Too Soon for Engagement?


#1

If any of you speak Spanish, you will find this thread very ironic because of my username. I originally joined this forum at the age of 15 when I was dead set on religious life. As you will discover reading on, that is far from the case these days.

I met my boyfriend this past fall while we were both in the hospital for psychiatric issues. This sounds absolutely terrible and like a recipe for disaster but I assure you we have only helped each other and my therapist has even commented on how surprising and amazing it is that we manage to keep our issues separate and take care of ourselves while being there for each other 110%.

Anyway, we have known each other for almost exactly 7 months at this point and have been dating officially for just over three and are seriously considering marriage. I am 19, he is 20, and we are long distance and have only seen each other in person 3 times since we were discharged from the psych ward. However, we communicate every day, Skype often, and have discussed the “big things” such as our plans for the future, our values, where we stand on different political issues. Our personalities compliment each other very well. In many ways we are opposites, but this has proven to be a good thing and I have grown very much as a person since meeting him. We have been on the very same page in our feelings and intentions for this relationship since the moment we met each other and, given the fact that we almost didn’t meet because we had intended to take our lives at the same point in time, I feel like we were pulled together for a purpose.

If we do get engaged soon, we will be married in the Church and will go through the proper marriage preparation prescribed by it.

I suppose my question is, would you say that we should get engaged at this point? He is my best friend. I can talk to him about anything and feel extremely comfortable around him, which is rare because I am normally afraid of men due to past traumatic experiences. I care about him more than I care about myself and I know he feels the same way about me. I know he isn’t perfect, I’m well aware of his flaws and shortcomings, but I also know that he is an amazing individual and I would be extremely lucky to weather the rest of life’s storms with him at my side.

Thanks in advance for your input! :slight_smile:


#2

Lovely that you met someone who is understanding and compatible.
Now, both of you go get an education, save your money, and figure out where you each of are going to live. Meet each other’s families. Date in real life for another year or two, and see if you feel the same way.
In other words, It’s too soon to talk marriage.

For a whole host of reasons.
There’s no rush.
Really.

God bless.


#3

Yes.

Think about the question, “How would we support 3+ children if we started having them right away” and then start doing whatever that is.

And have fun…including with other people. I am not saying to date other people necessarily, but to get out and make sure you have an active social life and to serve your fellow man. You’re at the perfect age for developing your friendships. Make sure you have lots of them.


#4

Scroll down to time dating. mic.com/articles/101350/science-shows-something-surprising-about-people-who-date-for-3-years-before-marriage#.UQhVVPOeU

Although, I looked at another site, and it said over 3 years can indicate reluctance to commit. However, studies seem to show taking one’s time and really getting to know each other over time is important to marriage success.

I wouldn’t count long distance as dating, only in person. In long distance dating, you can’t adequately see each other’s flaws.


#5

Exactly what pianistclare said. She’s usually spot on and this time is no different.


#6

I glad to hear something nice came from something not so nice. Anyway, a successful marriage requires two people who can stand on their own. When people marry because they see the other as a crutch, failure will follow at some point when both are weak at the same time. You both need to prove you can stand on your own before you get engaged. That could take years. Please don’t rush it, no hurry. Remember your call to religious life, that could be a signal to take it slow with the opposite sex.


#7

Take it slow is normally good advice.


#8

Your having been in a psych ward could very easily disqualify you for the religious life in the first place. It could also cause problems in marriage and child rearing.

You’re young. Please do not rush into things. Are the mental issues inherited? If so, will your children have them?

I would say, yes, it’s too soon for engagement. An education would help develop your mind, but will not guarantee a good job. Try getting evaluated by vocational rehabilitation to see where your strengths are.

If you both are on public assistance, marriage will be out of the question. One couple I knew had schizophrenia (the wife) and bipolar disorder (the husband). The husband managed to land a good job with his dad; got off of support; and the two were able to be sacramentally married. I think they were able to get a dispensation from the child-bearing requirement because of the mental health issues. I had been thinking about them this week, then I found this post.

What kind of employee would you want if you were a business owner? What kind of spouse would you want if you were to get married? What kind of mom or dad would you want if you were a child? Decide these questions in light of the Gospel, and don’t forget the rosary.

Blessings,
Cloisters


#9

Those are good questions.

One thing that comes to mind is that (depending on the mental health issues) it could be a very good idea to make sure that you have the resources to have good household help before having children (either family support network or paid). So, for instance, if you or your husband were having a bad day, that there’d be somebody to pick up the slack with the baby or toddler and make sure the kids were being cared for, while mom or dad get whatever help they need. .

So, while it might be true that you and your boyfriend do a good job supporting each other, children are an additional source of stress, and you might find that neither of you copes as well with children around. Also, as the previous poster suggested, at least some of your children will probably be (at the very least) emotionally needy, so it’s a good idea to make sure you have the wherewithal to meet your children’s needs.


