Has He Proposed?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2009
Has He Proposed?
Mon, 12-30-2013 - 6:03pm

This could just as easily go in the "living together" board, but I figured folks who were married might have some insight about what constitutes a proposal.  :)

I am in my late 50s.  My partner is a widower in his early 60s.  He recently retired.

When we had been going together for about a year, we discussed the future and he said he wanted to marry.  I said I wasn't ready, and that I would want to live with him first, especially since he was retiring soon and I was not.  So we went on like this for a couple more years, and then almost a year ago, he retired.  At this point, at my suggestion, he moved most of his regular stuff here.  But he wouldn't close down his house until he was sure it was for keeps.  He has been paying mortgage, utilities, etc, on his place (which is partially furnished--he brought some things here and gave his daughters some stuff, but the rest is still at the house) and going over there once a week to get his mail.  He has even kept the land phone line, though he has a cell that he uses for everything.

So, things are going well, and I don't think we are going to learn anything more about each other without getting married.  I mean, we are living together, but we don't have a shared budget and each of us may (unconsciously) still be in "courting" mode.  But I am reassured that we will not drive each other crazy and that he is not going to be too demanding of my time because he is home most of the day and I am not.

As far as money goes, his retirement is equal to what I make working. Our assets are comparable. When I retire, I will have less than he does, but between us we will still have enough.  We are lucky that way.  (Note that I don't gain financially by marrying him.  His pension dies with him, so if he predeceases me, I'll be back to what I would have had if we hadn't married.  But it will be enough.)

Anyway, the issue is that I don't know if he wants to go ahead and get married or not.  I am not comfortable just living together indefinitely, with him keeping the other house (and not contributing to expenses in my house beyond food) and just generally both of us being in a "tentative" position.  If there were a financial reason not to marry (if I were to lose alimony settlement or something like that, for example) I could see a reason for just living together, but as far as I am concerned, living together was just a temporary arrangement. 

I've asked him, jokingly, when he plans to propose, and he said he had never really proposed before. (Apparently, his late wife said something about wanting to get married and have kids soon and he said okay.) He is rather shy, but still, I think he should take the hint.  He said something about the problem with proposing was that one couldn't be sure the other person would say "yes."  I said that I figure a person wouldn't be asking if he was planning to propose in order to say "no."   He chuckled and there it stopped.

My thought is that he does want to get married "eventually," but he is not in a hurry because getting married means a lot of work putting financial affairs in order (both of us want to have a pre-nup so that the property we bring into the marriage will be protected for the care of the spouse and then for our individual children) including selling his house (which is going to go at a loss) putting stuff in storage, etc.  He believes in marriage, and he acts as if he thinks of me as his wife, but he is not in a hurry.

I hate all the trouble of moving, packing, going to lawyers, etc. as much as he does, but I am a "take a deep breath and get moving" sort of person--once I've made up my mind, i see no point in procrastinating.  Plus right now, if anything happened to either one of us and we had to be hospitalized or whatever, next-of-kin would be a son or daughter who might not welcome the other in the "family" involvement. 

At the same time, I don't want to pressure him to hurry up and get married if he is not ready.  I don't know if it is reasonable to assume that he has already "proposed" when he said, three years ago, that he wanted us to get married someday, or whether I should continue to insist that he indicate more specific (and immediate) intent to commit to marriage.

Really, I am thinking that I don't want to live with him past this summer if we aren't going to be married this summer.  We can, if he prefers, go back to "just dating" and getting together every few evenings and on the weekends. (His house is an hour away, so it wouldn't be as easy as if we were in the same town.)  But I just don't see the point in staying together for more than a year and a half if we are not going to be married. 

If I tell him this, he will probably go along with whatever date I set for marrying. But I don't want to be the one who proposes and so forth.  I mean, I don't want him to feel that he is not ready but he is going to humor me.  Does that make sense?

Am I being silly?



Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Mon, 12-30-2013 - 7:35pm

I can totally picture your scenario.  Quiet guy, never even really proposed to his first wife, okay the way things are, so why go through all the trouble, right?  

Boy, I totally agree with you on all counts.  In my case, after 7 years, my "proposal" was pretty much just a "so, are you going to marry me or what."  Essentially my birthday ring turned into an enagement ring.  The week before it was "I am going to marry you one of these days."  Two months later we were off to a tropical climate to get married.  

