Relationship

Tips on how to have the talk about marriage

You want to get married someday, but you're not sure if your partner feels the same way. You're not sure how to bring up the topic or even if you should bring it up at all. Here are tips on how to have a conversation about marriage!

Relationship Expert Amy Clark November 10, 2022 • 23 minutes read
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You’ve been with your partner for a while now, and things are going great. You’re happy, you’re in love, and you can see a future together.

But there’s one thing that’s been weighing on your mind: getting married. You’re not sure if your partner feels the same way about marriage or if they even want to get married at all. You don’t want to bring up the topic and have it ruin everything, but you also can’t keep wondering forever. The only way to find out is to have a conversation about it.

For a lot of people, marriage is the most intimate and enduring commitment they’ll ever make. [1] In the US, almost 50 percent of adults are living with their spouses. [2] And because of how huge of a phenomenon it is, it can be really hard to talk about.

In this article, we’ll cover some tips on how to broach the topic with your partner in a way that’s respectful, honest, and open. Questions you should ask yourself before bringing it up, and tips on how you do it when you eventually pop the question.

Need some help keeping your marriage strong? Check out our comprehensive guide for everything from communication to finances.

9 tips on how to have the talk about marriage

If you ask anyone who’s been married, they’ll probably tell you that it was one of the best decisions they ever made. But getting to that point can be tricky, especially if you’re not on the same page as your partner.

Marriage can be a huge deal for many people, and it’s not something you should rush into. Some people wish they had taken more time to think about it before getting married, while others, mostly those in disadvantaged backgrounds, hardly ever wish to get married at all. [12]

Before you start planning your dream wedding, you need to have a conversation with your partner about whether or not they even want to get married. Here are some tips on how to do that.

1. Ask them about their feelings about marriage

The first step is to ask your partner about their thoughts on marriage. This can be a stressful conversation, but it’s important to get an idea of where they stand and if your commitment levels are compatible. [2]

Do they see marriage as something that’s important to them? Do they want to get married someday? Or are they not sure if they want to get married at all?

Whatever their answer is, it’s important to respect their feelings. If they’re not sure about marriage, that doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It just means that they haven’t thought about it much, or they have different priorities. If they don’t want to get married, that’s OK too. You can still have a happy and fulfilling relationship without getting married.

2. Talk about own feelings about marriage

Tell them why you want to get married, and what marriage means to you. Be honest and open with them about your thoughts and feelings. Marriage comes with a lot of benefits, after all. Apart from the wide social support, married individuals also report a lower incidence of depression, greater happiness and life satisfaction, and lower levels of mortality compared to their unmarried counterparts. [4] [5] [6] [7]

There are a lot of reasons why people want to get married, and it’s important to communicate what marriage means to you. It could be that you want to feel like you’re ‘official’, or that you want to show your commitment to your partner in a public way. Maybe you come from a religious background where marriage is seen as a sacrament, or maybe you simply want to celebrate your love in a big way. [8]

3. Listen to their concerns

Once you’ve told them your thoughts on marriage, it’s time to listen to their concerns. It could be that they’re worried about the financial implications of getting married, or maybe they don’t like the idea of making such a big commitment. [9]

Whatever their reasons are, try to understand where they’re coming from and see if there’s a way to address their concerns. For example, if they’re worried about the cost of a wedding, maybe you can look into cheaper alternatives like eloping or having a small ceremony with close family and friends.

If they’re not sure about making such a big commitment, maybe you can talk about ways to make your relationship feel more secure, like moving in together or getting engaged.

Listening to their concerns is an important part of the conversation because it shows that you respect their opinion and are willing to work together to find a solution that works for both of you.

4. Is there a compromise?

Compromise is a key part of any relationship, and long-term commitments like marriages are no exception. [10] If you’re both on the same page about wanting to get married but have different views on when or how, it’s important to find a compromise that works for both of you.

For example, maybe you want to get married sooner rather than later, but your partner wants to wait a few years. In this case, maybe you can compromise by getting engaged now and setting a date for the future.

Or maybe you want to have a big wedding, but your partner would prefer a more intimate ceremony. In this case, maybe you can compromise by having a smaller wedding with only close family and friends.

