image of man with engagement ring preparing for a holiday proposal

It’s the most wonderful time of year, and the time of year when we are easily swept up in the magic of the moment. For some, that magic is in the prospect of a marriage proposal. If you’re feeling a little pressure to add an engagement ring to your holiday shopping list, don’t fret- here’s a list of points to consider to help you decide whether to go through with the proposal this holiday.


Is there pressure for you to propose?


Are you thinking about proposing to get out from under the pressure of others? Maybe it’s your significant other asking when you two will tie the knot, or maybe it’s well-intentioned relatives who ask you every year why you’re not married. 


No matter where you’re feeling the pressure, give yourself permission to step back and determine what you want for yourself. A telling question to ask yourself is whether you would propose any other time of year, or if you’re doing it now because ‘tis the season.


If you truly do want to propose, that’s great! If you’re proposing to alleviate pressure, it’s okay to hold off on proposing until you are sure it’s what you want to do. In the meantime, if you are feeling pressured by someone, this is a great time to identify and practice boundaries with them.


Are you feeling pressured – not just to propose, but to ‘outdo’ yourself this year?


The holiday marketing game is en pointe and the messaging is clear: you can capture both the magic of the season and the hearts of your loved ones if you outdo yourself this year. Go bigger, buy better, give more. Oof, that’s a recipe for high-stakes gifts of regret, and that’s not something we want standing behind us when we offer our hand in marriage.


We’re not here to judge how you do holidays, we’re just here to remind you that love is not conditional, and it’s definitely not tied to how big you go when it comes to gift-giving. So, if you’re eyeing the pretty sparkle of a diamond in order to outdo yourself from last year, give yourself permission to pause and reflect. Do you want to spend forever with this person, or are you feeling swept away by the idea of outdoing yourself from last year?


What would happen if you didn’t get the response you wanted?


When we are planning to give someone a gift, we often do it with an image of the gift being received with excitement. As for a marriage proposal, the ring is technically a gift, but it comes with high-risk commitment and there’s a chance that it won’t be received well. 


If you’ve been planning a holiday proposal and in your mind you see your betrothed both excited and accepting, try playing the scenario through with different endings and think about how it might impact the rest of the holiday for you and the others involved.


What if your loved one wants to think about it? What if they say no? What will the rest of the day look like? Will you need to be involved in activities with your significant other? How will it feel to be engaged in those activities if your partner rejects your proposal? If everything after the proposal felt awkward, would you have wished you had proposed during a time with fewer expectations? You know your situation best, so nobody can tell you when to propose, but it might be helpful to think through all the possibilities and make sure you’re comfortable finishing out the planned activities even if the holiday proposal doesn’t go as expected.


Will buying a ring add to financial stress of the season?


Anyone who has been to the jewelry shop knows engagement rings cost a pretty penny. On top of that, our culture places a lot of value on bigger, more expensive diamonds, especially for engagement pieces. So, if your heart is set on proposing with a stunning diamond that will cost three-months’ salary, consider whether that ring will fit into your already-strapped holiday budget.


Nothing chokes the start of a new marriage quite like debt, so give yourself permission to consider more affordable rings, or even to wait until the holiday spends are over so you have more cash flow to purchase exactly what you want.


If family will be there, especially if you have or your loved one has children, how will this impact their day? How will their response to the proposal impact your day?


Assuming you get the response you’re hoping for, it’s helpful to leave some room for less-than-thrilled reactions from family and friends. Consider others, especially children, in the picture and think about how they may react to such a huge change in status. Will it leave them feeling resentful? Confused? Upset? Defiant? Rejected? Do you have space in the day and your mind to tend to any strong emotions surrounding the proposal?


Not that you would eliminate any resistance if you choose to propose at another time, but at least you wouldn’t have the swell of holiday obligations creating additional challenges.


If there’s a chance someone’s response to the proposal would be challenging, give yourself permission to choose a different time and setting that creates the special environment you envision.


We’re not trying to throw shade on the holiday proposal, we’re just reminding you that it’s ok to pause and make sure it’s really what you want to do. Only you will know if and when the time is right to ask for your partner’s hand in marriage, and we are behind you in whatever you decide to do. As always, if you need a little help figuring it all out, a relationship coach can help – don’t be afraid to reach out.