Dear Dr. Bill,
I am a 19-year-old college student on a full-ride scholarship. I’ve been dating my girlfriend for about 5 months and I already know this is the woman I want to marry. We were both raised in solid, godly families — and we’ve made a commitment to purity before marriage. After much prayer, we’ve decided we’d like to get married in 2 years.
The good news is that both sets of parents approve of our plans. But my parents disagree about the timing. They think we should wait until after I graduate. I think this issue is about their preference rather than facing the fact that I’m ready to make this decision for myself. What do you think?
It sounds like you and your girlfriend are starting off with a good foundation. I also admire your decision to pursue sexual purity. However, at 19-years-old, I don’t think it’s wise to make a decision about marriage after dating someone for five months.
Your girlfriend sounds wonderful, and she may be just the person God wants you to marry. But during the first 3-6 months of your relationship, you’re in the “infatuation” stage. Your brains are releasing chemicals called endorphins, which contribute to a heightened sense of happiness and well-being.
During that time, we’re basically “in love with being in love,” and we’re unlikely to view our dating partner or our relationship realistically. That’s why I advise couples to date for at least a year before getting engaged. I believe it’s better to have a longer courtship and a shorter engagement, rather than vice versa.
Also, most people don’t know this, but research shows that people who wait until they’re at least 23 to get married, have a much lower divorce rate than those who marry younger.
You didn’t mention how old your girlfriend is, but I’m assuming she’s around 18 or 19. Although your marriage might work out fine if you marry during college, your chances for success will greatly increase if you give your relationship an extra year or two.
Thanks for writing Cody. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.