Ask Team Practical: Women Proposing To Men

My boyfriend and I have been together for eight years and have talked about getting married several times. We’re completely committed to each other and we’ve both agreed that we see ourselves together and married in the long term. After reading an APW post on proposing to your boyfriend and conquering my nervousness, I decided that’s what I wanted to do. Hooray, right?

About seven months ago, however, he got a serious injury. He is expected to recover fully, but it has been a difficult half year full of doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, chiropractors, more doctors’ appointments, and so on, and it isn’t over yet. Progress is slow, and it has taken a toll on his mental health. I wouldn’t say he’s full-on depressed, but it has made him prone to some serious blue and anxious spells, and all of his (and much of my) energy is focused on this issue right now.

During a period of time in this ongoing recovery when he was feeling a bit better, I approached an artist about creating an original piece of work where the proposal is embedded. The final product isn’t done yet, but I expect it will be within a few weeks. My original intention was to propose around our anniversary, which is now within a month. My question is, is this a terrible time to do this?

One the one hand, of course I wish he was feeling better and more himself and that our life was more its normal self. I hate the idea of asking him and having it be overwhelming given everything else that he’s dealing with. On the other, I’m excited about this and—especially without knowing how long a full recovery will take—dislike the idea of waiting indefinitely. Is this selfish?


My dear M,

Wanting to be happy is never selfish unless it is at the expense of anyone else involved. Just the mere act of you asking that question and considering your boyfriend’s feelings makes you not selfish, so let’s just get that little piece of self-loathing out of the way right now, shall we? Good. Now on to the question.

Society uses The Proposal as the benchmark for engagement. This means that there is the culturally sanctioned comfort in knowing that when one of you proposes with The Ring, you will be engaged (squee!). Add to that the fact that waiting for the Official Moment of Engagement can be, well, full of emotional turmoil, and you have a recipe pushing you towards getting engaged NOW NOW NOW. Here is the trick though: being engaged does end the “limbo” of pre-engagement, but it also puts you into the limbo of an engaged couple, which can be a thousand times better, but worse in its own way. (Funny how that works.) So, before you do anything else, take a moment to confirm that you want to get engaged because you want to get engaged, not because you think it will solve all your problems (pro-tip: it won’t).

Now, let’s move on to the fact that you (and all of us) are a feisty, kick-asstastic, barrier-breaking woman, and you (in particular) are saying “Eff convention,  I’ll propose instead!” This is excellent. We applaud you (fact: the APW staff is actually giving you a standing ovation). The thing is, deciding to propose throws you into a whole mess of other emotions and insecurities, the bulk of which, as any man or LGBTQ partner who’s proposed can tell you, is nerve-wracking. And of course, this is totally normal. This is what men-who-traditionally-propose have gone through since the dawn of time. And the great thing about women having more power over our lives, is that we also have more responsibility and worry. I say that’s a great thing, but it also sort of sucks. Tricky.

I wish I could come up with advice for you and all the other brave ladies who are proposing, but this is one of the most personal decisions you’ll ever make. So the simple truth is, there is no answer I can give you other than ponder it with your head and your heart, and then go with your gut. (And re-read this post on women proposing to men.) Remember: there is no one good time to propose. You just have to trust yourself and your relationship, and then make that giant wonderful leap. Hell, there’s no reason either one of you has to propose at all; you are engaged when you both decide that you are engaged. APW is full of people who got engaged with make-shift rings, off-hand comments and engagement puppies. They are proof that engagements, like wedding, come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them are right and wonderful.

However, if you want a proposal, do yourself and your partner a favor and realize that the moment may not be what you imagine it to be. Yes, you want it to be special, but, darlin’, the moment you decide that you are engaged is special—whether there’s doves and violins and sunsets and mariachi bands, or a conversation in a grim room at a hospital. A proposal can even go terribly awry and still be amazing because OH MY GOD, YOU’RE ENGAGED!!!

But in the end, regardless of when you propose, or if you do at all, the both of you should think about going to counseling. Even if you haven’t had any marriage talks, have you had talks regarding your future in general since the accident? Your life may never be its “normal self” again, and you both may need to mourn that. A healing body takes a lot out of a person and makes it harder for an injured or sick person to feel anything but “I wish I were better.”  Any kind of illness has long reaching effects and it’s best to talk to someone while your partner is having his blue spells and before he gets “full-on depressed.”

