I’m ready to get engaged

No chat today. We will do it next week.

Hi Meredith,

I have been with my boyfriend for about 4.5 years. I was active duty military for 2.5 years during that time. We were long-distance but managed to see each other every month or so until I moved back home two years ago. We have two children (my oldest is from a previous relationship).

Last year I went through a period where I really wanted to get engaged and I would drop hints. He would basically make it known that he wasn't ready. He said he didn't want to talk about anything if it wasn't going to happen anytime soon. I would get annoyed because it felt like he was just shutting me down. I didn't want to nag him but I thought it would be fun to casually discuss details, or to show him the kind of rings I like. He got mad and felt like I was pressuring him. After a while I stopped because it began to hurt my feelings.

Time passed and family and counselors kept telling him that he needed to start considering marriage (spiritual reasons), and that I wasn't going to be around forever. So lately he has been considering it and dropped a few hints that it has been on his mind, which gets me excited. But we recently got into an argument and it made me feel like once something bad happens or we fight, it sets us back in getting engaged. It's like he lets a fight delay his proposal. Marriage will not be easy, and I feel like he wants things to be perfect before he pops the question. But life is not perfect and neither is marriage. I'm really frustrated. Any advice?

– The question

Sometimes it helps to plan a future, as opposed to a wedding. If your boyfriend doesn't want to chat about rings (and ... I don't blame him), maybe he'd be more interested in talking about vacations, parenting projects, or property. There's so much more to marriage than the proposal and the party. It might be healthier to focus on how you work together, as opposed to how he can ready himself to pop the question.

It might also help to take a break from marriage talk in general right now. I know you want answers (as do your counselors), but sometimes this level of pressure can over-complicate a decision. Maybe a ban on marriage talk for a month or two would put you both at ease. It'd be nice to remember what you have, not just what you're waiting for.

You might also want to talk to those advisors – and to each other – about how you fight. It's overwhelming to think that all of your disagreements might be evaluated as potential deal-breakers. Have an honest conversation about how you challenge each other, and how to make those conversations feel less monumental.

– Meredith

Readers? Thoughts on dealing with the pressure?