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How to Bring up Marriage with a Boyfriend

by Contributing Writer

Ah, marriage. Every man’s favorite topic! When a woman feels she’s ready to take that next step, her guy rarely feels the same way. Bringing up marriage with your boyfriend is usually touchy, so it’s important to tread lightly. As long as your man doesn’t think the choices are marriage or breakup, he should be fairly open to discussing the subject.

Be realistic. Bringing up marriage is huge, so you’re not going to get a proposal as soon as the topic is discussed. Most men need a lot of time to get used to the idea of marriage. In the first few conversations about marriage, you may not get very far or get the answers you want. But don't fret, he just needs time.

Get ready to be understanding. Preparing yourself for the conversation is just as important as the actual conversation. This is so you don’t go ballistic when your man responds. Most guys are scared of the topic of marriage. Men think of marriage as loss of freedom, and freedom is very important to guys. This in no way means he doesn’t want to marry you, so try to understand where he’s coming from.

Bring up the general topic to start things off. Don't necessarily discuss your relationship, just see where he’s at in general. If one of his friends is getting married, ask him how he feels about that. Or see what he thinks about his parents’ marriage—if his parents are divorced, he may be less eager to jump into marriage. Sometimes this will give you a good indication of what it’s going to take, or how much time he needs.

Wait a few weeks from the time that you get his general opinion. Then ask him what he thinks about your future together. Try not to say the word “marriage” in your conversation. Talk about what he sees in the future for you two, whether it’s moving in together or taking a backpacking trip through Europe. If he’s thought about your future at all, that’s a good sign!

Let him know that you want to share your future with him. Once again, if you don’t actually say the word “marriage,” he might not freak out as much. Tell him what you want to do with him in the future and that you’d love to have plans with him down the road. If you just let him know how you feel without saying, "You need to marry me," it keeps the pressure off the situation.

Try bringing up your future again in the next couple of months, if you didn’t get the answer you were looking for. Be realistic and understand that marriage is a big step. If you’ve been together for a short while, try not to be in a hurry to take that step.

Start thinking about how long you’re willing to be with your boyfriend before it’s marriage time or breakup time. If he truly can’t commit, you might want to move on to someone who can.