But if you do propose, you will come back and let us be your cheering section, right? Because we really want that. Good luck, lady. We’re with you in spirit.


So what do you think, Team Practical? How do you decide on when to propose?

Photo of reader Emily’s wedding by Rima Campbell Photography from the APW Flickr stream.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Alyssa at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com.  If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted.  Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh).  We’re not kidding.  It brings us joy.  What, you don’t want to bring your editors JOY?!

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  • I meant to propose to my guy with something meaningful and special. I had tons of fabulous ideas. But grad school was busy, and time slipped away and and and . . . .

    One day, we were walking through the snow in a really special place for us (where we had our first date — we went hiking). And I just turned to him and said “let’s get married. Like, really married! Let’s set a date!”

    Like Alyssa said, it’s special because it’s your relationship. I had none of the things I wanted to do there, and I hadn’t even planned my words. But I still proposed because there, in that moment, everything just felt so right. I knew he was who I wanted to be with.

    I would also like to second counseling. I’ve had several friends get married who were all “yeah, yeah, counseling, whatevs” because they have a great relationship now. My guy and I went, and we found it really deepened our relationship and communication even though we are already pretty darn good at it. It never hurts to have someone asking you questions, big and small, and talking through your relationship with you. It just helps you get prepared to weather the storms that surely are ahead, because life is full of storms. Put it this way: you would never buy a convertible without a top just because the skies have been blue for awhile. Buy the top. Be prepared for what may come.

    • Yes, I also second (er, third?) counseling. We’ve not started it yet, but my guy and I plan on doing two pre-wedding counseling things, one with my church and one with his. We figure, why not? The only reason they exist is to strengthen our relationship, and we want it strong. Admittedly, because we’ve got the church, it’s free and I do understand if you don’t have that resource it might be expensive, but it’s still worth looking into because why not invest in furthering communication and clearing up expectations, which only helps all involved.

      • I wholeheartedly agree about counseling. I think it’s an amazing and invaluable tool for everyone who is about to get married, no matter if you are having problems or not.

        Also, my wife and I proposed to each other. Maybe it’s a little different because we’re both ladies, but we both wanted the experience of being proposed to and also of proposing. It was pretty kickass. So- I say, go for it!

        • My guy and I proposed to each other as well! Because we are all about equality in our relationship.

          Oh, and we also did our (more affordable) version of counseling – we bought one of those books I found through APW (I think it was 100 hard questions, or something like that), and went through it before we even got engaged. It was really helpful in getting us ready for the engaged (and married) state of mind.

      • Caroline

        I think counseling is so worth it (and not just premarital counselling, just plain ole couples counseling.) Yes, it can be expensive, but there may be resources for free or low cost counseling. Here (the San Francisco East Bay), we have a women’s counseling center that does low cost (or maybe free, I forget which) couples counseling for couples of all genders, and JFCS does couples counseling for jewish and intermarried/interdating couples (Jewish Family And Children’s Services).

        • Rymenhild

          Huh. Jewish lesbian in the East Bay here… many things about this comment are useful to me! What’s the name of the women’s center?

          • Caroline

            Sorry, I often forget to check the notify me of replies button. It’s the women’s therapy center. A friend said they ended up putting her on a sliding scale higher than she and her partner could pay, because they insisted on counting the money his parents gave him for tuition (60k a year) as part of his “income”, so it ended up being a little more expensive, but even counting them as having about $80k a year in income, it was still less than half what many private counselors cost.

    • Lauren

      “Buy the top” – I love it!

    • Totally agree. We did counseling before our wedding and it really helped us with our communication.

    • Alyssa

      I meant regular counseling, not necessarily pre-marital counseling, but YES!!! APW has always been huge on pre-marital counseling.

      • Oh!! Alyssa’s own blue field. I LOVE it!! (am I late on this one? Has this been around forever and I’m just now noticing?)

