When is the right time to get married?

Updated Oct 12 2015
Photo by Whitney Lee
Photo by Whitney Lee
I am a girl (I'm sure one of many) who is waiting for the day when I will actually be engaged and feel more legitimate about my daily visits to Offbeat Bride. I have been living with my boyfriend for 2 of the almost 4.5 years we have been together, and I'm torn. My girly emotional side is constantly thinking, "OMG when are we going to get married?" but my practical side is also constantly thinking, "We just finished grad school and don't have real jobs lined up and don't know where we're going to live yet, we can't possibly get married right now, and why would we get engaged if we're not ready to get married?"

My question is, if your relationship and emotions are ready for marriage, is it just stubborn to put it off until "your lives are in order" (whatever that means)? Does anyone ever get to a point where they feel their life is truly in order? Or am I doomed to forever be saying, "We'll get married after we finish grad school." "We'll get married after we both have more stable jobs." "We'll get married after we save up [insert completely arbitrary amount of money]"? -Lexy

I love this question, which is a different version twist on Offbeat Mama's most popular post of all time, "When is the right time to have a child?" Yes, getting married and having children are different decisions, but in some ways the factors to big life decisions are similar: you have to craft a balance between your emotions and your resources, like money and time.

Speaking from personal experience, I don't think there's any rush. Can you wait TOO long to get married? Perhaps. But generally speaking, you don't lose much by waiting a bit — assuming both partners agree to the reasons to wait. Yes, it's a good idea to have real jobs. Yes, it's a good idea finish school. Yes, it's nice to have a little money in the bank. All these reasons are valid, very practical reasons to wait a bit.

That timing is also a question of priorities. Sometimes right now is the right time to get married because a partner needs health insurance or a green card. Sometimes right now is the right time because a family member is dying. Deciding to get married is a very adult, grown-up thing to do too. Sure, it's giddy and exciting and about love and crazy deep passion — but it's also a financial decision. A housing decision. A family decision. THESE ARE BIG FUCKING DECISIONS.

And, I will be blunt: sometimes right now feels right because damnit, you're ready to get on with this relationship and take it to the next level. When do I get to plan my special party, and when do I get to wear a ring, and when do I get to seal the deal and make it official? I totally felt these feelings, and while those feelings were totally valid — they weren't necessarily the best motivations to get married.

I think every person feeling impatient to get engaged has to step back and really examine the motivations. What's the driving force? Be honest with yourself. If it's about a party, then consider the kind of party you want to have and whether you have the resources to throw that kind of party. If you don't have the resources to throw a big party, then consider whether you're so eager to get married that you'll skip the party for now, get legally hitched, and "get weddinged later, when you've got the resources.

In some ways, I viewed my wedding as a cherry on top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. (For those of you haven't taken Psych 101, Maslow's general idea is that humans have basic functional needs like food, shelter that must be attended to before you can focus on stuff like relationships or self-realization.) For me, planning a wedding was something I didn't want to prioritize until I had most of the other stuff figured out — financial independence and emotional stability. When both those things felt solid, I was ready to get married. I could add the cherry on top of planning a big party and it wasn't going to interfere with my ability to, say, pay my rent.

In other words, I got the basic adulthood thing down — I'm ready to graduate to whatever's next.

When it comes to weddings and marriage, I think there's infinitely more to be gained by patience. If you can be patient and take your time until your basic hierarchy of needs are taken care of, then that's probably a good thing. But circumstances are mutable — there are people getting married in refugee camps right now. There are terminally ill people marrying their beloved before it's too late. There are adoptions that need to happen, there are papers that need to be signed, there are many reasons that right now is exactly the right time.

The way I see it, you don't need everything to be perfect to get married. There's not some magical algorithm for how you know when things are finally just right. There's no magic amount of money to have saved in the bank. There's no perfect configuration of jobs and school and family and duration of relationship. Sometimes life demands you move quickly. Sometimes situations conspire to slow things down. But if you're just lusting for a party, a ring, or a purpose? I feel you, and I feel you need to find patience. Find yourself first.

  1. I'm right there with this question. I have been dating my SO for a lot longer than most of our couple friends who are all engaged or married. I'm constantly balancing between "I want to be engaged and married RIGHT NOW" to "Am I only bending to peer pressure? Do we need to get married right now?". I don't want a big party, I once told my SO all I wanted was jewelry and paperwork, and I know I want to get married to my SO, but I'm constantly questioning my motive of timing. Am I rushing because I hate that people think we aren't as serious as we are because we aren't married? Why should I care WHAT they think?

    Glad I'm not the only offbeat not-engaged reader here

          • My other half and I have been together for over 6 years. We have lived together for three years and we aren't engaged. He says someday, but honestly I've been married and divorced, I'm not in a huge hurry. Additionally my grandmother who raised me passed in April and my grandfather's health is failing. I'm not big into tradition but the the closest family I have likely won't be there. Our biggest pressure is actually from our friends.

        • Representin' for the "pre-engaged" crowd! My partner and I have been together for almost nine years, and are definitely ready for marriage, relationship-wise. We just need to get other things in order before we feel we can afford the party. We will definitely get married within the next couple years, but feel it's not super-important to us to have the legal document to prove our relationship. It's grat that Offbeat Bride treats this as completely legit when the rest of society doesn't always take a long-term mom-married relationship seriously. On a side-note, I do have to say that the word boyfriend doesn't seem to convey what he is in my life. So I've switched to partner, which feels just right.

          • It's pretty terrible that most of society doesn't take long term non-married relationships seriously. Being married isn't the only way to be committed and serious.

          • I, too, switched from "boyfriend" to "partner" a few years ago for the same reason! 🙂 The connotation of "boyfriend" just didn't cut it for me, for him, for us.

