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Robert Hensley

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Laurie Puhn

Harvard-trained, family and divorce mediator, and author

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Founder and editor of Today's Groom magazine

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Laurie Puhn on Marriage Proposals

Laurie Puhn on Marriage Proposals

Laurie Puhn knows what it takes to craft the perfect marriage proposal. Described as “the Ann Landers of the New Millennium,” Puhn is an attorney and family mediator by trade but a relationship-communications expert by practice. She is the author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life, and also writes the relationship advice blog www.expectingwords.com. Puhn also serves as a legal and relationship commentator on Fox News Channel and is the TV host of the weekly show “i on New York” on WPXN-TV. Puhn shares her advice for creating your marriage proposal.

How can men craft the perfect marriage proposal?

Women want to be proposed to—it just has to be done right. You don’t want to be rude and be at a fast-food burger joint and say, “by the way, why don’t we get married?” One couple I know frequently gets up together and talks in the middle of the night. One night they got up and cuddled. He took something off the side table and then handed her a box with a diamond ring and asked her to marry him. She thought it was the sweetest moment of her life. That wouldn’t work for all couples, but it connected for them.

How can guys get excited in the first 30 days of proposing and not be mired in fear or anxiety?

A guy should talk to a good friend who is recently married. Ask for advice. Find out about his trials and tribulations and laugh about them together. A little camaraderie goes a long way in reducing stress. Plus, your friend will be excited for you and that in turn will give you that boost of excitement to look forward to the proposal.

How important is the ring in the marriage proposal process?

The ring is as important as the couple makes it out to be. If she is comfortable with a quarter-carat diamond, a sapphire stone or no ring at all, then you won’t need to hold off on the proposal to get the perfect ring. However, if she has been clear that she wants a 1.5-carat ring and you can’t afford it right now, then you should be open with her and explain that it will take you six months or a year to afford it. She may not have realized this. If she understands the tremendous expense and would still rather wait, and you are comfortable with that, then delay the proposal. There’s really no right or wrong time. It’s up to the two of you.

What can a guy do to make sure he impresses his girlfriend with the marriage proposal?

Link your proposal to a story. You don’t have to vie for getting on Lifetime TV’s best marriage proposal show. You can keep it simple, romantic, honest and personal, and that will work. I know one couple who were outdoorsy. One day on a hike, he set up a camera to take a photo, ran to his girlfriend, and blurted out, “will you marry me?” She loved it because they both loved hiking. You don’t have to be perfect if you’re in sync with what is special to both of you.

Where do most men get held back in the first 30 days of proposing?

They wait too long. I haven’t heard about many bad marriage proposals. Too many men wait for the perfect time. I heard of one man who carried the ring in his pocket for 30 days waiting for a time to propose. Don’t delay—do some preparation and propose. Too many men pursue perfection.

When is the time right to propose?

When you’re sure you love her. You’ve shared values. You trust her and have no reason to doubt her. You see no red flags. What she says, she follows through on. She shows integrity and doesn’t lie or manipulate. And, you treat her with respect.

What is the most important thing a man should do when proposing?

Get down on one knee. Why? Because it’s fun. She’s in a state of shock. If you are down on one knee, that adds the visual that says you’re proposing. The odds are she won’t be able to take in all the words. One more piece of advice: Don’t get off your knee until you hear a yes.

What is the one thing a man should never do during a marriage proposal?

Act hesitant. Don’t be wishy-washy. Be positive, upbeat, confident and sure. She wants to know that you’re certain. Saying, “I think you’re fantastic,” is much better than “since you gave me this ultimatum, I want to marry you.” What’s preferable is “I propose because I’ve thought deeply about you. I know that you are the person I want to be with the rest of my life.”

The proposal is the starting point on the road to marriage. How can couples be successful after the first 30 days of proposing?
Every couple fights. The key is to set up a fighting “road map” right from the beginning. No blaming; ask questions. Find out her perspective before you jump to conclusions; and never end a fight without coming up with a joint solution.



What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

I focus on what life will be like once the change happens. I start mentally to fill in the blanks to prepare for the change.

The best thing about change is…

…it lights a fire under you to try something new.

What is the best change you have ever made?

I left a high-paying job at a corporate law firm to focus on my first book, Instant Persuasion, and my speaking career and private practice in family mediation. People admired my courage for taking such a risk, but I think it would have been a much greater risk to stay at the firm and not follow my passion.

For more information on Laurie Puhn, visit www.expectingwords.com.

Posted: 1/7/08

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