• Necole Renee Sharnell


It’s official..we have just ended engagement season. The Christmas holidays are customarily seen as the perfect time of year to become engaged as family and friends are gathered together, and it’s a time when joy is most contagious.

According to local statistics, in December 2019 the number one day to get engaged was Christmas Day, with Christmas Eve coming in third, New Year’s Eve was fourth and New Year’s Day rounded out as number five.

However, for many of us who have been in relationships long enough to know how our significant other takes his coffee, or what kind of deodorant he uses. Despite the regular declarations of love made, we are not quite sure about our future together. It is still hazy and uncertain!

Time is a major factor that is easy to become fixated on especially as we reach certain milestones (25, 30, 40 etc.) A 21 year old dating for five years before marriage is not the same as a 40 year old dating five years before marriage!

Ideally in my opinion, those who covet the marriage life ought to be discussing this early on in any relationship, so that both parties know that they are aligned with the same goals and the same objectives. If one party is not “marriage minded,” the other is wasting time!

In fact, discussing marriage throughout the relationship gives shape to the idea, especially during the getting to know you phase. Who desires to end up being a “place holder?” Furthermore, early discussions give excellent opportunity to collect very important data.

1. Is he truly single? Is he free and available to marry legally? Some men deliberately ‘hang out’ in separation limbo so that they avoid making a commitment to you; while they keep you hanging on using every excuse for their relationship with an ‘estranged wife’.

2. Do both partners want to get married? Are you both married minded? The purpose and goal of dating should be to find a life partner. In the meantime, weeding out the unsuitable chaff from your pool of potential suitors, with the intent of finding a suitable mate should be the order of the day. Never assume that because someone is actively dating automatically means that they’re dating with the ultimate goal of marriage. To hold that assumption is being naive and is only a nice thought at best!

3. Do you want children? How many? How do you intend to raise them? Does he/she have “out of wedlock” children? Maybe, children from a previous marriage? Are you OK with being a stepmother or stepfather?

4. What are your spiritual beliefs? Baptist, Catholic, Muslim, Hindi, loosely believes in God, but doesn’t practice any religion? Your spiritual practices must align. Please do not assume that an individual will convert or that you can convert him/her. Blended spiritual beliefs that oppose each other rarely work.

Finally, if you are completely honest and satisfied with the answers to the previous questions, only then can the following issue be addressed on a timeline created for: HOW LONG IS TOO LONG TO WAIT FOR A PROPOSAL? A genuine cry from the heart!

Generally, the maximum time given depends on whether your significant other is a college aged person, in which case he/she deserves more time to become gainfully employed and established in a chosen career. He has to make it abundantly clear that he wants marriage with you and not a vague “marriage someday” with no timeline in sight.

On the other hand, if you are in a real adult relationship, past school age and have careers that you’re already settled into and both parties are in a position to know what they want and both know how to go about setting and achieving certain goals; then a one year deadline may seem reasonable. Anything more than that can indicate that there is a problem and a decision to move on may be what is best.

Beware of the “promise ring” aka the “pacifier ring” strategy. This is often promised to lull the innocent or unsuspecting into a false sense of security that can easily result in a five (5) year engagement with marriage not even on the horizon.

But the absolute truth of the matter despite all that is said or may be done, there is no right or wrong length of time to wait for a proposal. Each relationship has its own distinct path. However, in some cultures, the biggest deciding factors that usually come into play is typically age and the desire to have children.

During your 20’s there is not too much urgency to get engaged or married, as there is still time to plan your future and think about the prospect of having children. However, in your 40’s or 50’s you become anxious, getting older and there is no time to waste playing the waiting game. The clock is running down. Let’s just get it done!

In summary, the timeline of making life with that special someone is personal – it comes right down to love, affection, trust, care, desire and emotion. After all, it is a genuine cry from the heart that makes the final decision every time.

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