My girlfriend and I have been going out for a couple of years, and I’m thinking of proposing…but I don’t know whether she’ll accept. She seems very happy and I have no reason to think she’s not thinking about a future together, but I just don’t know. How do I ask the question…about asking the question?
My first instinct is go for it: just surprise her one day and ask her to marry you! If you have no reason to not think she’s not thinking about a future with you, I have a feeling she definitely is. And, while I don’t think she would say, “no,” she might say “maybe,” or “need more time,” in which case the relationship can be taken to a new level of commitment. Your feelings about her are out there, and you know where she stands, too. The timing is right for this, two years is a good amount of time to know where the relationship is going.
Do you know how she feels about marriage, in general? If you’re nervous to pop the question with no idea about this—as it sounds like you are—you could broach the topic as a general subject of discussion. Look into current books or shows on the subject of marriage, then begin the discussion. A good example, I think: there is a new book, Commited, by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) that delves in depth into the topic of marriage: the history, why people do it (or don’t) the ups and downs, pitfalls…it is really a criticism of marriage, I hear, but regardless, it’s a conversation starter. Tell your girl you heard the interview on NPR, or looked at the book (after you do such) and begin the discussion/debate. Easy! I imagine you’ll find out rather quickly her view on marriage in general, and more than likely her personal hopes and fears. That will give you a good indicator of where she’s at. Also, find opportunities to hint around, e.g. note how happy your married friends are.
You can lightly broach the topic of marriage while you’re having fun on a walk or cooking together. Just say something to the effect of how much you love this, you could see the two of you doing this forever, you’d love to do it for years…how ‘bout her? You don’t have to say the “M word” to get a clear go-ahead (or not). She’ll get it, and you’ll get your response. If, however, she doesn’t respond enthusiastically, sadly, you will likely know the relationship needs more time before you pop the question. Also, she may well want to live together for a while first to suss out how compatible you are living together. Completely legitimate, I agree—but with the caveat that you don’t want to do that forever, and would like to look at the marriage possibility at about six months in.
However, I still feel the element of surprise is the most romantic and memorable. I highly recommend you curb your fears and just pop the question when you’re thinking about it. It’s not necessary to set up a situation—expensive restaurant, ring, etc.—that will heighten the tension. Just pick a nice spot that you like to go to and ask her. Chances are she’ll say yes, but if she doesn’t you’re not going to lose her, it just might need more time. Or if she’s just not the marrying kind, then you will know that too.