How long to wait before proposal?

I have been going out with this girl for almost 7 months now. I -know- she is the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with, I just don’t know how long I should wait to actually ask her to marry me. The biggest conflict is our age. She is 21, I am 18. The conflict isn’t that our ages are different, it’s that we are both so young. I know, I know, we are way too young(especially me), or whatever, but you have to understand that this is my dream girl^^.
I would, of course, wait until I get out of ‘college’ to actually have the ceremony…

Oh, one other thing. Upon proposal, how long is accepted for the engagement? I really don’t know too much about this^_^;;

I figured I could get some decent advice here, thank you for reading.

There are no rules. Follow your heart. Just be sure your head understand the potential negative effects of doing so.

It works for some and not for others. I think the general consensus is that getting married at at 18, in 2002, in the US is probably not particularly conducive to enduring long term relationships.

The social support structures that village/town centered life had for a young couple in years past is absent these days and people really need (individually) to be fairly mature (usually mid to late twenties at least) before they can successfully negotiate how they are willing to spend the rest of their lives as a couple. I know you think it’s different for you and your intended and it may be, but it’s probably not.

You are an adult at 18 and you will do as you wish, but as a 43 year old man I would give the world to take back some of the (in hindsight) insane and destructive relationship decisions that seemed so right to me at 18 and have dogged me to this day. Live and learn. I think you should wait a while.

This is really more a matter of opinion, so I’ll move it to In My Humble Opinion.

Ohboy. I suppose that getting an apartment or room together would be out of the question? Putting a little money in a joint checking account, buying groceries, and having dinner together every night at a card table will show you, within the year, whether you’re meant for each other, and it will do so without the high stakes of marriage.

Oh, and birth control. Don’t forget birth control.

Sorry for posting in the wrong forum, I am a little new here(obviously)

Anyway, I have pretty much lived with her since day one, if not, a little earlier. I was trying to be there for her as a friend, but it blossomed(sp) in to the best thing that has ever happened to me. She still lives with her mother(and so do I, technically) but I wouldn’t make her leave her mother, even if I could afford a seperate apartment.
I don’t know, it is just a thought that has been crossing my mind more and more lately… Marriage is something I think of alot and honestly, I look extremely forward to the rest of my life, if she is there. I just can’t picture life without her now…
I have ‘jokingly’ asked her before, but she said " I can’t make that decision at this point in my life"… I guess she is the smart one in the relationship =P

Perhaps you should listen to her, if she’s tried to nicely let you know that she’s not ready yet, when you asked her ‘jokingly’. Or perhaps you should jump in, follow your heart and ask her seriously. Don’t be surprised if she needs time, though. Nobody can really advise you on this, since you know your situation better than any of us.

My advice : waiting costs nothing. By all means get engaged if that’s what you both want, but rushing into marriage isn’t always a good thing. Perhaps a long engagement ?

and I second the birth control advice

Once you’re married, you’re married forever. Therefore it’s best to take your time, and to really be sure that this relationship is going to last forever. Seven months in, you’re still really in the “honeymoon” stages.

Like I can talk, we got engaged after 13 months, it’s not like we waited years, but we didn’t rush into the wedding, we took another two years before we got married.

Anyway, we are a few years older which makes a difference. At 18, your personality isn’t set in stone, and you might find the next couple of years make a big difference to you as a person. At the end of that time, you might not even have anything in common with your girlfriend - or, you might find yourself loving her more everyday. All I know is, at 20 I was totally different in personality compared to when I was 18. I actually dropped most of my friends in that time because my values and attitudes changed so much that I found that not only did I have nothing in common with them, but that I didn’t like them at all. By the time I was 22, I was living a completely different life, with different friends, different values. What I’m saying here is, don’t get engaged too young! You don’t know what changes the next couple of years will bring.

