How long should a relationship last before marriage: exploring in detail

How long should you date before marriage, and what does it even give you?

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost 4 years now. The first 3 we lived separately, seeing each other almost every day, but rarely with sleepovers because of living conditions. When talking about getting married, he said we needed to live together first and see how we could get along. I wasn’t against it, but I wondered if it was even necessary.

Soon we rented an apartment, and I realized that it wasn’t about common life, because if there was love and mutual support, you would decide who would do the dishes next. The problem is that when you date for so long, a million not-so-positive things accumulate, and you start to see everything through their prism. In addition, over time, you start to think more and more about the future together, and your partner’s uncertainty or unwillingness to take the next step: getting married, having children, leads to more and more doubts. And it’s like a vicious circle. More doubts, more quarrels, and the desired is farther and farther away because of the negativity.

I decided to figure out how long people usually date before marriage, whether to live together before marriage, and whether there is still a time limit, when you can say with certainty: “He did not propose, he will not do”? To do this I conducted a survey, it involved 65 married women from different cities of Russia at the age of 24 to 45 years. The results were as follows.

On average, the girls had been dating and living with their husbands for 3.5 years before marriage. Interestingly enough, there was a large variation in this indicator: 18% had been in a relationship before the marriage for over 5 years and 21% had been in a relationship for less than 6 months. You can see more detailed results in the infographic.Next, I decided to ask, how long do they ideally think you should date before marriage? And 76% said less than 3 years. The other 24% decided that it was individual for each. So there is a subconscious boundary after all. According to the majority, one should make a proposal before 3 years of dating, although in reality, judging from the previous question, these numbers do not prove to be true.

I also asked if it is worth living together before marriage, and 89% responded in the affirmative to “get used to everyday life” and “avoid surprises in the future.” The remaining 11% suggested that it was not worth it because “the man will get used to it and he will no longer need the marriage. “In reality, 15% fewer of those surveyed (73%) lived together before marriage and 28% of them got married after that in less than six months.

Based on the results, the majority (82%) had been married up to four years after they had met. But almost 1/5 married later. In addition, there was a subconscious boundary in my face: “In 3 years I have to make up my mind.” I decided to find out where this boundary comes from, because, judging from the survey, 30% were getting married even after 3 years of relationship. Perhaps this information is imposed by society – relatives and even posts in the style of: “If a man does not marry, he does not want to marry you. If he doesn’t want children, then he doesn’t want children either, just from you. Don’t be under any illusions, etc.” I was curious about the expert’s opinion on this. So I called a psychologist from the Institute of Group and Family Psychology and Psychotherapy, Maria Fedorova.

To the question: “How long is optimal to date before marriage?” the expert replied that there is no right option, everything is individual: “I can’t answer, because there are no guarantees. You should not, of course, go to the registry office in a month. It is optimal to meet from one to three years, then people get used to it and do not want to change anything. And so, difficulties and quarrels do not depend on the time of meeting, they will be anyway. Two different people, each wants to be taken care of. And in the current climate, everyone wants to be taken care of in the first place, not to take care of the other. It’s not about conflicts, but how the couple will deal with them. If they are determined to find solutions to these issues together, they have a future. Maybe a married couple’s conflicts will be easier to resolve because they’ve made some kind of commitment. But that’s not a fact; it’s what a person understands by marriage that matters.”

Then I asked: “Is it worth living together before marriage?” . Maria answered that the success of a union does not depend on that, but on taking responsibility and caring for one’s neighbor: “You can live together or not, the result is still unpredictable and depends on the other. Nowadays the time has changed, people don’t get married because they want freedom, the possibility to change the decision. Life together is not a test. In my opinion, putting off registration is not a desire to grow up, to take responsibility, to think about children, about mutual obligations. Before the stamp, it’s two young people, each with their own family, who decide to live together for a while because it’s convenient, and in a domestic sense, and there’s sex. When people live together for three years and then they get married, it seems to them that nothing has happened, nothing has changed, but in fact they move to another stage of the relationship. They start to expect different things from each other, now they’re family. This changes, and the habits remain, so there are problems.

As we see, psychologist still believes that there is a boundary: “It is optimal to meet from one to three years, and then people get used to it and do not want to change anything,” although she admits that everything is individual and depends primarily on people and their desire to resolve conflicts. Also according to her, the stamp changes a lot, but is it really so? Probably only married people can understand this, so I added an additional question to the survey: “What has given you marriage?”, and at the same time decided to find out the opinion of another family therapist – Alla Yurievna Ovalova, to be sure.

