I recently had dinner with a male friend of mine and we got to talking about relationships. He was asking about my love life and as I was sharing about how happy, free and unpressured by time I feel about my own dating life, I saw his whole energy shift. All of a sudden his shoulders slouched and he got a very defeated look on his face.
“You okay?” I asked.
“I just . . .” he paused and looked off in the distance, shifting around in his chair a bit, “I just wish my girlfriend had your attitude. She really wants to get married and dropping all kinds of not-so-subtle hints. I love her, but I am just not ready yet. I’m feeling a ton of pressure right now and I do not understand why there is such a sense of urgency.”
I felt a tremendous amount of compassion for him. I could see the inner conflict he was dealing with between really caring for his girlfriend and not caring for the pressure she was putting on him. To give you a little more info, they are both in their late twenties and have been dating a year and a half. He does want to get married eventually, but his career is just beginning to take off and they’ve had some challenges in their relationship that they just recently got to the other side of. All he wants is an opportunity to be with his girlfriend and enjoy their relationship so that a proposal can evolve naturally when he feels ready to.
This is not an uncommon thing I hear from men. All of a sudden, their girlfriends declare that the relationship hits some kind of marker and a proposal should be happening. The guy then begins to feel all kinds of pressure, guilt and confusion.
Ladies, please for his sake and yours stop pressuring your guy. And I do not just mean about marriage, stop pressuring him to do anything. Not only does it not work to your advantage in the long run – it’s also not loving.
I see a lot of women of all ages want to be a bride so badly that they begin putting all kinds of expectations on their boyfriends. Don’t get me wrong, weddings are a beautiful thing and I want you to have the marriage of your dreams. But please don’t allow your little girl fantasies of walking down the aisle in a long white dress to Pachelbel in Cannon D to cloud your perspective of what’s really important: a loving relationship with your man!
Many men have shared with me how they feel so beaten into submission when it comes to marriage that it takes the romance out of it for them. The process of proposing starts to feel like fulfilling an obligation rather than an expression of love. A good man will want to romance you and surprise you, but if you are nagging him or dropping hints all the time about how your “finger is getting cold,” you may eventually get the ring but perhaps not with the same amount of warmth you deeply desire.
If marriage is a high value to you, of course it is important to discuss that with your guy to make sure he is on the same page. But once you have a mutual understanding of being headed in the same direction, back off. Enjoy your courtship and allow him time to prepare. Proposing is a big deal for a man. They want to make sure they can provide for you – yes, even if you are independent, most men feel an intrinsic desire to offer a sense of security. It is also important to men that they have their career at a place where they feel on purpose. Give him some time so he feels confident and EXCITED about asking you to spend your life with him.
Now if you are in a long-term relationship and you sense there may be commitment issues there, I suggest couples counseling. And at a certain point if you have been waiting around a long time hoping your man is going to commit or propose and you do not see him taking steps in that direction, why are you waiting around? Do you really want to have to convince someone to marry you? There is a difference between a man wanting more time and a man who is totally uncertain about whether or not he wants to get married.
I’ve been coaching, studying and interviewing men for years now. They have candidly and vulnerably shared with me and here are a few things that I have discovered:
- Your man wants to make you happy. It troubles him to know you are feeling a timeline or expectations from your family to get married. He wants to “fix” it. Alleviate both of your suffering by replacing the conversation and hints about marriage with loving conversation and acknowledgment of all the things you love about him and your life together. And while you’re at it, acknowledge yourself as well! Men like to see their ladies proud of themselves too.
- Respect is a huge value to men. And when they feel pressured or given an ultimatum, they do not feel respected. You may get what you want in terms of a commitment or ring but it’s not going to get you what you REALLY want: a man who feels respected and supported by you who consequently will treat you like a queen.
- Men are romantic and want to make you feel special. They are far more motivated to do so when you are not nagging them or pouting because they are not moving fast enough for you.
Stop torturing yourself by thinking there is a certain timeline or age that you “should” get married by. Stop allowing the expectations of others to influence the evolution of your relationship. Stop being seduced by the billion dollar wedding industry and focus on being an amazing person and partner rather than a bride.
I am on your side here, gals. I want you to have the kind of relationship that is based on mutual respect and love. I want you to feel cherished and adored. And if you want to be married, I want that for you. The encouragement I am giving you may sound like I am telling you to be passive but I’m not. I am actually giving you insight into how to step into your feminine powers of surrender and receiving. Get out of your head and into your heart. Call your man forward with love, not force. If you want a more traditional situation where a man proposes to you, then a more traditional feminine approach will feel so much better!
A wedding should not be something that you want because you want to feel special for the day. Love your man, respect him, allow him to come to his own choices and trust me, ladies, you will feel special for a lifetime.
p.s. I would love you to join me for a retreat in Tulum, Mexico that is focused on creating a fulfilling and healthy love life. Relieve yourself from timelines, pressures, and relationship concerns. Consider it an investment in being the best possible wife/girlfriend/partner you can be. Details here.
Christine Hassler is an author, speaker, life coach and spiritual counselor dedicated to helping people answer the questions who am I, what do I want and how do I get it? You can check out her website here.