#10

I forgot to mention the effect of hormones on mental issues. Also, would one or the other of you need to go off of medication to have children?

Enjoy having a friend, but spouse & lover goes much deeper than friendship. It’s better to be as prepared as possible for the world.

Blessings,
Cloisters


#11

I think it’s wonderful that you two are helping each other grow and you communicate well. But my vote is, “don’t get engaged yet.”

You said you’ve only met in person 3 times since officially starting your dating relationship, and I’m betting that IF you had any disagreements during that time, they were easily overcome and quickly forgiven. Right?

It’s very easy to have no real struggles or issues with each other in just 3 meetings. Skype is great, but it still isn’t in person. I know you already know it’s not the same level of communication, because I’m sure you’d rather meet him for lunch in person than over Skype, right?

So, right now, you bring out the best in each other. You may not even realize that you are putting your “best foot forward” in every meeting, conversation, email, etc., at this point, because you’re just happy to be with each other. You both probably let some of the other’s habits or faults or comments slide that may come to bother you later–and you may not even realize it yet; it may truly feel like it’s never going to be important. It’s easy to think that this little quirk or that little fault is never going to be a problem that outweighs all the person’s other good qualities. That’s completely normal. But it also means that neither of you is truly seeing (or accepting) the other as you truly are. You may both believe you are… but only time will tell.

I know when you’re in that “new,” in-love stage, this can be really difficult to grasp, because it feels like you’ve known each other forever, that you know and understand each other completely, and love each other inside and out, and would never do anything to hurt each other. That’s a good thing, and a natural feeling. And if it’s real and lasting, then taking a year or two to date will not change that, and may give you a better chance at a strong foundation, along with more memories and experiences to share later. :cool:

I wish there was another way, but spending a lot of time together is necessary to really know each other.

My husband and I were married within 6 months of our first date, and have been married for almost 23 years (converted to Catholicism and had our marriage convalidated after 7 years), so I’m not saying it cannot ever work. However, we would have avoided a LOT of struggles, pain, and near-divorces if we had just taken more time to get to know each other better (in person) first. We really believed we knew each other really, really well. But that just takes time, communicating, and experiencing life together.

I really do want you (or really, anyone considering marriage) to avoid the unnecessary trials and hurdles that we’ve been through, because even if you make it through them as we did, it’s not worth rushing. Rushing into marriage has not made our relationship stronger or better or happier–there are parts of our marriage that were harder, weakened, and more hurtful simply because we didn’t take our time and let those things reveal themselves in due time during dating, when we could have dealt with them without other complications involved. I’d much rather see you start out slowly, building a good foundation, with a higher chance for more happiness, without some of that unnecessary pain. Of course, in most marriages, some pain and struggle will likely be necessary, but some of it can, and should, be dealt with while you still live apart.

Now, I know you two aren’t us, and every situation is different, etc. But if you two truly love each other, then you each know it’s worth the wait to be certain that you can give your future spouse a solid relationship foundation and a good financial start to a marriage. Get what you need for a job or career path where you can be happy and make a decent living; save for a memorable wedding, honeymoon, and first home; and think about what you want to be able to give your children, and start making those things happen together as you get to know each other more and more. You don’t need everything exactly in place, but you also don’t want to be scrambling to find a new job so you can move out of the one-bedroom apartment into a bigger place before your first baby is born, you know?

And remember, it’s not about the happiness and love you think you’ll get out of the marriage, but how much you’re willing to put in–to give and sacrifice for the good of the other–and right now, it sounds like taking things slowly is what is good for you both. It may not be easy, but the right path rarely is. :thumbsup:


#12

Yeah. My husband and I also married on the express plan (about three months of dating, then an engagement and a wedding as soon as we could get a Catholic one–so we met and married within roughly a single school year), and we were a bit older by the time we got married (25 and 22) and more or less on our feet, but nearly 18 years later, I can really relate to what Catholic Raven said. Even spending a lot of time together in person and even having a lot of paper compatibility (intellectual, religious and political compatibility), there eventually turned out to be a lot of areas of major disagreement on basic life stuff. We’re still working on stuff that we should have figured out then. The problem is, working on disagreements while married and raising a family is like fixing a car while simultaneously driving it down the interstate at 85 miles an hour–a slow and unnecessarily harrowing experience. It will never be easier to get your significant other to do stuff to please you than when you’re dating. (They may do way more for you when married, but pleasing you will tend to recede as a life goal, what with work, home, kids and finances to think about.)

I recommend the following before being married:

–education and jobs for both of you (or being well on the way)
–pay off debt! (or start)
–save!
–have a reasonable plan as to how you would support a baby or two or three or whatever
–spend a lot of time living in the same town and doing basic life stuff together and figuring out each other’s quirks and ways of doing things
–talk to your doctors about your medication and its interaction with pregnancy and breastfeeding, and the sort of support they think you’ll need as a young mother
–having a good life beyond each other


#13

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