To the question, “How long is optimal to date before marriage?”, she, like her colleague, said that the term does not really matter. Much more important is whether people are ready to work on the relationship and whether they are thinking about a future together. “There is no optimal option, everything is individual. You don’t have to judge by how long you’ve been dating. There are cases where after a long relationship, people get married and divorce, and vice versa, after a short acquaintance, they are successful in marriage. It depends on what people’s ideas about marriage are, how much they are willing to work on the relationship, to invest. If they marry on a wave of romantic excitement, then the prognosis is pessimistic. Again, this also depends on how much people understand what will happen next, when they have a child, when they have to interact with their parents. Are they ready for that? If people don’t see it as a burden and try to enjoy the relationship and compromise, they’ll be fine. Right now, I think people are postponing marriage more because they’re being more thoughtful about it. Maybe because property interests prevail.

Alla Yurievna was skeptical about the 3-year mark, saying that statistics do not confirm it, while subconscious attitudes of this kind emerge because people talk more about some experiences and less about others: “If a proposal is made, it does not stick in your memory, as if you have not gotten married for a long time, it is more discussed. If all is well, what to talk about it. You should not be guided by that, it’s important to feel that the person suits you and with him well. But life is not always like a holiday, there will always be problems. Sometimes people think there’s so much fighting, and we’re not even married yet. This is where it’s important to ask yourself if there’s something valuable in the relationship and what it is, or if it’s better to break up. If, despite the fact that everything is not so happy, you have some warmth for the person and even taking into account the problems you feel worse without him than with him, then it is worth trying to work on the relationship, to fight. You also need to understand that there are two people in a relationship. Don’t devalue yourself, but don’t overestimate yourself either. If one does not want to continue the relationship, it makes no sense to fan the flames, and if both doubt yes or no, you can still change something for the better.

Psychotherapist also supported the idea of living together before marriage, calling it a competent approach, “In today’s society this is a certain model, so then do not be disappointed. Because living together is different from dating, when you’re just trying to be liked, it’s an everyday life. I wouldn’t say you have to live together, but it’s a competent approach. Before, in the USSR, there was nothing much to check, there was no base under it, people had no idea what was waiting for them and that they had to be together not only in joy, but also in sorrow. So they got married and divorced without thinking.

As you can see, the opinion of the experts agreed that the timing of the meeting is of little importance, more importantly, what people understand by marriage and how ready to work on the relationship. Also Ovalova A.Yu. competently explained the existence of the subconscious barrier of 3 years, which has no confirmation in practice. But, in my opinion, the main difference between the experts had to do with the very view of marriage. While Maria Fedorova connects reluctance to legalize relationships with the avoidance of responsibility and unpreparedness to grow up, Alla Yurievna, on the contrary, believes that young people have become more serious about marriage and therefore longer reflect on making this important decision. So who is right? Probably here we need to stick to the golden mean. If you get married without thinking, then nothing good will come out of it, and if you analyze the relationship for too long, fearing that conflicts over time will only increase, you can miss your happiness, because, as we have already realized, quarrels and problems will always be, and only on the attitude of people depends, what they will lead to. But now comes the most important question, why do we need marriage, and what does it give a woman? After all, if all is well in a relationship, nothing will change with a stamp, and vice versa, if there is no security, support, care in a relationship, it will not appear in marriage either. I think the best answer to this question can be given by married women.

I analyzed 95 options and created an infographic for easy reference. As you can see, the most frequent answer was “Children” (14%). In second place was “Confidence in the future” (9%), with “Status” (8%) and “Stability” (8%) in third place. It is also interesting that 7% of the girls said that marriage had given them nothing, and another 5% admitted that marriage had only brought them negativity. I understand that these are small numbers, but given that there is a one percent difference between the answers, they are significant.

Well, I think confidence and stability are about the same thing, so the following picture comes out. A woman needs marriage to make sure that her children and herself will be safe. It’s also for the people around her to stop asking unnecessary questions like, “When are you getting married?” Of course, on some level, marriage protects psychologically, legally, and even financially, but as the therapist Maria said, “There are no guarantees.” Unfortunately. A man can leave a woman alone with a child even after marriage. Of course, divorce is harder than just breaking up, plus you are guaranteed to get child support. But then again, many fathers avoid paying it, or significantly reduce their wages, saving money for their own child.

