It’s engagement season — that four-month stretch between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day when most marriage proposals occur. The time of year when it becomes nearly impossible to overlook the countless photos of diamond rings, adorning perfectly-manicured hands, which seem to pop up everywhere on social media.
It’s no surprise you’re wondering (or, maybe even obsessing over) when your beau will slip a ring on your finger. After all, the two of you have clocked-in some serious time dating. Maybe it’s been a couple of years, or more. He’s met your family, and his folks simply adore you. On paper, he checks-off all your boxes — or at least most. You’re ready to take the relationship to the next level and you’re growing tired of waiting for his commitment.
Expressing How You Feel
Communication is vital in a relationship. If you feel uncomfortable talking about marriage with your partner, it’s an area that needs to be addressed.
Relationship, Dating and Intimacy Coach, Dr. Cassandra Parks Evans says, “You need to make sure you know what you really want in a relationship. You can’t just go with the flow. There need to be boundaries. You have to have your non-negotiables and be able to communicate them effectively. These are qualities that make a relationship more attractive and can draw someone in to want to marry you.”
However, if the conversation about a potential engagement consistently sours or creates conflict, you may need to look inward.
She explains, “We have to really make sure we are in a good space. We tend to hold on to the fairytale image of Prince Charming coming along and marrying us. The hard truth is that we have to examine our own needs and consider if we are prepared for a serious relationship with someone, or if this is even the right person for us.”
Dr. Parks Evans advises women to do their homework. There may be areas of your life in need of healing, reconciliation and growth. Once you are able to fully show up for yourself, you can open your “home” to others because you will have something to offer. Your partner should do the same to bring more to you than the dating game.
Through her Atlanta-based practice, Let’s Learn Love, LLC, Dr. Parks Evans offers couples “Enlightened Relationships.” The 8-week workshop helps build and foster healthy relationships.
According to Dr. Parks Evans, there are important aspects of your relationship and personal life that need to be in order before seriously considering marriage. When issues are present, they may cause a partner to pump the brakes on a relationship, preventing it from advancing to the next level.
Communication is a powerful tool and is crucial to the success of relationships. You need to make sure that you are both on the same page. To start, if you aren’t expressing your feelings, there’s a chance your partner is unaware of your interest in marriage.
You should also be aware of the four communications styles that can be very toxic to your relationship: contempt, criticism, stonewalling and defensiveness. These behaviors escalate conflict and can kill the prospect of marriage.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. One of the most important facets of healthy communication is our ability to listen. It’s how we practice being truly present for the person we love. Listening and understanding is the true nature of love and one of the greatest gifts a person can give to another. It goes a long way in a relationship.
Trust is extremely important in any relationship and it’s the cornerstone of closeness and intimacy in a romantic relationship. Ask yourself, “Can I trust them with my life?”
If there are no boundaries, the field is left open for any and everything to happen. Set-up boundaries early in your relationship. Let the person you’re dating know that eventually you are looking to get married — not necessarily to them — but that it’s important to you. Nine times out of ten, that weeds out the foolishness.
Goals and Aspirations
No one wants to be with someone without goals and aspirations. This is a quality that is especially attractive to men. Men tend to be aggressive and goal-oriented. They want to feel supported in their dreams and goals. You have to make sure that you are on top of your game. In the same vein, you want a partner who is going to be ambitious and available to support you.
Relationships with Others
Familial bonds and healthy relationships with others can be very meaningful. If you are consistently in high-conflict with those around you, it can be very off-putting to a potential spouse. In particular, men tend to move away from someone who’s going to be complicated.
Be Mindful of Your Partner’s Past
Ask them how they feel about marriage. If they come from a background where they haven’t seen successful partnerships, they may harbor negative feelings about the institution of marriage and long-term relationships. It’s important that both of you are healed from past traumas that can obstruct the path to a healthy union.
Get the Support You Need
Dr. Parks Evans adds, “You want to make sure you are in a good place mentally, emotionally and physically. You don’t have to be perfect. But you want to be the best ‘you’ possible.”
Workshops like Enlightened Relationships can help you and your partner work through areas of your relationship that need retooling while carving a space for you both to experience transformative healing.
Dr. Parks Evans helps you examine your past and create specific goals for your relationship as you move into the future, should you decide that’s the direction you want to go. She offers the tools to lay a solid foundation and equips clients with skills and wisdom to nourish their union along the way.
For more information about Enlightened Relationships at Let’s Learn Love, LLC, visit www.letslearnlove.com.