When And How To Have ‘The Talk’ About Marriage

Having a conversation about marriage with your significant other is something everyone wants to get right, but it’s easier said than done. It can be nerve-wracking if you’re unsure whether the two of you are on the same page about taking your relationship to the next level, but the topic has to be broached at some point. Here’s how to talk to your partner about marriage and hopefully get the result you want.

  1. Start By Dropping Hints To Gauge Your Partner’s Opinion. It’s better not to go into this conversation blindfolded. If you want to bring up the topic of marriage, give your significant other a heads up by dropping a few hints here or there. Casually start talking about what your dream wedding would look like or future baby names. Even better, get him talking by asking him playful questions, like where he’d like to go for a honeymoon. If he seems uncomfortable or hesitant to talk about these topics, it will give you a heads up of what to expect when you discuss marriage more directly.
  2. Ask If Your Relationship Is Ready For The Next Step. I’d love to be able to give you a specific time frame for the right time to talk about marriage, but that’s not possible. Why? It’s because all relationships progress at different speeds. Some couples know months into a relationship that they’ve found the one, whereas others wait years and even live together before taking the big plunge. Every relationship is different, and the only person who can tell you whether you’re ready to tie the knot are the people in it. Evaluate your relationship based on the following criteria: how much time you’ve put into the relationship, how efficiently you work through problems, how the two of you connect emotionally, and the level of trust between you two. If there are glaring issues standing out to you, it may be in everyone’s best interest to work on resolving the problems before talking about marriage.
  3. Find A Private Time To Have The Conversation. Timing is everything. If you surprise him by wanting to talk about marriage at an inopportune moment, it will affect his reaction, and probably not for the best. If possible, give him a heads up that you want to talk about something serious. Agree on a good time to set aside a few minutes to have a one-on-one discussion. You want to make sure you’ll have privacy; you wouldn’t want to bring up this topic at the family dinner table or while out with friends. Similarly, make sure the two of you are in a good mood (and on good terms) before initiating such an important subject. It’s bound to make things go a lot smoother.
  4. Discuss The Logistics & Timeline. Some people have the marriage conversation years before they get engaged, whereas others do it weeks or months before – this will depend on you as individuals. Some people like more of a heads up, after all. The majority of your conversation needs to be spent figuring out the logistics and timeline. Ask him when he sees the two of you tying the knot. Be prepared for him to say not right away; maybe he wants to finish school or find a full-time job before he can think of settling down. You can also ask what sort of engagement and wedding you’d like to have. While you of course don’t need to work out the details right away, knowing if you both want something more intimate or vice versa will help you become clearer on the subject.
  5. Lay Your Values & Goals Out On The Table. Even before you bring up the conversation with him, do some reflection on your own values and prioritize so you know what you want to say in the moment. This is where the conversation might get uncomfortable, especially if you two tend to butt heads when it comes to goals, but it’s never a good idea to head into an engagement without being on the same page in regards to values. The sorts of values you discuss will differ depending on relationships. But you’ll want to address things like spiritual values, financial goals and responsibilities, how many kids you want, and other personal and professional ambitions that will affect your future together.
  6. Respect That You May Have Differing Opinions. It’s not healthy to enter a conversation about marriage with the expectation that you two will agree on everything. Especially when discussing topics like how many kids you want to have and who will be the primary breadwinner, if anyone, it’s normal for opinions to clash. You may realize early on that the two of you have a lot to work through before you feel ready to put a ring on your finger – and that’s okay. Remember, having a talk about marriage doesn’t mean you’re going to walk down the aisle the next day, the next month, or even the next year. Rather, it’s about beginning the long journey of spending your lives together. Relationships take commitment and work, so this is a good precursor into what marriage looks like.
  7. Be Honest About Your Expectations. One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is to stay true to your feelings. It’s important to respect the other person’s side and be open and receptive to what they’re saying, but you also have to be clear about what you expect. Tell him where you’d like to see things going in the near future and what you hope to get from your relationship. Maybe you’ve always seen yourself getting married by age 27 or are steadfast on having 3 kids instead of 2. In the grand scheme of planning your life together, you may eventually have to compromise on things. But it’s important for you to both know what the other person wants and needs so you can come to the best agreement for how to move forward with your relationship.
  8. Reaffirm Your Love To One Another. Things might get heated, emotional, or even uncomfortable when talking about marriage, and that’s normal, especially if it’s your first time expressing these emotions. The most important thing to remember is how much you love one another – that’s the whole reason you’re having this conversation, after all. Vocalize your feelings as much as possible, the good and the bad, but make sure to maintain affection with one another. Set aside time after the conversation to spend one-on-one time with each other doing something you love, whether it’s a date night or curling up to watch Netflix. You want to nurture your relationship and repair any hurt feelings that may come up after having this conversation. Alternatively, if everything goes smoothly, you’ll want that time together to celebrate and increase the excitement for your future plans.
Alexandra is a freelance writer in Montreal, Quebec. She enjoys shopping as a sport, Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs, and being a plant mom.