  • E

    I don’t have an answer to your question…but I do want to encourage you to view the proposal as one piece of a continuum. Presumably, if you have been thinking about proposing for some time, you’ve already moved along the continuum – from first saying “I love you” to talking about your future plans together to supporting each other through rough times (you’re doing that now) to talking about your feelings about marriage and agreeing that you both see marriage in your future together. With the strong foundation you’ve no doubt already built, the exact timing of the proposal shouldn’t matter too terribly much – whether you decide it’s best for your relationship to dive in now or to wait.

  • ElfPuddle

    Also, a big, “OH HELL…yes” to the bit where the engaged state isn’t always peaches and cream and roses and ponies.

    Every couple’s path is different for so many reasons. I hope that each of us has a path with only enough shadows to appreciate the sunshine…and a lot of glorious sunshine at the end.

  • First if all, a huge hats off to M for being awesome and planning to propose! I just wanted to touh on something that Meg said, which I think is interesting: that you have to make sure that the reason to get engaged is that you want to be engaged. To me, this is tautological – shouldn’t you get engaged if you want to be married within the next x number of months (ie, the near future)? To that end, I would assess if your partner seems ready and willing to undergo what I hear is a pretty stressful process for planning a wedding.

    I mean, I KNOW what it feels like to just want to make it official NOWNOWNOW, but if it might impede your partner’s healing, I’d wait.

    • Edelweiss

      I don’t know if you need to have an x number of months to marriage in order to be engaged- as Christina mentions below”proposing during a hard time shows your commitment to the long haul”. Often when people are in a long recovery process they struggle with ideas of their own self-worth. Having the person they love and value more than anything propose to them is a great symbolic reminder of the wonderful person they still are beyond any physical impairments.

      My partner has gone through an incredibly rough two years, but because he loves me and feels I “reflect well on him” having me by his side at reunions, family events, etc helps him maintain his confidence in his worth and how others perceive him. As long as you are confident that you want to be engaged for what that represents and not just to make him feel better – I think that’s confirmation enough.

      I don’t feel you need to set a date right away. You can set a far-off date or choose a milestone in the future for the two of you to then decide to set your date.

      • Alyssa

        I think either can work, depending on the person.
        Some people aren’t comfortable with vague dates, they need a firm time frame and don’t want to get engaged until that is tied down.
        Others don’t mind the waiting, the mere act of commitment is enough and the date is secondary.

        I think the key is figuring out which type of people you and your partner are and then going from there!

    • Yeah, we were actually engaged for two years before we officially set a date. :) I knew I wanted to marry him, but didn’t feel ready to deal with a wedding (or even the idea of “being married”–obviously I had not discovered APW yet, haha), and so we talked a lot about it and decided that for the time being, we’d just enjoy being engaged and work on stuff in our lives. Both of us changed jobs and we bought a house during that period, and the thought of trying to do all that on top of planning a wedding makes my head spin.

      Being engaged did bring this nice little layer of “solidity” to the relationship though… it’s kinda hard to describe. Neither of us had to worry about “where this was going,” because it wasn’t a matter of if, it was just a matter of when. And since he was the one who proposed, it was my job to stay communicative about where I was in the getting-ready-to-start-wedding-planning process. We got there eventually. :)

  • This situation isn’t directly germane to me, but I just wanted to say that Alyssa’s answer is really grounded, thoughtful & spot-on. Best of luck to you & your guy, M. Regardless of what happens next, I’m readying the cheering-squad pom-poms!

  • On the other hand, proposing during a hard time shows your commitment to a long haul. You don’t have to start planning the day after you propose, you know?

    I did the big proposal to my wife and then we promptly went through the worst 8 months we’ve had together – her grandfather passed, she was laid off, she finished her master’s thesis, we spent two months looking for an apartment with very little success, we moved, I went through a difficult time at work… it was no fun, but it really strengthened our relationship. We could have done it without being engaged, but it provided security for us.

  • Laurel

    This one got to me immediately. When we were in the pre-engaged state, I had had my pelvis broken in three places and screwed back together all cock-eyed to fix a congenital problem. I then spent the next 4 months on crutches/the couch and was just barely starting PT. My husband had always wanted to propose to me on top of a mountain while we were skiing, but my recovery took A LOT longer than we had bargained for. At one point, it kinda started to feel like not only was I broken and not able to do anything fun, but we also would have been engaged except for my broken state. (I’m not saying that that’s why we weren’t engaged, but sometimes I felt that way).

