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I want a house, marriage and kids with my boyfriend. How do I say that without scaring him off?

  • Author: Wayne and Wanda
  • Updated: January 4
  • Published January 4

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for four years. I was so sure he was going to propose on Christmas. He dropped huge hints about a special gift he had for me.

Christmas came and his gift was a gorgeous diamond pendant necklace. It’s gorgeous — and yes, I love it. But I couldn’t help feeling so disappointed. I was sure after all this time, he was finally going to ask me to marry him and I can’t lie; I’m crushed that he didn’t.

Since we started dating, his brother met a girl, got married and engaged, and they just had their first baby. Meanwhile, we’ve moved in together — about a year ago, after three years of dating. He has suggested we buy a place together. I’ve said I wouldn’t do that without marriage or at least being engaged. He said buying a home together is just as big a commitment and it shouldn’t matter if we do things in a “non-traditional order.”

I want kids. I want to be married when I have those kids. And I want to be in a home we own together. That’s a lot to get done, and I’m 33, and I know it’s cliché but the clock is ticking, and I want to do these things with my boyfriend but I feel like he doesn’t get the pressure or the timing. How can I bring this up in a way that doesn’t terrify him and scare him off and make me sound crazy?

Wanda says:

Couples face a lot of pressure over the holiday season, ranging from fun to formidable. There’s often expected interaction with each other’s families, the delicate process of blending significant traditions, and the omnipresent weight of selecting the perfect gifts to exchange. In this highly charged environment of expectations and adoration, the mind goes in all kinds of ponderous directions, and it definitely isn’t crazy that you’ve hoped a proposal was incoming.

Let’s consider the evidence: You’ve been with this guy four years, you’ve taken serious steps like moving in together and discussing home-owning, and he’s watched someone as near and dear as his own brother take huge leaps and make major commitments. Plus it’s Christmas and/or New Year’s Eve, two of the dates with the statistically highest proposal rates of the year.

But: It’s been four years, and it took a hot minute to move in together. And, he’s been pretty clear about his comfort with going slow and out of traditional order. And, it sounds like you haven’t had a super-frank convo with him about your hopes and dreams.

So, don’t be surprised if marriage is nowhere near your man’s mind. It’s time for a sit-down chat about your goals and what you’re hoping for out of your union. Based on his reaction, and whether he warmly and inquisitively opens up, or shuts down and bolts, you’ll know soon enough where you guys stand.

Wayne says:

You know the best way to get exactly what you wanted for Christmas as a kid? Tell Santa, tell your parents, tell your siblings, tell the mailman, tell your teachers, tell anyone who will listen.

You know the quickest way to have a really disappointing Christmas as an adult? Let Santa, or whoever is in charge of getting you presents these days, take their best guess at what you want and get your hopes up really high that they nail it!

Your perfectly well-meaning boyfriend actually found a special gift that you love. Not exactly coal in your stocking, right? That’s a job well done for most gift givers. But if you preferred a diamond ring to a diamond pendant, maybe you should have let him know in October.

After four years together, including a year together under the same roof, what’s so scary to talk about at this point? Heck, you’ve already chatted about the big stuff: house, marriage, kids. You’ve even made it clear that you weren’t comfortable buying a house with him before being married. Now, instead of hinting around about how you want everything else to play out or hope that he just intuitively steers the relationship in the direction you have plotted in your mind, how about you just hop up on Santa’s/boyfriend’s lap and tell him exactly what you want?

Doesn’t sound like he’s fundamentally against anything that you envision for a future together. In fact, it sounds like he’s trying very hard to make you happy and keep you around. You both just need to get on the same roadmap and the best way to do that is to plot the path together.