I understand not wanting to repeat the same scenario as his widow, but I am sure you also know it is not going to be a school boy proposal, either.  

I guess I am thinking that you may just have to be pretty blunt with him.  He is obvioulsy pretty kicked back and I think expecting any more is probably unrealistic.  My DH did pretty much what I expected.  

One thought....maybe try "I just want you to know that when you are ready to propose, I will say yes."  I guess you kind of already did that, so maybe he is just trying to find the perfect ring and really is in the process of planning a proposal.  

At work, gotta' go.....


Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Mon, 12-30-2013 - 9:07pm

At your age, and financial situation,  I don't see the point in getting married, unless you are planning on collecting against his social security.   I'm 61.  If anything happened to my husband, I would NOT remarry.  The house, property and money we accumulated during our life is OURS, intended for us and OUR children, grandchildren, etc.  We did not work all those years to support anyone else, or enrich THEIR children. And believe me, pre-nups can be invalidated.  Make sure you have SEPERATE attorneys, and that they are dam good ones.

In addition you say, "...right now, if anything happened to either one of us and we had to be hospitalized or whatever, next-of-kin would be a son or daughter who might not welcome the other in the "family" involvement."  What's wrong with that?  Don't you trust your children with making decisions about your life and care--rather than leave it to someone you've only known a couple years???

And then there is the fact that he would take a loss on his house if he sells.  Why force him to do that?  If you MUST live together to save on double mortgage, utilities, etc, then he should rent out his house till the market improves.

Finally, since you "...don't want to live with him past this summer if (you)  aren't going to be married this summer...",  just tell him outright, "Marry me or move out."

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Mon, 12-30-2013 - 11:52pm

I think you've already had the discussion.......you wanted to "try it out" and you've done that!  If you two are happy together, you're compatible, and you want to make it permanent, or legal, or whatever you want to call it, then TELL the man that you think it's time and you want to make the plans.  If he didn't want to be with you......he wouldn't be there.  HE was the one who mentioned marriage first, and you put him off......so for heavens sake, tell him you're ready.  Moving? Packing?  Aren't you getting ahead of yourself?  Why do you have to move?  He's almost totally moved in with you already........put his house on the market instead of wasting all the money keeping it.  As far as the lawyer is concerned, an hour's visit should be all that's involved, if the two of you have decided who gets what in case of death.  And why are you worrying about death anyway?  How about taking care of life?  You're really nit picking if you feel that he has to "propose", especially since he told you he didn't propose the first time around.  HINT HINT.......if you want to get married, TELL HIM!!!  And tell him about a tenative date that you've decided on.  Either that or just keep futzing around until one of you dies, then no decisions will have to be made!  He SAID he wanted to marry......and you said you weren't ready.....so now you're ready......TELL HIM!

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 01-01-2014 - 12:58pm

I think at your ages it's time to stop waiting for a "proposal" like in the movies.  You need to have a discussion--do you still want to get married?  What is your time frame, etc.?  Then even if you discuss it and you agree to get married soon he can still buy you a ring and do a romantic proposal.  I do agree that people have different reasons for wanting to get married or not and if both of you want to get married then I think that's all fine & good and I wouldn't want to try to dissuade you--you should have a prenup and put your main assets (house?) in a trust so that the survivor gets the use of the house for life and then it's goes to your kids.  I probably wouldn't get married again after 2 divorces--I figure it hasn't worked that well so far.  You could take care of the health issues by having a health care proxy or power of attorney.  I'd rather keep all my finances separate.  I also don't see why he would sell his house at a loss instead of just trying to rent it out if he wants to save that for his kids.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 01-02-2014 - 1:21pm

Me again.

It appears that we all agree on one thing, you are probably just going to have to be straight forward with him and not expect anything else.  If he does suprise you, than wonderful!  But I wouldn't expect it.  

I thought of something after my first post.  I have a guy friend who actually wanted to get married, but his GF had already been M and D, two kids, and just wasn't ready.  Eventually, after a few years together, she came home one day and said "what you are doing for lunch tomorrow, want to go to the courthouse and get married?"  And they did.  

This was not an older couple, either.  Still in their late 30's at the time.  

