Question: getting engaged young.... marrying later


Hey yall
My girlfriend and I have been dating for two years now (we were best friends throughout most of our lives…so we’ve been together a long time). Now we are both in college and 19 years old. We’ve talked about marriage as something we can see in the future…me more so than her (as in I am definite on this decision where as she is wanting it to happen but is not definite). So my question is…also before that…we go to separate colleges (which hopefully will not be the case next year). So my question is…should i go ahead and pop the question? Is there anything wrong with being engaged for a couple years before getting married? I dont mean it to be a promise ring sort of thing…i want to get married to only this woman, and so why not just go ahead and say it right?


There’s certainly not anything immoral about a long engagement.

My personal feeling is that an engagement should only be six months, or as long as it takes to do the marriage preparation (which in our parish, can take 9 months). Long engagements often bring complications and temptations. I think a man should only propose if he is in a position to provide a home for his intended.

I’d suggest asking your parents for their opinion.

I remember that time when you are so deeply in love and the impatience it brings. It’s difficult to wait until the finances catch up with the desire to make a home with the one you want to build a life.

God bless.


If you haven’t yet gone to college at all, please wait. College is a time of great change and maturity. While you are in love and you feel ready you have alot of growing to do, alot of self-discovery and alot of stress. An impending marriage my hamper life and may lead to temptations (such as staying in eachother’s dorm overnight) just to spend time together.


Alright, I think it is very sweet that you are so commited to this young lady. IF you really love her with all of your heart the best thing you can do right now is to become OBSESSED with your studies, excel at everything you do. You see, part of being a husband is being a provider, so you need to get the best grades you can, pick a major you love and can make a living from and start preparing the “nest” in that way. 19 is a tricky age. College does have a way of changing people, but that does not mean you can’t get through it. Of course people used to get married much younger and I certainly think some people are mature enough in their love to get engaged/married in college BUT I think that is a small minority of people.
Should you go ahead and get engaged? In my opinion, not yet. I know, it will feel like people are coming down on you when they say that. But here me out - sometimes long engagement can be very trying on a couple.

Also, I think being engaged can raise the temptation level. You may start to let your guard down and feel like since you know you are getting married anyways you can start to cross boundaries that are for married couples only. Especially if you plan on transferring to the same college, that is a lot of temptation and you need to keep thinking of her as potenitally being someone elses’ wife and treating her that way - right up until you see her walking down that aisle some day.

BTW I have nothing against young marriage. I got married at 23. It is wonderful to be married young, BUT patience is a wonderful thing and there is nothing hasty about true love.


When one is ready to marry, then one should begin to date “seriously” .

A full year of dating/discernment followed by a 6 month engagement is what I’ve heard from good Catholic experts.


I wouldn’t advise it. I got married two months ago; we were engaged for eight months. And our engagement was the most stressful, difficult time in our whole relationship (which has lasted for five years).

Main reasons why:

  1. As soon as you get engaged, people from outside your relationship suddenly think it’s time to give advice/ size you up. Instead of working on your relationship from the inside, you’re living in the public eye all the time. This is a huge stress creator.

  2. You start worrying that you are not really ready for this. You think of all the things you won’t be able to do. You feel like you’re tied down already and you never had a chance to do X, Y, or Z. Funny thing is, you never really felt the lack of these things before. But it’s such a huge commitment that it can cause a bit of emotional backlash.

  3. All of a sudden, hypothetical questions like, “If we got married, what would you like the wedding to be like?” become a huge deal. You’re not speculating, you’re making decisions – and that feels really different.

  4. You might think you want to be married now – but you will want to be married even more when you’re engaged. You feel horribly impatient and count days. You just want to get to the “good stuff.” Engagement isn’t really that much fun – it’s more of a transitional period.

In sum, I just think it’s way better to keep the lower-pressure relationship of dating until you can set an actual date, a year or six months away – not “sometime in 2012” or whatever. That doesn’t stop you from discussing marriage, preparing yourselves for marriage, telling each other that marriage is definitely the end in mind – but without having promised to get married, which will up the pressure on relationship a dozenfold.

