Miss Bee's Big Engagement Question

Rings courtesy of Tacori
This is something that has been on my mind a little lately, especially since Valentine's day has come and gone and probably yielded a lot of proposals the world/Winnipeg over. But it's mostly been in the back of my head because it seems like the Season of Random Engagements; at least five or six people, by some degree of separation to me, have gotten engaged. Not a bad thing in the least! C'mon. More weddings for me. And no, I'm not judging anyone in the slightest. But point of fact, this is really something I wanted to open up to discussion: 

How long do you think a couple should date before they get engaged?

Well, here are my thoughts. Take them or leave them, but most of all, respond respond RESPOND!

So. For some strange reason there's a wikiHow and an eHow with this exact question. Which is fine and well for your basic psychoanalysis on any topic but uh, life is not as rigorously regimented like a recipe or a step-by-step guide. Especially one that is open to the internet editorial process. 

Straight cut bottom line: everyone is different. There are always going to be serious contributing factors to either a speedy engagement (things like overseas deployment, illness, family issues) or a lengthy one (finishing up school, career opportunities, long distance). And sometimes it can come down to something as simple as the following. Speedy: you're head over heels and you are certain this person is The One(c) OR Lengthy: You're just not ready to consider that kind of commitment. Or. You know. A thousand other reasons. 

Photo courtesy of Green Wedding Shoes
It's never cut and dry. And when someone randomly gets engaged it's really not up to me, you, or anyone else to pass judgment and feel villified about it simply because you're either envious of that couple's happiness or your ethics/morals/whatever make you completely flabbergasted on the matter. The point is that no one has a looking glass into any relationship other than your own. The level of intimacy between two people, or the issues that they're having, are really no one's business, and you will never be able to gauge how well someone works with someone else based on your superficial second-party judgments, because that relationship is happening to someone else. Not you.

And yet, somehow, this question still crops up. Heck I'm the one bringing it up. Because the older I get, the more it seems to gain momentum. Is there such a thing as a right time? Personally, I don't think so. Because, like everything else in life, there's variance. Many of these eHows, wikis, or even forum discussions will note that the 'acceptable' wait time prior to engagement should be at minimum of 9 months to a year to 'get to know each other properly'. Others suggest cohabitation first in order to gauge your domestic dynamic. Even others will come up with a list of standard questions that you're advised to discuss between partners before even thinking about it. But there was one article that really summed it up for me: "Many external factors can influence a couple and this can sometimes result in a couple getting engaged for the wrong reasons."

Peer pressure. Family pressure. Societal pressure. That last one is pretty dominant, considering that articles with this kind of topic get a lot of play in magazines geared toward women in relationships. So when, say, the 9 month/1 year mark passes, there are plenty of women who are tapping their foot, looking at their watch, and wondering where the hell the ring is. Quite frankly, if you're basing your relationship on some kind of ticking clock with set, timed goals, maybe you're in it for the wrong reason. 

Photo courtesy of Erica Girl Wonder on Flickr
And the stats. Stats are always coming into play and bombarding us with the terrible undermining what ifs. They make us afraid of what might happen in our own relationships should we either rush into things or wait too long. We've all heard the classic '50% of marriages in Canada end in divorce' schpeel, which puts everyone on watch-dog duty to do the right thing and follow every single shred of relationship advice being thrown at us, even if they don't coincide or there's massive, confusing overlap. In short, people will do whatever it takes to keep their relationship, and if there's someone out there telling them how, they're going to follow it to the T. Whether you do or not is up to you. But don't waste your energy trying to please everyone. There's too many people out there.

