My office is the home of quick engagements and weddings. Ironically, it’s where my relationship came to die, but I digress.
Out of the younger crowd in my office who have married in the last five years (5 relationships), every one of them were engaged after less than a year of dating. The high was 10 months, the low is 4 months. The engagements have lasted less than a year as well, with the long engagement being 11 months and the short engagement being 4 months. The first couple of times this happened, I was shocked at the speed at which these relationships were moving!
We chatted at work for a while about the pros and cons of a long engagement. We have this discussion from time to time, usually when someone becomes engaged or marries, because the typical question that follows is “How long were you together?” or “How long were you engaged?”. My opinion used to be similar to that of many of the younger employees in the office (younger than me. sigh. I used to be the youngest one!)…”I would never marry someone I hadn’t dated for two/three/four/one hundred years”.
But now I’m more comfortable with the fact that not every relationship needs to last for eight years before you make a plunge to be with someone. Honestly, if you know you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, why would you want to wait a second longer than you had to before you started living that life?! I am also of the opinion that if you are older than 23 and have dated someone for longer than two years, you probably shouldn’t get married barring some extenuating circumstances that would prevent said marriage. I mean, if you are questioning your choice after two years, something in your gut won’t let you jump. And if I’ve learned one thing over the past few years…it’s to trust my gut instinct.
What’s my idea of a good relationship/engagement timeline? I know you can’t plan things, but I think ideally spending 18-24 months with someone should shore up your ideas of marriage with this special someone. All four seasons once through takes care of a lot of “big firsts”–first birthdays together, first holidays (maybe first family meetings!), first summer vacations. A trip around the sun shows you that person in every one of these important situations, things that I think are ‘big deals’ in relationships and what I look forward to with my significant others. I think it’s a good measurement of how things could be for you. Any less than 4 seasons is taking a risk, to be sure, but some people are definite risk takers! Any more than two trips around the sun and I think you’ve got some real thinking to do. You’ve spent two Christmases either together, or apart, or rotating families. You’ve seen what holiday life would be like. You’ve had two birthdays…did they treat you well? Was your significant other unappreciative of the effort you put in? An anniversary or two came. Maybe you celebrated small ones or just the ‘year’ one or maybe it wasn’t acknowledged at all. You’ve seen their job in ‘busy season’. You’ve dealt with football season, basketball season, you’ve seen their schedule during softball league–whatever. If you’ve done all this twice and you’re still unsure that you want to do it again over and over…why do you want to sit there and wait until you ‘figure it out’ and make another trip across the sky with this person?! I know! It’s crazy isn’t it? I used to be that person too. It’s okay.
The whole idea here is that if you haven’t found the person you want to be with, stop wasting your time with the wrong fit and get out there and try again. You (ideally..) can’t find the right person if you’re still being consumed with the wrong person. Evaluate why you’re spending time with someone year after year.
Unless you don’t want to get married. Which is totally cool too. Power in numbers, my friends!