That’s my two cents from my experience – some people handle long engagements fine. I just know that without an end in sight when we got engaged, I would have gone nuts.


I strongly advise against this. Your both so young. When you go to different college, some presures of meeting new people and finding out different things about yourselves can cause stressful situations, sometimes leading to more intesnse feelings one way or another. Your both 19-that’s very young, and I no you don’t want to hear this, but it’s too young to be engaged for any period of time. Don’t lock yourselves down to one person until you BOTH know for an iron clad fact that you two are made for each other.

As a fellow young brother in Christ (29) I’ve been where you are, in a very similar situation. I had to break off an engagement (right around when the invitaions came out) it was, without question, a horrible time time in my life. She was saying about me some of the same things you say about her.

I am not saying it can’t happen, but I’m saying please be careful!



I would advise you against getting engaged at this point in your life. Both for the reasons that everyone else has posted but also because you gave me the impression that your girlfriend is not entirely open to getting married at this point in time. I feel people should only get engaged when they are willing to get married in the near future (i.e. within six months to a year.)

Ultimately the decision is yours, though.



I was listening to Delilah the other day when a 19 year old girl called in and told her that she was in love and wanted to get engaged, and said it was something she knew deep down, but she was intimidated by the chorous of disapprovers and naysayers who always stand up to tell people around her age that they can’t possibly know or understand who they would be compatible with or understand what love is.

Delilah told her that in the many years she’s been listening to relationship stories she has heard over and over again from middle-aged people that they have ended up returning to their first love. From that experience, she said she would have to disagree with anyone who says that 19 year olds cannot legitimately be in love and be correct in their choice of a person to marry.

I think the “concentrate on your studies” and “you don’t understand who you want to marry” lines are pervasive urban myths. The first line, “you should concentrate on your studies” assumes that you can control when and how you meet the person you will marry. Life doesn’t really work that way. I have heard from a lot of people in their late twenties and early thirties who are quite disappointed that they followed the “concentrate on your studies” rule and did everything “right”, and are completely unable to find the right person now that they’ve reached the acceptable “right age”. The “concentrate on your studies” rule also assumes that spouses cannot help each other with their life work. I am not sure what the person who made up this rule was thinking when he or she assumed that a spouse is not the right person to help you reach your academic and career goals.

Actually, I do know what he or she was thinking. He or she was confusing poor decision making that comes from limited life experience with the platitude “college students should not marry” because they “don’t know what they want”. Poor decision making- (and subsequently being distracted from real life by romantic dramas and infatuations)- is a whole separate issue. That issue has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not you can fall in love at your age, and whether or not you are correct in choosing to marry this person.

So, in my opinion, the right advice for you is to take these platitudes about “not knowing what you want” because you’re “only 19” with a large grain of salt. On the other hand, it is true that you may not be making the best decision to marry this girl because your life experience is so limited. You probably don’t really know yet what makes a good wife. But there are only two ways to figure that out- either by trial and error and experimentation, which has the unpleasant side effect of leading you into immorality and emotional callousness, or by making a concentrated effort to figure those things out with a great deal of patience, discernment, and counsel.

There are many ways to go through a discernment period with the help of counseling, personality testing, prayer, etc. You can start to figure out who will make the right wife for you on your own. You don’t have to ask this person to marry you right now to do those things. Then, if you do ask her to marry you, you will be far ahead of the game.


I’d wait. Not necessarily until you are finished school, but until you have both had a chance to see what kind of changes it might bring to you. After you have finished a school year, you will both have a much better idea of where you might like to be in the future.

I would have a talk with your girlfriend about expectations for your relationship while you are away from each other.


Such a long engagement would have driven me nuts! Ah but it was still fun in its own way…

Based on my own personal experience, I would also say wait a bit until you’ve had SOME college under your belt. Not necessarily all…but some so you can adjust. College was a big deal breaker for most high school couples I knew. On the flip side, my aunt and a close family friend dated their HS sweethearts so I’m not a total pessimist. :wink:

Engagement can also be a distraction in college. My mom had transferred from a small college to a major music conservatory but had to do an extra year in exchange. My dad proposed during his last year of college (mom’s second to last) and she was so excited it became a distraction and she ended up almost flunking her juries. Fortunately she got her act together for her final year.

