After separating, FI and I got back together. We have been together for almost four years, so we set a deadline for a proposal. I got antsy because 10 days before the deadline, he still did not have any preparations made that I was aware of (talking to parents, planning an evening either home or out, etc) and was saying we were not ready yet. I felt that after almost four years, we were as ready as we would ever be and I was worried he was waiting until the last minute to ask for an extension. He proposed the night he and I argued about getting married and told me the next day he compromised on the way he wanted to propose and that he felt forced to do it that night. A month later he does not want to make any sort of plans for the wedding and says we are still not ready yet and should not plan until we are ready to get married. To him, this means "30 to 60 days of consistent improvement" in areas he wants to work on (communication, our individual goals, getting a house, fitness, etc).
I feel terrible that he felt forced to propose. I also feel like we are not really engaged because we have one foot in and the other out- he said he wants to marry me but doesn't know if it will happen (because all of the things he wants to work on have not been addressed to his satisfaction). Am I overreacting to feel like my engagement is a sham? How to I make this right?
Background: I am 28 and my FI is 44. Neither of us have been married before or have kids. We have been together almost 4 years. We separated for 3 months (I broke up with him) and then got back together 6 months ago. We discussed marriage multiple times over the course of our relationship and I was upfront about wanting to get married and have kids in the beginning of the relationship. I left because I was tired of waiting and didn't think he was going to ever propose. He kept insisting I was forcing it. In hindsight we were both right- I was forcing it a little and he was dragging his feet.
When we got back together I told him we needed to decide if we were going to move forward and get married or call it quits for good. He agreed, but listed things we had to work on such as communication, personal goals, fitness etc. We set a deadline for us to decide on whether we were getting married.
I compromised on the deadline (one extra month) and compromised on moving back in before we were engaged. We looked at rings a month before our deadline and I thought all was well. 10 days before our deadline, he still had not talked to my parents. I had a frank discussion with him, telling him I felt like getting engaged wasn't a priority. He kept telling me I didn't believe he loved me and I needed to just let things happen; the deadline was stupid because we still hadn't resolved the list of things he wanted to work on yet. I told him we were actively working on things and that after almost four years, we should know if we wanted to get married.
That night he asked if the only way for him to prove he loved me was to propose. I said yes, because I did not realize he meant that night; I thought he meant by our deadline. Later that night he proposed. It was beautiful and sweet, but the next day he said he felt like he was forced because he thought if he didn't ask me that night I would break up with him again and he compromised the way he wanted to do it. He was especially upset he didn't ask my parents. I apologized and asked if he wanted to forget it happened and have a "do over" later, He said no.
A month later, he does not want to talk about wedding planning at all. He insists we are putting the cart before the horse and need to work on things before we plan the wedding. He said he knows he wants to marry me, but doesn't know if it will happen because of me. I gave examples of everything I've done to work towards resolving the issues he felt we had, and then he said it had to be a joint effort. He said after 30-60 days of improvement we can start planning our wedding.
I know he loves me and I feel terrible that he felt forced to propose. I also feel like we are engaged with one foot out the door.How do I reconcile this? Am I overreacting to think he doesn't really want to marry me?