Dear Dr. Darcy:

I have been dating my partner for 2 years and we live together.  We’re both in our 30’s and we’re very in love.  I want to get engaged.  I want to be married.  I want to lock this thing down already, but he’s not very open to discussing taking the relationship to the next level.  I also want to have children and I want us both to be young dads, which means that we really need to move things along because I won’t do it without a ring on my finger.  How do I approach a discussion about this and not sound like a needy chick?


Sounds to me like the real question is how to approach this discussion without sounding like a needy dude.

The truth of the matter is this:  It takes 2 people to create a needy person ~ One to avoid ~ the other to nag.  Methinks he’s the avoider.  The problem with this type of dynamic between partners is that any uncomfortable conversation becomes the stuff that the avoider avoids and the nagger pursues.  You can see how it becomes a vicious cycle until the pattern is broken.

One of the ways that you can break this pattern is to set up some game rules with him, which you should do during a time when there isn’t some burning issue that you need to discuss with him. Do this by making the disclaimer that you don’t want to be a nag, and that sometimes you feel yourself straddling that fine line.  Let him know that it would be helpful to you if he would agree to begin and end discussions in one sitting, and you can time-limit discussions if he’d feel more comfortable knowing that there’s an exit strategy.  Once he’s on board, give him a few days before testing it out. This will show him that you don’t plan to use his agreement to bombard him with unpleasant discussions on a daily basis.  Find a nice, benign topic to bring up for your first sit down with him.  For example, maybe it’s finally time to discuss getting that slow-close toilet bowl seat… See where I’m going with this?

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of the marriage discussion:

DO get clear on what you want before you open this discussion.  By that I mean, how will you feel if he’s against the idea?  Can you live without marriage?  What’s more important, the guy or the relationship status?

DON’T give him an ultimatum.  You’ll lose no matter how he responds.  I’ve seen numerous marriages disintegrate over time because a guy was given an ultimatum and didn’t want to break up, so he agreed to marriage when he wasn’t ready.

DO prepare to accept his position.  Relationships are really about accepting and respecting where one-another is in their life and not trying to change your partner.

You may find that it’s actually you who is avoiding having this discussion because you don’t want to hear his bottom line.  And, after all is said and done, it may come down to an age-old hetero-normative issue, which only you’ll know how to fix:  If he’s getting the milk for free, why buy the cow?