    Eventually he decided that he didn’t want to wait until I was 100% better and he proposed in a parking lot after picking me up from Physical Therapy. If I hadn’t known how much he wanted to propose to me, I would have taken things into my own hands for sure.

    So, do what’s right for you two and don’t worry so much about the timing in terms of injuries/recovery. Maybe you two need a bright spot, some hope, and a good story right now.

  • Edelweiss

    Is there an engagement puppy post out there I haven’t seen? I want an engagement puppy!

    • Alyssa

      It’s a reader! She mentioned it in the comments once, but I bet if we ask nice she will tell us the engagement story…

      • I’ve heard engagement puppy a few times. I joked about it with my now fiance…but the puppy was a year and half old by the time we got engaged so not so much I guess.

  • Liz Hall

    After my Fiance proposed to me, a week later I went and bought a ring for him. We went on a beautiful walk and although I did not get down on one knee, I hugged him pulled out the ring and asked if he would marry me. I thought it would be a cute way of coming full circle

  • I think you should do what you should do in any confusing situation in which your partner is involved – communicate directly with him. It seems like y’all had had conversations about marriage and long-term plans before his injury, but you don’t say anything about having talked about that since his injury and subsequent blue spells. I’d recommend sitting down with him and talking about it – When do you both see yourselves getting married? How long would you like to be engaged for? Have your individual/partner goals changed for the next 5-10 years given what has happened in the past seven months? You can lay the groundwork for making sure you are both prepared to be engaged before you bust out your awesome piece of art and ask him to spend the rest of his life with you.

    I applaud you for sticking by your partner – the fact that his injury has made you realize just how much you want to spend your life with him, come what may, shows a lot about the person you are and the relationship y’all have. I also applaud you for proposing to him – it is hard to go against the grain and you will get a lot of questions. Ignore anyone who is not supportive. And please do report back to APW, we’re cheering you on!

    • Yes! Communication is key. Right around the time J was getting ready to propose to me, I went through a depressive spell because of some life events that were happening. At the time, I actually told him, “I would prefer if you waited to propose to me, because engagement should be a happy thing and I want to be fully present for it in a way that I know my mental state now won’t allow for.” We waited six months after that for the formal proposal, which then wasn’t weighed down with all my baggage and was as joyous and glad as we’d wanted it to be. Of course, other commenters have also mentioned that a proposal in the midst of emotional upheaval can be a really fabulous way of reinforcing that you’re on the same team, so I think it’s really up to you guys to discuss and figure out what will feel most right in your particular situation.

      • Totes to this. I proposed to my now-spouse, but not until we’d talked about it a LOT. He would periodically be upset that we were “ruining” the “magic” or “spontaneity” or something, but I really. really. really. wanted to know we were on the same page. It turned out we’d been anticipating the same timeline of life events, so that was super handy. And I wanted to make sure he was REALLY alright with me asking, and not just saying that to be a good egalitarian.

        He really was. So then we were pretty much racing to propose to one another. And I won. By, like, 3 days. Talking about things first is the funnest!

  • I have no regrets what so ever about doing the proposing myself.

  • Chronically Ill Bride

    As a chronically ill bride (and C’s fiance, from the wedding planning and chronic illness post), my heart really goes out to you. I kind of adore you for 1) wanting to propose to him and 2) being with him through this time in his life.

    I second what everyone else has said about counseling, but also want to say that had C proposed to me when I was in a really bad way about my mTBI, I would have been excited, but couldn’t have really felt it yet. I know you don’t want to wait, but I also imagine you want him to be able to enjoy your engagement as much as you will. You’re giving him an amazing gift; let him also be able to enjoy and appreciate that gift. You might also end up feeling kind of crappy if he can’t come out of his depression enough to appreciate what you’ve done for him.

    Recovery is very very hard for both people involved, I know this well. The fact that you love him through this is so wonderful, and that you want to marry him? Even more so. Injury puts a lot of our lives off indefinitely, and while it’s unfair, it may well be the situation you’re in for right now. That’s the sh*t of it, you know?

