How long should it take to decide to marry?


#1

Let’s assume a couple is dating “seriously”. How long would you say the couple should date before getting engaged or breaking up?


#2

That would be something, IMO, that would vary from couple to couple. I don’t think there is a magic length of time for dating that is appropriate. I know couples who were only dating for a few weeks or a few months, then got engaged. Others were dating exclusively for anwhere from 5-10 years before an engagement occurred.

Personally, my dh & I dated for 1 year, 4 months before he proposed. We had talked about marriage at least 6 months prior to him proposing, so it was a matter of him going ring shopping.

Some people know right away if a person is “the one”; others take longer. You (general you, not you specifically) will know when/if it’s right. Just my $.02.


#3

[quote=~Jenn~]That would be something, IMO, that would vary from couple to couple. I don’t think there is a magic length of time for dating that is appropriate.
[/quote]

Darn, I don’t think I was specific enough. I meant, what is the maximum length of time. In other words, if you haven’t figured it out by “X” number of months or years you should move on.

I know couples who were only dating for a few weeks or a few months, then got engaged. Others were dating exclusively for anwhere from 5-10 years before an engagement occurred.

5-10 years? It sounds to me like those people wasted years in doing nothing. Like they were waiting for something to happen without taking active steps to figure it out. It seems that they should have been able to figure it out before that long.


#4

[quote=SemperJase]Let’s assume a couple is dating “seriously”. How long would you say the couple should date before getting engaged or breaking up?
[/quote]

You should get the book “The Exclamation”. Just enter “1413469353” in the search bar on Amazon.com This is an excellent Catholic book about discerning one’s vocation to marriage, and then discerning the specific person for marriage. I have a friend who found it immensely helpful when he was agonizing over whether or not he should propose to his girlfriend. They are now happily engaged.


#5

[quote=GeorgeSutton]You should get the book “The Exclamation”. Just enter “1413469353” in the search bar on Amazon.com This is an excellent Catholic book about discerning one’s vocation to marriage, and then discerning the specific person for marriage. I have a friend who found it immensely helpful when he was agonizing over whether or not he should propose to his girlfriend. They are now happily engaged.
[/quote]

Actually, I’m married. Eight years on the 29th to my beautiful wife “Honeybun”.

This is just an extension of a discussion I’ve been having with some non-catholics - well non-religious people.

Many think it is better to live together first (although I’ve pointed out that studies have conclusively proved that cohabitation before marriage is a significant indicator for divorce).

Personally, I think if you don’t know by a year after dating if you want to get married, then you really don’t want to marry that person. People who don’t know within a year are not being active enough in discerning their future.

Thankfully my wife an I have beat the odds. We lived together for a year and a half before getting engaged (that was before we came to the church). I did stick with my standard though. I knew at exactly a year into it. I remember that because our expiring lease was up and that gave me the incentive to consider the question. I decided I wanted to get married. Although I knew she didn’t want to at that point, I was confident I could convince her. About six months later she agreed. A year an half later we were married.

Like I said, the Lord has blessed us with beating the odds after we made the mistake of cohabitating.


#6

In the seminary, you go through 7 years of discernment and training before you are ordained. It sounds like a good model to me.

After all, once you are married, you can’t get out of it. You want to be sure that you know what you are doing before you make a life-long promise.

I don’t think there really is a maximum as such (although I would be surprised if it took longer than 10 years). You shouldn’t quit just because you’re still discerning (ie, thinking about things) - you should only quit if you have discerned that it is not going to work.

Just my 2c. Disclaimer - I am 20 years old and have never had a girlfriend.


#7

I figure that as long as there is steady movement towards it, you’re doing ok…it took me, oh, about a year and a half to propose…and then after about another year and a half of diddling around with it, the intended announced that we were getting married October 29th of this year…it all worked out great.


#8

You need to take age into consideration also. Do you really want to be saying one year before teens decide if they should marry or not? This needs to be a personal thing.


#9

My DH and I dated 7 months before we got engaged. I knew pretty much from the start (he says he did, too) that we were going to get married.

When I was discussing becoming engaged with my spiritual director, he said 7 months was more than enough time to know either way if the person was someone you could spend the rest of your life with. We were engaged for 1 year and 1 month before getting married in May of '03. My spiritual director even thought that might be too long of an engagement, as the Church tries to encourage engagements of 6 months to a year at most.

[Edited to add:] I should also say that I was 20 and my husband-to-be was 27 when we got engaged.


#10

:stuck_out_tongue: I know that jaws are going to drop when I say this but…My hubby asked me to marry him four days after we met. We waited nearly two years to actually get married, and broke up and got back together several times before we finally married. We have been happily married for over 17 years. We were both 22 when we finally tied the knot. Of course, considering the odds on this working, I wouldn’t suggest any quick engagements myself.

As far as the original question…I think that it depends on the age of the individuals. People in their late teens and early twenties might only be looking to have fun with a date. There isn’t anything wrong with this.

Once a person, though, decides that they are looking toward matrimony, then I think a year or two is enough time to decide. I think this becomes more of an issue when people move into their thirties.


