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Valentine’s Day is coming up and I want to take my relationship to the next level. I’ve been with a wonderful girl for three months and I plan to ask her to marry me. The thing is, I’m not sure if it’s too soon. I haven’t even met her parents yet and I think that maybe the whole Covid thing is making me more impulsive, but I really believe she is “the one.” I just don’t want to scare her off and lose what we have. Do you think I should go ahead with my plan and ask her to marry me? I already got a ring with our names engraved in it.
- I do
■ Thanks for sharing your question and it’s special to hear about your feelings for this woman. Although I understand your eagerness to bring your relationship to the next level, it seems you have some lingering doubts about whether marriage is the next logical step. You wonder whether Covid is making you more impulsive and if this is indeed the case, can you think of any other steps in between dating and marriage that you might feel more certain about? You might ask yourself why you want to hurry into marriage at this time; are you afraid of losing your girlfriend to someone else and/or do you feel marriage would strengthen your bond?
From my perspective as a psychologist and relationship counsellor, in general I would say 3 months is too soon. Of course, there are cases where it has worked for people, but oftentimes in the first few months of a relationship we feel in love and the initial “chemistry” with the other person can make us feel very positive about everything in the relationship. Over time, this passionate, in love feeling may develop into loving the other person for who they are, both their good characteristics and their weaknesses. There is a wise saying in Europe: “Let all the seasons pass your courtship” (courtship is an old word for dating), which implies that a relationship needs at least one year to get to know one another through different seasons of our life. In order to get to know the other person well and to check whether your values align, you may need to take more time. Dreaming about the future together is a great way to discuss your values and expectations regarding marriage. What are your hopes and dreams and what are your girlfriend’s hopes and dreams? Do you share the same values on finances, family, cultural issues, and spirituality for example?
You mentioned that you have not met her parents yet – maybe this would be an interesting “next level” step to take. This way, you give your relationship time to grow and develop by getting to know each other within family settings and among friends. You’ll both have the opportunity to become who you are, and friends and/or family can be an important part of that journey.
For Valentine’s Day you might think about creating a special time to express your intentions of developing the relationship to the level of marriage and ask your girlfriend what her ideas are. You could create a romantic setting and play a game where you ask each other questions about different aspects of life and connect deeply in that way. This is a bit different than asking her to marry you –that would require a yes or no—but it would create the space to explore and dream about a future together.
Best wishes to you in your relationship!
My question is psychology-related, so I thought you might have some good input. I'm organizing an online get-together with people from all over the world who need a bit of human connection. I put a shoutout on a forum and there are about 20 of us who will have a Zoom event where we just share what we've been going through lately and how we can support each other from afar. Do you have any good ice-breaker questions that can help us get to the deep stuff? Any other tips on how to lead the discussion to encourage people to share openly? Thanks!
- Conversation Starter
Dear Conversation Starter,
■ That’s a great idea! There’s no doubt that a lot of people around the world have been somewhat cut off from their normal relationships in the last year or so, creating a real need for people to connect with and support each other in different ways. Many people have been significantly affected by COVID but haven’t always had the chance to discuss properly, so I’m not surprised there has been such interest in your event. I’m sure it will be very beneficial to those who attend.
Regarding tips for the meeting, it would be good practice to ensure that each participant has a fairly clear understanding of the purpose of the meeting and how it will be run. You’ve probably done this already, but it is still possible some people may attend the event with different ideas of its intent and how it will work, and some may even want to use this forum to push their own agenda. Ensuring that expectations are understood and agreed upon before the event can help avoid this. I would suggest asking that everyone agrees to respect what each person shares even if there is a difference of opinion, and that everyone commits to ensuring all participants have an equal opportunity to participate so that no one gets to dominate the discussion too much.
In terms of some questions to get the discussion going, here are some possible suggestions:
• How have you been impacted by what’s been happening? A good general question that invites people to share a bit more deeply. Be aware that this could raise some tough situations that people have experienced, and some intense emotions with it. This could be very beneficial if it gives people the chance to share their experience and receive some validation in return, but it could also have the potential to shift the focus of the group discussion in a direction which may or may not be helpful. Be sure that you’re sensitive to people’s needs while also gently bringing the focus back to the larger purpose of the meeting if required.
• What has helped you to cope? Everyone will have developed some ways to cope, so this will allow people to share ideas and strategies that could benefit others.
• What have you learned about yourself through this experience? We often learn more from the difficult times in life than the easier times. This question may help people reflect on the pandemic in a slightly different and more positive way.
I hope these questions might be a helpful guide for you and that the meeting goes well for you and the other people who attend.