Last night my mother and I engaged in some late night girl talk. During this discussion the topic of marriage came up as it usually does in these conversations. One of the things we addressed was the time it should take a couple to get married. I’ve had this discussion numerous times with numerous people. I’ve read about it in blogs, articles, books and everything in between. I’ve seen various time lengths that vary from months to years that supposedly ensure a strong marriage. I’m just going to put this out there now, I don’t believe in a time table for dating. Dating is a fairly new concept in society and is too complex to quantify. You have to go with what feels right for you in my opinion. Some things I feel can’t be bogged down by rules and for me, dating is one of those things. What I will say is I believe there are some things more important than the time you date that impacts your marriage.
I believe an important factor to a good marriage is understanding what you need from your mate in marriage. You can date for 20 years, but if you don’t know what you’re getting into with saying “I do” those 20 years were just time to get to know each other. Speaking of getting to know each other, I think this concept gets too much attention at times. Listen, the person you meet today is not who you will know a year from now. People evolve and change. You will be getting to know your spouse for the rest of your life. So don’t say things like “are you sure you two know enough about each other to get married?” As I stated if you know what you need from your spouse, you know what to look for in someone to assist in fulfilling a marriage. For example, if you are trying to fill a position in your company, you’re going to need to understand what the role entails so you can adequately seek out those qualities in people interviewing. You know what questions to ask, what personality traits to look for, the experience needed in order to fill this position. The better you know the position the better fit you can find to fill it. Not the better you know the person. Now yes, some people will come in your life and say all the right things to make you believe they can fill the position. “Yeah I can cook” or “I’m very romantic” or “No I’ve never cheated before.” We’ve all heard or have even told bold face lies because we read the job description and learned what we needed to say in order to get the job. The beauty is, if you are paying attention and are smart, you would put that probationary period in place to see if a person is capable of delivering what they say they can. Unfortunately some of y’all have been in probationary periods for 5-10 years but that’s none of my business. Either way, it boils down to do you know what you are looking for?
It is equally important that you know what marriage is. Too many people struggle in marriages not because they feel like they didn’t know who they married or they didn’t date long enough, but because they didn’t know what marriage entailed. Their expectations were off. They thought every day would feel like a honeymoon and that the only argument they would ever have would be over who loved the other person more. Some people get married and get slapped in the face with the harsh reality that marriage is not always good days. Of course your good days should outweigh the bad but bad ones will come. Your spouse will get on your nerves. You are taking two people who have their own individual ways of living, bringing them together and having to compromise on doing things their way. It is not that simple. “I make spaghetti this way” “I wash my clothes like this” “I put the toilet paper on the roll a certain way” “I only use the dish washer” “I don’t eat left overs” “I sleep with the tv on” and the list goes on. My point is if you go into marriage thinking your spouse is about to just adapt to how you live and you get to keep it your way you are sadly mistaken. There is constant compromise on a daily basis. Marriage is a selfless covenant. If you are not ready to abandon the “I” for the “we,” then your dating length won’t help you at all.
Lastly you have to decide you are willing to make it work. Anybody who knows me knows I say this all the time. It doesn’t matter how long you have known each other or dated. If you are not prepared to make your marriage work every day you are in it, then that time you’ve been dating was in vain. Note, there may be some days you are ready to give up on your marriage. It’s not that marriage is just that hard, but LIFE is hard sometimes and it can hurt your marriage. The key is, you never act on your urge to quit, and you never allow both of you to want to quit at the same time. That is why you have to marry someone who compliments you. Those moments they are weary, you’re pushing to hold on. When you’re ready to give up, they are keeping you motivated. Nonetheless, you both have to want to make it work. There isn’t a time period on that. If after three months you feel that this person is the best for the position and they have passed the probationary period, then by all means move forward if that is what both of you desire. Just be sure that you know what you are getting into is the most important part.
I can’t stress enough, stop putting time limits on a made up concept by society. Back in the day people would date for a few months, sometimes weeks and got married and stayed together for 50, 60 and 70 years. As times progress we keep adding all this extra time to dating and how long it should take place before getting married. That’s why you should wait to date until you’re ready to get married. Not date someone until you’re ready. We’re not meant to be in the dating process long. Either way the time in which you dated does not determine the quality of your marriage. Only your understanding of your spouse’s role, the understanding of marriage itself and the willingness to make it work can do that. So do not let time hold you captive when love is supposed to be a freeing concept. Do what your heart truly desires and prepare for the work those desires require.