Marriage Proposals: “I Don’t”?

Love, it seems, is as statistical as it is spiritual. Consider that 40 per cent of Canadian first marriages end in divorce and that the average Canadian wedding costs just under $25,000 — compelling evidence that getting married can be a very bad idea. Still, the cliché rings true: Many women have been dreaming of the big day since they were little girls. There are various subtle and not-so-subtle signs that your lady is eager to tie the knot (25 per cent of Canadian women pressure their guy to pop the question). Maybe she took an all-too-keen interest in the royal wedding or maybe she left a bridal magazine on the back of your toilet. Maybe she proposed to you. If none of that is part of your plan, here’s what to do when your girl wants to say “I do” and you don’t.

Start With Some Soul Searching  
Is it you? Is it her? Are you dead-set against “til death do us part?” Is she just not “the one?” If you simply cannot see yourself spending the rest of your life with her, ending it is not just the gentlemanly thing to do — it’s the only thing to do, for both of you. After getting over the initial blow (yes, surely devastating), a Ms. who wants to be a Mrs. will appreciate not being strung along: She does need as much time as possible to find Mr. Right.

If you want to stay with her but just don’t want to get married, read on.

Determine if Marriage is a Dealbreaker
Marriage might be a dealbreaker — for her or for you. Maybe she wants to have kids and won’t do so unless she’s married. If that’s her bottom line and you love her and want to be with her, it might be time to reconsider your anti-marriage stance. If you’re simple “not ready,” don’t despair: Shopping for an engagement ring tends to takes quite a while (unrelated but of interest: 59 per cent of brides say that in this case, size matters), and the average length of Canadian engagement is 18.5 months. So, if getting married is a non-starter for you, again, break it off.

If getting married is not a dealbreaker for either of you, read on.

Talk About It
Many guys think that simply ignoring her nuptial hints will lead her to eventually give up. This may seem obvious, but consider preempting that shove towards the jewelry store window. It’ll show you listen and care about this major step in life, even if there’s no way you’re going to take it. Ask her why she wants to get married and explain why you don’t.

Think of Other Ways to Show your Commitment
She’s hinted that she wants to get married; you’ve said you don’t. Now what? Many women choose marriage because it’s the “logical” next step in a serious relationship and it makes them feel secure. For most, it’s a commitment thing. The good news is there are other ways of showing your commitment that don’t cost upwards of $25,000. It may sound a little high school, but you could give her a promise ring. You could suggest moving in together (if you don’t already), or investing upwards of $25,000 in a co-owned home. And you can always tattoo her name on your arm. Just kidding.

Plan for the Future
Move the discussion away from the one-time event of getting married and plan for other milestones together. on the major milestone front, talk about the aforementioned first house, and first kid (and more kids). On the minor milestone front, talk about where you’ll take your dream vacation — just make sure it’s not a friends’ destination wedding.

Image courtesy of Ellen.

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