Dear Rachel,

My boyfriend and I had an unspoken agreement when we started dating that we would be getting married soon. It’s now been four years and we’re not even engaged. I turned down a job promotion to stay local for him, now I feel it’s time for him to uphold his end of the bargain and set a date. I never would have made sacrifices to my career had I known we wouldn’t be married by now. I try to hold my tongue when it comes to wedding talk, but every once in a while I let a snide remark slip out. My boyfriend insists he’ll propose when the time is right, but I’ve been waiting for four years. On top of it, my biological clock is ticking and I don’t have time to mess around. How can I get my boyfriend to pop the question?

Signed,

Pop The Question!

Dear Pop The Question,

Unspoken agreements commonly cause misunderstandings in relationships due to their unspoken nature. Speaking of the unspoken, you may think that holding your tongue on the topic of marriage is easing the tension between you and your boyfriend, when in reality, it’s aggravating it. Hostility in the form of snide remarks only widens the chasm between you and the marriage proposal you desire. Meanwhile, a candid conversation between you and your boyfriend could do wonders to alleviate the pressure he feels — and he does feel it — even when you don’t say a word.

You need to speak up and be honest. It’s the only way the two of you will ever break free from your current, unsatisfying holding pattern. Your desperation for a speedy proposal works against you, as it’s most likely pushing your boyfriend away. Even if the two of you once shared a common goal, you now need to call a timeout to reassess your game plan. After four years together, it’s reasonable for you to ask your boyfriend for an estimate of when he’d like to tie the knot. Once you open the floodgates of communication, you’ll both have a clearer idea of how you’d like to proceed.

In terms of your biological clock, while it may be a real concern, be careful not to get ahead of yourself. One of the best gifts two parents can give their child is a foundation of stability and harmony. If your boyfriend’s definitely the man you want to have a child with, now is the time for the two of you to plan out your future according to a timeline that takes into consideration your ability to conceive children. Make your relationship with your husband-to-be your first priority and you will give your future child the gift of a happy home.

Dear Rachel,

After I dumped my ex, he hooked up with another woman within weeks. Yet his new girlfriend wasn’t enough to keep him from calling me to get back together with him behind her back, as recently as a month ago. Now she’s pregnant and they’re engaged. I just received an invitation to their wedding. Although I no longer have romantic feelings for my ex, I still care about him as a person. I can’t believe this rebound marriage will last. He isn’t even married yet, and he’s already headed for a divorce, just like his parents. He never got over their split, and now he’s on track to repeat the same pattern. Should I intervene, or am I naive to think I can protect him from himself?

Signed,

Guilty Conscience

Dear Guilty Conscience,

While it may be naïve to think that you can permanently protect any adult from his or her own destructive behavior, it’s certainly an altruistic notion. I empathize with your protective tendencies. It’s always painful to watch someone you care about engage in harmful behavior. In my experience, feeling sorry for other adults and meddling in their private affairs usually backfires on the meddler and only adds to the drama. He most likely wouldn’t heed your relationship advice if you gave it to him and it’s not your responsibility or your place to stage his wedding intervention. Your ex must deal with the consequences of his new relationship and future child on his own.

Should you attend the wedding? No. I think you’re right to steer clear of the whole fiasco. As for repeating patterns, it’s a common human trait to repeat patterns in order to learn life lessons first hand. Some people are kinesthetic learners, who can only learn by trial and error. Give your ex space to make his own mistakes. Wish him and his family well and focus on managing the only life you can — your own.

Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” For more information on Rachel or her book, visit www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact rachel@rebelgirlpublishing.com.