So we again came to the conclusion that the stamp itself is not very important, as well as the time of the meeting. It is the people who are important. If they know how to solve conflicts, think about each other and about the future together, with or without marriage, they will be happy. If people don’t fit together or are willing to be together only for fun, but they get married for a beautiful wedding or because everyone around them says, “It’s time,” it will end in heartbreak and divorce.Starting this article, I thought I would find clear and concise answers, but they don’t exist. Everything is very individual. The only thing I realized is that we have to listen to our heart first of all, no matter how banal it is, and not to those around us, and take care of our loved ones, then they will give us even more happiness in return.

How long does it take to date to get married? What is the best amount of time to get married?

In consulting with people for years, I periodically encounter this question, “How long should we date before we get married?” I’ve heard hundreds of stories that have allowed me to form my own opinion on the matter. This will not be a recipe for marital happiness, but perhaps it will keep you from having some illusions.

When a client or client comes to me and starts talking about their relationship, the first thing I do is ask about the history of their relationship, as well as the timeline. And you know,

when I hear that a relationship is 4-5-7 years old and the couple isn’t married yet, I find that to be an alarming symptom. Something is not right in this relationship!

I wonder, of course, which of the two doesn’t want marriage? Usually the man doesn’t want it, but it happens the other way around (but very, very rarely). It makes sense! After all, it is the man who offers his hand and heart, offering to marry him. And a woman chooses or rejects that offer. A woman always chooses, while a man can only propose.

If you liked this article, you can listen to an episode of our podcast “Freud Talks,” which is called “If Marriage Doesn’t Call.” Click on the picture and don’t forget to subscribe (we’re on all platforms: Yandex music, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Castbox and others)

What’s wrong with a relationship before marriage?

And here you can learn a lot of interesting things about relationships in a couple. Often it turns out that such conversations in a couple have arisen from time to time, but always come to naught. The man would deftly move the conversation in a different direction, making various arguments, arguments, and talking about grand plans for the future. Or reacted sharply, making it clear that he was “under pressure, and he does not intend to tolerate the pressure.

Time passed, the woman is trying to raise the question less and less often, God forbid not to spoil the relationship, or believe in a bright, but very distant and foggy future, which she drew her man. Years could pass like that, and the woman even began to believe that their cohabitation was a modern form of marriage, and that the stamp in the passport meant nothing, or would only spoil everything.

If the “stamp” means nothing, then what’s the problem with putting it on? And if a stamp in a passport can ruin a relationship, then what is that relationship worth?

Lovely ladies, if you are reading this text, do not be so naive, and stop kidding yourself!

According to my observations, “long-term relationships” (5 or more years) when a man “gives up” and agrees to marry under pressure from a woman, are more likely to fail. But maybe your particular case will be an exception? Who knows?

So how much dating before marriage?

Let’s make it clear right away that marriage is not an end in itself! Marriage is a form of relationship between a man and a woman (I’ll write in the old fashion, meaning heterosexual orientation). So,

marriage is a logical and natural continuation of an established relationship!

First, people get acquainted, get acquainted, communicate, meet, go through a so-called “flower and candy period”. Then people get intimate, thus becoming closer. Then they introduce their partner to their inner circle, becoming a couple in the eyes of others. They may at this time meet periodically, or decide to start living together, it all depends on the situation and moral principles. Their status at this time is a couple. Usually, no one makes a fidelity vow at this time, counting on that option going by default. But that’s not what this is about! And so after meeting in couple status for a while, people decide that they are ready to tie their lives together, ready to make a final choice and create a family, and subsequently have children.

Marriage is a transition from the status of a couple to the status of husband and wife.

How long does one have to look at a partner before marriage?

The optimal time to consider a man, to get to know him in different life situations is in the neighborhood of two years.

This is not a hard rule, you may be an extremely perceptive person who has learned to understand people, so you are able to learn about a person in less time. Godspeed, as they say! In the first year there is a big risk of making a mistake, because the adequate perception of the partner is strongly and even excessively influenced by “hormones”, the feeling of falling in love”, passion and your projections. But I honestly don’t understand, what else can you learn about a person after 3 years of acquaintance?

You can’t answer the question: “Is this man suitable for me as a husband or wife? Do I want to live with him or her? Am I ready to have children with this person?”

Let’s be honest, you don’t want a family with this person!

Should a relationship end in marriage?

You might think that I am insisting that all relationships must end in marriage? Absolutely not! A lover’s relationship can go on as long as it suits them both, as long as they both voluntarily take advantage of each other. Whether or not to continue as a couple, cohabiting and being lovers, while maintaining some sort of household together, is up to you to decide! Do you want to? You’re welcome! Don’t want to or has your partner changed his or her mind? Then it’s time to end the relationship!

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