Honey, July is six months away. That’s a long time to be going stir-crazy, feeling sick, and trying to put on a happy face.
My suggestion is a little bit different, but here it goes. I have given this advice to friends, and it has always worked, though I know everyone is different. It basically breaks the engagement into two parts and separates them: the proposal and the ring. Before I go further, though, let me back up.
Set a date for yourself, in about a month. From now until then, be carefree with your boyfriend. Don’t mention anything. Be as good to yourself as budget will allow. Just as an example, but by no means the only option, change your hair a little, buy a pair of spectacular jeans, or get some new makeup. And – as other posters so wisely suggested – make yourself busy with something you’ve always wanted to do.
In the week leading up to the date you’ve picked, be extra good to your boyfriend. This isn’t a trick to try to trap him or anything. It’s just that you want him to know how much you care about him, to display your love in action. Get the house clean, have delicious things to eat, and so forth. Set a date with him for dinner and make his favorite. Try not to have too much wine, either, because you don’t want to be weepy (my perpetual downfall!)
Then, just say it. Keep your voice low and even, and try to smile. These are just body language cues that will help him stay calm and not get defensive. First, apologize for changing what you said, which is that you’d happily wait until July. Say that you feel that it’s just not mature to be waiting around like a child waits for Santa Claus, and that’s part of the problem – that your anxiety is not over the engagement, but the feeling of being powerless. Acknowledge that the old-fashioned ideal of waiting for the man to propose is very romantic, but that it doesn’t reflect the reality of modern life. Women used to just sit in their fathers’ houses with nothing going on until they were proposed to; now they have big plans and hopes and opportunities.
Now here comes the harder part: explain that you have real aspirations for your life, and that while you’re not gunning to become a mother tomorrow, it is something that a wise and rational woman would be concerned about. (Reiterate that you are being wise and rational, and you’ll have better luck than if you talk about being hurt. I’m not saying you can never express yourself to your mate – what a terrible world that would be! But there are some conversations where it pays to avoid their defensiveness, and this is one. Men are actually very tender, but protective of that tenderness, which seems callous to us. Our strong negative emotions, if they’re the ones provoking them, can make them close up preventatively). Say that you don’t believe in ultimatums, because they are rude games, but at some point you must simply be logical. Again, words like “logical” go a long way and keep everyone on an even keel.
Now, the hardest part of all: say that you would like his word, tonight, that you are going to get married. You don’t need to make the engagement public, yet, but you would like his firm word on it. You would like to be able to begin discussing weddings and to say to him, “When we’re married” without being delusional or pushy. Explain to him that an engagement ring is a very precious present, and that when he chooses to give it to you, it will be a very special time and you can use that occasion to begin telling everyone else of your engagement.
Ask him to be brutally honest about his thoughts (don’t say “feelings”) about marriage and parenthood. If you’ve been calm, thus far, you have a great chance of him opening up.
We don’t know what you’re going to find out. You may find out that he’s really ambivalent. Some men are ambivalent, and then they wise up and make great husbands. Some men are ambivalent, and get married because they feel they have to, and the marriages are shams. Really listen to him, ask questions, and go with your gut. You want this to be rock-solid. Whatever the case, though, be ready to walk. I left someone a year and a half ago, nearing my 30s, thinking that I was never going to replace him and never going to find someone in time to be a mother. And right around the corner was my Fiance, and after a bit over a year of dating, I had that ring on my finger. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. If you gut tells you that this man is on shaky ground with his ideas of marriage, I’m not saying that you definitely should leave, but I am saying that if you decide to, don’t think of it as the end of the world. There will be hope.