I’m going round in circles in my head and would appreciate some advice (Picture: Getty Images)
Wedding planner and venue owner Alison Rios McCrone helps solve your dilemmas, no matter how big or small, in a weekly agony aunt column.
I’ve been with my partner for about a year and a half now and am thinking of proposing. I know she loves me and I hope she’ll say yes, but it’s complicated.
We’re in our late 30s and about four years ago she was widowed after her long-term partner died suddenly, leaving her broken-hearted and a single mum to two young kids.
I moved in with them around six months ago, and while I’ll never be their dad, or her late husband, we are all happy together. I’ve mentioned that I’d like to get married and have kids of my own in the future and my girlfriend never seems put off by this – but she’s never expressed a burning desire to get married again or have more children.
Another worry is whether I’m asking too soon. I know I’m ready, but is she? When I ask, should I acknowledge her loss? Should I ask the kids what they think and get them involved? But what if she says no?
I’m going round in circles in my head and would appreciate some advice.
I recommend having an open and honest conversation with her first, just the two of you (Picture: Alison Rios McCrone)
Everyone deals with grief differently and moves forward at their own pace – after your partner suffered a traumatic loss, it’s fantastic she has taken steps to create a happier future.
And it is lovely you have helped your partner build a joyful new life with her two young children – especially after the complexities that you have both had to deal with.
But given all she has endured and the responsibility of being a single mother, it is understandable that she might have reservations about remarrying or having more children.
The fact she has not mentioned it does not necessarily mean she is against the idea; it may simply reflect the challenges she has faced.
In which case, it is important that you have recognised you will never be her late husband or the father of her children. It is just different.
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Before diving straight into the deep end with a proposal, I would firstly suggest you discuss the idea of marriage together. I recommend having an open and honest conversation with her first, just the two of you. Acknowledge her loss and the unique circumstances of your relationship.
Express your love and commitment to her. Be clear about your desires and expectations for the future but encourage her to share her feelings and concerns as well.
This will lay a foundation on whether your thoughts for the future are aligned or if she needs more time.
Make it clear that there is no rush and you want to respect her pace. While you might be ready to take the next step, she might need to work on healing and being comfortable with the idea of remarriage.
Starting the initial conversation about marriage and children can help the idea grow.
If your girlfriend says she is not ready, do not take it personally.
Remember, her hesitation may be rooted in her past experiences and her worries for the children’s well-being. Continue to be supportive and understanding of her feelings, and revisit the conversation when everyone has had more time to consider the idea.
Involving the children is a thoughtful idea, but you must find out your partner’s views first. If your partner is open to the idea of marriage, you could ask the children how they feel about living together as a family and maybe getting wed to their mum in the future.
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They may have complex emotional issues, so approach the conversation with the utmost sensitivity and compassion. If the children don’t react in the way you hope, it will make things easier if you respect this and wait until they are more receptive to the idea.
Ultimately though, the decision should be made by you and your partner, not the children.
Once you have had these conversations, it will give you a clearer idea as to whether you are both aligned about your future and whether you then know if it is too soon to propose or let more time pass.
If you receive a positive response from your partner and the children are happy with the idea of you marrying their mum, consider including them in the proposal.
Show your love and understanding, and ensure that the decision is made collectively with the well-being of all involved.
In conclusion, you must be empathetic, communicate openly, and give her the time and space to feel comfortable with marriage and possibly having more children.
I wish you all the best in your journey together.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected].
Share your views in the comments below.
I know I’m ready but is she?