Every day, more and more of my friends are buzzing about getting engaged. I wonder what order the proposals will fall in and how each one will happen, but more than that, I pray that the couples considering marriage will have what it takes to go the distance. The “Say Yes to the Dress” kind of wedding fever prevalent in our culture is toxic, because what really matters is that the marriage endures, not that the wedding day is picture perfect or that the couple remains smitten and crazy in love forever.
My boyfriend and I recently made it through several years of dating long distance during the school year while I was in Dallas for college. It is now a joy and a blessing just to see him every other day and know that this won’t change. When people hear we have dated four years, they ask, “So when are you guys getting married!?” Although I appreciate their enthusiasm, the truth is: when we’re ready.
Although I am eager to get engaged sometime in the near future, I know it will happen in God’s perfect timing. As Christians, we should date with the intent to marry, but not to win or keep up in some kind of race. In every relationship stage, God has lessons to teach us, whether we’re single, dating, engaged, or married, or even divorced or widowed. Change is inevitable and, at times, exciting, but should be entered into carefully. It’s normal to wonder when and how your personal life will evolve, but don’t overlook the privilege of knowing the person you’re with—even if that’s yourself!—because you’re caught up in moving to the next chapter.
In the midst of a culture that claps along excitedly in the engagement phase and looks the other way when marriages crumble, it’s okay to just slow down. If you’re with someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with, you know and that’s an awesome feeling, but that doesn’t mean you need to dash to the alter right away. He or she isn’t going anywhere just yet. Let the infatuation wear off and the ordinary routines of life settle in. Ask hard questions of one another. Have disagreements and work them out. Spend time with each another’s families and other couples; spend so much time together that embarrassing moments happen. Talk about hopes and dreams for the future, and experiences from the past. Better one another and grow closer to Christ together without rushing to make the present stage past.
There is nothing to prove. Your relationship is on a path that God uniquely created for you. And although everyone else wants a say, when it’s all said and done, it’s just going to be you, your spouse, and God, forever. These are the opinions that matter most, even when engagement rings seem to be popping up everywhere.