Engagements can be as long or short as you like. We were engaged two years, which some people considering ridiculously long and others thought was way too short. I know a couple who’ve been engaged 5 years and show no signs of making it to the altar any time soon. Many people seem to wait this long and longer - weddings can be so expensive, it often takes years to save for them. I’ve known more people who have long engagements than short ones, which fits well into my observation that more religious people tend to have shorter engagements (I don’t know that many religious people). One of those couples took only 6 months between meeting and marrying. I personally thought that was ridiculous, but the girl’s parents were ecstatic. Another couple that I don’t really know have just married after a two week long engagement. The guy’s ex-fiancee is confused, because when she saw him in February he wasn’t dating the woman he’s now married to. I rolled my eyes when my cousin told me off for marrying a man I’d known “only three years”. He has a daughter with a woman who he’d known for “only one night”. Also, while he thinks marriage is too big a commitment to rush into with his girlfriend of 5 years, they are actively trying for a baby. I take his opinions lightly.

Keep these things in mind

  1. It’s unlikely that you’ve finished growing and maturing, and the next couple of years could make a significant difference to your personality. Don’t tie yourself down at 18.
  2. A broken relationship is hard. A broken engagement is harder. A broken marriage is the worst of all.
  3. Forever is a long time. There’s no need to rush forever.
  4. Your engagement can be as long or short as you want it to be. You can have a 10 year long engagement, or you can spontaniously get engaged on your way to Vegas and be married before the day is out. No matter what you do, someone somewhere will think your engagement was too short, and someone else will think it was too long, so do whatever pleases you and learn to ignore everyone else.
  5. Marriage doesn’t really change anything. I lived with Mr Cazzle before we were married, and we spent our wedding night in our own home. I still had to wash his dirty dishes in the morning. The biggest adjustment - I’m still getting used to a new surname. That is all. Marriage is a huge big deal, but once the ceremony is over - life just goes back to normal. I’m not saying marriage is bad! I’m just saying - it’s not that different to just living together.

I’ll leave you with something that you may find funny or just silly… Mr Cazzle and I had discussed getting married, but hadn’t become engaged yet. However, he would (almost daily) ask me “Will you marry me?” and I would say “Yes!” or “Maybe…”, and he would say “Just checking”. It was a great fun game :wink: One day he said “Will you marry me?” and I said “Sure…” (I was half asleep) and he said “That time was for real”. That’s how we became engaged :slight_smile: So much for my dreams of a candlelit dinner and wine and romance, but at least it was the man I’d dreamed of.

I completely agree with everything that has been said. Even if you’re both 100% certain that you want to get married, it might be best to start off with smaller responsibilities (joint account, apartment, pet) so that when the time comes, you both feel more secure about making the big leap.

My boyfriend and I (both 19) are in a similar situation. We’ve been going out for almost 2 years and definitely want to finish our educations (we both plan on doing Honours and possibly Masters) and have secure full time jobs before we get engaged.

I’d prefer to have a longer engagement (at least a year or two) before getting married. If we aren’t suited to each other, as heart-breaking as it would be, I’d rather find out before getting married. And, as Goo mentioned, it doesn’t hurt us to wait. :slight_smile:

1st marrage: I waited 6 months. The marrage lasted 9 months. (Isn’t that sad?)

2nd marrage: I waited 5 years. The marrage is still going strong after 5 more. (Isn’t that, errm… happy?)

I would say wait. I think people get married far too soon. I was one of them. It’s almost a feeling of “if I don’t marry her, I’ll lose her”, which is just not the case.

Take the time to get to know the person better. If the love is stong you’ll still be together in 3 or 4 years. Get married then.

As for how long to be engaged before being married. There is no rule. With my first wife we were married pretty quick (2-3 weeks after I asked her). With the 2nd wife I just asked then we picked a date several weeks after -which was about 4 months after that.

I will let you on a small clue about setting a date. PICK ONE YOU WILL REMEMBER! Don’t just grab a date out of your ass and say “that’s a good day”. Pick one that means something. It also might help if it’s the first of the month or the last day of a month. I REALLY wanted to get married the 2nd time around on Feb 29th. Now that’s a good day to get married. Sadly, I was shot down on that vote. heh heh.

Do what you feel you need to do. If you feel this is it and she’s the one… GO FOR IT! Love is crazy man. But just remember, if it is love she’ll still be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…

Also remember, divorce is ugly and stupid. Avoid it at all costs.

Good luck. Let us know what happens.

18 months.

Anyone can be on their best behavior for a year…

I’m totally serious.

