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More Couples Wait Years Before Getting Married

Long-Term Relationships Have a Short History

Married for 62 years, my grandparents only dated for seven months before they got engaged. Today, those seven months of courtship would be more like seven years, as modern couples date for years, even decades, before they commit to marriage. Just look at the royals: it took nine years together before engagement rumors really started to flourish about Prince William and Kate Middleton.

During the uncertain 1930s and 40s, couples married younger and sooner after meeting. You don't have to think hard about why people don't rush into marriage today. Premarital sex is often a give-in, and cohabitation is common. Plus, young adults may spend their 20s in graduate school or pursuing a career, which could mean long-distance relationships and delayed financial independence. Sociologists tell USA Today that putting off marriage has its benefits. One expert explains: "There's a certain wisdom in lengthy courtships. If it lasts three, four, five, six or seven years, they feel like there's something there to support a marriage that will last."

Do you think it's wise to go years, rather than months, before tying the knot? Would you ever consider a quick courtship?

Image Source: WireImage
Join The Conversation
DiamondSkies DiamondSkies 7 years
Personally, I think there are so many deciding factors that you cannot just put a number on it. If you know that your love is true and you are both at the right maturity level and all is right with everything then it doesn't matter how long you've been together before marriage. My husband and I only knew each other for a few months before we were married, (going on five years now) We knew each other better than anyone else in that short amount of time and we are still as happy as ever and even more in love. It doesn't work like that for everyone, though, I know.
ejr ejr 7 years
My boyfriend and I have been dating for 3 1/2 years, and will probably be dating 2 more years before we get married. This is mostly because we met when we were freshmen in college! Even though I know that I want to marry him and we live together, we both just feel like we are too young to get married now. I don't feel like now, in 2010, we need to be engaged or married to be in a committed relationship - it's perfectly okay to live together without being married.
suziryder suziryder 7 years
It really depends on the relationship and where the two individuals are in terms of maturity and life experience. 9 years seems awfully long to me, but considering their ages when they met, it's really not bad. Anything under 6 months would cause me to raise an eyebrow. But I got engaged after dating 8 months, and got married about a year after that, and my husband and I just celebrated our 1 year anniversary and we couldn't be happier. Getting engaged that soon might not work for everyone, but we just knew. Sometimes, you just know.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
Personally? I would never consider a short courtship. I want to get to know a person -- see ALL his sides, and ESPECIALLY see how he behaves when he's stressed, angry, depressed, etc. Everybody is good to get along with when life is good. I want to see how he behaves during the rough patches in life (which happens to everybody). Also, seeing how he manages money is important, too. In my opinion, all these sides will come out in due time. I'm willing to be patient. :)
karlotta karlotta 7 years
I kind of got over the marriage thing (but I work as a wedding photographer, so the repetition really put me off!) - but I must say, even though I knew my boyfriend was the one when I met him, I wouldn't have felt comfortable with the idea of marriage until a few months ago, when my father died and he really proved his long-haul worth. We've been together almost five years, and probably will be together for life. But I don't care about getting married. Like Mallorycurtis, the only reason why it would make real sense to me is when we have kids. Maybe! We'll see... Who cares? Love and commitment matter more than a wedding.
bribella27 bribella27 7 years
I've been with my boyfriend for 4 years and we are completely happy with our situation. I have no doubt that he is the one for me forever, and he feels the same way. That said, I don't know if we ever will want to get married, we don't see it as a necessity for a life long commitment. I just wish there was a different label for it. Boyfriend/girlfriend seems so juvenile when you reach a certain age and point in life - I'm 28 - and referring to him as my partner leads to the assumption that I'm a lesbian :)
totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
I think that it shouldn't be too short or too long. If I wanted to get marry, I don't know if I would wait 10 years. I wouldn't want to be someones eternal girl friend (this assuming I don't live with the guy because to me living together is the same thing as a marriage).
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 7 years
I probably wouldn't get engaged to someone I have been with less then 2 years. I don't like it when people tell other people that their partner should have asked them to marry them by a certain time. Everybody is different and just because two people have been together 3 years and still aren't engaged it doesn't mean they are any less committed to each other or that there is something wrong with their relationship. I don't see anything wrong with dating for 4,5, even 10 years before getting married.
gingirl gingirl 7 years
I think it's smarter for people to date longer before getting married. That way, you can be absolutely sure they're the one for you. I've been with my boyfriend since I was 19, so even though we've been dating for about 4 years already, I'm not in a big rush to get married. It's just a piece of paper, after all (especially when you're living together). I think my main reason for taking my time is because my parents got married after only dating a year. I've been through a divorce with them, and I just never want to do that to my children if I can help it. It's so hard. So I'll wait.
