**Disclaimer: This blog was written for people who are currently in relationships and thinking about marriage. I fully support and understand that some people do not wish to get married.
While at work today, a co-worker of mine brought up that, since I am the only married person in that department, I am the one they should be asking marriage advice from. I already knew that I was the only one married, but hearing it out loud like that solidified it – as if it wasn’t a 100% truth until it was spoken. The question of “when is it the right time” came up, and although it wasn’t spoken about much in the office, I really started to do a deep-dive internally.
What do my experiences tell me about this? As someone who has been engaged three times, how did I know this last one was the right one, and when it was the right time? How did I know it wasn’t the right time with my first two fiances? What about when you’ve found the right person but you can’t seem to find the right time?
My first fiance and I were together about 3.5 years. We got engaged after the first year. How did I know it wasn’t the right time? Well, this one is easy: we were both young, in college, and still living with our parents. Next.
My second fiance and I were together about 4.5 years. We got engaged after 3 months (yeah, I know). How did I know it wasn’t the right time? Well, although this one wasn’t AS easy, I still had some pretty strong clues: my fiance was struggling with some issues that wouldn’t be healthy to bring into a marriage.
My third fiance is now my husband (third times the charm, I guess). How did I know when it was the right time? Ah. This is where it gets tricky. My husband and I had already developed a friendship before we started dating. By the time the romantic relationship officially began, feelings had already been brewing. It wasn’t hard to fall in love when we already knew things about each other that we loved. We knew pretty early on we wanted this for the long haul. But timing? Oh man…we were NOT in alignment on timing.
By the time I was in a relationship with my now-husband, I was getting impatient. I was sick of relationship drama, I was sick of failed engagements, I was sick of immaturity, I was done. And I told him that right when we started dating. I have never been so frank with someone right from the start. I laid it all out on the line – my goals, my deal-breakers, my needs. And I had him do the same. It was actually a really refreshing way to start a romantic relationship, and I guess it must have worked (at least somewhat) since we’re together 4 years later and married. But yes, I was impatient. I just wanted to get married already! It’s like I didn’t want to give the relationship time to fail. But – I did have one rule: we had to live together first. Fortunately, he had that rule too. That was to be the ultimate trial – could we stand each other if, day in and day out, we had to get up together and go to sleep together? 9 months into the relationship, we decided it was time to find out. But then 2 years ago, the ACTUAL ultimate trial came – buying a house together.
Some people wonder why we bought the house first. To clarify, it wasn’t an easy decision. We talked about which was the priority – getting married, or getting a house? I’m pretty sure I felt more torn on it than him, but, as much as I WANTED to get married, as much as I felt like I was getting left behind in the “adult world” of marriage and kids, I realized that it would be really nice (and secure) to already have a house when we got married. And, let’s face it – a house is a HUGE commitment. If you buy a house together, you better plan on being together for AT LEAST 20 years (but realistically 30 because who is able to pay off their mortgage in 20 years these days?)
So we bought the house, we got settled in, we both switched jobs. We had a roommate, so we were getting assistance with the bills. Things were pretty stable. I was ready for marriage. I was getting pissy that I hadn’t at least received the proposal yet. I mean heck, you have to be engaged for 1+ years just to plan the wedding. I didn’t care if we ended up engaged several years – I just wanted the proof that he intended on marrying me. I didn’t want to end up like so many other couples I had seen, together 5+ years and still no engagement, no plans. But here’s the thing – just because it’s the right time for you doesn’t mean it’s the right time for your partner. But if you really want something – if it means that much to you – you find a way to wait (also we had already bought the house, so I kind of had to wait).
So I’ve gone on and on about my experiences, you’ve stuck with me thus far (you have my thanks), and now you just want the answer – when is the right time? I hate to break it to you, but there’s only one person that can answer that question – you. Everyone is different. Everyone’s lives are different. The right time for you might be after graduating from college and getting your first full time job. The right time for you might be after turning 35, when you feel secure in your career and you own a home and you’re ready to settle down. The right time might be when you’re 55 and you’ve healed from a previous broken marriage, or from losing your partner, and you’re ready to fully commit yourself to your new soulmate. There isn’t a one size fits all for this, as with most things in life. I can throw some general advice your way, like don’t get married to someone you’ve only known a few months, try living together for 6+ months first to make sure you’re fully compatible, try having a pet together first if you want to have a family with this person, make sure you have enough in common to understand each other’s needs, make sure your life goals align. You get the picture. But the answer is something only you can give, and your answer might be different from your partner’s (mine was). That’s when you have to decide if you want to wait until they feel ready.
I know its overused, I know it will sound cliche – but you really WILL know when the time comes. It’s not something that you typically just wake up with one day, but it is something that tends to be connected to a special moment. It could be a fun day out at a festival, a quiet night in with a movie, a philosophical conversation – but at some point, you’re going to know you’re ready. With any luck, your partner will be ready around the same time. Be patient. After all, LOVE is patient.