    • Wow Jackie and Miranda. I am so thankful for both of you reading my mind. Sometimes I find people don't know what to say when I mention I've been with my boyfriend for 10 years. Are they judging? Are they thinking I'm naive, he probably will never marry me? I just read so much out there that makes me feel I shouldn't feel as happy and content as I am in my relationship. We love each other lots, but it's just not time, especially since I've ditch my masters for another masters. I won't be done with school or get a job anytime soon but thankfully I am 25 years young. This is the reminder I needed…patience is everything! I've recently been bringing up marriage and he's all for it, he's so sweet about it. But, I want us to plan and do as much as we can first (school done, job, well he has all that down already).. because I love him so much and I want us to continue as a team as much as possible. Thank you!

      • Jade: I am glad I'm not the only one. I've been with my boyfriend for 10 years also and when I tell people they are shocked and it kind of makes me feel bad :/. But we haven't gotten married since I'm a full-time student and he's the only one working right now. The reason I want to marry is to build a love nest and sleep together. Since I still live with my parents house, I can't sleep over at his house. btw I'm 26, long story i know 🙂

        • Hey, tribesmaids, want to share a canoe because it sounds like we are all in the same boat! 🙂 My partner and I just celebrated nine wonderful years together, and while we are ready to get married, our lives are not ready for us to get married. I'm finishing grad school 1,300 miles away, we've both been struggling financially/career-wise for a few years, and other logistical, "grown up stuff" that has made us decide (maybe–no, definitely–grudgingly) to wait at least another year.

          @Hilda: Respecting parents' wishes/beliefs/whatever is in your long story is totally acceptable and responsible, regardless of your age, IMHO, even more so when you're "living under their roof". I had a similar situation and can appreciate the shock you get from people with differing opinions on where your and your SO are verses where they think you "should be". Keep confident in knowing you two are clearly doing something right (I mean, 10 years) and keep on doing it! *air five*

      • Aw Jade, 10 years? What a wonderful example of young love lasting (:
        My partner and I are doing the 'pre-engaged' thing as I am still super young (22) and I feel that when it's time to marry, the opportunity will present itself.
        In the end society doesn't mean diddly in regards to the validity of your relationship, shame that it still happens though.
        Knowing that there are others like me around really gives me hope for my future (:
        Live long and prosper ladies (and gents, and all other lovely people here)

    • I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum (with a similar dilemma): my fiance and I dated for a year and got engaged, because it was so clear to both of us that it was right. (and hey— we meet all the 'requirements' in the Cracked article above!) There are also a lot of practical reasons to be getting married now, but mainly… well… we know it's right for us!

      Unfortunately, I face a lot of judgment about the fact that we 'only' dated for one year. Frankly, I am tired of justifying my decision to people (people who are not central figures in our lives— our families and friends are completely on board. But co-workers, acquaintances, etc. are skeptical.) I face a lot more of this than my fiance, probably because I'm younger (23) and he grew up in the south, where the culture is a little more accepting of young love than, say, Manhattan (where I am currently living.)

      I try to shrug it off, because I know that people who are judgmental have nothing to do with our lives together. Maybe they had a bad relationship, or their parents got divorced and attributed it to getting married "too young" or "too fast." Maybe they couldn't conceive marriage for themselves, and so it's hard to picture it for someone else. Whatever. But it's frustrating that other people feel they have the right to determine whether you are or aren't ready to be getting married!

  2. This article made me realise (3 months after the fact) that I never really thought about when to get married. I'd thought a lot about whether I wanted to, whether I wanted it to be this guy and so on, but never when. Which maybe explains why when I realised that yes I could see myself spending the rest of my life with this man I just left it there. Until he reached a similar conclusion and in a (for him suprising) show of decisiveness proposed. Then it was kind of a case of he wanted it, I wanted it, so we did it.

    However my experience did reinforce the idea that there is no right time. Even when you think there is. When we got engaged and set a date it seemed like a perfect time to get married. Then life happened. 2 months before the wedding we had to move house (on 1 months notice!), 1 month after I started a new job, stuff broke down and was expensive to replace, family had problems, friends moved to foreign countries…. If I could have booked the wedding with the benefit of hindsight I would not have picked that date or anything close to it.

    But you know what? It was fine in the end.

  3. Just like having a baby, you'll never be "ready" to get married. There will always be some reason to put it off. If you wait until everything is perfect, you'll never do it. If you both want to, GET MARRIED! You can always work on jobs and such together after your wedding.

    • There are some reasons that are good and valid ones for "not yet" though. My FH would lose medical benefits that I can in no way afford to replace if we get married. His health isn't great, and he has several chronic conditions that need regular doctor visits. We'd have a real problem if we got married right now. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure WHEN we'll be able to get married, because of those benefits. Someday, we hope. Soon, we tell people. But we've put it off twice already…so….when it's right, we'll do it.

      • Why not get married with out the legal bit. Have a commitment ceremony in the eyes of G-d/your community/youselves, but don't get a license. Of course you need to check your state's common law statutes before taking this advice.

        • Annie,

          Our state has no common law, but ultimately, for me, there would be no point in having the other stuff. I don't necessarily want a big party. I'm not dying to throw a wedding. I want to be MARRIED.

          And until it's fiscally responsible for us to do so, we won't.

    • For me, this saying of "you'll never be ready" did not hold true, actually. I got engaged a few months ago after being together for several years, and my now-fiance' and I agreed we wanted to "get adulthood down" as the article says first. We both graduated. We have jobs in our desired fields. We weren't switching apartments every 6 months because someone's lease was up. We had been on vacations and holidays together. Etc.

      And now I can essentially relax and deal with wedding planning, as those other things have been put into place – I do not need to worry about graduating, about "what do I want to do with my life," etc. (Which is good because wedding planning brings its own stress!). And I still love my guy to pieces 😀 .

