Not Engaged Yet

My BF's mother is dying but we aren't even engaged yet! Help… (NEY)

Hi ladies! I hope you are all having a merry Christmas Eve :) 

Ok, so I'm gonna sort of bring down the mood (sorry). My boyfriend, J's, mother has been in the hospital for the past four months fighting heart failure. Yesterday, we found out that she has no chance of living without a heart transplant, and even then, there is only a 5% chance that her body won't reject the new heart if she gets one in time. J's father left when he was a kid and his grandfather died of heart failure two years ago, so his mother is all that he has left. The reason we haven't gotten engaged yet is because J wants to keep saving money for the perfect engagement. 

J and I really want his mother to be at our wedding, which we were planning for the summer, but I don't know if she will make it that long. Since we aren't officially engaged yet, it makes it hard to try and "move dates" since there is nothing set in stone. I want J to propose so that we can actually plan on getting married while his mother is still alive, but every time I mention it, he says that he doesn't want to get a cheap ring, which is all he can afford. I keep telling him that the money is not important but he is still putting it off to keep saving money.

I want his family to witness our forever and for his mother to see her only son walk down the isle, but he is thinking more about me and giving me the best. So, my question is, should I just drop the urgency and allow him to hold off on getting engaged until he can buy the "perfect" ring, or is there a way that I can let him know that his mother is more important than the fancy engagement/ wedding traditions and try to get things moving so his mother can take part in the biggest day of his life? Honestly, he could ask me with no ring and I would say yes because I just want to officially start planning for the rest of my life with him.

Also, have any of you ladies ever been through something like this with your SO and how did you help him through it? It breaks my heart to see him loosing someone who means so much to him.

Re: My BF's mother is dying but we aren't even engaged yet! Help… (NEY)

  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO
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    I agree with @JCBride2014 - This decision needs to be made by your BF and you need to support 100% whatever decision he chooses to make. It might be that with everything going on with his mother's health right now, weddings aren't really on the brain. Or maybe he just isn't ready to get engaged yet. Whatever his reason is, you need to respect it. I'm sure he is completely aware of the situation with his mother and can figure out what waiting longer to get married might mean in regards to that situation.

    I'll also echo her advice to stop planning your wedding since you aren't engaged.


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  • blabla89blabla89 Atlanta
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    I'm so sorry to hear this. It's incredibly hard to go through, and I think the best thing to do is just listen and be available for anything he needs.

    With BF's mom's failing health, a wedding of any kind may just be too much for her. I'm not sure to what degree you would expect her to "take part," but she just may not be able to. I know that when my mom didn't have much time left (she passed away several years ago from cancer) - her priority was just spending private time together with her kids, sisters, and friends. So this is really up to your BF and his family. I know you mean well by wanting her to be there, but that may just not be the right thing for them. Please don't push it if he tells you he doesn't want to. Whatever the reason he tells you, you need to respect his wishes.





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  • I am so, so sorry you guys are going through this. I can't imagine how painful this situation must be for you both, and I wish you the best as you move through it.

    You asked how you can best support your BF through this situation. Honestly, I think the best things you can do are:
    1) Be there to listen and give hugs. This is the single most awesome thing you can do for him right now.
    2) Be available to help with the practical day-to-day stuff that gets forgotten during times like this. A pet that needs to be let out while he's visiting his mother, a hot meal once or twice a week, doing a load of laundry or bringing him fresh clothes if he's staying at the hospital overnight - I'm sure he would appreciate all of these things so he can concentrate on spending time with his mom.
    3) Don't push your agenda of an engagement/wedding on him right now. I understand that your intentions are good: you want his mom to be able to see her son get married. However, a wedding may be the furthest thing from both of their minds right now, and you need to respect how they use this precious time. I can see why you would feel that her witnessing this big life event would be important, I'm absolutely not knocking that - but perhaps they want to spend the next months/weeks just being together without having an engagement to worry about or a wedding to plan. These are stressful things for the healthiest of us, and during illness, I expect it would be extremely overwhelming to your BF and his mom. It sounds like you have let him know that you're OK without the perfect ring/proposal and huge wedding they want it to happen sooner, which is fine. But now you need to step back and let him decide how to handle it, and you need to be gracious about whatever he decides.
    desertsun
  • Thanks so much for your advice everyone. @Amapola14, thanks for the advice for getting through this. I will leave it alone.

