A General Question About Who Proposes And Why …

Below is a general question to kick off the holiday weekend. We’ll return Tuesday with an update and more. Now is the time to ask a question about your relationship (or the relationship you’re looking for). Email your question to [email protected] or fill out this form. Also, I’m still taking updates. Former letter writers from all years, please tell us how you’re doing. Email your update to [email protected] with “UPDATE” in the subject line. Make sure you include info about which letter you wrote. We’d love to hear how you’re doing and whether the advice was any good.


Dear Meredith,

There is a topic I have long wanted to see you address: why do women today wait for men to be the one to propose marriage? Over the last 20 years, I have known so many bright, independent women who are in long-term, committed relationships and are more than ready to marry their guy but feel it’s not their place to bring it up. Often the couples have even been living together happily for a while. The poor guys in today’s world are pressured to find some clever website worthy way to propose, often involving a photographer who is hiding out of sight. The future groom also has to pick out rings which the bride may like or may not, but she may feel uncomfortable speaking up.

I met my husband in college in 1970; when we had been a couple for about 18 months, I was accepted by VISTA, the volunteer corps which would likely take me far away and not allow me to be married in the interim. I said to my guy, “Is there any reason I shouldn’t go?” He said yes, and we were married four months later. That was in 1970, and we’ve had fifty wonderful years together. What I did was the norm then, among my peers – couples even went ring shopping together.  Somehow, in spite of “women’s lib” there has been a huge shift and I’d love to know how this evolved.

– Wondering


I do think many women (straight women, if that’s who we’re talking about) bring up marriage, pick out rings, and even get down on one knee to say, “Please, let’s do this forever.”

If this column serves as evidence of anything, it’s that sometimes marriage is a topic of conversation brought up by one party, but the other isn’t quite ready to commit. In your case, you brought it up and your partner was good to go. But that’s not always the case.

Also, some couples who live together happily have reason to ask, “Why rock the boat?” I don’t want to generalize too much here, but I do think some couples are asking how marriage might change the good stuff. Sometimes they’re also freaked out about weddings. Because you’re right; the wedding industry got big, and a proposal leads to decisions about how to celebrate, and that can be overwhelming.

I just wouldn’t assume anything about younger couples, if I were you. In my own life and in this column, women talk about marriage.

I also think that the 2020 might have streamlined a lot of awkward conversations. People want to get going with their lives. If a person was isolated with a partner with marriage on their mind, I think it probably came up in conversation more than a few times.

I think you’re seeing a small sample. A lot of women out there are a lot like you.

For the record, this is why I think the Globe needs a wedding column – to show variety. Because there’s plenty.

– Meredith

Readers? Can you tell this reader about wedding trends? Have you seen a shift in the way people make this decision and talk about it?

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