Tuesday, December 05, 2006

who says?!

It's never very long after you see two people holding hands on campus and BAM! they're engaged ... what is the average length of time? I think we have figured it to be three months.

(Mike and I were scolded (jokingly) for having taken so long.)

After that? mmm ... some get married the next month or wait at least till the end of final exams the following semester. Typically no longer than a four month engagement period, however.

The timetable of mate pursual at my church is very similar.

In contrast, as Jason suggests, this appears to be against the traditional length of courtship in both secular and (modern) Christian tradition.

Who says you have to wait two years?!

Jason, in the return commented ...

"... I used to consider love something we fall into, mostly about the magic and chemistry between a guy and a girl. But after my most recent relationship, when those feelings became worthless in one short break-up conversation, and my grandpa's words after Thanksgiving dinner, I'm starting to think of love in more practical terms. I can't help but notice that Sojourn people have pretty short dating/engagement periods before getting married. Why is that? How do two people become so sure of the most important decision of their lives? ..."

Priscilla responded ...

"My husband and I dated for 4 months then we got engaged and 4 months later we got married. Some of our friends were quite concerned.


"Here we are 14 and a half years later...with 3 kids, and a morgage to pay. Marriage is hard work. I still know that the Lord's hand was in our relationship. And it still is in our relationship. Our marriage is not always exciting...and I don't daydream about my husband all day (like I did during our engagement), but I am here with a hot meal for him when he comes home from work. I love him. I'm committed to him. We still stay up late talking. We understand each other so much better than we did that first year of marriage.

"Marriage is like a fine wine...it mellows, but improves over time..."

To which Jason replied,

"... I ... agree with the point that marriage needs to be centered around God and that definitely makes the difference. You know, there was a discussion about marriage on the Catholic Answers web site a while back and I was surprised at how many people there had very short dating/engagement periods before marriage who were married for 10, 15, 20 years. In fact, I didn't read a single account of anyone taking what I consider the more traditional route of dating for a couple years before engagement. Is that not as typical as I thought it was?"

My two cents:

"Perhaps, Jason, it has to do with intimacy and commitment. In their short time together, these couples have achieved a level of intimacy to which they know that they can commit the rest of their life to that person. Their time spent together is purposeful in getting to know the inner workings, desires, passions, standards, habits of the person. When you know that you are commited to this person, why draw it out? Why wait to be married? Do you know the person fully and completely? No. But like you implied about your grandparents ... commitment is hard work that lasts a lifetime. Divorce is NOT an option. You've made your choice and you will stick by it till you die. So ... why wait two years?"

It is not about having sex as soon as you can without feeling guilty.



bethy31 said...

My parents went on three dates, lived apart for a year long engagement (he was in NYC, she was in Florida) and were married on what would have been their fourth date. They've now been married 45 years. I don't think there's a standard response but I figure sometimes you just know and sometimes it takes longer..to be honest!

GloryandGrace said...

I just finished my newest entry over on my blog before coming over here and seeing what you wrote. So rather than re-typing everything I wrote in my entry, check out what I had to say on my blog :)

ckhnat said...

indeed ... i agree that there is no formula to follow to having a wonderful God story to tell.

bert said...

I'm curious as to why Jason thinks that long engagements are more traditional? I'm not necessarily disagreeing with him, just not sure the thought is completely accurate.

Short engagements make most of us somewhat uncomfortable. We question the wisdom of those involved but long engagements have not proven to make a better marriage. Years ago people, like Grandma and Grandpa, took committment much more serious. We need to do the same.

Anonymous said...

I too was going to comment on what is "traditional". I don't think a 2 year long engagement was very traditional until more recently in history. And as we all know, divorce rates are higher now too.

Martha said...

Long engagements are put in place so that you are able to save up enough money to have a lavish celebration in an expensive location and impress all of your friends. Since most couples are already living together, it makes perfect sense to them. We think differently.

Bethany said...

Hmmm. I guess I'm more for a short engagement. I "dated" my husband for two and a half months before we were engaged. Then six months later we got married. Why did this make our pastor nervous? I believe he was used to couples wanting to take their time. We had two months to plan our wedding. We had to finish pre-marital counsleing before picking a date (torture!) and then we sought the Lord for a date. He gave us Dec. 3rd. It was then Sept. 30. Talk about short notice! But the Lord was in it and He provided for all of our needs. We certainly weren't planning for anything lavish, but we were so blessed by everyone around us and it turned out to be so much greater than we expected. Adam and I just celebrated our first anniversary!

Marion said...

On the 18th we will have been married 30 years.

6 months after I first met my husband I knew this was the man to marry but we waited til I graduated 6 months later.

-M. said...

How you know this is a girl's blog~

Christine said: "It is not about having sex as soon as you can without feeling guilty."

FYI- Hayley and I met (online), dated (long distance) and married in under ten months.

P.S. Christine- I moved my Hungry Planet blog to michaeldimarco.com if you want to update your link. :)

ckhnat said...

lol, -m.

if you only knew ...

Jason said...

Hey Christine,

Sorry I ignored your comment on my blog. For some reason, Blogger didn't send me an e-mail and as you can tell, I haven't blogged much lately. Someone else commented about something unrelated and I noticed that two weeks ago you asked about using my comments for a new post and I hurried over here to catch up on the conversation!

To answer the question about why I think a longer dating/engagement time is more traditional, I probably should've used the word "typical" rather than "traditional." Of course, I understand that everyone is different and some people just "know" while others need time. It's just that I would expect most people to need a year or two, but apparently that's not the case.

Two of my roommates from college are now married; one was dated/engaged for four years (throughout college) and the other for about two years. Other friends of mine from high school seem to date at least a year. I only know of one couple at Sojourn that dated over a year. My cousin, however, didn't date his wife at all... they were good friends who had been working together planning youth retreats and at some point they decided to get married (well, it was planned, but jumped that whole boyfriend/girlfriend stage and went straight to engagement). Now they have four kids (and she's 40!).

Funny thing is, and I know this doesn't apply for any of you all, but to get married in a Catholic church you usually have to notify the pastor at least six months in advance.

Maybe it's one of those "it's not ya'll, it's me" things? I just feel like during that initial few months, we are so caught up in the euphoria of a new relationship that we readily overlook things that should be warning flags concerning our compatibility. I've been in two relationships and in both of them I honestly thought I would eventually end up marrying them... I'm 0-for-2 on that count :) Maybe because my emotions aren't very disciplined, I tend to distrust them? Or I could just be one of those rare people who needs a year or two to be ready for a life-long commitment.

Thanks for the extra commentary... this has been an interesting thread. Almost as good as the one about dancing and leadership, which inspired me to start taking lessons!


P.S. If anyone's into swing dancing, I plan on going to Jim Porter's the first Thursday of January. They should have a live band there and a pretty good crowd.