And as far as "why get M?"  I say you have to follow your instinct.  After 2 divorces myself, I could have very easy been one to not try again.  But I was young on both counts and me DH waited 7 years to get married.  So I get it and I don't see anything wrong either way.  

Definately keep us posted!  I am so curious how this all goes for you.

Serenity CL making a second marriage work

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2009
Fri, 01-03-2014 - 2:38pm

Thanks for all the great responses.  Let me clarify that I don't expect a "proposal" with him on one knee and a romantic scene.  I just want him to initiate the "plan." I would like to avoid having to give him an ultimatum--let's get married or move out--because I would never feel sure that he really wanted to get married "now"--even though he was the first to mention it as a long-term goal.

I never thought I would remarry.  It didn't seem to make any sense when I was getting out of my failed marriage.   I felt that as I had raised my family, there wasn't much point in complicating things by marrying.  I started dating for "something to do," to have a life besides work and waiting for grandkids.  And then this guy and I hit it off, and the next thing I knew he was talking about marriage and I told him, frankly, that I wasn't ready.  But it sort of stayed in the back of my mind and after a while I decided it would be a good idea.

So now that we have lived together and not gotten on each others' nerves and so forth, and I like being with him more and more, I want him to reassure me that he still feels this way.  If I felt that his original "I'd like to get married eventually" was a proposal, I wouldn't feel so awkward saying something like, "Well, do you still want to get married eventually, and if so, when is eventually?"  :)

Regarding "why marry?" I have had advice from different people on both sides of the question.  I think that perhaps the best reason is that I want to feel that we matter to each other the same way as previous spouses did.  The fact that he is widowed instead of divorced makes me a little insecure sometimes. I know that, because of the circumstances, I am sort of "second best." (He would not have been free to meet and fall in love with me if his wife had died; they had a good and loving marriage.)  So emotionally I want to feel that I am "as good as," his late wife.

If there were financial disadvantages or risks to marrying for either of us, I think that would be a good reason not to marry.  But there don't seem to be. 

Anyway, I guess the next time a good moment comes up, I will ask him something along the lines of "are you still thinking we should marry some day? If you are, I want you to know I am ready."  If that doesn't do it, I guess I will have to do the, "If you are not ready to marry just yet, why don't we try to move apart and  'just date' for a while and see how we feel about the future.  :(  But I hate ultimatums because they feel like you are pushing the other person.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2009
Fri, 01-03-2014 - 3:06pm

As I explained in my other reply, my reason for wanting to marry is emotional. I want to feel we matter to each other as much as earlier marriages, as much as if we were the parents of each others' children.   (I don't mean that we should love each others' kids like our own--that's unrealistic--but that the feelings we have for each other shouldn't be less because we don't have shared children.)   

Regarding your statement about  "the house, property and money we accumulated during our life is OURS, intended for us and OUR children, grandchildren, etc.  We did not work all those years to support anyone else, or enrich THEIR children. And believe me, pre-nups can be invalidated."  

I think that since we are not too far in what we have, there is no question of him "supporting" me or me "supporting" him.  And the amounts of money involved are small enough (and all of us are "fair" people) that I don't fear a pre-nup would be at risk.  I mean, mainly we have to make some agreement about what goes to the survivor after death and what goes to the deceased person's kids.  His pension is more substantial than mine will be, but his ends when he dies while the bulk of mine is an annuity which will have a residual amount if I were to die before age 90.  That residual amount could go to either spouse or kids or shared among the three. If I put him down for that residual amount, I would want him to make a comparable arrangement from his savings or something else. 

We plan to live in my house for a couple of years, but down the road we've talked about buying a house jointly.  This is partly because I want a one-story house as I get older, and partly because this neighborhood is becoming too busy.  Our moving to his house is not an option unless I find a job closer to his house.  Right now, there are no options.

I have suggested that he rent his house out (and cover the mortgage)  for now but he doesn't want to be a landlord--he prefers to take the loss.  He just isn't in a hurry to do so.    He can afford to pay mortgage (and utilities etc.) on a house that he is not really using because he is living with me.  He contributes towards groceries, but nothing else right now.