      I have heard that saying, that you'll never be ready re: becoming a parent, and your mileage may DEFINITELY vary, but I think in terms of getting married there 'is' a time where you feel "ready." If you don't,then you're not ready 😉 .
      If you ask men who have proposed, they do seem to say like they felt "nervous, but ready."

      • They way I read it the article wasn't saying you'll never feel ready to be married. It's more about people who do feel ready but keep coming up with 'practical' reasons why they shouldn't get married in spite of that, like not having enough money or a stable job or a permenant home and letting that put them off.

        It's very easy for the idea of putting something like marriage or kids or whatever off until later to become an infinate cycle. "Once I get a job" easily becomes "once I'm settled in my job" then "once I get that promotion that's taking up all my time" and "once I finish this one big project at work"… (not that it has to be work that delays it of course). Eventually you have to accept that there is never going to be a perfect time when everything else in life is sorted out and you'll only need to focus on one thing.

  4. We're beeen together for 6 years and have 2 children together. I also have 2 children from my previous marriage. I know we are far from tradional, and sometimes it's like "oh F it" lets just go somewhere with the kids and be legal! 🙂

  5. for more reading check out apracticalwedding.com and search for "pre-engaged" you'll find lots of support and help to realize you're not alone, thoughts on how to approach a serious discussion on the subject with your significant one and more.

    It is a big deal and a lot to work through, but you're not alone and the offbeat bride and the APW communities are welcome and don't require a ring to be legitimate.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. I must say that after reading it and taking a look at my own situation, I really need to have a talk with my boyfriend, to apologize to him. I'm a cronic asker "When? How? In a few months?… WHEN??!" We both know it will happen, we've talked about it, but I get so impatient with waiting that I forget to think about what he wants. Again thank you so much for this, it brings me peace of mind to know that I'm not the only one that has done this. 🙂

  7. SO and I lived together with roommates for about 6 months (starting at 1year into the relationship), then moved into our own place. We had a commitment ceremony when we moved in by ourselves, as kind of a personal wedding bit (it was fairly spontaneous, at Pride). The push to get legally married came from our discrepancy in income, and the desire to buy a house. He is still in school but makes about 3 or 4 times what I do; we split bills 50/50. We decided that if we wanted to start obtaining large-scale mutual possesions (houses, cars, etc), we ought to be legally bound. I did NOT want to get a house together, split, and have to deal with some kind of enforced back-rent or anything crazy from our disparate incomes. He graduates school in March 2012, and once student loans are paid (which we intend to do within a year), there's nothing keeping us from buying a house. So, there you have it. For us it's been a fairly practical decision process. If you're not looking to share finances and property, honestly, I don't see any rush.

    • I'm a bit old-fashioned, but I would also say, if you don't have kids together, and don't plan to have kids together, I don't see the rush. There are lots of legal and financial reasons to get married, but if you don't want to/need to start mixing the two, think hard about your reasons for getting married.

  8. I completely agree! Me and my other half have been engaged for over five years, I keep putting it off despite us having a four year old child! I'd rather just wait until we both had jobs sorted out, I to examined my motives for a wedding. Did I want a party or to get married? I'm still not sure, I do know I want to be with the man I love for the rest of my life, so… hmmm. Screw it all and head straight to the registry office!

  9. I've been thinking a lot about this lately. My sort-of-fiance and I have been together since high school, going on 8 years now. We own a house and a car, plus a dog and two cats together.

    Still, we're only 23 and 25, and neither of us has finished school. In fact, the reason I've been toying with a courthouse now-wedding later deal is my financial aid. My mom is married to a man who makes the same yearly that I do. Combined, that's a whopping $50k a year. But they have 5 kids and a newborn grandchild at home. Since I'm under 25, not married and childless, I HAVE to include his income (mom only makes $200 a week and dad is in prison). This means even though I've lived on my own since we lost our home when I was 18, and they can hardly afford their mortgage on the new house let alone fund anything in MY life (not that I would EVER ask them to), we "make too much" for me to get financial aid.

    If I were to get married, my boyfriend's income is low enough right now that we would both qualify. Otherwise, I'd have to wait until I was 25 like he had to (his mom makes a great deal of money, but doesn't help him at all either).

  10. Me and my husband were only dating for 2 months when we started talking about marriage seriously, and we were engaged before we hit our 1 year anniversary. The timing felt completely natural for us, so it's totally a personal choice. I almost feel like we weren't ready to really face adulthood until we had the emotional support of each other.
    TLDR: Marry when you want=)

    • I totally agree! My fiance and I were together for about 6 months before we got engaged, but we knew at 2 months that it would happen. We really came alive when we met each other, so it seemed like a logical next step. We are currently in the process of getting all the ducks in a row, but we're super confident that doing it as a team is way better than by ourselves. Of course, everyone's different. It's working out great for us though!

    • Glad to read these two comments about getting engaged quickly! We got engaged after about 11 months of dating, but we were already living together. When you know, you just know! I also have a daughter from a previous relationship and we see getting married as his commitment to me and to her equally.

    • My partner and I started officially dating BECAUSE we realized we wanted to get married, if you can believe it! Only two months after meeting, knew we were "The One" (even if not the Only One) for each other, and still two years later aren't married. Life just keeps getting in the way, for one. For another thing, I'm not sure I want to get legally married until all adults can marry, so it basically just becomes a ceremony with family and a big party. Until we can do the big party thing, we're "not married." But… our finances are merged, I'm moving 200 miles away from my chosen-home to be with him and his family during very trying times, there's no lack of commitment here. Like someone mentioned above, I couldn't keep calling him my boyfriend, I switched to Partner because it just feels more right.

