How to Decide when to Propose


  • Romance is important, but choosing to get married should be founded in more than just romantic feelings.
  • A compatible marriage takes more than just love, but love, trust, and communication should be the foundations of your marriage.
  • Only you and your partner truly know when it is the right time to get married.

We all have watched the television shows and seen the fancy, romantic proposals. Many young girls often dream of how their knight in shining armor will pop the question. Many men struggle with the question of when and how to propose, and, of course, the fear of rejection runs high. With all these fantasies and fears in the mix, it’s hard to know when it is the right time and the right way to propose marriage.

Honestly, as unromantic as it sounds, a couple truly should discuss the possibility of marriage prior to a proposal. Marriage should be a life long commitment to another person, and you need to make sure you and your partner are in synch with the things you want in life. Things such as whether or not you both want children, finances, living arrangements, jobs and more should all be things the couple can agree upon, or at the very least, discuss and come up with acceptable compromises.

Your partner should be someone who builds you up, supports you emotionally, and wants to help you follow your dreams, without giving up their dreams in the process, and you, in turn, should do the same. The old adage, “Sometimes love is not enough,” rings very true when it comes to spending the rest of your life with someone, and therefore, it is not a decision to enter into lightly.

Have you ever known people who have a string of marriage proposals behind them, a long line of fiancs, but not a single marriage, or marriages and divorces, under their belt? This is primarily because people tend to get caught up in the romance of a marriage proposal and the newness of a relationship without ever really talking about the reality of life together as a married couple.

The little things that you may think are cute when you are dating become the very things that drive you insane when you are married and living together. You should know these things, and be prepared to live with them. Life changes a lot when you move from dating to living together, whether married or not, and these things should definitely be taken into consideration prior to getting engaged.

Communication is the key to everything in a relationship. Without it, there is no relationship. Because of this, it is important to communicate with your partner what your expectations of a marriage are before you either propose or are proposed to. If you cannot communicate about how you feel about your life together, you life together is not going to last very long.

As romantic as a spur of the moment, unexpected, and grand marriage proposal may be, breaking off an engagement is about as unromantic as it comes, and it is a very painful and often embarrassing situation. Making sure you you know where you stand BEFORE you propose or accept a proposal can save a lot of heartache later on down the road.

That being said, sometimes you do just know when it feels right, and there is something to being in love and wanting to share your life with someone. It’s just important to temper your excitement with a bit of practicality too.

So let’s look at things to consider before you propose or before you say yes to a marriage proposal:

Money, Sex, Children

Most every fight in a relationship can be traced back to one of these three things, so let’s discuss them:


Making a marriage work requires hard work, it truly does. Yes, it is true that when you are in love, things should come to you easily, but that doesn’t mean money is not going to be an issue.

Where you had two incomes and two households at one point, or if you lived together before the proposal, perhaps your money was somewhat separate, but once you are married, you finances and your partner’s finances become one. If he has bad credit and you marry him, in most states, his credit now becomes yours. If she likes to spend a lot of money, it might just end up being your money she spends once married.

Also, you must decide if you are going to be a one or two income family, who is going to work, how many hours you each will spend working, and how your jobs and careers will be affected by getting married.

This may also tie into children too, because kids aren’t cheap, and there is child care, clothing, food, and other things that children change when it comes to relationships and money. Will she stay home with the children or will he? Will both work and the children stay in daycare? These are questions that really should be discussed prior to getting married.

If you are not already living together, or even if you are, you should decide where you are going to live once you are married. If you each have your own place, will one of you move into the other’s home or will you both move out and find a place where you will live together? Do you want to own a home or live in an apartment? Do you both agree on where you will live and how you want to live once you are married?

Your financial situation will help determine a lot of these things, but they should all be considered before you decide to actually get married. If you don’t know where your partner stands on these things, a marriage proposal may be a bit premature.


Okay, sex is a lot more than just actually having sex. The issue of sex includes romance, intimacy, physical companionship, and of course, actual sexual intercourse. One of the biggest issues many couples face in a relationship is the difference in expectations where sex is concerned.

While this isn’t always the case, in general, men are less inclined to intimacy and more inclined to sex, while women lean more toward intimacy. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it is not the case in every relationship, but generically speaking, this is how it usually goes.

If the intimacy of the relationship outside the bedroom is not what it should be, then the sexual relationship inside the bedroom will suffer too. Romance, intimacy, and physical companionship are most important, and generally an absolute necessity for the woman, while regular sex and physical companionship are generally most important to men.

Even if you have not had sex prior to a proposal or actually getting married, you still know a lot about the nature of your sex life with your partner. How does he greet you when you meet? Does he touch you? Kiss you? Hug you hello or goodbye? When you touch her, does she respond passionately? Do you flirt with each other during the day with no expectation or requirement of sex at the end of the day?

All these things are important. Women in America often find a lot of insecurity in a relationship with a man who does not desire sex or intimacy frequently, mostly because she has been raised in a world where sex is so prevalent she believes he cannot possibly find her attractive if he does not touch her or desire her sexually. Men have often used the fact that a woman refuses sex regularly as one reason why he may stray in a relationship.

This isn’t to say that either of these situations is justified or right, but this does happen. A healthy sex life, both in and out of the bedroom, is absolutely crucial to a long lasting relationship. If you and your partner are not sexually compatible, intimately compatible, then the relationship will suffer in other ways.


A couple can fight about children even if you don’t have children!

If one person wants kids and the other doesn’t, this is a potential problem. You should never marry a person who does not want children if you do, because chances are, you will not get them to change their minds, and they probably will not change yours. As the years go along, one or the other of you may end up with built up resentment for giving up a dream of having children.

Then there is the issue of children you may have or your partner may have from a previous relationship. There are custody, child support (back to money), holidays, and all sorts of complications that children from previous relationships may bring. These things should be discussed before a marriage proposal occurs, and definitely should be discussed before a wedding.

What if the children don’t like her? What if his kids’ mother doesn’t like the new girlfriend? What if the ex gets in the way? How will your children with your partner affect any existing children? These are all things that should be considered.

Of course, there is always the chance that one partner cannot have children, and then there are issues of adoption, foster care, fertility issues, and the like. This isn’t to say you have to discuss every single possible eventuality prior to marriage, but definitely you should know where you and your partner stand on the issue of children prior to a proposal or marriage.

It All Works Together

It’s important to note that each of these three main things, Money, Sex, and Children all work together. If there are money problems, he may feel responsible and therefore he may not be as aggressive sexually. If she has issues with how he feels about or treats children, it may affect her level of intimacy with him. If there are money struggles, well, kids cost money.

So you can see how if one of these areas is having difficulties, it surely can affect the other major areas too. That’s why it is important to discuss these things with your partner before you accept or offer a marriage proposal.


A couple should be compatible and seriously discuss the idea of marriage before a proposal. I don’t think it really takes anything away from the proposal. It will help a couple see if they are really meant to be together.

(Photo credit: shutterstock)