    Just to clarify, I am not planning my wedding because I've lurked long enough to know that pre-engagement planning is a no-no! We have "planned" everything as far as when tying the knot will fit into our lives because we are graduating college and making some pretty big changes soon, so it's more of just a timeline. He is actually pretty insistent on being married by the fall of 2014 (even without an engagement yet, I know it's kinda weird) but I guess if he has changed his mind, I will just support whatever he is comfortable with. Thanks for reminding me to just be there, and I'll go with whatever he wants.

    Merry Christmas everyone. :)
  • phiraphira Bahstin
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    I'm so sorry to hear that your boyfriend's mother is dying. That is just a rough situation all around.

    I think that each of you might need to let go of a particular ideal that you each have. Not the best way to say it, but I'll explain. I think that you need to stop pushing for a proposal and tell him--very clearly--that you are ready to commit to marrying him, and he should let you know when he's ready. Because that's really just what it is: you're ready to marry him, and he needs to know that you're ready.

    But what he needs to let go of is "the perfect proposal." It can get really easy to get sucked into the idea of the perfect proposal, whether you're the one being proposed to or the one proposing (and often, the person proposing might feel even more pressured if the other person has indicated that they need something super-duper special). You've made it clear to him that rings are not important, and how he does it isn't important, but I think it's time to sit down and make it clear that you do not care about the perfect proposal or the perfect ring.

    Basically, I would tell him, "I love you and want to be married to you. I understand that you want to save up for a big ring and a proposal, but the bottom line is that if you and I want to marry each other, then those are unnecessary obstacles. I want you to let me know when you're ready to marry me based on when you're ready, and not based on the size of the ring you could afford. So, whenever you're ready, tell me, and that'll be the most romantic proposal I can think of."

    In the meantime, we see people all the time on the forums who have a dying family member and feel pressured to get engaged and/or married before the person dies. I think that this is truly up to your boyfriend. However, I would advise against trying to get married before his mother dies. Her loss will be devastating either way, and if she's this ill, chances are that she might still die before you're married, and you'll have pushed up the date for nothing (or worse, she'll die like ... the day before the new wedding date).

    If your boyfriend does get over his whole "no money for a riiiiiiing" business in time, I do think it would mean a lot to both of you to let his mother know that you are going to be getting married. My partner's grandmother died a year ago, and at the time, my partner and I both knew we'd be getting engaged and married within a couple of years. Obviously, not something we could tell her, and it just makes both of us so sad that she died not knowing about it.
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  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio
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    I'm going to echo with what everybody else said about this is really between him (and him and his mom). 

    I will add a little - if he wants the perfect ring for you, have you offered to help pay for the ring? 


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  • Thanks @phira, you hit the nail on the head, I'll talk to him and make it clear that the fancy stuff isn't important. 

    @Dignity100 I have hinted at him that my mother wants to give him her first engagement ring to give to me but she won't offer until he asks for my dad's blessing... he wanted to ask with ring in hand. Is it ok for me to get so involved by helping with the ring? I would love to help pay for it but I don't want him to feel like I am taking over his whole process.
  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California
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    It sounds like you have already made it clear to him that you don't care about a fancy proposal or ring. You need to let this go and allow him to make this choice as he sees fit. It might not be important to you how he proposes or with what ring he proposes, but it may be important to him. And that is just as important.

    My husband's father died prior to our engagement and that was a time for family and mourning and would have been completely inappropriate to celebrate by getting engaged/married in their culture which is different to my own. So there may be cultural influences as well.

    You've made it clear that you would like to get married. It's his family. Let it be.
  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO
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    shaivana said:
    Thanks @phira, you hit the nail on the head, I'll talk to him and make it clear that the fancy stuff isn't important. 

    @Dignity100 I have hinted at him that my mother wants to give him her first engagement ring to give to me but she won't offer until he asks for my dad's blessing... he wanted to ask with ring in hand. Is it ok for me to get so involved by helping with the ring? I would love to help pay for it but I don't want him to feel like I am taking over his whole process.
    I think this depends on how your BF feels about it. My BF absolutely would not want me to help pay for the ring. You can always suggest it to your BF though.