      His parents were married 5 months after they met. So they get the whole "it just felt right" thing.

    • I was happy to read this! My boyfriend and I are moving in next month, and planning to get engaged around Christmastime, and have about a year long engagement. We are only 23, and I am moving out of my mom's house and into his apartment. We are both students still. But I think for us it is the right choice, & we are very happy with it, as are our families and in my case, my pastor & church family.

      What's funny is that for his family (conservative and Christian), he is "old" to get married (we're going to his 21-yr-old sister's wedding this summer) and for mine (liberal atheist/agnostic) I am "young." All relative, eh?

  11. My partner and I were together for 7 years before we got engaged. People told me that I would 'feel different' after getting engaged, but I honestly don't. Much as I love planning my wedding, I really think it's important not to see your wedding as the happy-ever-after that you need to be happy. I don't feel like our relationship has changed at all since we got engaged – a good solid commitment is built over time, not in the moment you say 'yes'. For me, the wedding is about a party for our friends and families, and if we were not in an organizational or financial situation to be able do that, then we would have waited even longer.

  12. This is so hard to make recommendations about, because fundamentally it's personal and emotional.

    Case in point: I am in grad school, and two of my classmates and I all got engaged within about a month of each other this summer. Two of the three of us had been with our fiances for about a year and a half, and are planning weddings within about six months to a year because we want to be married BEFORE the big fieldwork parts of our program. The third had been with her fiance for over five years, and they still haven't set a date, since she doesn't want to be married until AFTER the fieldwork is over. Are we doing it wrong? Hell no I can't wait! Is she doing it wrong? No, she will have the perfect wedding!

  13. The eggs don't have to be in order, you have to yourself first. Once you know yourself, everything falls into place. Oh gosh, I finally get to use the f-word! It sill sounds funny and odd. Fiancé popped the question the day after our two year anniversary. I still have loans, and school to get through but the time is right and he's putting my schooling first. I think, even though I won't be in the best position with work being just graduated and such, it's not going to matter. Because no matter when you get married, you'll have cold feet, you'll be nervous until you say 'I will' (I love the minister at his cousin's wedding) The money and what not do not matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is what's between two people that are love.

  14. I check the new posts on offbeatbride everyday. I also fall into the category of pre-engaged. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 5 years and living together for about 3.5 We have moved several times together, across town and then across state-lines. We have bought a car together, we have insurance together. We both waited for each other to graduated college. We own 3 dogs and 2 cats together. I feel like we have made some pretty big life decisions together. I am eager eager eager to get hitched, he knows but hasn't popped the question. I get nervous that he doesn't want to sometimes. I think I am seeing the true reason now. I think he is just not quite at the same point in life that i'm at. Even though he is 2 years older than me. he graduated college 2 years later than I did, and he is working in a restaurant and I have a steady job as a teacher. he keeps talking about going to grad school. so maybe once he feels as settled as i do he will pop the question. I guess I need to remember to be patient with this. It is not the right time unless you are both ready. too often women force their men into proposing, i think we all need to remember that even though we love each other so dearly we are still very different people just like everyone on this earth. It is ok to be the one who is ready first and patiently, with everlasting devotion waiting for our other half to be ready, then it will be the right time.

  15. ohhh and p.s. how about wanting to get married because your also wanting to have a child. merge the two articles on that one.

  16. I felt the need to get engaged RIGHT NOW, I felt the need to get married RIGHT NOW. So we got engaged. And when it happened, it became the catalyst for the end of our relationship. I realized I'd been pushing for RIGHT NOW since we'd gotten together, that I'd been the one making the goals, making the demands, making the decisions. I realized I needed to feel that level of RIGHT NOW for myself. For my life. For the goals for myself. Because I didn't. I was filling my life with propelling the relationship forward so that I could cover up the fact that I wasn't passionate about my own life, decisions or desires.
    This may well not be the case for anyone else out there. But it SO was for me.

    • wow, Dootsiebug!

      Very brave of you to put this out there, and very self-aware of you to realize it. Good for you, I hope that your new life brings you every good thing you could ever wish for, and then some (hopefully that 'some' will include an incredible person who will help you reach all of your goals, and inspire you to new ones…)

  17. My fiance lost his job about two months after we got engaged. We're still moving ahead with the wedding because most of the financing is coming from our parents. They're the ones that want a big family celebration, and want it enough to pay for it. As much fun as I'm having planning a wedding, if I had to pay for it myself we would have been to the courthouse or Vegas by now. We've been together 10 years, so once he popped the question, neither of us felt the need for a long engagment. We may end up getting secretly legally married to save money on health insurance (now he's on mine as a domestic partner, which is nice but expensive) and get "weddinged" later. As impractical as it is, I don't want to keep putting off our wedding due to life. There's practicality and then there's the fact that life is never going to be perfect and I just want it done already!

    I think every situation is different, and only you can make this decision.

  18. My husband and I got married for a green card. We had known each other for 10 years, and had been dating for 2, and we were very serious about our commitment.

    But if we could have lived together (practically) without getting married? I would have in a heart beat. The first year of our marriage was easy because we weren't together and we were waiting for his greencard. Year 2? Has been really difficult.

    It's made us stronger, but I wish we could have gotten a chance to live together first. Marriage isn't something I regret, but is also something I think could have waited a little longer for.

    That being said? I love being married. I think it helps my older colleagues and friends take me a little more "seriously" about being an adult. Since I'm 23, I don't have a lot of experience in work or in adult life. But being married is something that older colleagues and I have to connect on. Sad as that is, I work in a very corporate environment, and it's nice to not be thought of as a kid just because I'm a lot younger than my coworkers.

