This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ask Amy: When is the "Right" Time?

Read this letter today on The Washington Post. I did a re-post about this same topic in December in 7 Signs You're Ready to Get Married and similarly in 7 Keys to a Successful Marriage and 7 Keys to Finding a Good Husband but I've been approached with this question in conversation at least 4 times in the past month (and in a 'please reply but don't post' dear nwavic letter last month)- enough times that when I saw this letter today, I decided it needed a re-post as well.

The Letter

DEAR AMY: I am a 33-year-old man who is in a relatively new relationship with a woman. (We’ve been together for four months). We’ve both said, “I love you,” but not with haste.

We have each had experiences in which we were hurt by significant others and took time to mend. At this point in my life, I know what I want, I know what I am looking for, I know what I am willing to contribute and I’m ready for the next step. We have already had conversations about expectations in a marriage but not necessarily with regard to each other.

Can you offer questions a couple should ask before deciding to marry each other? In a perfect world where everything can be measured by some standard, how long should a couple wait before considering becoming engaged? -- D

Amy's Response
DEAR D: In a perfect world, couples would delay marriage to enjoy the golden moments of engagement forever. In terms of how long to be together before becoming engaged, let me just say that when it comes to a true love match, you know what you know and time is immaterial.
Your thoughtful approach tells me that you and your beloved are ready to ask some challenging questions about money, family relationships and work-life balance. The real issue is: Can you hear the answers accurately and respectfully?
A book I like (which will stimulate important conversations) is “The Hard Questions: 100 Questions to Ask Before You Say ‘I Do’ ” by Susan Piver (2007, Tarcher). These questions, ranging from what you think of when you think of “home,” to how you handle friendships, family relationships, work and money, are important questions for any couple to tackle.
NwaVic's Two Cents
There is no rock solid universal number of months or days to know when to propose. While time is an essential part, it always depends on the couple's unique circumstances. In other words, a number of factors play on "time". Think about this, it matters more in what you do in the time that you have, than in the length of time itself. Make sense?  

I've seen people get married after a month or a couple of months and it works. In the same light, I've seen people court for years on end and end up being married for less time than they were dating. So you see, when it comes to "time", it's not so black and white. 
1. Age/Maturity of the couple/Trusted Intuition: With age+ maturity, comes clear intuition. Notice I didn't just say age because that alone doesn't guarantee maturity. When you are at a certain maturity level, you have become so well-seasoned in people-reading that you can spot signs know what you want and when you see it, its so glaring, no one can tell you any different. 

To make an "early" leap, you have to trust yourself and your judgment. How can you ensure you trust your judgment? I wish I could tell you. The best I can say is be attentive to signs, pray about it, listen to those quiet voices in your head and in your heart and ask yourself, "Can I really stand this person after the honeymoon stage fades and for the rest of my life?". Can I tolerate being next to this person when there's no money in the account, there are screaming children and work is driving me crazy? Like they say, sometimes "when you know, you just know".

2. Distance: But I must say, in order to "know", distance is really important. If you're dating someone long distance, you need more time to get to know the person because you need to spend more money/effort to figure out how the person acts in your presence and in social gatherings and most importantly, how they relate to your family and friends. This requires commitment (both monetary and otherwise) on both ends. But like I've told some close family and friends, in my books, if you're dating someone within close proximity to you, 6-8 months from official dating (assuming you spend time together at least 3 times a week) is enough time to "know" the person, but long distance requires at least 10months-1 year of regular visits since "talking" because you need time to get rid of the "best behavior for the weekend/visit" phase. 
3. Mutual plan: Before you propose or agree to a proposal, you have to know what the other person's life plan is. Are they ready to settle down? Do they have the same mind-set in regards to important life decisions e.g. how to raise kids, etc. This is an important question to know the answer to because if you marry someone who is not on the same page as you, you will end up in a marriage alone. Enough said. 
4. Important Questions: My big brother always says marriage is like a business partnership. I couldn't agree more. Even though a very important element of marriage is love, believe it or not, there are some business elements to it. So, before you go in, you have to know what you are getting into. Some important questions to ask?
a. What exactly do they do/plan to do for a living? Believe it or not, a lot of people marry someone when they are not even sure what "business" they do. Ask questions. Do research. I'm not saying judge them based on what they do. But knowledge is power. 
b. How is their credit/debt? If you live in the States, this is especially important for the sake of future decisions. You don't want to marry someone only to find out you can't get a mortgage because their credit score is 400. Again, I'm not saying this should be your deal breaker. But you should know. 
c. Do they want children? If you want children and you marry someone who doesn't want children, you will end up in divorce. Trust me, I've seen it happen.

d. If you get married, where will you live? if long distance, who is willing to move? Someone told me a couple of weeks ago that they hadn't decided who would move and they were planning a wedding. What!? Have a life plan, people.
5. A "friend" yet?: Have you become "friends"? It's time to marry someone when you have become true friends. The "try to impress each other" barrier has fallen and you can be your true selves with each other without fearing judgment. When your partner knows all your flaws and loves you anyway, its a good sign. I hate to break it to you, a "forever" marriage won't work unless you enjoy each other's company without sex. Believe it or not, when the butterflies in your stomach dissipate and life's difficulties start to creep in, its the friendship that will hold.
6. Honesty & Trust: You have to know for sure that this person is an honest person.that they are open with you about who they are and even the nastiest details of their life. With this openness/honesty, comes trust and with this trust comes an indication that its okay to settle down with this person. I have testimonies- the heartache of being with an untrustworthy person will create a marriage overshadowed by arguments and spy-acts. Before you know it, you will loose yourself acting all crazy looking through their phone, email, facebook and stalking them every time you "suspect" something is up. 
So, there you have it. I know I said "two-cents", but I ended up giving you "6-cents". hehe
Your thoughts?
Stay Inspired...
*Email with any issues, concerns, questions, suggestions for a prompt and neutral response/advice. :-)

No comments: