Do you know if your significant other is thinking about "I dos?" If not, depending on the stage or state of your relationship, this may be an important subject to bring up before things progress between the two of you. Life coach and relationship expert Maggie Reyes explains how to set the stage for a meaningful talk that'll allow you to share your thoughts and open up the floor for honest feedback and insight.
Set yourself up for the talk.
Conversations about marriage can be both exciting and stressful, Reyes says. "To help your conversation go well, ask yourself, 'What is the highest and best outcome that can come from this conversation?'" she adds. The best possible outcome could mean immediately shopping for engagement rings—but not necessarily. It could also mean that "you come closer as a couple, you speak your truth with love and you have clarity about where your relationship stands." You should also check in with yourself to see if you feel any excitement or fear about bringing up the topic. Both are OK, Reyes says, but it's important to know how you're feeling when entering an emotional conversation.
You'll also want to discover why you want to discuss marriage in the first place. Are you excited and in love? Are you feeling pressure from family, friends, your biological clock or other external forces? "Check in with yourself to confirm you really want to have this conversation and are satisfied with your reasons for opening up the discussion," she advises.
Plus, a marriage conversation is ultimately one about long-term goals, Reyes adds. "It's important to know your dreams and goals are so you can determine if they're aligned or not," she says.
Decide where to hold the discussion.
Reyes recommends not talking about marriage in a situation where you could be interrupted, meaning no noisy coffee shops or nightclubs. You'll want to make sure it's a time when you both are in no rush and "have the opportunity to uncover layers about life together without feeling like you're on a deadline," she says. She also suggests speaking in a neutral location. In case it doesn't go well, you don't want it to be in a place you love where you'll be constantly reminded of it.
Start off the right way.
There are three ways to start a marriage conversation, according to Reyes.
Be direct. "If you have been dating for a while, and know each other really well, and have already shared your long-term goals and dreams, talking about marriage as part of those goals and dreams can be a natural and organic extension of conversations you have already had," she says.
Talk about your dreams first. "Ask about places your partner wants to travel, adventures they want to have, experiences they want to engage in," she says. "Then transition into how your relationship fits into those dreams."
Discuss the meaning of marriage. "For some of us, marriage is a scared union. For others, a tax write-off. Marriage can be the core element of starting a family or just a piece of paper with very little meaning, depending on our family history, personal beliefs, and previous relationships," Reyes says. "Understand how your partner feels about the concept of marriage and what it means to them, and then determine how to share how you feel about marriage and what it means for your relationship together."
Determine the takeaway.
Couples are either growing together, or apart, Reyes says, which is true in any stage of the relationship. "Therefore, look at the conversation and ask yourself, 'Did we just have a breakdown, or a breakthrough?'" she says. "Keep in mind that oftentimes, breakdowns lead to breakthroughs, so not having a complete resolution at the end of the conversation does not mean it's a failure."