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Marriage Proposal Gone Bad

By December 28, 2010 - 4:35pm

So I've been a "relatioship expert" for many years - How did I manage to completely screw up my long-awaited engagement?

My boyfriend and I were at a restaurant the other night when he quite casually mentions that we should go pick out an engagement ring for me. What? Did I somehow miss the BIG question? We hadn’t even talked about getting married at all, and he didn’t ask me how I felt about it prior to that statement. I was caught off guard and didn’t reply at all - feeling mixed emotions and couldn't even make eye contact at that point. We changed the subject to irrelevant small talk, and then when we got home I told him that I wished he wouldn’t have brought up such a personal and momentous subject like that in a crowded restaurant. We should have had a private talk - not in a public place like that. Furthermore, he didn't even ASK me!

I was disappointed in his lack of creativity and offhand manner in posing such a significant suggestion. All of my girlish dreams were shattered as one anticipates this special ‘moment of lifetime’ to be magical and romantic. Rather than feeling excited that he finally had the nerve to bring up the idea of marriage, I was sad and angry. I can’t explain exactly why I felt that way in that moment about such a beautiful possiblity. Maybe I was angry because of the way he went about it, and sad because I really don’t want to have to answer that question right now. But it wasn't even a question, rather an assumption on his part.

After we got home, we talked for hours and came to no resolve - then coldly went to bed but I couldn't sleep at all. I feel differently now that I did 6 months ago, as I’ve since given up on the idea of getting married again. At one point it was very important to me and I wanted to more than anything – but whenever I briefly mentioned the idea, my boyfriend was "in no hurry". I thought he might have asked me when we were in Malibu over the summer, but he did not. After that, I’d convinced myself that I didn’t want to be married, and it didn’t even matter to me at all anymore.

We got through Christmas without discussing it at all, and now I don't know what to do or what I even want. We've lived together for over 2 years now, have a house and a dog together - but I feel like the whole idea of marriage (or at least the getting engaged part) is tainted for us.

By January 6, 2011 - 6:55pm


I just want to say that I think both Susan and Alison have given you some wonderful insight.

Here's something I don't share with a lot of people because I really don't think it matters--- legally, my husband is not really my husband! We have been together for 6 years, share a beautiful home, and have two kids together. Due to finances, we haven't made the actual act of marriage a priority. But to me, he's my husband and I am his wife. As a matter of fact, aside from the people that new us before we were together (close friends and family) everybody else thinks we are legally married (including Susan and Alison :))

It's something that he kind of started and I didn't put a stop to it. Why? Because a marriage is much more than a ring, proposal, or ceremony-- it's a shared life. We talk about what our wedding will be like one day and we share our likes on rings and visit stores together (to me, this is fun!). I understand where you are coming from, given the illusion of the perfect proposal and wedding we are introduced to as kids (THANKS DISNEY!) All jokes aside though, give the man a break. Clearly he wants you to be his wife and there should be no greater compliment than to know that the man you love wants to be with you forever.

Best Wishes!


January 6, 2011 - 6:55pm
By January 6, 2011 - 5:43pm

I agree with Susan's great advice, and wanted to add my reaction after I read your story.

My first reaction: I had the same type of non-proposal, but we had been living together for so long, and talked about it often, that it was actually a convenience thing to pick out a ring together...I wanted to pick it out, and HE wanted me to pick it out as well! We also didn't have the fairytale wedding...it was a fun, exciting elopement, and the only thing we didn't get to do was a honeymoon (not enough time off of work). Life really gets in the way of the fairytale! :-) I'm still waiting on the honeymoon; we both want to travel sometime when we can get away (we just had our second baby).

My other observation: I'm not sure how to describe this, as I've done this to my husband too...but he would call it "testing him". And, whenever I test my husband...he fails. Sounds like this may be the case with your boyfriend, too. You tested to see if he would propose to you this summer. He failed. You tested him by asking if he was interested in marriage. He said he's not in a hurry--fail again. It even sounds like you were testing him during Christmas. Strike three.

The clue that made me think you have been testing him: "After that [the above "tests"], I’d convinced myself that I didn’t want to be married, and it didn’t even matter to me at all anymore."

Well, that's not exactly true, right? It obviously matters to you a lot, or you would have had a different emotional reaction. Additionally, you would not be indirectly blaming him for causing you to have to change your entire view of marriage.

You sound like you have a very high emotional and relational intellect, and you may need to dig deep into your fears and figure out: why you are testing him, what you are afraid of, why you are blaming him for changing your mind about marriage, why you are really upset with him (besides him being "lame" about his non-proposal; I agree that is irritating, and you are taking it as him making assumptions...perhaps you are making assumptions about HIS assumptions?).

The best relationship advice I have ever received: Be Curious. Don't assume (or assume your assumptions are wrong) and ask questions.

I wish you the best, and look forward to hearing from you again!

January 6, 2011 - 5:43pm

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