#11

living together is not dating, it is not courtship, it is not an engagement, and it is not marriage. It is fornication, and nothing (other than the use of ABC which living together presumes) will do more to damage a couples prospects for a happy successful marriage with each other, or with anyone else.


#12

I have been told that you should know someone for the four seasons of the year. Someone who is great in the cold might fizzle in the heat. In fall he might change his colors and in spring he might have too big of a fancy to be tamed.


#13

I think people who lack purpose can date for a very long time w/o ever advancing or retreating.

But, people who understand that dating/courting is for discernment towards marriage, I think that within 6-9 months you know whether to continue or not. Actually, it could be sooner, but I think about 9 months is enough time to know not to continue.

That doesn’t mean marriage must come right away. Once it’s been determined that your future is together, then the engagement period can be short or long depending upon circumstances including age, financial situation, edcuation situation, etc.


#14

I proposed about 2 weeks in, and we were married within two months. It has now been about three years, and it was quite possibly the best decision I have ever made.

…of course, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this approach…

God Bless,
RyanL


#15

i dated my wife for a year, then engaged for a year…
i can honestly say i knew halfway into the first date that this was the girl i was going to marry. there was never a single moment before or since when i had or have been even remotely unsure that she was to be my wife, i was going to raise a family with her and grow old with her.
she has been the surest thing ever in my life. absolute certainty from that first date. it was spooky how sure i was.

my friends thought it “weird” that i never lived with her, never even spent a night at her apartment. (i want to be able to hold that against any future daughters who would want to stay at a boyfriends house… YOU’RE MOTHER AND I NEVER DID THAT!)

as far as cohabitating, its stupid for the woman to do that. The guy will put off marriage as long as possible.
No man is going to buy the cow when the milk is free.


#16

There is no specific number of months or years at which you should declare “fish or cut bait.” That is an ongoing matter of discernment. When in doubt, pray more. When the question comes to this, you are facing a decision clouded by your desire of how you wish things were.

[quote=thechrismyster]No man is going to buy the cow when the milk is free.
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A man who thinks of a woman as his personal dairy, whether “paid for” or not, needs an attitude adjustment. That is repulsive. If you don’t think so, then just imagine yourself as a father and consider ideas like that in the head of your son-in-law. Or some guy thinking about your sister that way.

Maybe they already do… it would explain why so many men look so forlorn at their daughters’ weddings.


#17

[quote=asquared]living together is not dating, it is not courtship, it is not an engagement, and it is not marriage. It is fornication, and nothing (other than the use of ABC which living together presumes) will do more to damage a couples prospects for a happy successful marriage with each other, or with anyone else.
[/quote]

This is the main reason why I think NFP advocates discredit their case. ABC harms a marriage more than living together? There is no evidence to make such a claim.

There is evidence that living together harms a marriage. Couples that live together before marriage are exponentially more likely to get divorced. Study after study shows that. As I recall the statistic, cohabitating couples are about 60% likely to end the relationship within five years, even if they get married.

There is no evidence other than anecodotal to claim that ABC is more harmful to marriage than cohabitating prior to marriage.

NFP advocates would do wise not to exaggerate their case by blaming every marital problem on ABC. It just discredits the cause.


#18

My hubby and I are probably an unusual case…

We met, he started talking about marriage about a month later… Formally engaged 4 months after that…married one month later (total of six months). It’s been nearly 6 years of happy marrigae! :slight_smile: Don’t know as I’d advise this approach to everyone, but it’s worked great for us! :smiley:


#19

[quote=Kathryn_0404]Don’t know as I’d advise this approach to everyone, but it’s worked great for us! :smiley:
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My grandparents married 6 weeks after they met. They were married 48 years until my grandfather’s death.

For people who are seroius about marriage, it can work. Our society teaches people not to be seriouis about marriage. We date for “fun” until we find the right person. In reality, single people are wasting their time on fun instead of looking for the right person.

That’s why I’m an advocate of the one year rule. If you don’t know by a year, that person is either not the right one or you haven’t seriously considered the issue - which is an indication that person isn’t the right one.


#20

[quote=Arwen037]You need to take age into consideration also. Do you really want to be saying one year before teens decide if they should marry or not? This needs to be a personal thing.
[/quote]

I agree that age has a lot to do with it. If you meet in HS, then you may be dating steadily for six years or so if you wait until you’ve graduated college.

OTOH, I think it’s a bit much to expect a woman who is 30-35 years old to date a man exclusively for two years without a proposal. Those are precious child-bearing years, and if you can’t decide in a year, then it’s time to move on. Also, if a 32-year-old woman meets a man and dates him exclusively for two years, not only is she 34 when they break up, they’ll have gotten very used to one another’s company, fallen in love on some level, and she will probably be 35 before she’s over the relationship and able to seriously consider dating anyone else.

Personally, I didn’t feel I had a lot of time to waste. One good thing about being chaste: there’s really no good reason you have to be exclusive until you KNOW it’s serious. I considered myself free to meet and date whomever I liked right up until he proposed.


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