Finding a compromise is all about communication and understanding each other’s needs. When you’re willing to compromise, you’re more likely to be able to find a solution that will make both of you happy. [11]

5. Don’t force them into anything

Getting married requires that both partners are on the same page and are ready to make a lifelong commitment. If your partner isn’t sure about marriage, don’t try to force them into it. This will only create tension and resentment in the relationship.

Marriage should be a happy and positive experience, not something that one person is forcing the other to do.

6. Discuss your future plans

How important is marriage to you? Is it a dealbreaker when your partner doesn’t want to get married? If not, then you can just enjoy the time you have together and see where things go.

Perhaps you have another ‘approach goal’ with your partner - or an end-state that you’re aiming for in the relationship. [13] Do you want to travel the world? Start a family? Buy a house? Maybe your goals are more relationship-specific, like building intimacy, closeness, trust, or communicating better. [14]

If you and your partner aren’t seeing eye-to-eye when it comes to marriage, try talking about other ways you could reach your relationship goals. This can help to reframe the conversation and remind you both of what’s important to you in the relationship.

7. Talk about personal goals as well

Besides sitting down with your partner and talking about the future that you want for your relationship, it’s important to talk about your personal goals as well. What are your hopes and dreams? What do you want to achieve in your career? In your personal life?

Balance is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship while trying to achieve your goals. [15] You don’t want to put your relationship on the back burner while you’re focused on other things, but you also don’t want to neglect your own needs and wants.

Talking about your personal goals with your partner can help to create a mutual understanding and respect for each other’s ambitions and dreams. Maybe the reason you want to get married is so you can start a family and have the stability that you need to achieve your other goals.

Or maybe your partner doesn’t want to get married because they’re focused on their career and they don’t want to have the added responsibility of a family.

Whatever the reason, talking about it openly can help you to understand each other’s points of view and find a compromise that works for both of you. And who knows, you might even come up with a solution that can push both of you closer to achieving your goals. [16]

8. Take your time

There’s no rush to get married. It’s a big decision, so take your time and think about what you really want. People change their minds all the time, so don’t feel like you have to make a decision right away, and also don’t expect your partner to make a decision right away.

This is a conversation that you can have many times throughout your relationship. As you both grow and change, your views on marriage might change too. So keep the lines of communication open, and keep talking about it.

9. Seek professional help

If you’re having trouble communicating with your partner about this topic, or if you’re just not sure what to do, seek professional help. A therapist can help you both talk through your feelings and concerns, and they can offer impartial advice.

If the talk about marriage is taking a toll on your relationship, professional help can be a lifesaver. Couples therapy aims to improve coordination in your relationship by strengthening your communication and problem-solving skills, and they remain an effective resource for many couples. [17] [18]

No matter what you decide, it’s important to communicate openly and honestly with each other. Marriage is a big decision, and it’s important that you’re both on the same page. Talking about your feelings and concerns will help you make the best decision for your relationship. And remember - If your partner isn’t ready to get married, it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.


11 important questions to ask before marriage

When considering a long-term commitment like marriage, you need to ask yourself some tough questions to ensure that you’re making the right decision. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it’s not a decision that you just make on a whim.

As romantic as the idea of getting married may be, it’s important to remember that it’s a legal commitment as well. It can have social barriers, financial implications, and often does involve a lot of paperwork. [18]

Here are some important questions to ask yourself before you get married.

1. How do you deal with conflict?

While arguments and conflict are a normal part of any relationship and might even be beneficial at times, it’s important to look at how often these conflicts occur and how you and your partner deal with them. [19] [20] Do you argue in a constructive way, or does it quickly turn into a shouting match?

Chronic conflict can result in anxiety, depression, and even physical health problems. [21] [22] If you’re having a lot of arguments with your partner or if they’re not resolved through coordination, it’s something that you need to consider before getting married.

2. Do your financial goals and habits align?

Money is often one of the biggest sources of conflict in marriages, and the stress it can cause can have a serious impact on not only your relationship, but your health as well. [23]

Before you get married, it’s important to have a discussion about your financial goals and habits. Do you have a lot of debt? How do you handle money? What are your long-term financial goals?

If you’re not on the same page financially, it can cause a lot of tension in your relationship. It’s important to discuss these things before you get married so that you can work together to find a solution.

Marriage is a legal contract, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. If you’re not ready for the legal implications of marriage, it’s important to consider that before you make the decision.