    I really feel for you, M. My engagement got pushed back because of my recovery, too (C said he wanted to propose when I didn’t have plausible deniability and was saying yes being aware of what I was saying yes to). In the end, while I wish we had gotten engaged months earlier, when we first wanted to, I also wish I hadn’t gotten injured, and I know the timing has more to do with that than with our relationship.

    Last thing: being a caretaker can take a major toll on you, too. I hope you have someone you can talk to about it without feeling selfish. Your life is on hold, too, and that’s very real. Take care of yourself during this time, not just him. He needs you to.

    • Chronically Ill Bride

      One more last thing: if you’d like to, and Meg/Maddie/Alyssa/the APW gods would arrange it, I’d be happy to give you my email to talk. I just always worry so much about caretakers not having anyone to reach out to, and I’d be honored to be someone to whom you could reach out. For reference, so you know my deal, this was my post –

      • needlesandpens

        That is so kind & thoughtful of you, and I would love email with you more about your experience. Do Meg/Maddie/Alyssa swoop in and arrange that, or what happens next…?

        • Alyssa

          Ooo, ooo! I’ll help with that. This is exciting, makes me feel like a good fairy or something. :-)

  • On my way to work this morning, I realized, “It’s Friday! That means Ask Team Practical!” I always look forward to reading the sage advice, even when I can’t personally relate to the question askers.

    M., I wish you and your boyfriend the best. I hope that he continues to heal (physically and emotionally), and that your proposal (whenever it happens) is just right.*

  • Hoppy Bunny

    I proposed spur of the moment after 10 years together! No ring, no nothing. By the time we’re married it will have been 12 years. Because, when you are trying to wait for financial stability, getting engaged doesn’t magically make you financially stable. It has been both beautiful and terrible to be engaged for so long. I was so tired of waiting to set a date, of waiting for him to feel like our ducks were lined up, that it is wonderful to have something concrete to look forward to. On the other hand, it is a really long time to wait for logistics to be right.

    We have a date now, and it is really exciting, but our ducks are still not in a neat little row. And in the interim there have been at least two major family crises to weather. Things are not going to be perfect just because you’re engaged, but I do feel like being engaged during these unexpectedly troubled times has put a spotlight on our strengths and weaknesses as a couple, and even though dating for ten years makes you know a person really really well, I feel like being engaged has given me a slightly stronger sense of togetherness, which was really helpful in times of need. It might not be that way for you, but it has been for me.

  • Christa

    I think I’ve got to step up for this one. I got engaged in a grim room in a hospital. We’d been in that awkward pre-engaged state for about 6 months, while he (tried) to get his ducks in a row, and I tried (not very well) to be patient about his damn wily ducks. Then, I went and got my leg cut off in an accident in a foreign country and ducks didn’t matter anymore. I was med-evac’ed to the US, he hopped on the first flight from JFK to Miami, and turned up in my hospital room a few hours after I woke up from surgery.

    Before he knew if I got to keep my leg or not, he said “The last two days have been the worst in my life. I can’t live without you. I tried to find a ring in the airport, but I didn’t.” Then, 20 minutes later he introduced himself as my boyfriend. After two weeks of living together in the hospital, a nurse asked if he was my husband, and I said “no, fiance” at the same time as he said “no, boyfriend”. I asked why he was reluctant, and he said it was because everyone was expecting it from him- and he didn’t want to let them feel like they made him. I said that was a stupid reason for not promising me the commitment that he agreed to and I felt like I needed, and so he asked if I’d marry him.

    I think the moral here is that relationships don’t change just because of life altering injuries and ill-health. Even in a hospital bed or a wheelchair, we are the same person as before-with the same strengths, the same joys, and the same fears and insecurities. Yes- illness and injury have a way of making one see the world in a different light. Sometimes its the clarity of seeing that ducks don’t really matter that much when someone needs you, and sometimes its the fog of anger and frustration at long term helplessness and lost dreams. Waiting for life to be perfect in order to make a promise to each other doesn’t make that promise any easier, more important, or more significant. If it’s right for both of you, f the timing and jump when you’re ready.

    • Chronically Ill Bride

      Oh my god, Christa, you’re amazing. This this this.

      • Maddie

        Seriously, you’re both amazing. Also, I don’t think I’ve seen a better case for saying “eff it” to the cultural narrative for how we go about getting engaged than this comment right here.

