For couples, getting married is a heavy and significant decision to make. There are a lot of questions to answer, things to consider, and obstacles to overcome before truly being ready for marriage and married life. A common question is how long couples should date before thinking of marriage.
Studies show that dating for two to five years before getting married in your 20s leads to happier and longer-lasting marriages. However, each couple has their own timeline, and only they can determine what amount of time is enough before deciding to get married.
Besides the duration of you and your partner’s dating phase, another important thing to consider is if you are actually ready to get married. That, along with many other frequently asked questions, will be answered and explained.
How Long Should My Partner and I Date Before Getting Married?
Studies have shown that, on average, it takes two to five years before a relationship transitions into marriage. However, some may wait longer or even shorter to get engaged — at the end of the day, each couple has their own pace and timeline.
With that said, it is generally recommended that you and your partner take a lot of time to get to know each other well. This usually takes months to years of dating, hence the average figure.
Nowadays, it is common and socially acceptable for couples to move in and live together before marriage. This is greatly beneficial as you can learn things about your partner, such as their manners, routines, and other characteristics that could influence your decision to get married.
During this time, you and your partner may discover similarities and differences in how you handle yourself and your surroundings. You may find a quirk that you think is endearing or a habit that you deem irritating.
In this window of time, important life events may come up, such as weddings, the death of a close friend or relative, unemployment, and others. As they happen, you will see how your partner reacts to these events, how they handle them, and if you and your partner can handle them together. This is an important indicator of your compatibility and the strength of your relationship.
By dedicating a lot of time to learning about your partner and/or living together, your communication and collaboration skills will be tested and improved. You may learn how to compromise, acquiesce, or stand your ground when necessary. This is one of the foundations of a healthy and long-lasting marriage.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Does it Really Matter How Long My Partner and I Have Dated?
As mentioned above, each couple works out their own pace and timeline when it comes to their relationship. There is no right and wrong duration of time for a relationship. Couples may decide to get married only weeks into their relationship, and that is fine. Similarly, couples may find that marriage has only become an option after decades of dating.
Ultimately, this should be the couple’s decision to make, and theirs alone. Outsider opinions, though they may be worthwhile to consider, especially if from family or close friends, should not dictate the couple and their decisions.
With that said, some things are common for a reason: building the foundations for a healthy marriage takes time. As with any generalizations, however, there will always be situations where they cannot apply. If you and your partner feel that two to five years are too long or too short of a wait, and you feel prepared as it is, then it is perfectly fine to go ahead and plan the engagement.
How Do We Know We’re Making the Right Choice?
While ultimately, only you and your partner can truly determine whether getting married in your 20s is the right choice, there are some questions you can use to gauge your readiness for marriage:
- Do we have a healthy way of handling and resolving conflict?
- Do we make each other happy?
- Are we only getting married because we feel like we have to?
- Are we only getting married for financial security, accomplishment, or success?
- Are we truly in love, or are we still in the infatuation stage?
- Do we have the same core values and vision for our future?
- At the moment, are we financially capable of getting married?
Discussing this with your partner and/or with a therapist or counselor may help you figure out if marrying in your 20s is the right way to go.
Should We Attend Couples Therapy or Marriage Counseling?
Although used interchangeably, couples therapy and marriage counseling have subtle differences in their process, duration, cost, and so on.
Couples therapy and marriage counseling address a wide range of issues, such as intimacy, communication, trust, balance, mental health concerns, and so on. If you and your partner are experiencing obstacles in the relationship, attending couples therapy or marriage counseling is a very worthwhile endeavor.
Even without these issues, you may attend couples therapy or marriage counseling just to further strengthen your relationship. A therapist or counselor will equip you with tools and strategies for better communication, conflict management, and so on, thus empowering you and your partner to sustain a healthy relationship.
What are the Pros and Cons of Marrying in my 20s?
|Pros of Getting Married in Your 20s||Cons of Getting Married in Your 20s|
|Financial security may be easier to attain, as couples who marry in their 20s have better chances of accumulating money. This is the result of sharing expenses and incomes.||By opting to wait until a later time in your life (i.e., your 30s), you can focus on building your career and dedicating most of your time to your work.|
|Marrying in your 20s gives you and your partner more years to grow old together and make new memories.||You may still not have a solid sense of identity, leading to problems in communication, confidence, and so on.|
|You have more time to plan for the future, such as having kids, moving, and so on. There is less pressure to start a family when marrying in your 20s.||As young typically has the connotation of “inexperienced,” marrying in your 20s may mean that red flags in your partner are easier to miss.|
|Having a supportive and reliable spouse can make challenging times easier to bear and overcome, especially during life events that happen in your 20s.||Your freedom to travel, socialize, experience new things, and divide your time and resources will be reduced.|
|The shared responsibilities of a marriage push the couple to mature together and mature faster.||Over time, people change. You may find that this change is for the worse.|
|According to Wilkinson & Finkbeiner Family Law Attorneys, marrying once you are over 25 years old means that you are less likely to get divorced by 24%.||Couples who marry early share that the attraction they shared in their younger years dissipate quickly as well.|
|According to a study on the role of women’s age in marriage, couples who marry in their 20s engage in more frequent and more enjoyable sex, which is often an indicator of happier marriages.||According to Wilkinson & Finkbeiner Family Law Attorneys, 46% of divorcees cite “married too young” as their reason for divorce. 60% of couples who got married at the age of 20 to 25 will end in divorce.|
How Should We Deal with Backlash or Negative Opinions?
Again, outsider opinions should have no bearing on you and your partner’s decision to get married. However, we are only human, and negative opinions affect us differently.
Typically, the backlash you will receive after you have made your decision revolves around matters of age, priority, maturity, and so on — essentially, everything listed under the “Cons” column in the table above.
The best thing to do is to simply listen. Not only will listening to their concerns prove you and your partner’s maturity, but it will also allow you to understand where they are coming from. Their concerns, albeit misguided, often come from a place of love and care.
It is very likely that you and your partner have already discussed these concerns between yourself. Maybe you have thought about or even already planned a few years ahead. If so, you can choose to talk about this with the people who are concerned so as to show them that you are prepared and fully committed to your upcoming marriage.
Is it Better to Wait for My 30s?
Again, there is no right and wrong time to get married. What matters is what you and your partner think would be best for your relationship: if it is getting married in the next six months, that is fine; if it is holding off marriage for a couple of years, that is also fine.
As with anything, there are pros and cons to consider when deciding to marry in your 30s. It is worth discussing with your partner so that you are on the same page.
What are the Findings of Research and Studies About This?
Here are some research findings regarding how long to date before getting married in your 20s:
- Couples who get married in their 20s have more frequent and more enjoyable sex, which often leads to happier marriages (source).
- 60% of the couples who marry when they are 20 to 25 years old get a divorce; marrying over the age of 25 reduces the likelihood of divorce by 24% (source).
- A study consisting of 168 newlywed couples who waited an average of 25 months before getting married had the happiest marriages through the 13-year-duration of the study (source).
- A study that followed 3,000 couples showed that couples who dated more than three years were 39% less likely to get divorced than those with less than a year of dating; similarly, couples that had two years of dating were 20% less likely to divorce (source).
Two to five years of dating will give you and your partner ample time to get to know each other, establish healthy foundations for a long-term commitment, and build communication and conflict resolution skills.
However, as with any average figures, these will not always apply to everyone — being ready for marriage is not just a matter of age and how long you two have been dating, but also of being on the same page as your partner and being ready for what married life entails.
By having a lengthy and transparent discussion with your partner, you will find out whether you are truly ready for marriage in your 20s.