My husband and I were friends for a year, dated for nine months and were engaged for three days before we got married. In the modern world, this sounds a little fast, but let me explain. By the time we even officially became boyfriend and girlfriend, God had already confirmed that this was the guy I was going to marry. In the beginning of our official dating phase, we planned that we would get engaged about a year after dating, and then wait about two years before we got married. Because we figured this was the most common time frame, there was no rush to find a ring.
Our circumstances were a bit different because we were in a long-distance relationship with me in Hawaii and him in California, and a lot of our getting to know each other was through texts, calls and email threads when we weren’t flying back and forth every other month. About eight months into our relationship, I felt a nudging from the Holy Spirit to reconsider our plan. Should I really do this for another two years or so? What were we even waiting for? I write all of this to say that we can’t compare our path to what others in the world do. What’s considered “common” or “normal” may not be in the cards for you. Even if he and I were living in the same state, I saw no reason for our dating relationship to have lingered on and on, barring any extreme circumstance.
As my husband was still planning his proposal, I remember talking to him one night about what if we got married the next time he flew to Hawaii. We both talked to our families about it, and even though they were kinda freaked out, no one opposed. Since he was going to be flying out for a visit anyway, he surprised me by coming a day earlier so that he could get down on one knee and make an official proposal. We got our marriage license and were officially Mr. and Mrs. a few days later. I put in my notice at work and started packing for my move to California.
I firmly believe that once we’ve done what we need to do to prepare ourselves for marriage, God will bring our spouse into our lives. So much of the growing process in a relationship happens after you say “I do,” so there’s no real way to practice marriage. Even if you go to every premarital class offered in the state and spend five years getting to know that person, things still rise up as newlyweds that will test your love for one another.
So, how long is too long to wait to be engaged? There’s no formula, but there are a few things to keep in mind when waiting for that sparkly diamond to wear on your finger.
First and foremost, has God confirmed that this is your husband? A guy you’re with could be putting off an engagement and coming up with every excuse in the book because he really has no intention of marrying you. When two people are fully committed to putting their future in God’s hands, it’s usually pretty clear very early on that they have found “The One.” How God reveals it to each of us is very different, but my husband and I knew around the same time that “this was it.” You may be waiting to lose a certain amount of weight, make a certain amount of money, finish a few more years of college or for your families to start liking each other. No matter what, it’s best to be guided by the Holy Spirit because timing is so important to God.
Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:6)
Sexual attraction is a real thing. I met a couple who trained themselves to turn off their sexual drive so that they wouldn’t cross any physical boundaries if they were alone at night. They became more like good friends instead of a romantic item because they were waiting to lose weight and finish college before they got engaged. Unfortunately, they ended their relationship after being together for a few years. It’s good to set proper physical boundaries while you’re still waiting on God to reveal the next steps to you in the dating process, but having an artificial timeline or arbitrary goals before getting married can come with some emotional backlash.
My husband and I dealt with temptation every time we were together during our long-distance relationship. The emotional intimacy and physical attraction were an important part of our relationship, but to prolong that simply for the sake of waiting the “appropriate amount of time” could have led to us giving into sexual promiscuity, or building stumbling blocks as we trained ourselves to go against our natural attraction to each other for years.
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
One of the things I mentioned in a previous article, “How to Honor Your Future Spouse Before God Brings Him Into Your Life,” is that you don’t need to test dating by trial and error. If you choose to do this, it’s much harder for God to move quickly. I’m reminded of a testimony of a couple who said the moment they first laid eyes on each other, they both had a feeling that they were meant to be together. Because both of them were in relationships at the time, which they admitted were no good for them, it delayed their process by about two to three years. Now they are happily married with a beautiful baby girl. This is a good reason to keep yourself single in order for God to move on your behalf and show you the right person for you. Your judgement isn’t clouded and there aren’t as many distractions in the way.
Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. (Proverbs 5:18)
You or the guy you’re dating may think it’s important to “find yourselves” and become perfect individuals before getting that ring, but I promise you that your spouse is integral to your growth as well. Waiting until everything is perfect is impossible because perfection will never come. I was 23 when I got married, and one of my favorite things about being a young bride was getting to experience life and grow up with someone together. I didn’t have everything all figured out, and I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what the calling was on my life. My husband’s path is complementary to mine in so many areas, so it only makes sense that we would build together, not separately. Things I thought I’d accomplish before marriage are just now happening, and his support and resources are very integral to that, as mine are to him.
The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)
My relationship isn’t a template to go by; it’s just an example that everyone’s story is unique. If you’ve been with someone for seven years and you keep thinking, “Tonight is the night he’ll finally propose,” I ask you to consider what you’re waiting for. If a guy is pursuing you and understands the importance of marriage, he won’t string you along indefinitely. Ask God to reveal if this is the right person for you after all, and seek guidance on what to do next. If you’re single, consider submitting your entire love life to God and ask Him to make it crystal clear when the man who will be your husband enters your life. God can move very quickly if we leave ourselves open to His will.
Do you have a testimony of how God revealed your future husband to you? How long was it before he popped the question? We’d love to know!