If you're lucky enough to have been proposed to over the holidays, allow me to congratulate you! Engagements are a momentous occassion in a couple's (read: woman's) life. For one, it solidifies that there's a man who thinks enough of her to turn in his bachelor card and give up ample closet space. It also is an accomplishment that we've been conditioned to aspire to in the quest for the American dream. But on a more serious note, being engaged is a sign that the two of you have pledged a commitment to one another that your lives are now ready to become one.
But what is an engagement, really? For the modern couple, there is no unanimous perspective about it. As a whole, people aren't in a rush to be married anymore. Although many engagements seem to create a scenario that mirrors a retail layaway plan. In a study on Huffington Post, it's reported that 40% of couples are engaged for a maximum of 18 months. But the numbers that were more alarming to me were the outliers. 23% were engaged up to 2 years and in the other direction, 27% were engaged for less than a year. Based on the polling responses, the assumption is that couples are either getting engaged with the actual wedding already planned out in their head. Or men are proposing under the guise of pacifying their significant others, creating the illusion that progress is being made. It's quite divisive.
An article on The Stir purported couples should be engaged for longer than a year. Among the reasons for that are engagements can (and do) end for circumstances that both people likely weren't aware of going into it. The author had one reason that troubled me in particular; you need to know each other very well before getting married.
Now, I might be an idealist here, but wouldn't it be of sound judgement to date for an extended period of time before even broaching the subject of marriage? For a man in his mid to late 20s, the idea of being a husband isn't high on the list of priorities. Additionally, relationships require time and a slow-build of care in order to fully develop on their own. In fact, relationships go through stages where a new layer is revealed every few months. New revelations can either bring you closer or repel you away from each other. You don't want to complicate that natural process by the pressure of an unanticipated engagement.
There are some people who are in love with the idea of love. It's plausible in their mind to date for a few months, be engaged, and married all within a 12 month period. Take Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries as a shining example. Many marriages that start that fast, end just as fast. Speedy engagements are indeed the exception. So what do you think is a realistic shelf-life for the engagement phase of a union?