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Managing "pre-engagement limbo" for the woman who wants to tie the knot

Tracking friends’ engagements? Feeling that the only wedding not booked this summer is your own? Thinking that sending out save-the-date cards looks popular for everyone else? All this makes you wonder what in the world is keeping your long-term beau frozen at the knee. It probably doesn’t end there either. Spinning thoughts of “what does she have that makes that guy want to marry her” whenever you hear the news of a recent proposal and feelings of rejection because your guy is still not ready, plays a number on self-esteem.

The story of a woman who wants to get married before her boyfriend is a familiar one. And, the only rock in this saga is the “rockiness” in the relationship — not one on her finger. For women faced with the stress of “pre-engagement limbo,” following are a few tips on how to handle the dreaded waiting — so that limbo doesn’t take over the relationship and damage self esteem.

Honest and open communication is key
Many women say they can’t help themselves from constantly dropping hints about the “M” word. This only catches him off guard and rather than getting the answers you’re looking for, you get a “Can we talk about it later?” If you think an engagement proposal is long overdue, plan a time to talk about the next phase of your relationship. Have an open and honest conversation. To fully understand where he is with a marriage commitment, share feelings, expectations, fears, and hopes about marriage. It’s okay to get right to the heart of it. Getting engaged is about both of you.

Don’t let “expectation downers” get the best of you
When the two of you arrive at a vacation spot and you can’t enjoy yourself because you’re distracted from wondering if there’s a ring in his duffle, center yourself to stay in the here and now. It is presence that enables us to not miss out on what is actually happening in the moment. Getting engaged isn’t the only special event that will be between the two of you — don’t miss the other ones.

Understand the “Bigger, Better Deal” — so you don’t take it personally
When a man is about to tie the knot, it’s common for him to obsess over, “What if there’s someone else out there more perfect for me?” “What if I miss my chance for the more perfect relationship?” This actually has nothing to do with how he feels about his girlfriend or about how much he loves her. It is about his own process of coming to terms with reality vs. fantasy.

Hesitancy does not necessarily mean rejection
The reason men dodge the “M” word usually has little to do with his girlfriend personally, and instead has to do with his own struggle from feelings about change, ideals of perfection, and fears of the unknown. All of this can keep in a fear of walking down the aisle.

Women see marriage as a beginning and men may see it as an end. While men are constantly evaluating the opportunity cost, women are excited about the opportunity gain.

Recognizing and understanding that “pre-engagement limbo” is an actual relationship passage in itself will help you go through it together as a couple, instead of cause you to bicker every time you receive a wedding invitation in the mail.

Everyone moves toward marriage at their own pace. And, although there comes a point when one has to decide when enough is enough — a healthy, loving relationship isn’t determined by how quickly he proposes.

When you get the dreaded questions, “When are you two getting married?” or the “What’s taking him so long?” understand that just because you’re ready to get engaged before he is, does not necessarily reflect anything about you directly. It is simply a reflection of where he is in his life with making a marriage commitment. So, next time someone asks the when’s and why “knots,” don’t let it go to the heart of your self-esteem.

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