i-think Twenty-Two

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Follow-up: When To Propose

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Back in November 2005, The Mill posted an article looking at when was the best time to propose. Now, over a year later that post has spawned a legitimate comment from James Mills posing the following questions:

  1. Is a year too early?
  2. How do you know she’ll say “yes”?
  3. How do you find her ring size without her finding out?

The Mill immediately enlisted the help of Paul to answer these tricky questions. So hopefully between the both of us we can give James some insight and hopefully provide a unique point of view as he contemplates this huge decision.

Is a year too early? Paul’s response:

Is a year of dating too early to propose : I would reduce this one down to prior experience. Have you both played the field before, so you’re reasonably certain you’ve found what you’re looking for? If not, maybe a bit more time. And have you tried living together, even for just a 2 week getaway - As Rhys suggested that’s a perfect test to see if you can stand living with them.

Also don’t forget sexual compatibility : it is possible for people to be allergic to each others fluids, even sweat, so it’s good to make sure this isn’t the case before you decide to make it permanent. (Ok ok, this is my argument for sex before marriage, but man is it relevant - who wants rashes after having a shag? And for the rest of your life?)

Something else that makes sense is the observation that the older people are, the faster the engagement. So for people in their 20’s, it seems that more time usually passes before the decision to marry. But for people in their 30’s, I’ve seen a few marriages after less than 6 months (ahh Coles people; always amusing). I would hope this trend is based on having the experience to know that their partner is “the one… at least for now”. Otherwise it simply skews ones perception.

I think it all depends on just how far the relationship has come during that time. If you are contemplating marriage, then chances are the relationship has progressed substantially. The trick comes down to this: Is this the person you want to spend the rest of you life with? (An oldie but a goodie). Other good questions to ask yourself include:

  • What would I be prepared to give up for this person?
  • Is being with this person better than not being with them?
  • How many sides of this person have I seen? Would you still be happy if the worst side was the most dominant?
  • What if divorce wasn’t an option later down the track?

This is more about putting yourself into a frame of mind of thinking whether the marriage is right for you. Your next question continues in the right direction by asking whether marriage is right for your partner.

How do you know she’ll say “yes”? Here’s what Paul had to say:

Well if the topic of marriage has come up before you should have some idea. Talking about kids might help too, as if she wants to have kids and also has the whole “Children out of Wedlock is evil” idea then it’s just a matter of knocking her up.

If you’ve never even discussed marriage before, then dude, I suggest you do before you ask her. She may be dead set against the concept of marriage (and fair enough given the divorce rates, but I digress), and feeling this information out before hand is essential Intel on the battlefield of life.

If you can’t get this sort of information out of her, then personally I’d be worried about proposing, because this is pretty basic stuff a couple should talk about who are contemplating a life together.

This comes down to two simple questions (and it is important to look at this objectively and not take it too personally):

  1. Does she want to get married in the near future?
  2. Does she want to get married to you?

These questions may seem fairly obvious, but it is easy to forget about these basic principles when emotion takes over. Certainly let emotion play its part (it is certainly most important), but be sure that the emotion is long-term.

Paul has it right on the money. You have to ask. By now you probably have all the information you need to answer these two questions. If not, it might be worthwhile taking the time to find out. Consider family upbringing, religious beliefs (if applicable) and overall how you feel she thinks about you.

How do you find her ring size without her finding out? Paul had this to say:

This is, naturally, hard. You can “borrow” one of her other rings and get a jeweller to try and estimate the size of her ring finger from that. You can try and measure it while she’s asleep. But another thing you can do is get her a betrothal ring - a pre-engagement ring - that doesn’t have to be perfect but you use it to propose. And then after the proposal she can choose her own ring and get it measured properly full well knowing what’s going on, and she still gets the traditional proposal with a ring - Win Win. When I did this the betrothal ring was only about $150, and had to be adjusted after purchase to fit her. Which was fine. And then when we got the engagement ring she got all the input she wanted (ie all of it); and the best part is with this approach : The man can’t be blamed for spending thousands on a ring she doesn’t like. Think about it

As an extension to what Paul has suggested above, it might help if you can see if any of your fingers are the same size as hers. Then you can try on rings and know exactly how it will fit.

Paul’s betrothal ring suggestion is good, but you need to make the intention very clear. If she wants to marry you this shouldn’t really be an issue. If you do buy an expensive ring, make sure you get it resized quickly to prevent it from being lost. Remember, you can always return/exchange the ring if it isn’t to her taste.

I hope that this information has been useful and has provided you with some tools to assist in your decision.

Next in The Mill we will discuss the degradation of human society and reveal a solution to attempt to fix it. Stay tuned.