I’ve heard it said that every aspect of a single man’s life is cleverly edited and overproduced and that is why you never really know a man until you marry him.
Still, most would agree that you would try to get to know your boyfriend the best you can before you commit to him for life. This is likely why more than 7.5 million couples are living together and more than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation.
Some couples, however, decide to get married first then get to know each other.
I was reading a message board the other day and one woman was saying that she married her husband three days after meeting at a rave and they’ve been together for seven years. Their reasoning for getting married so fast:
“For so many people marriage comes years and years down the line once a couple has been together so long they either feel it’s the safest option or they just don’t have the energy to look for something new, so, why don’t we do it backwards–marry first, as a celebration and proof of our belief in our love?”
What she has an aversion to is what NYT researchers call “sliding, not deciding.” Moving from dating, to sleeping over, to sleeping over a lot, to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation. Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean. Some couples continue the slide into marriage figuring they have been together for so long they “may as well” get married.
That doesn’t seem like an ideal scenario, but is getting married first and getting to know each other later any less risky? Marriage is a serious decision and dating is a crucial period when the two parties find out if they click on a personal level and can see themselves together for the long haul.
Sex and relationship columnist Dan Savage says, “three months — eight months, sixteen months — is way too soon to be discussing marriage.”
Ted Huston, a leading researcher on transitions in relationships, marriage and parenthood, states in his study that happily married couples dated for approximately 25 months before getting married. He says, on average, couples decided to marry 2.8 years after they first showed romantic interest (many couples knew each other before they dated, but that isn’t counted).
Ted found that couples who were unhappily married soon after they said “I do” and quickly divorced more often married at or after three years of dating. Couples who fell fast in love were engaged after nine months, and married after 18 months. These couples usually made it to their seventh anniversary before divorcing sometime later.
Despite researchers recommendations, there is no set timetable that guarantees wedded bliss. Age, maturity level, financial stability, geography and desire to get married all factor in to the decision of how long to date before tying the knot. I’d add that how well you know each other should also be factored in.
The Guardian did a story on whirlwind marriages and they profiled one couple who dated for such a short period of time, the groom didn’t even know the correct spelling of his bride’s first name! Not that celebrity relationships are anything to emulate, but Khloe and Lamar Odom married after one month of dating and Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon married after two months. Personally, I know a couple who got married on their six month dating anniversary a mere summer after our college graduation.
I’m guessing most couples that get married relatively quickly would probably not admit to the fact that they’re deciding to get married first then get to know each other later. They’d probably say they know each other pretty well after “staying awake and talking all night underneath the stars” or something equally ridiculous. It happens more often than we may think. Honestly, no matter how many deep conversations you’ve had, if you get married to someone you’ve known for less time than the milk in your fridge then you’re definitely taking a “getting married now, get to know each other later” approach.
But maybe that’s okay. Maybe getting married quickly isn’t the most negative thing that a couple can decide to do. Their argument is that if you know you’re meant to be, whether you wait for one day or ten years, then why not get married today? They figure that the basics are there and they’re okay with learning everything else as they go.
Thinking about this some more, I find it ironic that many people balk at the idea of getting married “too fast” but make other short-term decisions that lead to a lifetime of consequences — like choosing to have a child together now and get to know each other later. But to each his own (foolish) decision, I guess. In my opinion, marrying someone you don’t know is incredibly foolish but since that’s not my call to make for couple’s across the board, the only thing left to say to people insisting on doing so is “good luck.”
What do you think? Would you choose to marry someone first and then get to know him later?