About a week before we all settled into our respective Thanksgiving get-togethers, 28-year-old Fernando Brazier married his longtime girlfriend, Trudian Hay. They had been a couple since they were teenagers and had two little ones together, a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, so it seemed like a no-brainer to her and their families — and maybe even to a certain degree him, too — that they go on ahead and make it official. In the Great Big Book of Social Convention, marriage is right up there with other gestures of grown-ness like buying a house and starting a 401(k).

So the pair exchanged their I do’s in front of loved ones and celebrated what was supposed to be a new life together as husband and wife, complete with two beautiful babies. It all sounds pretty ideal.

Except Fernando Brazier didn’t want to get married. According to some reports, he might not have even wanted to be in that particular relationship period even though they’d been an item since high school. Feeling overwhelmed and distraught over what he perceived to be a hopeless situation, he left a note for his new bride at the front desk of the hotel they were staying in, put his wedding band inside of an envelope, and jumped into the Harlem River only hours after their wedding ceremony was over.

Headlines are always competing with one another for the wow factor that gets folks to click through and increase traffic on one site or another. But when I read Brazier’s story, it stuck with me, even after I’d seen sensational stories about mysteriously abducted toddlers, chicks hustling butt implants using concoctions of Fix-a-Flat and cement, and moms who went missing after appearing on People’s Court.

My heart went out not only to him but his wife, as well. She was in love. She must’ve been so caught up in the excitement of walking down the aisle, she forgot to make sure her man wanted to be married. As a single gal myself, I totally understand her twist. They’d been together forever, they had two kids—the end result was obvious. But it’s also the best albeit unfortunate example to prove how learning to read body language is a gift we all can develop, but only if you want to be able to decipher what it’s saying.

It’s also a lesson to the singleistas out there, all of us dreaming of walks down aisles and cake cuttings and happy little nuclear households. I know none of us would readily admit that we’ve tried to put a dude under the gun to get married. That’s the kind of confession no one wants to really make to themselves, much less to anyone else. “Yeah, I strong-armed my man into marrying me” doesn’t sound nearly as fuzzy bunny and sweetly romantic as “he couldn’t live without me so he proposed.”

Sometimes, we’re more subtle and subconscious and there’s a good chance that the woman dropping the hints and making the suggestions doesn’t even realize she’s digging the screws. Sometimes guys will be sweating bullets about that impending “next step” and no one has even uttered the M word. Tradition, I guess, makes it clear that a respectable man will eventually make that his next move after a certain amount of time with a special someone.

Brazier’s case was extreme — and deeply pitiful — but it does make a neon bright statement: if a man is not ready to get married, no amount of pressure, whether it comes from brute force or delicate innuendo, is going to make him want to be there. If he’s not ready, he’s not ready. If he’s not into it, he’s not into it. And really, if you have to convince or cajole someone into marrying you, I’d venture to say that the relationship is probably not going to last, ring or no ring.

Sometimes we can envision how perfect life would be if only the guy we’re waiting on would catch up. But that’s what’s in your head, not necessarily his. (Trust me, I know plenty about that one. I waited eight years for an ex to capitalize on how fantastic I was. That man’s light bulb must’ve been on the fritz because that ah-ha moment just never came.) My thought: if he doesn’t bring up marriage after two years, and you know that’s your dream, ask once what his plans are. Once. If he doesn’t kick it into gear after that, pack your heart, your pride, and your plans for the future and head out.

But, whatever you do, don’t bother dropping hints or making ultimatums. It might not end in tragedy like the Fernando Brazier story but it more than likely won’t be pretty, nonetheless. Better to read from his body what he might not be saying with his mouth than to be so blinded by the desire to be married that you miss major warning signs that your man just isn’t into it.

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