elramos elramos 7 years
I don't think I could ever see myself getting married after a couple of months. But I do agree with what others have said, it depends on age. Me and my boyfriend have been together for 4 years. We got together when I was 18, I would never see myself getting married at 18 after a year. However, if I was older we would probably be married by now.
bryseana bryseana 7 years
What's wrong with just being with someone without a legal document? In my opinion, marriage is no more sacred than being in a committed relationship. I think marriage is beautiful, but it bothers me when people trivialize an unmarried couple's commitment to each other. It's treated like "So what if you've been together for 8 or so years. It doesn't mean anything until you're married". Are you kidding?
jocupcake jocupcake 7 years
I feel like assigning a number of years that one must date before marriage is completely pointless and only sets people up to be disappointed. As others have mentioned, the length of time that you date before marriage is really dependent on age - saying you want to get married after 2 years is all well and good, but it's a totally different situation if you start a relationship at 28 vs 18. I will be the first to admit that I was a former victim of the "omg I've been dating for 3 years and my boyfriend hasn't proposed" brigade. But I realized pretty soon after that I was being ridiculous - I was only 22 at the time and I did not want to get married so young. I have friends who have done this too. Anyway, I think that girls need to take a step back and stop fixating on engagement time limits. If your boyfriend is 23 and hasn't proposed to you even though you've been dating forever, calm the heck down. It's probably because he: thinks he's too young to get married/ just graduated college/ is in grad school/ is looking for a new job/ is freaking out about loans/ is trying to figure out how to be a grown up and do things like buy his own health insurance... etc. This is not some huge red flag that he doesn't love you or ever want to marry you in the future.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 7 years
I got married after about 1 1/2 years of dating. My opinion is that less than a year is probably not enough. Somewhere between 1-3 years sounds good to me. Longer than that I'd say, "Sh*t or get off the pot!". ;)
hex913 hex913 7 years
I think 2 years of courtship is about where I would be comfortable with even thinking about marriage. Granted, I've been with my boyfriend for going on 5 years, and we're perfectly happy with the way things are. We own a home together, and might not ever get married, we're still committed to one another though. My parents, on the other hand, only knew each other 6 weeks before tying the knot. They've been married for almost 29 years. Times have changed, anyone who would do that now would be seen as crazy!
missyd missyd 7 years
No big deal. I was with my husband for 8 years before we married (like Kate, I was 19 when I met him, so....there really was no mad rush). Our one year anniversary is this weekend! Why hurry? What for?
mallorycurtis mallorycurtis 7 years
my boyfriend and i will probably end up being together for around 10 years before we get married. we are just in no rush. we already live together and have two dogs together so it's not like i need a ring to know he's committed. the only reason i eventually want to get married is because i want my kids to have married parents. i think a long courtship/engagement is smart, but then again i know people who dated for 6 months before getting married and are still together years and years later. it all just depends on the couple i guess.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
I also wanted to add that sure, nine years may seem like a long time, but Kate Middleton is 28 years old. She started dating the prince at 19! Nine years when you are young is not pushing it, nor is it too long. What's so bad about not being desperate to get to the altar? What's so bad about dating for nine years? A friend of mine just got married last week after being with her SO for ten years! Ten may also sound like a long time, but not when you remember they started dating when they were Junior's in high school.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
In my opinion, I think a short courtship before marriage is ill advised. I have been with my boyfriend for three years, living together for two years, and I feel uncomfortable with marriage before the five year mark. I don't know why this is, but five has always sounded good, and it really says "serious" to me. I think it's important that you really know what you are getting yourself into before you put a dot of ink on a piece of paper, and you really need to know the person you are with. I think living together for a while before marriage is more important than the number of years you are together, though. When it comes down to it, I feel like waiting is a kind of damage control (even though I know in reality that is not entirely the case). I love my boyfriend very much, and I'm fairly sure we will one day marry. Until I am 25 and our 5 yr dating anniversary roles around, I won't seriously entertain the idea of marriage. This is just what seems best for me, but it's not for everyone.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
I would have accepted a proposal from my boyfriend after around a year of dating -- even though I knew he was the one for me as soon as we met, I would have found it quick if he had asked any earlier than that -- it's just not common, at least not around here, and just seems sort of trashy to not date for at least a year two before getting engaged. But back in the day it was different. And 9 years is also pushing it!
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