You’ve found THAT special person, and it’s been a giddy couple of months. The experience is so beautiful; you never want it to end. You can even hear wedding bells ringing in your ears each time you listen to your partner speak. Along comes the weeny little voice of worry, or is it reason? Should you plunge into it? You only met, isn’t it too soon? When to get married? Questions, questions and you have no answers.
Almost everyone has been there. One minute you’re sure you’ve met the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. The next minute, you’re worried you don’t know them well enough. But how long should you be with someone before you're confident enough to take the next step with them? Is it even necessary to wait? In this post, we’ll help you make sense of these questions.
How Long Do People Date Before Getting Married?
There are no hard and fast rules on how long you should date before getting married. That’s what most people will say when you ask them this question. It’s a correct assertion. Life has no clear-cut manual, and what works for one couple may not work for another.
Still, the beauty of life is that certain answers we seek lay in the ordinary things we’ve been given. Take time, for example. With time, we have a gift that lets us check the choices others have made. Then we can reach certain conclusions based on that.
Let’s examine how time has changed the conversation around dating and marriage. In the 1970s, the average age of men entering marriage was 23. On the other hand, the age of women marrying for the first time was 20.8. Fast forward to about 50 years later, and the average of first-time couples is 29.8 and 28 years old.
If the data above seemed irrelevant, it’s because you haven’t made the connection. In the 1970s, most couples married almost as soon as they met. There was no waiting time because there was no time. The complications of today’s world do not encourage that. According to available data, the average dating period before marriage is between two and five years. Besides, the average engagement length is from 12-18 months.
More couples choose to delay marriages by staying together and working on their individual and collective goals and objectives. This is especially true for women. The feminism/women’s liberation movement saw women move away from marrying as a matter of duty and cultural obligation to marrying for love and personal satisfaction. If there is no need to rush, why not wait a few years?
Things to Consider Before Marriage
Not rushing into marriage is cool. However, knowing why and what exactly you need to be doing while waiting is more important. There are some reasons why it’s not advisable to rush headlong into marriage a few months after meeting your partner. Here are some of them:
Getting To Know Each Other Better
On the one hand, you cannot know an individual before marrying them. On the other hand, you should know an individual to an extent before committing to marriage. Granted, you already know their background, likes, interests, and dislikes, but experience and time unearth things you never knew were there.
How varying are the experiences you have had together? A few months after you met, your relationship is, more likely than not, in its butterfly stage. Have you had fights? Have you attended events— weddings, funerals— together? When faced with certain contexts, there is something insightful about getting to know who your partner is or what they can be. For example, have you seen your partner in a state of mind? Loss of friendship or a family member and other issues that present themselves out of the blue can make you see your partner differently.
How well do you and your partner communicate? Is the level of communication the same during lovey-dovey moments and in moments of conflict? Before you pop the question or say yes to a proposal, you must sit together and discuss critical issues. At the butterfly stage of a relationship, it’s easy to gloss over everything. As a married couple who has been married for a while, it’s not the same. You can learn a lot about your partner during these hard conversations. It’s helpful when you talk about your expectations from the relationship, about having children, financial expectations, and other difficult topics.
Dating is Important Before You Get Married
There are no guarantees, and life is not the same for everyone. Regardless, of available data, it is better to date for a while before broaching the subject of marriage. Researchers at Emory University studied over 3000 people who are currently married or have been married in the past. It found that couples who dated for two years had 20% fewer chances of divorce than those who dated for less than twelve months. Also, couples dating for over three years had 50% fewer chances of divorce.
The benefits of dating for a while before marrying are immense. It may not be a blueprint, but you should take time before plunging into the marriage institution.