What is a good way to bring up the topic of marriage in a relationship? For example, I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year now. We have already discussed thoroughly what our wants and time-lines are: we both want marriage and children within the next four years. We’ve also often discussed our ideas and values when it comes to marriage, raising a family and running a home, as well as how many children each of us want. We even frequently talk about baby names that we like and dislike. However, we’ve never specifically talked about marrying or having kids with each other.
I’d like to ask my boyfriend if he sees the two of us going down that path together, but I don’t want to make him feel like I’m fishing for a proposal (so far, the most I’ve said is that I hope we have a future together). I’d definitely like to wait another two years or so before making that commitment and I know he still has a few important things he wants to accomplish on his own as well.
I guess what I’m mostly looking for is reassurance that we’re on the same page when it comes to seeing a future with one another. So fellas, from a male perspective, what’s the best way to bring up the topic? — Not Fishin’ for a Proposal
JOE: Obviously, the standard caveats about not knowing all the details and everyone’s situation being different apply, but I think yours is likely a pretty easy question to answer. Bottom line: I think you should just essentially tell him what you’ve written, then ask him if he feels that you’re someone he could see himself being married to some day. You’ve already framed your question perfectly and provided the commentary which would help to assure him you’re not pressuring him (not that I think he’d feel that way regardless).
I can’t guarantee that he will decide he wants to marry you or, if he does, that you’ll decide you truly want to marry him. I can’t be absolutely sure of his reaction when you ask him your question. But… you’ve been with this man for a year. You’ve discussed values, goals, a desire to be married, children, and even baby names with him. Those are not topics into which most men venture casually. He’s obviously not an immature person who can only think about the next five minutes of his life. If he is right for you, then asking him now if he sees a future with you isn’t going to scare him away at all. It’s not too early to ask. It’s not the wrong reason to ask. It’s not an imposition to ask. It’s not an ultimatum. If a man knows he wants to be married within the next few years and has been with a woman for a year but yet cannot even answer if that woman is someone he feels could become his wife, well, then it’s best to find that out now. My guess, though, is that it’ll be very clear to you when you ask that he does, indeed, expect someday to use those baby names on your children.
DENNIS: Quite bluntly, I don’t see what the problem is. You’ve been together for a year. He says that he does want marriage and children within the next four years. I’d say that’s just about as good a sign as any that you’re headed in the right direction, especially given that you both want to wait at least a few more years before making any sort of commitment, anyway. So what’s the rush?
In my slightly-less-than-sympathetic opinion, I believe you have all signs you need… for now. But if that’s not enough, I’d say that the issue is more with your own insecurity than with any ability or inability to commit on his part. To that end, I’m not sure that just asking him if you two are “on the same page” is going to make you feel any better. So, to answer your question, I don’t think there’s a “best way” to bring up the topic at this point. But that’s only because I feel like the topic has, ahem…. Already. Been. Brought up. <=insert waving finger snaps here
Long answer: Let me tell you about how I wrongly brought up this subject with my now-fiancée. I went to a wedding when she and I had been dating for about eight months and over the course of two nights maintained a pretty good level of drunkenness. Surrounded by married couples, couples in long term relationships, and at a wedding, I began texting her about how much I loved her and how all these couples reminded me of how much I liked our relationship. This was all adorable and harmless, until I went on Facebook and wrote something to the extent of “This wedding is fun but I’m not ready to get married. Sorry Emily.”
Now, let me note: marriage had not even been discussed at this point. We had each discussed our future plans in general terms, we got along really well, but we were still just dating. This forced the issue in the most embarrassing way possible (for both of us) and she remained mad at me for two days. The end product of this stupid mistake on my part was the realization that, while we were definitely not there yet, marriage was definitely something neither of us was ready to rule out (as well as apologies from me for months to follow).
The lesson here is this: if you are really suited for each other, a fucked up broaching of the marriage subject should not be the deciding factor on whether or not you eventually get married.
* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at email@example.com with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.