  19. It's different for everybody as far as I can tell. I know people who got hitched straight out of high school and some made it, others were divorced in a year or two. One of my besties and I had bizarrely mirroring love lives and hooked up with our peeps literally the same day. I'm engaged and they're far from it. I suspect this has something to do with my being younger and their both having been around the block more and thus wanting to go slower. I also know a couple who were engaged for four years before getting married. There's many different ways to do it.

  20. I've been getting a lot of "Wow, you're so young!" or "Why don't you wait a while? What's a few more months going to do?"

    No, I want to get married in a year, at 23. Why? Because we are both at crossroads in our lives and I would prefer to take that journey with a Husband, not a fiance. My Marine is retiring in July of 2012 and I would prefer to marry him in May in Dress Blue Alphas because I met him as a marine, not as a civilian (also, because dress blues are SEXY).

    Another reason why we're marrying now is because we were "pre-pre-engaged" 6 months into our relationship and only a few people know that. One of his Buddies let it slip over the phone about when my Marine was going to propose to me and I caught him red-handed. It wasn't until Christmas of 2010 when we became "pre-engaged" (he told my Dad, "I'm marrying your daughter. Just thought I'll let you know") Officially, we got engaged in April 2011 and chose to marry in May 2012, which would make our wedding day a year and one month away.

    So in actuality, I've been engaged for about a year already and I have another 8 months to go. 7 of those months, my Marine wont even be in the US. So yea, a few more months is a too much to ask in my opinion…

    • "Because we are both at crossroads in our lives and I would prefer to take that journey with a Husband, not a fiance."
      This is also my reason for wanting to get married now. Even though my boyfriend hasn't bought a ring yet (hopefully, in the next month he says) and is trying to transfer graduate schools so we can finally live together after almost four years of long distance, I know the proposal is coming soon regardless of what happens next. Even if we don't end up in the same city, we'll still get married next year.
      P.S. Dress blues are sexy:)

  21. For me and my hubby, the most important thing was that each of us knew ourselves. It was less about having all the other stability things. My husband just went back to school. After the wedding I admitted I didn't know what my career goals are anymore. But we had known since very early in our relationship that we were good together. We are still discovering things about our relationship, still figuring things out, but we also both felt we wanted that commitment to say that we WILL stick it out, we will work on it, we will figure it out together. For us, that was the key.

  22. 😀
    This post makes me super-super happy and has forced me to come out of the silent-reader-closet!!
    Im from the UK and check the Off-beat Empire daily, it's a very guilty pleasure seeing as I'm nowhere near engaged, have no children, and live in a make-do student house!!
    I appreciate this lots and will definitely comment more, as well as joining the tribe the SECOND I get engaged!!!
    For me I thinks its about whether you'll be happy with your wedding if you have it now. I mean, these ladies have seriously taught budgeting, but are there things you really want that might be a reality if you do wait until you save up £xxxx, oh, sorry… $xxxx 😛
    From across the Pond xxx

  23. A lot of times you can't plan these things. I've been with my wonderful man for almost 4 years now, and he joined the Navy almost immediately after we finally got comfy with each other. We were both determined to wait to get married until after he got out (next July). But life happens. We thought he would never have a deployment, and he's leaving on one in two months. We agreed to get married before that happens.

    So, life happens 😛 We'll get weddinged as per the original plan, of course.

  24. I'm in a little different boat than a lot of posters here – I've been married before, as has my SO (actually, he's been married twice before!). He and I are both very well-grounded in who we are, very much adults by now, and very sure that we want to get married. Our obstacles are all financial – he needs to sell his house but is underwater on it. I would need to buy out the half of my house that belongs to my ex (long story). I'm employed only part-time. And my daughter is going to be starting college next year – hello, tuition!

    In a nutshell, the crappy economy is holding us back from getting on with our lives. I find this just a little frustrating.

    On another note, the "when should we get married question" ties in neatly with the "WHY should we get married" question, which I've also given a lot of thought to. For me, it kinda boils down to "I want him around all the time, and merely living together a.) doesn't fit our values system and b.) makes no financial sense."

    So, yeah. Frustration all around. But at least, because of my almost-daily visits here, I have a *really good* idea of what I want my wedding to be when we finally get to do it 🙂

  25. Me and my partner have both been engaged before. His fiancee died in a car crash; my fiance was abusive. I don't think either of us is keen to have another fiance/e any time soon, but we do want to get married. I think we'll just go straight to the ceremony, none of the pre-stuff.

    Irrespective of the abusive, I think in my past relationship I was too focused on the ring and the dress, and nothing about the actual relationship I was trying to build with another person. Me and my current partner are building a marriage, not just planning a wedding.

  26. My favorite advice columnist really said it best:

    You get married when the decision is a (reasonably) obvious one – when the partnership is already there and you already know you're in it for the long haul* and making it legal is the next logical step – and you'd be "unofficially" a permanent pair with or without the certificate.

    I like that, and it did mirror how I felt: we got married when we knew (beyond a reasonable doubt – we were surprisingly doubt free but others are not) that, married or not, this was it.

    *of course that can change and divorce happens among couples who are deeply in love and think they're in it for life, but we're talking about the best decision you could make for yourself at the time.

  27. This is one of those things that is truly different for every individual couple. For us, waiting until grad school was done wasn't something we wanted to do. We had been together for five years when we got engaged, right after I finished my bachelor's and he finished a master's. We got married during his first winter break of medical school. Talk about not having the "adulthood" thing down! It took me 8 months to find a job in this shit-tacular job market (as a NURSE), and after working for a few months, I decided to go back to school as well. Now we're coming up on our one year wedding anniversary, spent our first year of marriage dealing with medical school, unemployment, now both of us in grad school at the same time, and honestly I feel like this first year has been full of growth! Maybe it's different because we started dating when we were 17 and we've grown up (and are still growing up) together, but I can't see us having all our grown-up ducks in a row for another five years. And we're having a blast being married and working hard together. I really don't believe there's a perfect time, but there is perhaps a better time for each individual couple.

