How do you start the marriage conversation?

Have a lovely weekend. Send your own relationship questions to loveletters@globe.com.

Dear Meredith,

I've read lots of posts on Love Letters about how to know when you're ready for marriage, when you're not ready, why your partner is taking so long to get ready, being ready for a wedding vs. ready for a marriage etc., etc. Here's another one in a similar (but less confusing) vein: When you know you're ready, how do you start the conversation?

My partner and I have been together for four years. We have a solid, supportive, fun, and happy relationship. I'm in my late 20s and he's a couple years older and we've both never been married (or engaged) before. I'd like to start a conversation with him about how and when to make it official. I definitely do not want to put on any pressure as far as the timeline; I'm sure he's the one, and I'd like to start our marriage, but I know it's a big and important decision so I'm perfectly happy to wait if that's what he wants or needs. So, should I make a nice dinner and treat it as a big conversation (it is!)? Should I bring it up casually while we're out for a walk and see how he responds? Should I come out and say I'm ready (no room for miscommunication in this conversation!) or broach the subject more gradually?

We both see each other as family and take for granted in our conversations and plans that we'll be married someday; I'm simply looking for the best way to check in and see if we can start to put a date (or year) on "someday," without making him feel behind or pressured if his timeline is different than mine.

- Ready


"We both see each other as family and take for granted in our conversations and plans that we'll be married someday."

Well, this makes life easier. If you're already talking about the future, this conversation shouldn't come as a shock to him.

I think there's a sweet spot between "big important dinner conversation" and "super casual comment that comes off as spontaneous but clearly isn't." I do like the idea of bringing it up on a walk. You could say a version of what you told us: "Lately I've been thinking about when we'll do some of the things we talk about. I'm ready, and I'd love to hear what you think about what comes next." It's casual without being apologetic or dismissive. Best of all, it’s the truth. You do have questions about your timeline. It's that simple.

This pandemic is teaching some of us (I'll count myself in this group) to be more straightforward about our needs, concerns, hopes, and wishes. It's a great time to talk about plans and things to look forward to. Don't downplay it or assume the conversation will involve pressure and awkwardness. Simply tell him that you're excited to discuss. Ask for his input and see where it goes.

It's going to be a lovely weekend for a walk. Just saying.

– Meredith

Readers? How did you start the conversation? Or how did someone else start it with you?