Dating to engagement should take minimum of one year because the real question is: how long does it takes to develop the type of friendship that leads to long-lasting marriage. That's particularly important because best marriages are based on being best friends and it takes 'time' to develop as best friends.
How long that takes depends upon how well you and your prospective mate have mastered Communication Intimacy. That is communication at its deepest level. That's the goal of marriage-to work together in union as one team. This unity of heart, soul and spirit bonds couples as soul mates.
A soul mate is someone who has the unique ability to bring out the best in us. The chemistry ignited between partners turns their souls on physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The only way this can be accomplished is by "knowing" each other's inner workings that bond with ours in shared outlook and purpose. Does your prospective partner bring out the best in you?
You've heard it said often, communication is the key to a good relationship. Communication is what it's all about. This communication probes for compatibility assessing how to handle differences, how to manage disagreements.
It scrutinizes likes, dislikes, habits, thinking on politics, religion, health, future parenting, financial matters, career expectations, housework, conflict resolution, vacation time preferences, responsibilities towards parents, anger, jealousy, insecurities, neediness and so forth. This requires effort, maturity and TIME!
If the potential for lifetime love is there, couples begin to talk about their deepest thoughts, feelings, dreams, fears and joy. This is where you discover if both are similarly endowed intellectually. Does not necessarily mean education because some very smart people never make it to college, but it means a couple needs to be in the same league intellectually.
Couples need to see things similarly and speak about them in similar ways. It does not always matter so much how smart the partners are, but it does matter how close they are intellectually.
Another area of deep concern is that couples need to agree upon the same values - Especially how to handle MONEY. You must be on the same page because money and finances are emotional issues. Often our self-worth is tied to how much or how little money we make. This could erupt into power and control issues.
Individual have different money histories and styles that they bring into the relationship-one may be a BIG spender; the other a penny pincher. If money issues are not clearly laid out on the table, problems will surface later and trust in the relationship can erode.
Couples need to communicate on a monthly basis about their financial status. If there are major problems you need to seek financial counseling BEFORE entering into marriage with each other.
So how long should you date before getting engaged? Depends on how long it takes to get to know each other in the two areas mentioned above. And how long it takes to master 5 other steps in the dating process.
So take your time to develop a deep friendship first, and date at least a year or two before getting engaged for marriage.
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