February 21, 2024

How Long Should I Be Engaged?

pure kiss

I once heard someone say that you should spend a year dating, and then a year engaged before getting married.  The problem with this is that in our current culture all that is different between engagement and marriage it the amount of stress you’re having planning the wedding.

Well, that and the physical consummation of the wedding night1.

Emotional Attachment

At this point in the modern dating process, you’ve committed yourself to a life with your future spouse, and  you’re probably no longer emotionally pure.  Her days and nights are filled with thinking of dresses, children and her love for you.  His days and nights are filled with plans about where they will live, what physical intimacy will be like, how much it will cost, and what physical intimacy will be like.

You are both linked together, and unlike previous generations with long courtships and a social desire for purity, the culture is pushing you to explore the physical boundaries of your relationship.

Two Options

The Short Engagement

Make it reasonable—have it for the amount of time that it will take you to reasonably prepare for the wedding, but short enough that the temptation will not get to you.  The shorter it is, the less chance that you’ll be spending that much time alone (you’ll have more than enough of that after “I do” and before “I’m pregnant!”).  I know, it’s easy to say that as a married guy, but it’s true.

The Absent Engagement

This one’s unique but could work out to a distinct advantage for the couple.  If you’re going to have a longer engagement, plan to do extra work so that you’ll get off on a firm foundation after the wedding.

In Biblical times, after the betrothal the man would go to prepare a house or place for his bride—and come get her after it was prepared.  And then there was Jacob, who worked 7 years in order to marry the love of his life, only to get his sister.  But that’s beside the point.

How would this look in 2008?

Simple.  You would pick a longer engagement time, but the guy would get as many different jobs/apprenticeships as he could take on.  He would work on saving as much money (or getting out of college debt) as he could so that he and his bride could start off their marriage debt free and with a good savings.

The bride-to-be could spend her time either working (and helping to reduce her debt load) and planning the wedding when the guy was ready.

All you married couples out there—could you imagine what your life starting out would have been like if you had gone into marriage with both of you debt free with a little emergency fund?  Most of us probably put our honeymoon on credit cards!

The Point

If you’re trying to remain pure until marriage, engagement is a tough period to do it with all the emotions running high and the logic in your mind that “I’m basically married, I’m just waiting for the day.”

You need to have a plan, and to make sure that you’re prepared for the increased pressure, and maybe you could help your future spouse as you both start off life together.

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  1. Assuming you’ve maintained physical purity to this point []

5 thoughts on “How Long Should I Be Engaged?

  1. I am a testimony to this post! My hubby and I “talked” (I think that’s the word for it these days) for 2 months, dated for 2.5 months, and were engaged for 2.5 months. My bridesmaids barely had enough time to get dresses! Part of what helped us was we’d been good friends for the previous 3 years so there was no “getting to know you” period to go through – we already knew each other very well! Also he was out of college and I was one quarter off from graduation. We got engaged the night before I got my degree.

    Thanks to the Lord’s blessings of scholarships, we had very little debt going into our marriage. We had to pay a few more months on his truck note, but there were no school loans or credit card debt to pay off. And it is a HUGE help when you’re starting out. We both had good jobs, but newlyweds do not need the added pressure of worrying about how to pay off debt. Plus if it’s only one partner’s debt, resentment could build in the other partner because of the trouble it causes. Try as best you can to get your debt paid off before getting married, and if it’s not possible, be totally upfront about it with your future spouse and work out a plan to get it paid off as soon as possible!

    Rachels last blog post..Grateful Today

  2. Hubby and I were engaged for four months and three weeks exactly. I was hard to stay pure because you tend to get a “well, we’re getting married anyway” type of attitude. I thank God for all my Christan girlfriends who’d check up on me and make sure I wasn’t getting into trouble.

    AGs last blog post..My New Hair

  3. @Rachel: I was debt free before getting married– owned my own car and had investments. My wife was one year into a two year degree, and she owned her own car. After we were married, we traded her car in for one with four doors (we were both two-door car owners!) and that was some debt, and we had her second year of education. She got a part time job and we paid that off, but only recently got out of the rest of our debt. Boy does that feel good.

    That is quite the neat testimony about the timing, Rachel!

    @AG: That’s exactly what I mean. When you’re in the “well, we’re getting married anyway” phase it’s hard to think, “just one more month and we’ll make it!” That’s why, I’m sure, the bridegroom actually going away (in Bible times) and doing something until the wedding helped a bunch.

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