Marriage proposal ideas and videos are everywhere you look. People have started going to extreme lengths to pop the question, looking to make the moment a truly memorable one. While the technology to share these moments have changed over the years, one thing remains the same: Proposing marriage is a high risk endeavor. No matter how solid the relationship, you never know what someone will say until you present them with the question.
So what happens if they say no?
All is Not Lost
Fun Fact: My wife proposed to me three times. Notice I say my WIFE. I didn’t turn down her proposal(s) because I didn’t love her – quite the opposite in fact. When we met, I was coming off of a failed relationship (and marriage) and simply felt a bit cursed when it came to marriage. I loved her and while I thought our relationship was great, I felt adding marriage might doom us.
Each time she asked me, I felt bad telling her no but I didn’t want to lead her on. While I turned down her proposal, I told her it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with her, I just didn’t want to be married. She felt differently and while she always accepted my rejection without a fight, she informed me she wouldn’t be giving up anytime soon. Sure enough, as time went on, I saw she was serious and once we decided to have kids together I happily said yes to her fourth – and final – proposal.
Our story may sound weird but it isn’t. Many couples go through a rejection of marriage when one person wants things to move more quickly than the other person. It doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is over, just that it will take time to get to that next level.
When They Say No
When you hear the word ‘No’ after a marriage proposal, you might feel shock or disbelief. You might be hurt, angry, confused or a mixture of those emotions. It’s important not to lash out and to try to see the situation from you partner’s perspective.
Take a deep breath and ask why. Worst case scenario, you’re about to be dumped. This could be the case if you’ve sprung the question on someone too early in a relationship or as a last ditch effort to save your relationship. If your relationship is generally good and strong, however, maybe it’s a timing thing or your partner is just nervous about such a big commitment.
Asking why they chose to say no isn’t about changing their mind, it is important for you to accept their answer and respect the decision. The conversation should remain focused on understanding their objections and making plans for next steps.
Where Do We Go From Here?
If you’ve talked about their objections and agree that you want to remain together, it’s time to talk about goals. Does your partner ever want to be married? Is marriage something you feel strongly about? Many times it’s an issue of timing and building a strong foundation before marriage.
Couples counseling is a great option for many people and is often covered by insurance plans. If counseling isn’t an option, try activities that build and strengthen your relationship. This can be anything from hikes in the woods and team games to beginning to attend religious services together and everything in between.
Moving on from a rejected wedding proposal can be hard for both people. But a couple who knows they love each other and want to be together can move past the bump in the road. A rejection of marriage today doesn’t mean it’s off the table forever. It simply means that this isn’t the right time – not that you’re the wrong person.