Are you prepared to change your name? Will you be taking on any debt from your spouse? Are there any property rights that you need to consider?

For same-sex couples who live in areas where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized, there can also be additional legal considerations if you instead decide to have a commitment ceremony to celebrate your union. [24]

4. Are your parenting philosophies compatible?

If you’re planning on having children, it’s important to consider your parenting philosophies before you get married. The way you parent can have a big impact on your child’s development, and it’s important to be on the same page as your partner. [25]

Do you want to discipline your child in the same way? What are your thoughts on spanking? Are you on the same page when it comes to educational philosophies?

These are just a few of the things you need to consider when it comes to parenting before you get married.

5. Do you have the same religious beliefs?

Religion can be a touchy subject, but some people will marry because of their shared religious beliefs. And a commitment to religious practices as a couple can also significantly benefit your relationship. [26]

If you have different religious beliefs, it’s important to consider how that will affect your relationship. Are you willing to compromise on religious practices? Are you comfortable with your partner practicing a different religion?

6. Do you share the same level of commitment to your relationship?

One of the most important things to consider before you get married is whether or not you’re both equally committed to the relationship. Are you both mutually committed to protecting, nurturing, and growing your relationship?[27]

While marriages can have a plethora of benefits, relationship maintenance is key to ensuring that those benefits are realized. [28] And that includes both partners being proactive in protecting the relationship when challenges inevitably arise. [29]

7. Do you have the same vision for your future?

It’s important to consider your long-term goals before you get married. Do you want the same things out of life? Do you want to live in the same place? Do you want to have kids?

If you’re not on the same page when it comes to your future, it can be difficult to make your marriage work. Being honest about your goals and desires is important so that you can figure out a way to make your visions align.

8. Are you sexually compatible? If not, are you both willing to work on it?

If intimacy is going to be important to you in your marriage, then it’s important to consider whether or not you’re sexually compatible with your partner. If you’re not, are you both willing to work on it?

Sexual compatibility is an important part of many people’s long-term and healthy marriages, so it’s important to consider whether or not you’re on the same page when it comes to your sexual relationship. [27]

9. Do we know how each other communicates and are we willing to learn?

How couples communicate can be a huge predictor of the success or failure of the relationship, so it’s important that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to communication. [30] And this is especially important during conflicts, when emotions can run high and things can get heated.

Unresolved conflict can take a toll on even the healthiest of marriages, so it’s important to make sure that you and your partner can communicate effectively. [31]

10. Are we on good terms with each other’s friends and family?

Do you like spending time with your partner’s friends and family? Do they like spending time with you?

It’s important to consider how well you get along with your partner’s friends and family, as they can be a big part of your life if you get married. They can also influence your partner, and consequently, your relationship, so being on good terms with them can be beneficial. [32]

11. Are you aware of each other’s love language?

Does your partner know how to love you in the way that you need to be loved? And do you know how to love your partner in the way that they need to be loved?

We all have different love languages, and knowing how your partner likes to be loved can make a big difference in your relationship. [33] [34] If you’re not aware of each other’s love language, it can be easy to take your partner for granted and not show them the love and appreciation that they need.

12. Do you share the same values?

While you don’t have to agree on everything, it’s important to share the same core values. Do you both believe in honesty, loyalty, respect, and trust?

If you don’t share the same values, it can be difficult to make your marriage work. Your values are a big part of who you are, and if you don’t share the same values, it can be hard to find common ground.

These are just some of the aspects you need to consider before you get married. There’s no right or wrong answer to any of these questions, but it’s important to be honest with yourself and your partner about what’s important to you and what you’re looking for in a relationship.


8 tips on how to propose to your partner

This is it, you’ve gone over everything in your head a million times and you’re finally ready to take the next step in your relationship - you’re ready to propose! But now comes the hard part, taking that leap and actually doing it.

There are a million ways to propose, and it can be hard to decide how to do it. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are 9 tips on how to propose to your partner.

1. Do it in a place that’s special to the both of you

Maybe it’s the theaters where you had your first date, or the restaurant where you had your first kiss. Schedule a special night out at the place that’s special to the both of you and use that as your proposal location.

This will make the proposal even more meaningful and romantic, and it will be a place that you can always look back on and remember.