        • Chronically Ill Bride

          Still adore you, Maddie.

          • Maddie

            Back at ya. :)

    • Wow. This is an intense story. I went and got my leg broken in an accident in a foreign country and even that was incredibly rough.

  • Totally off topic-but I love that Alyssa’s comments are now highlighted too! Yeah!

  • needlesandpens

    I’m the asker of this Ask Team Practical, and the first thing I want to say is that I am deeply & wholly touched by the thoughtful, heartfelt, honest stories and responses I’ve read here. This is the first time I’ve ever sought such personal advice from a community of people I’ve never met, and the support, while anonymous (or maybe in part because if its anonymity) is very moving.

    One of the trickiest things about chronic injury or illness, as noted by several of you, is the toll that it takes on both people – not just the injured one. Sometimes I feel 110% super girlfriend, ready to meet my partner’s every need and shepherd him through every low point. Sometimes being so very needed feels really good. At other times I feel exasperated, frustrated, and emotionally exhausted.

    I first made the decision to propose, months ago, in a moment of stability and relative normality for us, so I’m not worried that on some level I’m doing this to make him feel better. Still, right now he is really consumed by injury and his ongoing recovery process. While he’s been vocal and clear about his appreciation for my support, it’s an intensely demanding time for both of us. We love each other, we’re doing our best, and in many ways it’s been a strengthening experience that has deepened our mutual bond further. Despite that, there’s no doubting that we’re tired. I honestly don’t know whether a proposal could help infuse us with some excitement, some formal togetherness and some purpose, or put further strain on an already tough situation.

    You all have given me much to think about. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your advice, your experiences, and your warmth. You’ve made me feel so supported on a day when I really needed it. Thank you, everyone, really, really, really.

    • Christa

      For some people, being engaged immediately shifts to add lots of new stressors: wedding planning and colors and family expectations and so on. For me, it didn’t. I really needed the promise that he would be there. I wasn’t willing to put my complete trust in a relationship until we were officially engaged, because I had it in my head that if he couldn’t promise me he’d be there forever, I shouldn’t let myself be dependent on him. In a time of really high stress, being engaged made a huge difference for me. I didn’t really have a choice about being dependent on people- I couldn’t get out of bed. Being engaged, and so being OK with being physically and emotionally dependent on someone lowered the stressors instead of raising them. Obviously, this is just my story- everyone is different. I think everyone has their own reason for why they got engaged, and why it needed to be right then. We avoided all the intial wedding planning and expectations stress by not doing anything at all about it for nine months. We didn’t even decide what city we’d get married in. It was surprisingly easy to tell everyone that “yes, we’re engaged, and we’ll start thinking about planning a wedding when I can walk.” The people who mattered understood.

      The difference between being engaged and not-yet-engaged definitely can add extra stressors, but you can choose to avoid some of them. Whether you chose to depends on what you’re both wanting out of that period of engagement. If engagement, to you, means time-to-plan-a-wedding, and the real important shift in your relationship is the marriage and not the engagement, then maybe it makes sense to put off jumping into that bag of stressful choices until you’re both physically and mentally ready to start planning-a-wedding. If you’re okay with putting the stress of planning a wedding on hold until you’re ready, but you want to openly promise to be there for each other right now, then proposing probably won’t add much extra stress. I think. good luck!

    • Your questions and writing is so sweet, compassionate, and authentic, I’m sure when you do it and with whatever proposing mechanism you come up with it will be equally sweet and authentic :)

      PS- I think sneaking proposal ingredients into a hospital is crazy romantic. Be it now or in a year, mazel tov!

  • jessie

    Although I don’t have the experience of recovery from a physical accident, I was/am dealing with some very intense psychological stress right around our ‘okay, it’s time to get engaged’ experience. Fortunately, I’ve sought therapy for myself and it’s been a huge blessing… however, we decided to get engaged during that time and while hugely stressful, I’m glad we did it, because it was time. That said, it very much shaped our engagement experience, so I would second what others have said about being prepared for an engagement experience that doesn’t necessarily match up with a dream you may have. There’s also the fact that, as you say, the other person is dealing with the pain as well, and the only thing I can say is probably very obvious: life and relationships are so, so, so unique. All you can do is trust yourself to know yourself, and trust your partner to love you at the best and hardest of times. Perfect moments never come, but moments that are precious because they are only yours are a dime a dozen, if you have the courage to create them for yourselves.

