Question:

Hi.

I'm a male in my mid-twenties who has been dating a woman in her early twenties for over two years. I completed my degree last year, but she is still in school. She will complete her degree in four more years. I love her very much and proposed we marry in two years, but she wants to finish her degree first. I am willing to pay for her fees until the completion of her degree. I've tried to talk to her about the issue several times without any progress. I once intended to break off the relationship but she said we could adjust the dates, but afterward she returned to her initial status quo. We have never had any sexual contact, as we'd promised that we would begin only after marriage. Every time I try to bring up the issue she says I'm impatient, although we've been courting for over two years. How long should a couple date before marriage? I really love the lady, but I don't know why she wishes to delay. What should I do?


Answer:

I can't answer as to why she wants to delay. Perhaps she thinks that once she is married she'll be too distracted to finish her degree. But that is completely a guess on my part.

A marriage is an covenant between two people. The fact is that you are eagar to move on into the next phase of your life and she isn't ready to consider it. Right now you are trying to make things happen your way. I want you to stop and start looking at the way things are. Let's assume that she will not marry you for another four years. The first question you must ask yourself is whether you are willing to wait four years for a wife. If the answer is "no," then it is time to call this off. It is a waste of your time and hers. The second question is whether you'll be able to resist sexual temptation for another four years, and again if the answer is "no," you need need to find someone who is available to marry on your time scale.

Please keep in mind that if you do call this off, there is a possibility that she'll relent when she sees you are serious because she doesn't want to lose you. If that does happen, you need to make sure that this doesn't become a situation where she resents you for pressuring her into marriage. You have to make it clear that you are looking for a wife, not a long term girlfriend. If she wants to marry you, you would love to marry her. But if she would rather wait, then she is better of with a man who also wants to wait that long. It needs to be clear that this is not a ploy to get her to change her mind, but a simple fact about who you are and what you are looking for.

Thank you very much for such wonderful advice. I'm indeed not looking for a long term girlfriend but for a wife. I would further like to ask, how long should a couple court before marriage and what are the minimum ages for marriages because she sometimes says she is too young to get married. I hope you won't give me the 'it depends' answers without any actual figures. I also would like to know the average ages of newlyweds, if you happen to have the statistics.

Currently, the median age for marriage in the United States is 28 for males and 26 for females. This is a new phenomena. As little as 40 years ago the median was 23 for males and 21 for females. Most engagement periods typically last about a year. An interesting study in Psychology Today notes that the longer a couple dates before marriage, the higher the probability that the marriage will end in divorce. Happily married couples dated an average of 25 months. Couples who ranked high in romance dated an average of 18 months and their marriages lasted longer than those who dated 3 years or more. ["The Success of a Marriage"].

I'll pass of the same advice my father gave to his children. Before you ever have anyone in mind, decide what type of woman you are looking for to marry. That doesn't mean how tall she is or what color hair she has. You need to decide what kind of personality traits, skills, and goals you are looking for in a wife. Is it important to you that she does or does not work outside the home. How many children are you wanting? Is it important that she keeps a neat home or that she cooks well? Does she need to enjoy traveling? Then use that criteria to decide if you are interested in a particular woman. Knowing the type of woman you are looking for in advance means you don't have to spend as long trying to decide if you want to marry a particular woman.