2. Make it personal

Nobody likes a scripted proposal, so make sure to personalize it. This is your chance to really show your partner how much you love and appreciate them, so take the time to write a heartfelt message that expresses your love for them.

You can also include inside jokes, or anything else that will make the proposal feel more personal and unique.

3. Keep it simple

You don’t need to go over the top with your proposal! Sometimes, the simplest proposals are the most romantic.

So, don’t feel like you need to do something big and flashy. A simple, heartfelt proposal will be just as special and just as meaningful.

4. Pick the right time

Timing is everything, so make sure to pick the right time to propose. You don’t want to do it when your partner is stressed out or busy, so try to pick a time when they’re relaxed and free.

You should also make sure that you’re both in a good place in your relationship before you propose. There’s no need to rush, so take your time and wait for the right moment.

If you’re struggling to pick the right timing, try doing it on a date that’s already special. Do it on one of your anniversaries, or a date that’s significant to the both of you.

5. Tailor it to your partner’s preferences

Does your partner like surprises, or do they prefer to know what’s coming? If they like surprises, then you can plan a proposal in front of all their friends or family. But if they prefer to know what’s coming, then you can tell them ahead of time and plan the proposal together.

If they don’t like public surprises, you can also propose when it’s just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be in front of a big crowd, you can do it at home or even during a romantic weekend getaway.

Whatever you do, make sure to tailor the proposal to your partner’s preference. This way, they’re sure to love it.

6. Get their friends and family involved

If your partner is not averse to public surprises, you can make the proposal even more special by involving their friends and family. Their friends and family would have likely contributed to your relationship in some way, so it would be a nice gesture to include them in the proposal. [35]

You can have their friends and family hide around the proposal location, and then have them come out and surprise your partner when you proposed. This will make the proposal even more special, and it will be a moment that they’ll never forget.

7. Plan for the worst

No matter how much you plan, things can always go wrong. So, it’s important to have a backup plan in case something goes wrong.

For example, if you’re planning on doing a public proposal, make sure to have a private backup location in case the public place is too crowded. Or, if you’re planning on doing a surprise proposal, make sure to have a backup plan in case your partner finds out ahead of time.

8. Be prepared for a ’no’

Although it’s unlikely, there’s always a chance that your partner will say ’no’ to your proposal. If this happens, don’t take it too personally. Just remember that it’s their decision, and they have a right to say ’no’ if they’re not ready for marriage.

If they do say ’no’, try to remain calm and respectful. You can ask them why they said ’no’, and if there’s anything you can do to change their mind. But, in the end, it’s up to them.

Never force someone into marriage, no matter how much you may want to.

Proposing can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow these simple tips, and you’re sure to have a proposal that your partner will love. Good luck!


The best marriage books of all time

If you’re looking for advice on making your marriage work, you’re in luck. This list of books is packed with information and tips from the happiest couples on earth. So whether you’re struggling to keep your relationship together or want to make it even better, these books have something for you.

  1. The Single Girl's Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife: Becoming A Stepmother With Humor And Grace
  2. For Married Men Only: Three Principles for Loving Your Wife
  3. Relationship Goals: How to Win at Dating, Marriage, and Sex
  4. The Emotionally Healthy Marriage: Growing Closer by Understanding Each Other

References

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  4. Ross, C. E., Mirowsky, J., & Goldsteen, K. (1990). The Impact of the Family on Health: The Decade in Review. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52(4), 1059. doi.org
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  17. WILLI, J. (1997). The Significance of Romantic Love for Marriage. Family Process, 36(2), 171–182. doi.org
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  19. Gurman, A. S. (2008). A framework for the comparative study of couple therapy. In Alan S Gurman (Ed.), Clinical handbook of couple therapy (4th ed., pp. 1-30). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  20. Dunn, J. (Ed.). (2004). Understanding children's worlds. Blackwell publication.
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  27. Samadi, P., Alipour, Z., Salehi, K., Kohan, S., & Hashemi, M. (2021). The keys to a good and lasting marriage: Exploration of Iranian couple's experiences. Journal of education and health promotion, 10, 474. doi.org
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Relationship Expert

Amy Clark

Amy Clark is a freelance writer who writes about relationships, marriage, and family. She has been happily married for over ten years and loves her husband and three kids. Before …

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