Photo courtesy of Emmaline Bride
Phew. Look, I'm not trying to be preachy. That's pretty much the last thing I want. But to break it down on the personal level, I'm in a committed, serious relationship, and my boyfriend and I have discussed on numerous occasions this very question. And I will admit, what is considered 'proper' or 'acceptable' has come into play. But the point I'm trying to make is that every couple is different. Every couple has their reasons, and every couple will instinctively know when the right time is. Have you dated him for years and you still don't feel like you know him well enough? Okay. Have you been seeing her for only a couple of months and yet you want her to be the mother of your kids? Fine. Are you best friends? Same morals, ethics, sensibilities, educational backgrounds, love for the Muppets, interest in Jimmy Choos? Or hey. Do you just know that this is The One(c)?

It's up to you. But just remember. Don't let those outside forces trample over your future happiness just because you want to keep up with everyone around you. People are always going to talk, or advise, or try to give you it straight from their perspective. Best option? Thank them, nod, then shut it out and enjoy every phase of your relationship, be it engagement, marriage, kids, or retirement, because at the end of the day it's definitely not your family, or friend group, or gossipy magazine that you're getting into bed with for 50+ years. It's one person and it's you. And those are the most important people you should be consulting about this big ol' bold question, because it's not about what's right. It's what's best.

Dig it? Yes, no, maybe, never? C'mon ladies and gents! Feedback! I'm just a young  opinionated trollop who has barely experienced the world. Get on my back about it!

♥Miss Bee


  1. I don't think there's any hard and fast rule. Though I doubt you can be ready to marry someone before a year (at least!). Just my opinion... There's way too much work that needs to go into a relationship before people can consider marriage. Step 1, watch Blue Valentine. Step 2, be amazing.

  2. Minimum 18 months. Before that the couple may still be in the "honeymoon" period, which is the crappiest time ever to get married.

  3. Yeah, I refer to the honeymoon period as the 'best behaviour period', after which things can get maybe too real.

    Hmm, Blue Valentine eh? I'm on it!

  4. Sure, I think it depends on the couple, but for myself, I needed time to know him on a deeper level than the proverbial 'honeymoon period'. If you can handle the get-down-and-dirty bits and you still love them to itty bitty pieces, I think you're pretty much good to go. :)

  5. I kind of agree with Jen here. If the down and dirty doesn't bother you 4 months or 4 years in then you're going to be copasetic.

    I just realized that, in my entry, I didn't really answer my own question with a time frame, even. YEP. OWN'D ...BY MYSELF. To be perfectly honest, with my last boyfriend, I was with him for 2 years and still didn't feel the bridal itch. If he'd have asked me I would've probably said no. I think that in itself, for any time period, is probably a strong clue as to where that relationship's gonna go. For myself...I'd say at least a year. At one time I would've said "longer if you don't co-habitate", but now I'm not so sure about even that.

  6. Cohabitation has been shown to lead to shorter marriages and a higher likelihood of divorce, unless its purpose is a "test run" for married life during or just before an engagement (I can get you the study citations if you want, but I don't remember them offhand). So that is definitely not the key to marital bliss.

  7. I thought it was cohabitation leads to longer marriage and less chance of divorce...I'd like to see that study too. Or multiple studies.

  8. Well, I mean, co-habitation is what you're going to be doing with your partner once the knot is tied, isn't it? So what is the difference between living with them prior to marriage and marriage itself? Is there some correlation because, if ...you live apart prior to marriage, you start things off all shiny and new and far more positively than, say, if you lived together and you are privy to the quirks of living with this other person, thus nothing surprises you and the 'transition' from dating to marriage is seamless? Lacking meaning, even?

    SO MANY QUESTIONS. I think co-habitation prior is healthy, and that, to some degree, not living together UNTIL marriage can just be unrealistic in terms of what you're expecting from being married. That being said, I DID cohabitate with someone. And if anything, living with that particular person gave me all the proper hints as to WHY we weren't meant for each other. The best relationship advice you can get is the kind you give yourself.

  9. I think the reason they gave for that was that since you're living together anyway, you're less committed to getting married and maintaining the marriage. If you do it as a "marriage trial" while you're engaged it negates that effect because you're already committed to getting married anyway.