  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio
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    @shaivana - as far as 'is it ok to get involved with helping with the ring' - it really depends on your BF and relationship.  I know my FI wanted me involved with the whole picking out the ring processes - so we shopped together and decided on the ring together.  As far as paying for the ring, I offered to help - he has yet to take me up on the offer (I didn't want him draining his savings plus after we get married it will be combined finances anyway).

    It sounds like you really just need to let him decide what is best and just let him know you're there for him if he needs to talk.


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  • If I were in your situation, I would just be quiet about an engagement. Trust me, your bf has far bigger things to deal with right now. And I find it incredibly insensitive that you're thinking about a ring and a wedding when his mother is dying. It's appalling.

    Part of being the girlfriend/fiancée/wife is being supportive when the boy needs it. Do that.
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  • phiraphira Bahstin
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    @blue Honestly, I don't think it's that insensitive that she's thinking about it. I do think that pushing him to propose and get married before his mother dies is inappropriate: being engaged and married need to be mutual decisions, and clearly he needs to focus on his mom right now. But in terms of thinking about it, she can't really control that, and I figure that at the very least, it's a nice mental distraction from the stress of death (and helping someone cope with it).

    I do want to add, OP, that your boyfriend wanting to ask your dad for permission with a ring in hand is something you need to talk to him about (obviously not right now). It sounds like it matters more to him than it does to you, for one. And like I said, you've been indicating that you're ready to get engaged without a ring or anything fancy. I think that he needs to compromise some of his "perfect proposal" that he's been imagining, and discuss a timeline with you. If you're planning to be married in the summer, then I think you need to either agree on a timeline for when the engagement needs to happen, OR (and this is what I think would be better) you both need to just say, "Fuck it, we're engaged now."
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  • I feel like if my BF found out his mom was dying, and we had a timeline for a wedding, it would be natural to think about moving things up for FMIL. Esp if she was all the family my BF had left. Saying your vows in front of the most important/most loved people in your lives is part of why you get married. (For me, at least.) 

    But I agree that the best way to handle it is just talk with BF and see if it's something he even wants to think about at this point. Respecting HIS needs right now is absolutely the most important thing. I really like what Amapola had to say. 

    Just want to add that I'm so sorry you and your BF are going through this. 

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  • @blue, the only reason we have to keep talking about this is because we are really traditional and don't want to move in together or make decisions together unless we are married. We are in a time of transition and need to choose grad schools and where we are going to live and he doesn't want to do long distance and is still insistent on getting married in the summer. 

    I really don't talk about it with him that much and want to be sure I don't come off as insensitive, that's why I'm talking about it with you all. I feel bad that we have to make decisions right now, but we're just at a point where we need to make decisions because we are still graduating and going to grad school in the fall no matter what happens and it's a matter of "do we look for a place together and sign a lease now or not?" kinda thing since we're not moving in together before marriage. 

    I totally agree with you @phira! Our relationship is not just in the dating stage anymore, we feel as if we are engaged since we plan on getting married in the very near future, we just haven't gone through all of the formalities. Haha your comment made me laugh… we'll see if he lightens up but I will say as little as possible to get the point across. Thanks for being understanding, I am being as  supportive as possible and have been for the last year that his mother has been having heart problems. After a while, I feel like we still have to continue to move forward in life. 
  • Without reading previous posts, here is my 2 cents. I think that all you need to do is tell him that it's equally important to you that she is there as it probably is for him. Just to let him know that a ring/expensive wedding doesn't matter.

    My cousin did this so that our grandpa could be at his wedding, He had a sweet little wedding with parents and grandparents and bestman/MOH. The rest of the family and friends didn't even KNOW about the wedding until after it happened. All so that our beloved grandpa could be there. He had about a month left. Even though I wasn't there, I am personally happy they gave grandpa that gift.

    Let your BF know that a ring and fancy shmancy wedding doesn't matter at much as the presence of his mother. Then, leave the ball in his court. He knows how you feel and that's a gift in itself! 

    shaivana
  • @sgarmand that's a beautiful story. Just had to post to tell you that. Brought a tear to my eye.
  • @sgarmand, thanks so much for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your loss and am inspired by your strength! It really is beautiful what you experienced and how you handled the situation. I wish you ha d your FI the best.
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