  28. About 7 years before he popped the question I went through the "I want to get married" stage, but it wasn't the "we want to get married" stage and he was extremely definite about his views. So I finally worked out, after a little bit of sulking etc., that I really didn't care that much about the wedding, but that I would compromise if he would be willing to get me a nice ring, as this was symbolic of the relationship lasting etc.

    Of course, then I had to decide on a ring, and it turned out I couldn't do that easily. Took me 5 years, and by the time I'd found one, it had turned into an engagement ring in the end anyway 😀

    We've been through moving interstate, long distance relationship, lost jobs and all sorts of things, and love each other more and more every day. If any marriage is going to stand the test of time, I think we've got a pretty good chance.

  29. Ok, so I pushed for marriage as a starting point. Like:
    1. Get married
    2. Having proven our commitment, actually start working on the relationship
    3. Have the typically rough first year as we figure out our "new" relationship
    4. Rely on bonds of marriage to "fix" insecurities
    5. Begin "really" trusting
    6. Progress into being a happily married couple

    My Now-Husband insisted on waiting to marry until it was the next logical step. Like..
    1. Acknowledge marriage as the goal
    2. Learn to disagree without disrespecting
    3. Learn to hash your stuff out healthily
    4. Learn that deep honesty shit
    5. Allow time to feed that scary level of trust
    6. Allow said trust to organically erode insecurities
    6. Having let someone in to that possibly self-destroying place and found they are doing good work there,
    7. Marry them.

    His way worked out better than mine ever would have. Sub "insecurities" with whatever issue is a repeat offender in your relationship and you pretty much have your timeline. We were engaged about 18 months after deciding we wanted to get married, and we were married 8 months after that.

  30. My boyfriend and I have known each other for 10 years and have been together for almost three. We've lived together for just over a year, and know that we will marry each other when it feels right for us. That doesn't mean when the right job comes along or when we have enough money, but when we're ready to call ourselves husband and wife. We're still pretty young (25), but many of our friends who have known each other for much shorter are already getting engaged, and wondering when we're going to do it too. I tell them we've already made the commitment to each other, but it'll happen once I'm ready to think of myself as a wife.

  31. Husband and I have been married for a year and a half now. I'm 25 and he's 24. We got the "you're too young"speech from a couple of friends. Our families were all for it. They understood the situation. I am American, he's Canadian. Met in school in Vancouver, and we dated for a year before I had to leave the country. We did long distance for a year, got engaged, because if we actually wanted to start our lives together like we wanted we needed to get married sooner rather than later for immigration. Finally after living apart for 2 years my immigration went through to Canada. We knew we wanted to spend our life together married or not 6 months into our relationship. I don't think we would be legally married right now if it weren't for an imaginary line keeping us from building our life.
    Anywho, I'm rambling, its different for everyone. I always say go with your gut with just a tiny bit of brain for good measure. 🙂

  32. My partner and I are at the frustrating one's-ready-one's-not stage. We're both recent college grads, but he's eyeball-deep in grad school and I've got a great job that is launching my career beautifully. It's tough to navigate when I feel like an adult successfully navigating the real world and he feels like a college student successfully shielded from the real world. I'm trying to be patient, but it can be frustrating (and even a little hurtful) when one partner feels is "I'm ready now" and the other is "Let's not talk about it for at least another two years."

  33. I don't feel that my fiancee and I have our lives together, but I do feel that we have our relationship together. We own a house and have two cats and a dog, but we both work exhausting retail jobs. Neither of us have college degrees. He is doing one of those one day a week college programs for adults right now. We have lived together for six years and were very anti-marriage until a few months ago. I don't know what changed. But I am excited about planning my wedding, but more I feel excited to be married.

  34. I was 16 when I got with my partner, I am now 24 and earlier this year he asked me to marry him. I asked him why he had waited so long, when he finally did ask me, he said that it was baecause he'd had a plan all along of asking me in Japan as we had been talking about going there ever since we got together. This year we planned a trip to Japan but it was the same time as when the Earthquake hit and we had to abandon our plans. We were both devastated but my partner insisted he wanted to take me somewhere else. He took me to Paris for a long weekend and asked me in front of the Eiffel Tower. He said that he'd waited this long to ask me and although it wasn't how he'd planned, he didn't want to wait anymore.
    My point being, you never know what your partner is waiting for. You might just have to ask out right if you don't want to wait -that- long. Good luck x

  35. Speaking as someone that's been engaged for the past 5 years and it will be another 2 years at least before we actually get hitched, I feel that I can say this with some authority even though I'm only 24. (We started dating at 18 and yes, that means I have been engaged since 19 and decided to wait until graduate school is over to actually get married)

    Don't rush into getting engaged just to be engaged! My fiance and I decided to take this step because aside from the fun part of the process of getting married, we already decided we're going to spend the rest of our lives together. One religious ceremony would greatly add to our life together, don't get me wrong, but a piece of paper stating that you're married doesn't make you any more or less "married" in our eyes. Once we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, we started living like we were already spending the rest of our lives together.

    To be honest, I have mixed feelings about waiting for the "right time" to get engaged and married. We're waiting until at least one of us is out of graduate school and can afford to get married. As this writer suggests, it's a logical reason, yet there are so many more reasons to either get married now or wait until later. In my view, why do something just to do it? For example, pushing to get engaged because you're one of the only single ladies left in your group of friends may be tough, but it's not a good reason to jump the gun. (as my own disclaimer, I did not read any of the previous posts, so if by chance this offends someone, it was done unintentionally)

    If you both love each other, what is the difference of now or later if you have no compelling factors pushing you one way or another? Let your book write itself, and don't force the page to turn before it's time- you may miss something great in your story!

