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Parallax - Advice            July 17, 2000

   He wants to propose, but is she ready?

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My girlfriend is almost eight years younger than I. She's twenty-four and I'm thirty-one, and we've been going out about a year. I am pretty serious about getting married and we've discussed it and she says that she wants to marry me too - eventually. I've gone out with enough girls to know she's the right one for me, and now my only worry is how long to wait before proposing. I don't want to put too much pressure on her, but I also can't just wait around. Is six more months too soon?

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Her view:

Dear Marrying Man,

It's very individual. I would say that in your case, yes, it is too soon. First, she's a lot younger than you are and will need some time simply to enter the frame of mind for marriage. Second, she doesn't really know you that well yet. She may love you already, but give her a little time to be comfortable around you and with the idea of being with you forever.

I think if you pressure her, she will recoil and you could lose her. Be patient and wait for her to come around. She's already said eventually. That's good enough for now and a really good sign that she's thinking everything will work out swimmingly and you'll be having kids together one day. It's not like you suffer in the interim: you get to be in her fine company. Don't burden her with undue stress or concern, you want to make her happy, and taking it slowly does that. Be patient - if she's really yours she'll come around and you'll have the rest of your lives together.

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His view:

Dear Marrying Man,

You're missing the point here. This is not about you being ready, it's about her. It doesn't so much matter when you propose, it is more important to know whether she's mature enough to enter into a long-term commitment.

Is she prepared to settle down? Has she thoroughly thought through the trade-offs and consequences? Many women these days marry later than twenty-four because they are busy pursuing other interests. Has she been waiting forever for prince charming, or is she just starting to see herself with a Mrs. title?

You need to know these things because it's more important that she be ready than that she accept your proposal. Of course, if she's very smart and in control of her emotions, she might reject your proposal if it comes in too soon and she's not ready. But if she's very much in love and she thinks she'll lose you otherwise, she might precipitate into a decision she's not prepared for - and that will come back to haunt your union later on.

Who knows, six months might be all she needs. Or it could be six years. If you think you're all set to marry her, you should know her well enough to figure it out.

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