Whether you’re hoping for a ring or couldn’t care less, the waiting game can cause stress in even the best relationship. Time to get clear and get honest.
You fall in love.
You discuss the future, you share your hopes, dreams, and plans for the future with one another. Six months go by….a year passes. You discuss marriage and children. Another year goes by….
Being honest with ourselves, we know that every relationship has its own path. No two are the same and every couple’s story is different. Some people meet, fall in love, and get engaged quickly. Others take things slower and it could be years before they take that next step.
But, as I get older, I find myself and many of my still single friends discussing the simple question: how long is too long to wait before marriage?
Mind you, I’ve been down this road before, so I’m certainly not in a place where I feel like I need to—or should—rush headlong into anything. But, being in a committed relationship with someone who wants children it does raise the question…
How long should we wait?
There are many factors involved when it comes to relationship timing and waiting for the right person. Among them, the biggest at play are typically age, and whether or not you want marriage and children. If you want to get married and/or have a family this often impacts how long you’re willing to wait for someone to pop the question.
I have friends who dated many, many years prior to getting hitched. Typically, these people also met very young and dated several years (or more) before taking that next step into marriage. In your 20s, you may not feel the same urgency regarding your relationship status. Many young women and men are waiting longer and longer to take that leap into marriage. Millenials are often too busy focusing on their careers, building wealth or getting out of student debt to even consider jumping into marriage. Look up the statistics and you’ll find a trend of people waiting longer and longer to both get married and start families.
When you’re young, you feel like time is limitless and you can squander it all you want. Then suddenly, college and your 20s are gone, life gives you a reality check, and you may find yourself in a position where time is not on your side. And, this is where things get complicated. You don’t want to rush, but you think you’ve found “The One” and time keeps ticking by. So what should you do? Keep waiting? Set a limit on how long you’re willing to patiently wait? Or, ignore it all together and ride it out?
You see, it’s a real dilemma.
And, it’s not to say some young people want to wait, either. Maybe you want to be young, hip parents, so marriage and children are on the brain sooner. Or, maybe you don’t know how you feel about marriage or if you even want it. Then, waiting and dating longer feels comfortable and is the right thing to do.
On the flip side, I have a very dear friend who waited all through her 20s and most of her 30s before finding Mr. Right—who happens to be 43. During their courtship, they discussed marriage and the fact that they both want children. Just over a year later they are now engaged and ready to begin their life together. And, knowing this friend the way I do, she would not have waited two, three, or more years for him to pull the trigger. Not because she’s impatient, but because of major factors such as them both wanting to have children…and waiting much longer could cause that not to become a reality—she’s in her late 30s. Sometimes, time is of the essence, especially for women.
I also have two friends who dated each other for ten years —ten!!— and never lived together until the last year. Well, guess what? They discovered they absolutely could not live together and the relationship disintegrated. Now they are both happily married to other people, one has a child and the other a baby on the way. And both of those were much quicker courtships that led to marriage.
So, you see, every relationship is different. And a lot of it has to do with timing and what you want from said relationship.
If you feel like you’ve found your match, it’s up to you to discuss with your partner the “ideal” amount of time you are both comfortable waiting before taking that next big step…and maybe that step is living together first.
As we get older, and have more life experience, we get wiser—at least that’s what my dad keeps telling me. What I do know is as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned more about myself and what I am—or am not—willing to accept as well as what I want and don’t want from a relationship. So, be open and be honest with your partner about your feelings. Any partner worth their salt will respect your opinion. Just be sure to remain open to theirs.
Some things are worth the wait and others may require compromise. Maybe he is comfortable dating three years before considering marriage, and maybe you’d like it to be no more than two years—talk it over together. Share what’s driving your desire to be married and listen to their perspective. And never give someone an ultimatum—that’s a sure fire way to cast a negative light on your relationship. Besides, who wants to force someone into being with them? I certainly don’t.
However, it should also be noted that no one should have to sacrifice what they truly want by waiting too long. If marriage and family is important to you, then have that conversation with your partner up front. There’s nothing more soul crushing than dating someone for years only to find out they don’t want the same things you want and feeling let down; or worse, like you’ve just sacrificed precious time on the wrong person.
Be honest with yourself; if what you want and what your partner wants don’t align, then maybe they aren’t the right one for you? Don’t waste an exorbitant amount of time trying to change their mind. I’ve seen it happen, and it usually ends badly.
Loving someone openly and authentically means discussing topics important to you and your significant other. Speak from the heart. If you have marriage or babies on the brain it’s okay to share that with your partner, and it’s always a good idea to make sure the two of you are on the same page regarding major life decisions.
At the end of the day, remember: every relationship has its own journey to follow and you can’t force something into being. Waiting for Mr./Ms. Right requires patience, but isn’t a wonderful, fulfilling, healthy, and loving relationship worth the wait?