  36. There is never a right time to get married:-) and you will always have something you are striving for that puts you off doing it. Whats that Nike advert slogan…..Just do it!

  37. This is a long comment…it's an important question, I think, and I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences. I think that there are a lot of good reasons to wait to get married, and there are certainly many couples who wait who are very committed to each other. I want to address a different, but related issue—when the waiting is one-sided and you aren't on the same page as your partner. You shouldn't have to fight with your partner to get married. If you are, it's a good idea to look at more than just your own motivations for getting married— like your partner's motivations for waiting, and your relationship and goals together as a whole. While it's important to consider that you might be impatient for all the wrong reasons, you should also be careful not to assume that your desire to get married (RIGHT NOW) is in the "wrong", so to speak.
    I think this is especially true for some women. None of us want to be THAT GIRL. You know, the one who nags her boyfriend about commitment, and follows all The Rules to trap some man into being a husband. We do what we can to fight against the stereotype, and in that process, I think we sometimes invalidate our own desires for marriage and family. As we all know, getting married and being committed to someone you love is a perfectly valid thing to want, a worthy goal to have, and it shouldn't be something you have to apologize for.
    My ex and I were together for 5 years and started talking about marriage around year 1. After a few years, I'm embarrassed to say our talks became arguments, and he argued that I wanted to get married for all the wrong reasons. He convinced me he was right, and that there was something wrong with my wanting to get married. When we did get engaged, like Dootsiebug said in her earlier comment, it was the catalyst for the end of our relationship. I can certainly relate to some of the other things she said, too, so it took me a while to realize it, but our relationship didn't end because I wanted to get married. It ended because we weren't in the same place and we couldn't reconcile our differences; we didn't want the same things and no one was willing to compromise. I had been on my own for years and was established as an adult and comfortable with the idea of marriage; he was in school, dependent on his parents financially and in a lot of other ways, and just not ready to get married. Getting married and having a family is important to me; he admitted at the end of our relationship that marriage wasn't that important to him and he didn't really want to get married or have kids—ever. All those arguments we had about marriage weren't about my impatience; we just weren't right for each other. We had different goals and values and for some reason it took a broken engagement for us to see that.
    This story has a happy ending, though, in that I found a wonderful, loving man who DOES want the same things I do, and we got married in August. This was just my experience of course, but maybe it can be helpful to someone else.

  38. My FH and I went through a lot leading up to our engagement. He first asked me after 2 months of dating, and I said no. 3 years later I started to wondering if he'd never asked again. He would talk about wanting to, but needing it to be perfect etc… I'm sad to say I pushed a lot harder than I meant to. I felt it was right, but I also had something to prove. After a life time of being as logical and patient as possible about every single decision, I needed to do something spontaneous. I wanted to prove to my family I was an adult, no longer to be in my late 20's and sitting at the kiddie table. Lastly, since he is 10 years older than myself, I felt that his friends and family needed to see us as something real, rather than ignoring his "phase" until he "dated a real girl".
    Due to finances I'm still in school, and neither of us has a "real job". I knew despite these emotional reasons, we needed to be financially stable before spending that kind of money. I don't feel that I need to finish school because I don't really see what will change when I do. But it'd be nice to start our lives without a ton of debt.

    He was patient, he understood why I felt rushed. I tried to understand that while he did feel it was right, he had a strange fear of "growing up" in such a real way, and we both tried to breathe.

    We're now officially engaged but while we have a vague dated in mind, we're going to do it when we both feel the pros out weight the cons. And I think that's the best thing anyone can do for themselves. If you can think of more reasons not to do it, don't. But don't let pressure, family, or a competitive nature force your hand.

  39. If you are in love,go for it. 26yrs,4kids and 2 careers later same man still not married. We just got comfortable. I say don't wait.

  40. My partner and I are in a simmilar situation.Our relationship started at full tilt, we both sufffered makor illnesses in the first couple of years wewere together. I nursed him through 4 major surgeries, including dessing changes, ostomy bag and cathater care, home administered IV antibiotics. Needless to say I did everything his family couldn;t be bothered with. I have been his sole means of support both financially and emotionaly through the illness and it never made me even skip a beat. We are now having our second child, and he is a wonderful full time dad and student. But when we decided to get married this year before this second baby came, his family has repeatedly told us to not rush into things. For us it is his family holding us back and I am torn between, we have done and do everything that many married couples wouldn't do for each other yet we suffer because we are not actually married. Yet I see maybe we should wait till we have money for a fancy wedding instead of a court house wedding. I think we will never be able to come to a decision. Yet that would never have an effect on if we were to remain together it would just mean more legal hurdles.

  41. I was with my fiance for 5 years before he popped the question and I am not going to lie I went crazy before he asked.
    I just felt like we were ready for that step.
    We have been engaged for two years and when we will be finally adding a ring to his finger we would have been engaged for 3 years, for me being engaged isn't always about being married directly after.

    I think if you both want to be engaged and then want to wait until you do other adult type stuff to seal the deal then do it that way.

  42. I wish I could find my origonal post. I was with my now ex for over 7 years. 2 children later, 1 miscarriage, and after wearing an engagement ring for almost 3 years he met someone new and cheated on me. After asking year after year when we would get married he never gave me an answer. After cheating on me for two months he fell in love with someone else and now wants to marry her and accept her daughter as his own. I used to say no point in rushing marriage, but now my views are different. I'm heartbroken that after 7 years we were never married despite the fact we were living as a couple and called each other hubby and wifey. And now that is what they call each other. I havent given up on love, because but I am soooo hurt right now.

