As a full-time, professional Wedding Officiant, it always worries me when I ask a couple how long they have been dating and they answer, “We’ve been together 4 months” (0r less). Really? You hardly know each other! There is seldom ever a good reason to rush into marriage.
When you first meet, and if everything clicks, the hormones are dancing… you are in Love! AND you hardly think of anything else. The butterflies in your tummy are all flying in formation. You forget to eat. Nothing else matters. You just want to hang out with the one you love. Most focus mainly on the “feelings” they have for each other.
Slow down. Don’t head to the alter just yet. There are many things to consider. Three or four months is hardly long enough to know for sure that you are compatible or that you are both on the same page. Couples need time to really get to know each other. It seems to me that there should be a greater focus on what really matters… the relationship.
It takes time for the true self of someone to appear and people have a great ability to present themselves to others in a way they are not. In the beginning it’s easy to put your best foot forward. Just make sure it’s attached to the person who is taking the step. You will have more of an opportunity to distinguish personal peeves from unresolveable issues over time. Most couples spend more time planning their wedding that they do planning their marriage.
“You need to know each other: For some people, six months into a relationship, they get engaged. Six months later they get married and then six months later they are pregnant. Eighteen months together is NOT enough time to know you’re compatible as partners and parents. It just isn’t. I have heard that it takes three full rounds of each season (three years) to get to really know one another. That’s a good rule of thumb.” ~ Sasha Brown-Worsham
Answer this: “What works better for engaged couples — a very long engagement, or a shotgun wedding?” One ideal element of a short sprint down the aisle can be the absence of stress from the heightened expectations that can build during a lengthy wedding planning period. Long engagements can be difficult for those waiting to have sex until their wedding night.
Billy Crystal tells a tearful Meg Ryan at the end of When Harry Met Sally: “When you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as quickly as possible.”
Once you are ready for wedding bells, you should consider giving yourself plenty of time to start thinking about the wedding. It’s more important to take your time and make sure that your marriage will last longer than even the unmarried part of your life.
Short-term compatibility is easy to find, but the test of a successful relationship is how do you, as a couple, get back to compatibility as both of you mature as people after the knot is tied. What about a couple who meets and gets engaged within 90 days and then gets married after another 90 days? I’m not so sure about their success rate. From my experience, somewhere in the 9 to 12 months range is not to short or to long.
According to a 2009 Conde Nast American wedding study – 14 to 16 months is the average engagement length. In my opinion, couples should spent a lot of time and effort into thinking and talking about their marriage as opposed to thinking and talking about their wedding.
The Huffington Post recently ran a survey stating that the average length of an engagement is 13 to 18 months. Data scientist, Randal Olson, recently visualized some of the findings from a paper by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, two researchers at Emory University who studied 3,000 married couples in the U.S. to determine the factors that predicted divorce. They analyzed income, religious attendance, how important attractiveness was to each partner, wedding attendance, and other metrics to determine the aspects associated with eventual marital dissolution.
What we see on the graph to the right is that dating 3 or more years before getting engaged leads to a much more stable marriage. This finding probably comes as no surprise, but it should stand as a warning to those who are eager to get married right away. Don’t jump into marriage before you really get to know someone.
Many couples decide to set their wedding date 18 months or more from the time they get engaged to allow them time to save up money for their wedding. That’s one of the biggest benefits to having a long engagement. Too many couples never think about a wedding budget and find themselves covered up in debt from the costs of an expensive wedding.
One of the best parts of having a long engagement is that it gives you breathing room to focus on your career, get a sense of what your partner will be like as a spouse and decide what you both want for your marriage (buying a house, when to have children, etc.).
“There are thousands of pros and cons for short and long engagements, and of course there are exceptions to the above such as destination weddings and lifestyles that differ from the average (e.g. military, touring musicians). The key is to pick a path together that works well with your personalities. Engagement is a time in your life that you will never have again. Learn as much as you can from each other and make the most of it, regardless of the length.” ~ Danielle, Maggie, Kate & Andrea
So, my suggestion is to take your time. Work together to build a strong foundation for marriage. What happens during the engagement period has a greater impact on length of marriage than how long the engagement is.
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.
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