for a while—wondering what the difference between living together and being married is anyway.

It’s time to be direct. Say to him, “I would like for us to get engaged sometime in 2016” or sooner “…by next summer.” I don’t think it’s fair to ask him to have it together by Christmas. It’s less than a month away. I know you’re thinking “But it’s been 4 years!” He’s not thinking that way. He’s settled into the life you’ve created together and doesn’t see the need for change. Your suggesting that the two of you get engaged in the near future will likely catch him off-guard.

Up until now, you’ve only guessed at what his thoughts on marriage are. “I think he thinks…” It’s time to find out for certain. My sense is that he’ll resist the idea when you bring it up, but it’s important to know where he stands. Is it apathy or fear that’s holding him back? Maybe you’re right and he wants a pregnancy to come first. It’s also important to let him know where you stand. Lay your cards out on the table and start working it all out. No more guesswork.

A friend of mine lived with a man for four years. Any time she brought up marriage he reassured her, “I want the same things you do. Don’t worry.” He never proposed and he didn’t stop her when she moved out. She met the man she is now married to within a year of leaving.

I don’t say this to discourage you—I hope your boyfriend agrees that getting engaged next year is a grand idea. I say this in the event that you discover marriage isn’t part of his plan—despite what he’s been saying. You need to honor what it is that you want and find someone who shares the same vision.