If the question is how long you should wait before moving toward marriage in your relationship, my answer is that I don’t really care how long you wait. There is no magic time limit that guarantees success or failure. In fact, the amount of time has very little to do with whether you should move forward. It is possible to wait too long to move your relationship toward marriage. It is also possible not to wait long enough. And yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but this discussion is about why the probabilities usually prevail.
The best answer is probably somewhere in the middle—between too long and not long enough. I am more concerned about partners who are not on the same page. I am concerned that one partner may be more invested than the other. I am concerned about external forces that couples allow to override the organic trajectory and growth of the relationship.
I’m far less concerned with a wedding date.
I admit I cringe a bit when couples marry too quickly. I am always curious as to what is going on that they’re in such a hurry. I get it… we get excited about the opportunity to nest—to plan weddings and shop for dresses and take on mortgages and have babies. We get excited about building something together… something we can count on. But if the relationship is going to live up to the dream, it needs to be resilient and stable, loving and reverent. Marriage needs to be a very sacred space. For that, it needs a strong foundation. And that doesn’t happen in haste.
So it is a mistake to go too fast. Couples need to experience each other as life unfolds. In the beginning when everything is shiny and new, it’s easy to count on each other, to be in love, to feel all those wonderful, hopeful things. But passion and love fluctuate. They aren’t meant to be sustained. Eventually, we need to get down to the business of life, and that takes a toll.
In a strong relationship, passion and love are consciously revisited and nurtured. That’s the hard part.
Commitment is a decision, not a feeling. Commitment has the ability to ride the waves of passion and love to sustain the relationship through real challenges. Commitment makes the decision to revisit passion and love over and over again, despite the obstacles of life. Commitment creates the deeper love that makes a relationship truly resilient because it is built on a strong, healthy foundation. By slowing it down from the very beginning, each partner has the opportunity to peel their protective layers and reveal their true vulnerabilities. This is when couples begin to learn whether the relationship is a journey they intend to take together or whether it’s easier to bail out at the first sign of trouble.
It takes time.