    Case in point: after going back and forth on whether an proposal was really “necessary” after 8 years together and our agreement that now was the time, we decided that we would mutually propose to each other, and designed a bit of a system to work in the spontaneity he wanted, and the sincerity I needed to perceive. However, like I said, I had a lot of intense emotions and psychological pain at the time, and while I don’t share this part of the story with… well… anyone but you guys ;) I was crying the whole way to our engagement site, going so far as saying things like “I don’t know if this is a good idea right now” and having to stop mid-walk for a relationship de-brief. I still have a lot of “ruined the proposal” guilt, and yes, I do find it stressful to deal with an engagement, the financial obligations that come with even the tiny, fiscally restricted wedding we are planning, my partner’s dealing with my mental health issues, and my own journey. So my only thoughts are that an engagement may not make you both feel better or worse, but neither means that it’s the wrong time unless you’re proposing to make ‘something’ happen (which it doesn’t sound like you are). I think the key is to keep talking – something we’re working on, sometimes more successfully than others, and always creating space for humour about your situation where possible. Thank you so much for sharing such a personal question with us – that’s why I think APW is amazeballs. All the best.

  • I realize this is a late comment but…. I think women proposing to men isn’t that big of a deal anymore. And I honestly don’t get the whole proposal thing… It seems so artificial. For us it was more of a conversation. I told my now husband that I wanted to marry him, we discussed it, he agreed, and we set a date.

    That being said, as someone who has gone through 2 health crisis in recent years…. I wouldn’t have loved the idea of getting engaged in my worst moments. It might serve as a pick me up for someone else. But for me… I would have been sad not being able to fully enjoy the moment. And then… being engaged is hard. There are so many highs and lows and I don’t think I could have handled it when I wasn’t feeling my best. I hope your fiance-to- be!! has a very speedy recovery and you can get on with your proposal plans!!!

  • mak

    Add me to the list of people who got engaged (if you can call it that. we decided to get married at the court house with out telling anyone) while recovering from a pretty devastating injury. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions.

  • Kate

    I just wanted to pop in and say I so appreciate you all including LGBT people in your writing. (In this particular post it was: “…as any man or LGBTQ partner who’s proposed can tell you..”) I want to marry all of the APW staff, alas polygamy is not my style. Every time I read an LGBT-inclusive post it warms my little lesbian heart. It’s just so nice to see on a site that is not geared specifically towards us. Keep up the amazing work!

  • It was important to my husband to do a fairytale proposal. It was important to me to be very involved in the decision-making process (as much as, well, I find fairytale proposals to be romantic, albeit in a very un-practical way). We merged both – we had been talking about marriage for a while, he knew I wanted to get married, etc. It was a decision we made together but [the proposal] was an event he wanted.

    Which I think is something important to keep in mind. For those in hetero-normative relationships, knowing how your guy feels about this is important. Because while it’s all well and good for us to say that he should feel x-y-z way about the traditional trappings of proposals, he still may have his own feelings and his own ideas about it. Like everything else that comes with building a baby family, you have to communicate about it.

    On a related note:
    So, before you do anything else, take a moment to confirm that you want to get engaged because you want to get engaged, not because you think it will solve all your problems
    I am going to take this a step further and say that you should confirm that you want to get engaged because you want to get married. More specifically, to that person. Because that’s what this is all about.

  • Laura

    “…there is no one good time to propose”

    For me this meant scaring my boyfriend by waking him up in the middle of the night and proposing. I just couldn’t hold it in anymore! I thought it was lame at the time but now its something incredibly special to both of us.

    I made him a tinfoil ring. He keeps it on his bedside table. It looks like trash.

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  • One of my friends who eloepd with her partner of about eight or so years put it this way: getting married just means we got up in front of our friends and family and promised to do all the stuff we’ve been doing anyway. I look at marriage the same way I look at my relationship now: as a partnership that’s romantic but also functional. B is not just some dude that I love, he’s also my sort of life-teammate. We are on each other’s sides and have each other’s back no matter what. People say that getting married changes your relationship but in our case, god I hope not, haha.

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