by Tina Tessina
1. Keep it simple: Don’t make your proposal plans too elaborate. The more complicated the proposal plan, the more likely something will go wrong. Make it a private moment, between just you two. You can save the big splash for the engagement announcement. If you guessed wrong about your partner’s willingness, you’ll be disappointed, but at least you won’t be publicly embarrassed.
2. Talk about it beforehand, in general terms: Don’t spring a proposal on a partner who may not be prepared to decide. Instead, ask questions for several weeks beforehand, like “What do you think about marriage?” “If we ever got married, would you want children?” and “Do you think we could make a marriage work someday?” Positive answers to these questions are your green light to ask.
3. Ask from the heart. Tell a little story about how you came to realize you want to share your life with your partner, and then add “So, will you marry me?” at the end.
4. It’s traditional to have an engagement ring, but you shouldn’t choose it all by yourself — your partner may have something entirely different in mind. Before the proposal, during the “talking about it beforehand” stage, stop by jewelry stores when you’re at the mall and ask “Which engagement ring do you like?” In this way, you can figure out what she likes. Don’t go overboard on the expense, however, no matter what the jewelry salesperson says about several month’s salary. Consult someone you respect, if you’re not sure what you can afford. It’s also OK to pick the ring out and purchase it together, but save the actual proposal for a surprise.
5. For the actual proposal, find a setting that has meaning for you as a couple. If you have had a great time at the zoo, take your intended there to propose. If you both like rock climbing, climb your favorite rock, and when you get to the top, pop the question. If you have a favorite restaurant or even a bowling alley, that’s the place to use. The local park where you jog, or always go to talk is great. It’s more important that the place be meaningful, memorable and relatively private, than that it be elaborate or expensive.
6. If you’re set it up carefully, you should be rewarded with a “yes” and a big kiss. Once that happens, you can take her out for a nice dinner or go off together to tell the parents.
“Dr. Romance” is Tina B. Tessina, PhD, licensed marriage counselor and author of 13 books and the Dr. Romance Blog http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/.