I was married last year at the age of 24 and people STILL had to naysay it. Oh I’m too young (WHAT?! I’m 24! My parents were making babies when they were my age!). Oh I’ve never lived with the guy. Oh I should enjoy being single while I still can. I do know that “deep down in my heart” feeling that I knew something about us that they didn’t. I knew what I wanted before college (and it wasn’t an active single life…even when I was single I was never very active)…I just wouldn’t find it until I got there.

The reason I didn’t get engaged during college or even shortly after was because I told my husband “Don’t ask me unless you are absolutely sure you want to…because deep down you know my answer.” So he had me wait about another year so he could get himself straightened out. I think jumping into “engaged” status was the scariest, most frightening thing we had ever done we were shaking so hard. We were cool as cucumbers at the wedding. :o

So…you can go ahead and do it if you’re sure. But please don’t be afraid to break it off if you wake up one day and know deep down in your heart that it’s not what you want after all…seriously…not some lame “cold feet” thing like my father tried to do. :stuck_out_tongue:


I think the fact that you want a long engagement is proof you are not ready to be married.

Getting married means to leave your home and cleave to your wife. If you plan to go to college and cannot support yourself and your wife, you have no business getting married.

Long engagements are a waste of time. As others before me have said, it changes everything once the ring is on her finger. And yes, it is stressful. Better to get engaged when you are ready to plan a wedding.


I would wait until you have a bit of college (or all of it) under your belt.


I definitely disagree with the idea that you can’t know what you want at 19. I fell in love with my husband when I was 18. It’s just that sometimes you have to wait for what you want. The Church does discourage engagements from lasting over a year because of the temptations involved, and that was one of our main reasons for waiting. The other was that he really wanted to have something to offer me in return when he asked for my hand – some kind of hint as to what kind of life I was signing on for.


I also have to agree that you should wait. This just really comes from my own experiences.

I met my boyfriend like the first week of college. So I was 18, he was 19. I can’t quite remember when I knew he was the one, but I do know it was probably within the first year of dating.

I was in a rush to get engaged. I really wanted it, and didn’t see the point of waiting. Now I am 23 and he is 24. And we are still not engaged. So as you can see, we’ve dated for about 5 years. We are now both out of college, and he actually graduated in 3 years so he’s been able to work to save up some money. I know that getting engaged is going to happen in a number of months here, as we’ve talked about it often.

So anyways, within these past 5 years of going through college etc, I know we both have matured so much. I’ve always loved him, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to have a greater appreciation and a deeper love for him. I really feel that has come with age and time. If we had gotten engaged back then, I don’t know that we would have had this time to mature and understand the vocation of marriage as well.

If you do love her, why not wait? If you both love each other the same, you’ll both still be waiting for one another after college. And chances are, you’ll understand each other better and be more mature, ready to make decisions that are important in a marriage and life.

I wish you luck. Waiting is not easy I will admit, but I will say that in most cases it’s worth it. I do truly believe that God blesses those who trust in Him, no matter what they think their time line in life should be.


thank you for all the responses, while i agree i’ll probably wait…i probably wont too much.
really i want to reply to the people who say you have to wait to be able to provide to be married.

what happened to God will provide. If you love someone, you dedicate your life to them so that there is only one life. I’ve read JP II’s Love and Responsibility and nowhere does it say you have to have a career to love someone in total self gift. I think you are all hooked on a very recent modern trend here, and I respectfully disagree with you. I will let you know how things go in my life, but all i have to say is this “In the designs of divine providence, there are no mere coincidences”…and our life has been full of divine providence. I love my girlfriend, and i would be honored to be her husband one day, as i am honored to be her girlfriend right now.



What happened to God will provide? I’ll tell you… God will provide when YOU have done your part of ‘considering the cost’ of getting married. And this means being able to provide for your wife and yourself. It doesn’t mean you need a big time career, it just means you need to have some funds to be able to pay your own rent, food, car expenses and things like that. And this is hard to do if you are planning to be a full time student at age 19. But where there is a will, there is a way.

