My question is, how long should I be with someone before marriage? I have been dating this lady for six (6) months now. She has been hinting that we marry. She is driving everything so fast, it has now escalated to her family, and I sense pressure from that side too. I don't think there is something she is trying to cover up; I only feel she is rushing this too much. She is 30 years and I am 33. I feel we need time to get to know each other better. But she thinks we click enough to take it to the next level. Please what do you suggest I do?
Dear Nii K,
A lot of things go into determining the appropriateness or otherwise of the timing for marriage. It mostly revolves around communication. In communication, you have your everyday conversations. The quality of these conversations will play a key role in this. Rich, deep, quality and thematic conversations (subject based conversations like children, health, sexual preferences, spirituality, recreations etc) reveals a lot about the person to the extent that in a short while you can tell a lot about the person. Poor, evasive, random, and shallow conversations can make you stay with someone for many years and you still won't know them well.
Again, When it comes to communication, a lot has to do with how they make you feel a part of their lives by the the way they involve you in their day to day activities. You can date someone for 6 months and you will feel like you grew up with them, and you can date someone for six years and you still wouldn't know much about them. It all depends on how much they involve you in their lives, and what they are willing to reveal to you.
Since we communicate a lot through non-verbal cues, look for patterned moods and their triggers, predictability in their actions and consistency in their thought pattern. With some people, it takes a longer time to know how they will react under different scenarios, because they are random and do not allow you to easily chart them. Other people are easy to study and predict. With the latter group, you don't struggle to sync with them, buy them the right kind of gifts, and act in way that ensures the smooth running of the relationship. The former group can be so unpredictable, they make you doubt your own sanity with how they react to things you do. Until you are fairly sure, do not commit to marriage.
Basically, a lot of who a person is is communicated through their behavior. If it is something you can live with, just make sure you have convinced yourself it is not a fake front, then you are good to do. However, if you are not sure, and have doubts and uncertainties, clear it up first. You clear it by talking about it. Have an honest and open conversation about each of the thorny and silent or avoided issues, and be sure you are on the same page, then go for it.
Beyond the human factors are the social factors. Are you both financially sound (with at least one of you in a stable job) to start a life together? Is she the kind of partner you want to take along the rest of your life's journey, whether as a duo or as a fully fledged family, if you intend to have children? Are you on the same page spiritually, if it matters to both of you? Are you Ethnically/Racially/Tribally ok with each other, with no key family members holding the door shut? How receptive is your family towards her? Do you have intellectual and educational equilibrium?
If you have NO for an answer to any of these, what are you doing to fix them? If you are having roadblocks, and they are things you can't compromise on, then give it time and see if it works out, otherwise, walk out so you don't waste each other's time.
If you ticked yes for most of the above, with what is left being things you can manage, then really, six month, though short, is not bad. But if you can, do a year, and during this period, 'look' with an informed mind. If it is a Long Distance Relationship, or a relationship between two super busy people, you may need a lot of time together so you get to know each other better.
I wish you love and all the best.
Send your nagging questions to email@example.com for PG's attention. Please note that all letters are edited for confidentiality and consistency sake. The essentials are, however, maintained.