So my concern is that by not marrying or making any permanent plans about his house, he is sort of coasting, not really acknowledging that we are a long-term couple and we need to plan accordingly.    That's more important to me than the money.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2009
Fri, 01-03-2014 - 3:17pm
RE: " Moving? Packing? Aren't you getting ahead of yourself? Why do you have to move? He's almost totally moved in with you already........" Actually, he isn't. About half is furniture is still at his house, including some pieces that would replace mine when he is "ready to move." He has to deal with all the cookware, plates, etc. not to mention boxes of family memorabilia and stuff which his two youngest want him to hold on to until they have more settled homes. (I have family memorabilia, etc. also. I'm even keeping some stuff that my ex-mother-in-law left for my daughter.) Merging households involves sorting, packing, deciding what to keep and what not to keep. We both have closets-full of old clothes that need to go to Goodwill or else he cannot move all his stuff into my house. He is losing money not renting the house and not selling it. That's his business if we don't marry, OUR business if we do. :) But I totally understand his procrastination about the house. It's just that I don't want the marriage to be procrastinated because he doesn't want to bother to pack. :)
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 01-04-2014 - 10:31pm

What I don't understand is why you would want him to move out & go back to dating if he didn't say that he wanted to get married soon--if he said that in 2 years he would get married, would that be ok?  I can kind of understand that if marriage is a goal for you in your relationship and then he decided that he never wanted to get married, that then really you should break up--forget about going back to dating because why would you keep dating a guy who didn't want to marry you if you want to get married?  I think you should re-think the idea of being "second best"--of cours he wouldn't be with you if his wife hadn't died, but that doesn't mean that you are "less than" her--my uncle was married for over 40 yrs, my aunt died.  When he was probably 70's he met his 2nd wife--they didn't legally get married but they had some kind of ceremony by a priest--she didn't want to live together but if they had gotten married, she would have lost some pensions so it didn't make sense--they were together until she died.  Then after she died and he was over 80, he started dating the woman he's with now.  They got engaged a couple of years ago but I doubt that they will get married.  First of all, her DD (in her 50's) got a brain tumor and they were very concerned about her for a while--she seems to be getting better but she can't live alone.  So now most of the time, the 3 of them live together, then my uncle has a 2nd house that he comes to (near his kids) for the summer--his GF & her DD did come up for some of the time.  I wouldn't say that he loves the 2nd or 3rd wife less-maybe for all I know, he could have loved one of them more.  It is possible to love more than one person in your life and I don't think that not getting married would mean that he loved you less.  When people get older and aren't going to have kids, sometimes it just doesn't seem that necessary to get married--and also all the planning about stuff that you are talking about may be necessary but it also isn't very romantic.  Sometimes you might just want to have a romance with someone and not have to deal with all the daily stuff.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Mon, 01-06-2014 - 9:12pm

Hi D--

No, you're not being silly.....it sounds to me as though he's a nice guy who likes you/living with you/would be fine marrying you, etc etc..........but just takes the easy path.  

(Honestly, this sounds like my son and his GF (my son the easy going/easy path one...).........I'm ready to have the conversation with GF that when you're ready to get married /engaged, and dont want to be the one to badger him, let me know, and I'll badger him for you, LOL.....)

I think you're idea re: telling him if you're still wanting to get married sometime, I'm ready whenever you are.......right now would be a great time to start the conversation, so he has some time between now and valentines day to work on things...........you can be bold and tell him your ring size (dont be like my son's GF and deliberately leave a ring sitting out so he could get the size.....my son was NOT clued in with that at all, and I dont think your guy would be, either!)

Honestly, if my son's GF got fed up and left him because he hadnt proposed in time, my son would be devastated, I know he loves her with all his heart.......and I really think that's how your guy is.......so, just be blatant and tell him.

Also, I think if you share all you have with us re: not looking forward to all the work/details/etc, it just starts an honest discussion and will be positive in the long run.


Keep us posted!

(and I REALLY think the commercialization of Valentines Day is your best asset here.....be blantant with him before February gets here, and let all of the commercials before 2/14 do the rest.........if he really bombs out on 2/14....THEN ask him the deal about what he thought about living apart?---but I really dont think you'll have to....)

Also( I'm sure you know this), but if he is positive re: convo re: marriage eventually.....when you're near a jewerlry store, clue him in to what you like re: rings/or that you dont want one/whatever----make that decision easy for him, too.