Ready or not?
Getting married isn't all about confetti, champagne and a three-week honeymoon; it's a life-long commitment involving compromise and loyalty. But how do you know if it's the right time and the right person?
Asking someone to marry you
If you're thinking about getting down on one knee it's a good idea to know that the person standing in front of you a) loves you and b) has dropped some oh-so-subtle hints to indicate they imagine you being together until you're old and grey and wiping dribble off each others' chins.
If there are any doubts, fear not, it may be a case that your partner is simply being too cool for school. Maybe they're reluctant to free those soppy sentiments in case of scaring you off or appearing too needy.
Not everyone has the confidence to initiate those three magic words, let alone talk about marriage, and for people considering popping the question, this can be a confusing time. How do you know if your partner's gestures are love or lust, or whether they are with you for fun rather than the long-term?
Signs you are ready:
- You don't spend time thinking about your ex or eyeing up potentials in the street. And you definitely aren't unfaithful;
- You've secretly decided on your children's names;
- You've started a savings account for 'special occasions';
- You're proud to introduce your partner to your family and friends;
- You do something your partner enjoys even if you hate it - just to make them happy.
Signs your proposal may be accepted:
- You walk past a jewellery shop and your girlfriend says casually, "I'm more of a gold ring person than silver. Much more classy." And then carries on walking;
- They've been practising their new signature at the back of their diary.
- A dinner is arranged for both of your parents to meet;
- When they walk past a wedding they stop to admire a dress - and it's even more of a sign if it's a man that does this.
Signs your partner isn't quite ready yet:
- At your friend's wedding they remark that the whole day is a complete waste of money and they'd rather book a month-long holiday;
- The mention of weddings makes them physically shudder and go pale;
- You are told that commitment is buying a dog and not signing a paper;
- You learn about their plans to travel for a year, buy a house and then set up a business. Not much time for wedding plans there!
Asking someone to marry you, or accepting a proposal, because you're scared of losing them and can't see yourself getting anyone better, is a huge flashing warning sign that it's not meant to be.
If you're feeling insecure within the relationship it's definitely a good idea to address these issues before you sign any papers.
Jane met her boyfriend at the age of 18. After four years they moved in together, a year-and-a-half later he proposed, she accepted and the wedding was booked. Four months later, everything changed.
"It was obvious after a month of living together that we weren't getting along. I ended up feeling like his mother because I was cleaning up after him all the time, constantly complaining about his nose picking and farting, and we were barely sleeping together, " said Jane. "In fact we were more like flatmates, he just didn't seem interested."
"I was really unhappy but I'd only ever been with one person and thought this was normal for all couples at some point in a relationship. I started to regularly think about breaking up with him, but when it came down to it I didn't have the guts. After five years together I couldn't imagine being on my own. I kept thinking that because we still got on reasonably well as friends that things would eventually be OK.
"He knew things weren't right either but after I got back from a week away he proposed to me. I said 'yes' because I felt it proved he must have loved me a lot to want to spend the rest of his life with me. But nothing changed. We still weren't sleeping together and he seemed almost embarrassed to be asked about the wedding by friends and family. I couldn't even bring myself to buy a wedding magazine."
Four months later Jane told him she wasn't ready and needed things to get better first before setting a date. Six months later they broke up for good and Jane hasn't regretted it since. "I look back and realise that if I hadn't been strong enough to say 'no' then I would be in a relationship with someone I had little in common with, I would still be cleaning up his mess and lacking that special intimacy you need to keep a relationship alive."
Jane says that the experience didn't put her off the idea of marriage in the slightest. "I know now what makes me happy and exactly what I'm looking for. I feel that if someone asks me to marry me I will know straight away if it's meant to be and there will be no hesitation."
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