Singaporebrides | Relationships

September 2020

How Long Should You Date Before Getting Married?

Wondering how long to date before marriage? It might not be a question of time.

You’re crazily happily in love and you’re starting to hear wedding bells, but a tiny little voice is asking whether two months is a long enough time to date before getting engaged. Or, you’ve been together with your partner for three years and counting, and the man still hasn’t taken the hint and put a ring on it. How long should you date before getting married, anyway?

A few months ago, I watched the Netflix series Love Is Blind in disbelief, as six couples got engaged without ever having seen each other, after just 10 days of speed dating. The engaged couples got to meet and spend some time with each other at a resort, and then at their respective homes and with their families, before deciding if they would say “I do” to forever. All this in 38 days of filming. The most unbelievable part? Two of the six engaged couples actually got married, and almost two years later, are still together.

A study conducted by researchers from Emory University found that couples who dated for at least three years before getting engaged were 39% less likely to get divorced than couples who dated for less than a year before their engagement. So is 38 days how long to date before marriage, or is it three years?

Calista and Christopher’s Beautiful Wedding at Tirtha Uluwatu by Iluminen

Suggested time frames can’t apply to every couple because every couple is different. A couple who got together in their teens will obviously date longer than a couple in their 30s or 40s. And then there are the couples who had been friends forever before realising that they have feelings for each other.

What matters isn’t how long you’ve dated, but how well you know each other. You can date someone for 10 years without digging in deeper and tackling real issues, or you can have honest heart-to-heart conversations about the things important to you to find out whether you’re compatible, which is what the two married couples in Love Is Blind did. Before making the decision to spend the rest of your lives together, check whether you’re able to answer yes to these questions:

Are you over the honeymoon romantic phase?

The beginning of a relationship is a magical time filled with intense feelings of attraction, happiness, and passionate love. Your partner is still perfect and you’re crazy about them. These strong emotions manifest physically in racing hearts or butterflies in the stomach. However, as associate professor of psychology Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr. writes, these physiological changes in the honeymoon phase are short-lived, possibly because people become acclimated to their partners with time. You can’t base your decision to get married on the lovey-dovey feelings in the honeymoon phase, because they’ll eventually fade. When you’ve dated longer than the honeymoon phase, and have dealt with conflicts and worked on your communication, then you’ll have a better understanding of whether you’re committed to marriage.

Do you know each other very well?

Have you spent a lot of time together, and seen how your partner reacts to different situations? Have you met each other’s families and circle of friends, and seen how your significant other behaves around the people they’re most comfortable with? Do you know about their upbringing and background? Do you know each other’s likes and dislikes, strengths and flaws? Do you know what makes your partner happy and what triggers a meltdown?

Marriage researchers The Gottman Institute found that successful couples are intimately familiar with each other’s worlds. They remember major events from each other’s lives, they know each other’s goals, worries, hopes, and dreams. They’re constantly updated with the facts and feelings of their partner’s world as it changes. After all, if you don’t really know someone, can you truly love them?

Tania and Ayron’s Dreamy Pre-Wedding Photoshoot in Picturesque Bali by Trevo Pictures

Have you gone through life experiences together?

Have you experienced some of life’s milestones together, such as graduating from university or getting a first job? Have you been there for your partner through a challenging situation such as the loss of a job or even a loved one? Have you seen your significant other at their highest and their lowest? Have you travelled together? Have you dealt with money issues together?Long conversations aren’t the only way to get to know someone; their behaviour in different situations tells you a lot as well. Couples who have gone through different life cycle issues together understand each other better.

Do you share the same values and expectations of marriage?

Do you have the same ideas about marriage and the roles of a husband and wife? Do you share the same religious beliefs? What about other core values about family, finances, or friendships? Is one of you a spender and the other a saver? How often do you each want to spend time with your families? When do you expect to buy a house or have children?

You don’t have to have the same opinions on everything under the sun to be compatible, but it’s important to have enough similar views on what you hold dear to your heart. Besides sharing a value system, you should also take some time to discuss your expectations of married life. Everyone comes from a different family upbringing, and your deep-seated understanding of family may be very different from your partner’s. One partner might view money as a means to more leisure time or a more comfortable life, while the other might have been brought up to do things themselves instead of paying for a service. Or one partner may expect think children are a natural result of starting a family, while the other may never have liked kids. Sharing the reasons behind your expectations and values will help you understand each other better.

If you answered yes to all these questions, your relationship is probably in a good place! If you couldn’t answer yes and you’re still not sure how long to date before marriage, check out our article on 8 conversations to have before getting married to kickstart that deep dive into each other’s hearts and minds. After all, whether you’ve dated for one year or 10, the important thing is that you truly know each other and love each other for who you are.

Credits: Feature image from Hailey and Clifford’s Exquisite Wedding at The White Rabbit by Bridelope Productions

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How Long Should You Date Before Getting Married?