When my kids were 19 and madly in love, I let them know if they decided to get married they would be off my payroll. That meant I would no longer pay for college or rent or anything for them. Getting married is an adult decision and I would respect that.

Think about it… are you going to marry your girlfriend and go home and ask your mom and dad for money?? That’s silly. That’s not respecting yourself. A man is to leave his family and cleave to his wife. To do that, you need a plan on how you will survive together.

You are 19. Enjoy being 19. Enjoy the love you have for your girlfriend. Enjoy going to college. And give your relationship a little more time.


Wow, you sound like my parents. :thumbsup: Not that it’s a bad thing.

I see their logic many years later. I think the greatest amount of change and growing up occured between the ages of 17 and 22 or 23 in my life. It included going away to college, studying abroad, going to graduate school and starting a career. I think things would have turned out much differently if I had been married!


God will provide??? Of course he will and i don’t think anyone here as said anything different. There is a difference between providing for you spiritually and pyshical or leading someone into your life and then taking care of the bills. God is not going to poof give you all the money you need and make everything sunshine and flowers in your marriage. Marriage is hard work. Its more than just being in love with each other. There are pratical parts too. Sit down and do a budget. How much is it going to cost you in living expenses? My parents paid for my college and i will tell you i still had to get a job and budget my money for the everyday living expenses of going out with friends, moves, misc books, car expense such as gas and regular maintence, making my dorm room feel like home, food (not dining food because you will not eat ever meal there),. On top of all those expenses Can you honestly afford a ring that your GF deserves?

You seem to be dimissing all of the advice from those who have gone before you. No one is saying break up with her or that because you meet so young that it is doomed to fail. The are simply giving you the pratcial advice to wait as what is the rush??? Yes in the old days people got married at 19. Times were different. You could get a job that you could have for the rest of your life or that would pay you enough to meet your bills. We live in a different time. Skipping college or trade schools can hurt you. Employers may higher you but you will normally make less then the person next to you with a degree. Check these threads and see how many people are going back to school to help themselves get better jobs or who are going back to finish their degrees. It is much easier to do it now when your life is not tied down by all these extra things. Take your time during college. Be open to where God is leading you.

Also PLEASE do not dismiss your girlfriends feelings. She has stated that she may not be ready as soon as you are. Give her time to breath. I will tell you as women i grew the most while i was in college and then when i turned 25ish. ITs not that my personaility changed but that i got to truly know who i was without my parents being around or the people i had grown up with. I got to spread my wings and try things. Its a great time for development. Its also the time when i feel in love with God. Don’t overwhelm her during the first year which is challenging enough or you might just push her away.

FYI: I am in a relationship myself. Do i think i am going to marry this man? Yes. I love him deeply and dearly. We both have decided that Marriage is our vocation BUT we also both understand that dating is an ongoing discernment process. We have/are recieving spiritually direction to make sure we are focused on making sure that this is the right path. Right now we both understand that either party has the option of walking away. I would suggest that you might want to take some time with a spiritual director maybe someone at the new college your going to who doesn’t know your and hers realtionship. Someone who can be objective and then talk to them and get some spiritual direction.

God bless you and your girlfriend as you go forth in your relationship.


You’re right, memphis. God will provide, and you don’t have to worry about anything except the ability to as a young couple to support yourselves. Now, I would caution very strongly against having children before you have a stable income with benefits, but there is no reason whatsoever that two able-bodied young 20 something year olds cannot work and go to school and support themselves. No reason.

I really hate how condescending and shrill some of these posters are. I’m 36 and have supported myself since I was 16 without any help from my parents- put myself through school, etc., raised 3 children. I was your age and working and going to college at the same time and paying my bills. There is no reason to wait until you have the perfect plastic job that meets the approval of society to begin your life as a couple- as long as you are responsible, hard-working, and don’t mind the responsibility of providing for yourselves as adults. I mean it’s not easy for some people, but other people like me handle work and responsibility very well and thrive and love independence. If you’re like me, you’ll be fine.

Just ignore the other people. I found when I was your age those naysayers were actually jealous of me because I was capable of taking on adult responsibilities at an age when they were helpless and dependent on their parents and they resented me for it.

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