If you were on Facebook in December, you may have noticed a lot of "I'm Engaged!" status updates. After all, the holidays are the most popular time of year to pop the question. But what if you were expecting a pretty diamond ring for Christmas, but didn't get it? Don't freak out says relationship expert Maggie Reyes from ModernMarried.com. There could be a number of reasons your loved one didn't propose, all of which are totally acceptable and understandable, once you consider their perspective. Reyes shares possible reasons why a proposal didn't happen this time around, and why you should look into the New Year with happiness, and not worry.
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Every relationship is different
This is the most important element to remember if you're feeling down about not being engaged post-holiday season. "It's normal to feel disappointment, like you are 'falling behind' or even left out of a common experience if all your friends are going through the same thing and suddenly you are not," Reyes says. But you can manage the disappointment by looking deeper, and asking yourself why is it that you're truly upset that a proposal hasn't happened yet. Perhaps you could be feeling left out. Or, maybe you wish your relationship was in a different place. But once you have the answer, you can manage that disappointment in a constructive and intentional way.
Why it's OK that he didn't pop the question
There could be many reasons why your partner didn't ask you to marry them, but there are many more reasons why that could actually be a good thing, Reyes says. "Having a healthy, thriving relationship also means you do things in the timing that is right for you—and not according to anyone's calendar or specific season," she adds. "Your S.O. may be planning something more meaningful to you, whether it's proposing on a special date in your relationship [like] a first kiss or the first time you met." Or, he could be looking at what comes after the wedding, and saving for the honeymoon, or making other practical considerations that have nothing to do with the amount of love he feels for you. Even if you're looking for a meaning that feels better, do so from a place of excitement for the future, rather than disappointment or fear about where your relationship might be headed, she says.
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Learn how your partner feels
Waiting for a marriage proposal for the right reasons can be wonderful, but if you're waiting for something that will never come, not so much. "There is an element of waiting that also includes taking positive action on your own behalf," Reyes says. "Do you know what your partner wants out of life, and how they see your life together as part of that? If you don't, that is the information you need first. Patience is easy if you are building a life together."
To broach the subject gracefully and respectfully, Reyes suggests creating safety. "Creating emotional safety is what makes the difference between a happy marriage that lasts a lifetime, and those you see on TV where the party is amazing, and eight months later they are breaking up," she says. If you don't feel comfortable, slow down, she cautions. There could be a reason for this and choose to work on the core relationship instead. If you're not ready for this step, don't worry. "Not being ready to have this particular conversation has no bearing on the amount of love and affection you feel for your partner, and everything to do with where you are in your own personal journey at that moment," she says.
But if you do feel comfortable, you could invite your partner to share how they envision your relationship over this next year, and see where the conversation leads. The idea of marriage may come up organically, and you will discover why your partner is waiting, whether that's to finish a degree, or work toward a promotion, among other validated reasons.
How to become patient with the timeline
It's no secret that patience is a virtue. "Now I am going to say something that sounds totally life coach-y, but bear with me for a moment," Reyes says. "You can choose patience at any time. Patience is always available to you. You don't even need all the answers from your partner to choose patience; you can just decide that exploring the relationship is a priority for you, and you want to see where it goes, regardless of how long it takes." It's the most powerful thing you can do to strengthen the relationship, she says, because this way, you are creating your relationship rather than reacting to it.
"It helps to remember that the reason for the wedding is the marriage," Reyes says. "Dreaming together, exploring each other, sharing values and dreams and fears and adventures are critical elements not only getting married, by staying married and feeling good about it."