@weeziebee: I read this and wanted to send a virtual hug!
I was with my Fiance for 8+ years and had endured long-distance, a move and being the only provider in our home while he obtained a grad degree. It bugged me that several people we knew got engaged while still in school (how they paid for such a thing I’ll never know!)!! At one point all of the engaged couples combined! had been together less time than we had!!
It sounds like you are privy to several dysfunctional relationships, it can be tempting to judge your relationship against theirs but it’s just exhausting. And it might be a good reminder that anyone can get engaged, but marriage is a real commitment requiring effort, compromise, love and a really good sense of humor!!
As far as what your significant other might be experiencing–my Fiance never fielded any of those pesky questions from acquaintances and relatives about our timeline on marriage or starting a family. And the more uncomfortable/inappropriate questions like if I really thought he would propose or if I had just given up?!? Ouch! Without generalizing, I don’t think men always experience the pressure of getting engaged (especially if you have been together awhile). If he isn’t experiencing people questioning his life choices maybe he doesn’t see the frustrations that come with waiting to get engaged. He could be like my Fiance and have a real plan in mind, he waited until we moved back to our home city which meant our proposal was that more sentimental because he asked where we first met. It meant I waited two years but it was worth it!
Waiting caused some really large fights in our relationship but what I learned was the following:
1)kudos for knowing you want to be with someone. If only there was a reward for knowing you love him and want to spend your lives together. There are no balloons, parades or celebrations for being ready for that commitment. And it can hurt more when you are ready and they are ready too but don’t have the proposal thing ready. We both wanted to get engaged for about two years before we really could take that next step. I recently found articles in the “pre-engaged” section of apractial wedding.com and wished I had read them while I was waiting.
2) if you want to say something but the timeline talk is too much, can you say something affirming? When we found out a couple had gotten engaged, we both mentioned how excited we were for us to experience that. Can you say something along those lines, how excited you are to take that next step with him? Just a thought. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a real timeline conversation eventually. But a subtle mention of engagement might be an easier way to begin that topic.
3)don’t push it. I did, and learned he was working on the ring. I felt horrible and while the proposal was still a surprise, I felt so icky for having bothered him about it. That resentment you are feeling is better addressed by letting your partner know that you want to take the next step, and taking care of yourself. If wedding sites or social media are bringing you down, take a break and see if it helps.
4) I know it’s hard to do but think about ways to invest in your relationship. Spending time dwelling in that uncomfortable waiting feeling is draining on everyone. Finding ways to connect and spend quality time with one another refocuses your energy and reaffirms those feelings that make waiting so hard in the first place. Best of luck!!