My boyfriend and I are both 23 and were high school sweethearts in Nigeria before we moved here and continued our relationship. We've been together for so long and love each other dearly. We are both graduates and have secured good jobs. The problem is that I am ready to get engaged, married and start a family but he thinks we are too young. All my friends are getting engaged and married and every time we attend a wedding, I feel this deep sensation in the pit of my stomach. Maybe it's resentment for him. I want to be with him for life and he says the same, but not now. He just wants to move in together for now. By the way, I'm Nigerian, so if I move in, I'll have to do it behind my parents' back or they'll physically fly into the country and drag me back to Nigeria. How do I convince him to propose?
Pained in New Jersey
Dear Pained in New Jersey,
Thanks for writing NwaVic at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ahhh I feel like I've answered this question before, if not directly in a post, but subtly in numerous posts. But your letter is a good opportunity for me to cover this more directly. Here's the hard truth: You cannot "make" anyone do what they do not want to do. And you shouldn't "settle" for anything you don't want to do. He shouldn't have to marry you before he's ready and you shouldn't have to move in with him, if you don't want to.
But wait, first consider that you're "able" to "get" him to propose before he's ready by nagging him about it, giving him a "marry me or I'm out" ultimatum or "getting pregnant" (don't wince at the latter. People do it all the time. Someone once told me that getting pregnant for a man was the best way to hasten the process..I just stared blankly at them and said "you can't be serious"). Then, you have a wedding. But then you have entered a marriage for you, by yourself. You're the only one who has what you want. So, then you can't blame him when he starts to resent you, for making him marry you just to keep you happy. Don't start to cry when you find out, you're all "settled" while he continues to live a "single" life. Maybe you have kids, then you find out that he's cheating or that he spends more time outside than in your home, while you get worn out tending to the kids all by yourself. Then you divorce him and find yourself single at 26 because a marriage where you both aren't on the same page is no marriage at all.
Here's the better scenario....hard but worth it. You have a serious conversation with him to find out what his own timeline is. Then you accept the truth. Marriage is only successful for the long term when you enter into it with someone as committed to it as you are.
This gives you two options:
Option A: You decide you love him too much to leave, so you wait. This would mean living-down your own life expectations. This would mean you can't pressure or resent him. You would have to enjoy the relationship, just as it is, convinced that he is worth the wait and bearing in mind that just because you waited, doesn't guarantee you a marriage in the future. You have to know that just because you stayed doesn't mean you have paid him to "owe" you marriage in the future. For as long as you're not married, it's still a "maybe".
Option B: You resolve that not every "longterm relationship" is meant to end up in a marriage. You decide that what you want for yourself matters more. It's okay to decide you both have different priorities and move on. It's been said that "the surest way to win a man back is to stop caring. It has a way of bringing them back. But by then, you would have stopped caring." So even after you move on, if it's meant to be, he'll circle back to you but then he'll be doing that on his own accord. You'll then have the choice to reassess what he has to offer. You are young. There's no rush. So, better still with time, you can then find someone who not only loves you, but is on the same page as you are.
I like Option B because I lived it. And even though it's always a hard decision to walk away, it was the most rewarding gift I have ever given myself. Regardless of the option you choose, know this: No matter how much you trust a person, the only person you can control whether or not they disappoint you is yourself. Trust yourself and your instincts. Never settle for less than what you want for yourself.
Best of Luck!