  43. I fully agree! Initially when I clicked on this article I was already on the defensive because I thought it was going to argue the point of "If you're in love NOW, get married NOW. There's no reason to wait!" There are tons of reasons to wait and there are tons of reasons to do it now. It's up to each individual couple (and not just the bride or groom) to decide when is the right time. This article expresses pretty much everything my fiance and I have told everyone in explanation of being together for 6 years and not yet being married.

    We know couples that have started dating, gotten married and gotten divorced in the six years that we've been dating. That is neither here nor there though. My fiance has always put to words our reasons for waiting better than I have been able to. "We're only ever getting married once. It's going to be one of the most important days of our lives, aside from the births of our children. It is a day that we want to do right because it deserves it." Of course, doing it "right" means different things to everyone. Our "right" though means being able to afford the exact day we want financially, emotionally and mentally. We waited until we had the financial stability to afford it, the time to focus on it properly without rushing into decisions, the time to enjoy the planning and not be completely side tracked with rocky housing, family health issues, etc. Happy to say that the wedding is now 2 months away and everything has come together with perfect timing.

  44. This artical really opened my eyes. I too, flip flop from wanting to get engaged/married RIGHT NOW! To well, it's only been three years and I'm still young. But that last bit about wanting all of it the ring, party, (and most important to my situation) finding a perpos. I need to find and love myself before someone else can fully. I'm not grown up enough mentally to be married one step at a time.
    Thanks for the insight! 🙂

  45. I really want to know when it is right to get engaged! I been living with my boyfriend for almost 2 years. Ive meet all of his family he has meet all of mine. He has came with me to family functions like reunions and everyone loves him. He keeps talking about wanting to have kids and how he wants to try for children. But everytime i bring up getting engaged he says we will we will… and thats it. He talks more about having kids then getting married. What should I do or say??

  46. Soo, if anybody has advice for me, please help!!
    I know this sounds small to some of the other stories but I am 18 and my boyfriend is 19! We both have jobs but don't bring much in. He has a car and I am in the process of getting one. We're not 100 percent financially stable. He is in his last year of college working on his second degree and I'm finishing high school. I am so anxious to get married. A lot of girls I go to school with are already engaged. And I know we're not ready to get married, but is it wrong to get engaged now and plan the wedding for when we're more stable? I just feel like we're at a stand still in our relationship and I want to move to the next step. I mentioned it to him and he didn't seem on board with it. I know I am going to respect his final decision, but should I leave it at "not getting engaged until we're financially stable"? Or should I mention it to him again? And if he still says not yet, how can I make myself be more patient?? I love him so much and I just want to move our relationship to the next step!! 🙂

    • I think the way you worded that is very mature. My suggestion is to just share your heart with him. If it is meant to happen now, it will. I love that you said you will respect his decision either way. That is HUGE in a marriage relationship. Even if he says not now, keep going the way you are. if it's meant to happen, it will! It sounds like your boyfriend is waiting for it to be the "right time". Maybe tell him that it will never really feel like the "right time" until he's on one knee. I got engaged at 17 and married at 18 and it has been a challenge, but I wouldn't change a thing! We've been married for 60 years in November and have 8 children and 21 grandchildren! Follow your heart and it will all play itself out!

  47. I say if you are sure he is the one, just do it! There will never be a right time. I am getting married in February and we have hit a few obstacles since we got engaged (one that includes his entire family not coming to the wedding!), but this is it 🙂

    • We waited until what felt like the "right time" (career/diplomas/house/money/car/etc) to get engaged …then 3 months before the wedding, I got laid off. In hindsight, there really was no practical reason for us to delay marriage for as long as we did (over 7 years). In fact, not being married made some things more difficult for us than they would have been had we been married. So, I would not recommend waiting for the "right time," because even if and when that time *does* arrive, there is no guarantee you'll be in the same situation 6 months down the road.

  48. This has been the hardest issue for me and my guy. I met him as I was getting out of the Navy. Now, at this time we aren't engaged but have discussed and said for sure we'd like to get married. unfortunately the way he was raised and views life and the way I do are complete opposites!

    He comes from a family of many divorces. He's watched too many of friends his age entering into some really bad marriages. Initially he even told me he sees no point in rushing to get married at his age. (21 years old)

    Now enter me, 25 years old, prior divorce because the other guy walked out while I was on deployment, and the only divorces Ive seen are my Aunt from her ex cheating, and my cousin from some really complicated issues. I'm back in school now for my bachelors, job searching, and being a drag on my parents (my feelings, not theirs). I've saved up, and I feel pretty responsible and set with life.

    So for me, the biggest thing is, why not? We've said we want to, and that we are assumably ready for it. I also….kinda need to be back on the benefits >.>;; Not too much would cahnge in my opinion. I'd finally be able to come back to Washington to be with him, instead of California where the job market sucks. He'd have a place to come home to. I think it would reduce his stress as well.

    I can't push the issue because it's been less than a year, and I don't want to look like a tag chaser. Blegh!

  49. My boyfriend and I started talking marriage a little while ago. We haven't been together for as long as most people would think normal, but we are both logical, mature adults. I'm no longer the young girl I was the first time I was engaged. I've grown, both older and in experience. He's older than I, financially secure, and, frankly, the most spectacular man I've ever met, bar none. He's not my first, nor I his, but for the first time, my parents and grandparents are completely supportive. No, more so, they encouraged us before they even knew we were discussing the possibility. I really couldn't be happier with everything… I was never even remotely this at peace and happy with my ex.
    With my ex, we were engaged for four long years. A few months after calling off our wedding the week before the big day rolled around, and a few days shy of our 4th anniversary, he dumped me.
    Things are so completely different this time… I am excited to hopefully be able to be a part of the Tribe again!

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