Commitment. How long should you date before making a commitment? When Christian singles feel that relationships and love become too complicated or move too slowly, what to do? Is waiting worth it for those who want to commit and know what they are looking for in a partner?
Dear Jim: Is it possible that we fail more and more because we are extending the steps and are making the process more and more complicated?
You pose an interesting scenario and I can understand where you are coming from. My response comes out of my personal experience as well as what I have observed in relating to several thousand single adults in recent years.
There are two truths in what you say that stand out:
- There is much growth required after one is married, and it never ends.
- Many are too picky in the process and it greatly complicates finding a relationship.
Statistics for marriage and re-marriage
However, having agreed with these two truths, I do not necessarily arrive at the conclusion that waiting to marry is not best. A healthy relationship is one built upon good character and a seasoning of traits, confirming the compatibility and devotion of each other. The amount of time required can vary from couple to couple, but I have seen that a year or more is very prudent in most cases. Allow me to share some thoughts that come to mind:
- If we were to just find one or two strong points and get married quickly, the fact that we did not allow time to confirm the degree of commitment/devotion could be very damaging. Our society is built around quick results and fast pleasure. We are the ones demanding faster microwaves, faster Internet connections, etc. This mindset gets ingrained into us and we expect this to occur in relationships. The essential ingredients for a healthy relationship come from a merging of spiritual, emotional, psychological & financial factors, as well as communication styles, behavioral patterns/traits, and family of origin influence. I suggest that these cannot be properly connected to the point of confirming a relationship via the ‘microwave’ approach.
- One would think that experience is the best lesson. However, this has not held true when it comes to knowing whether or not we have found a good relationship. The divorce rate for remarriages is almost 50% higher than for first marriages (43% for first marriages according the latest census and around 60% or more for remarriages). People ARE rushing into second marriages and not making good choices.
- The fact is also true that as we become rejected or hurt from past experiences, we become more cautious and picky about future ones. What I find in this situation is that people are not taking the time to heal from a past experience before they jump into a new relationship.
- The changes in society are also a major contributor toward our being overly selective. Go into any store and you will see more choices than one could imagine five years ago. We are hesitant to purchase anything for fear that a new model or advancement will be out tomorrow making our choice today quickly obsolete. I suggest that this carries into relationships in that we are afraid to make a commitment today because a better ‘model’ will come along tomorrow.
How long should a single Christian wait to get married? How much time is important?
My personal recommendation for most is to spend a year or more in a relationship building a solid foundation for the future before marrying. While it is true that there is much work to be done after a marriage, there will be far less work and much less pain if the majority of the foundational work is done prior to marriage.
Just some thoughts for your consideration. May God guide you and bless you in your journey – and timing.
Author of “Guide to Successful Online Christian Dating”