I’m coming up on the second anniversary (late July) so maybe it’s a bit early to tell if the marriage is successful, but considering we’ve never had a really major fight…

We waited (hold your breath) eight years.

Really. Eight years.

We started dating in High School, lived together when we turned 18, got married at 23.

After five years living with my wife, I knew I couldn’t live with anyone else.

The one drawback was that there was nothing at all romantic about the proposal. It just sort of came up in conversation. Like, “you know, it’s really about time we got married.” “Yeah.”

My grandparents had an even more nonchalant proposal. My grandfather was visiting my grandmother when she was sick in bed. (They had also been together for about five years) They were talking and he started a sentince with, “You know, when we’re married-”

She replied, “Are we getting married?”

“Of course!” He said as if it were never even an issue.

They were both in their mid-20s at the time and were married for the rest of my Grandfather’s life. He died one year ago in his early 90s.

I guess the point is that if you get to the time when you don’t really HAVE to propose, you’re definitely ready for marriage.

Let me be the umpteenth person to say “it depends.”

My wife and I dated for about 6-7 months before we got engaged, with the wedding being a year later. Of course I was 32 at the time and she was 27, so we had both had our fill of the dating life.


Thanks everyone for the advice! I appreciate everyone’s time.
I have come to the conclusion that it will probably be better if we wait on marriage (because of the fact that she doesn’t really take me seriously when I say it) probably for another few months, at least. I get out of school in July 2003, so I am thinking closer to then would be better, but I don’t know. There is so much I have yet to plan, like where I want to propose “for real” and where to have the ceremony held… I was thinking of maybe eloping, should it happen.

On the topic of birth control… it isn’t really an issue now, there isn’t anything like that going on…

“probably for another few months, at least”
What I meant to refer to there is engagement, not marriage.

Hmm. You or she may have some moral objections to this, Viaoman, but I am a firm believer in ‘testing the waters’ so to speak before one dives in.

Sexual incompatability can, and has been known to, ruin a relationship.

I think there is a lot of good advice already.

From my experience:

  • my parents had to wait several years to get married (mainly because of WW2). They are still together 56 years later. :slight_smile:

  • my sister dropped out of university, aged 22, to marry someone she’d known about a year. He walked out on her 10 years later and she had to raise their 2 kids on her own.

  • I’m not married, but I’m financially sorted because I saved up for a deposit on a house.
    Remember that money doesn’t necessarily make you happy, but lack of money certainly makes you sad.

So my recommendation is to get to know each other (and save up!). I’m certain that you will enjoy being solvent with the right person, and equally convinced that divorce is unhappy, especially for the kids.

(And of course birth control will stop you having to get married prematurely.)

Great advice so far.
One thing to ask yourself; what is motivating you to get married?
Of course, you love her, but love can and does exist outside of marriage, if it is not yet time for marriage. Try to pinpoint your feelings and expectations.
Are you afraid that you’ll lose her if you don’t get married?
Do you think of marriage as a way to secure the relationship?
Is sex a factor? Are wither of you waiting until marriage?
Do you want children?
Are a lot of your friends getting engaged or married?

One thing I thought of that hasn’t been mentioned is a “promise ring”. You may know people who have done this, or even seen it on That 70’s Show or other programs.
You would buy her a ring, or some sort of jewelry or token that is less expensive than an engagement ring, and ask her to wear it, symbolizing both of your desires to be with each other in the future. It’s sort of an “engaged to be engaged” situation; a symbol of commitment without starting the wedding ball rolling, and acknowledging that you both have some growing, together and individually, before it’s time to get married.
Just an option for someone in your situation…

I guess I am a little worried about losing her… but not to another person… I mean, the thought has crossed my mind, but I honestly think that she is (and will be) faithful, just as I am to her. That isn’t what I am planning on losing her to, and unfortunately, I don’t really want to talk about what I am worried about losing her to on this forum, at this time.
A promise ring sounds like a good idea. I have bought her jewelry in the past, but she goes through phases where she doesn’t wear jewelry, and I think she may have lost it…
Anyway, I need to get back to school… Thank everyone for the replies, I needed some guidance and I am getting very decent tips.

Shouldn’t have said “planning on losing her to”
Should have said “worried about losing her to”

sorry for all the double posts