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If she's moving overseas, I propose not proposing

Dear Mr. Smith,

I've been with a great girl for about six years now and I made the decision to pop the question. I did all my ring research, allocated my budget accordingly and was waiting for my tax return to buy it. Four days before I walk into the diamond wholesaler, she tells me she applied for a job overseas and, of course, she got the job.

Should I ask her to marry me before she leaves or after she comes back?

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I don't really want to be engaged to someone who won't be in the country for a year and don't want to start planning for a wedding right when she gets back. What if she comes back a different person?

Are you really expecting me to believe that you had no idea at all that your lover of six years was pursuing work abroad?

If she really is so secretive, and kept this dramatic separation from you until she knew for sure it was going to happen, then I have to admit she scares me. She should scare you too. It doesn't seem as if she's at all keen on marrying you, or even on being with you at all. It sounds to me, frankly, as if she wants out.

But then another thought occurs to me: Possibly I am unhealthily predisposed to not believe what people say.

Perhaps you did have a general knowledge that she had job applications around the world, and perhaps that's why you chose this spectacularly inappropriate moment to decide on lifelong commitment. Either because you are afraid of losing her, or because you are really afraid of success, and knew that a grand gesture like this - right at the moment of possible separation - would be romantic and impressive but not really binding.

But perhaps I am too pessimistic about human motivation. Whatever yours, it's still clear that the time is not right for you to demand her absolute devotion. Put the ring down for now; see how she feels when she returns (if she does).

You can view the complete

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archive of Ask Mr. Smith questions, or ask a question of your own,

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