People tend to place a lot of emphasis on the “right time” to get engaged. In truth, it’s different for every couple, and there may never be a right time. Look at daring duos like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell or Oprah and Stedman, who have been happily cohabitating without wedding bells for over two decades. The truth is, most of us would prefer the certainty of a marriage certificate at some point, not to mention sharing vows in front of family and friends. Certainly most women are thinking along those lines (even if more than a few men would like to follow Kurt Russell’s example). But how do you know if the time is right? What if you’re just not ready? Here are a few telltale signs that it’s simply too soon to start looking at engagement rings.
1. You just met. You always hear stories about couples that knew it was love at first sight, and put their feelings to the test with a whirlwind romance and a wedding in Vegas a few weeks later. How many of those couples actually stay together, though? Not too many. There’s something to be said for spontaneity, but if you take marriage seriously and you’re looking for a partner for life, this is the wrong way to go about it.
2. You don’t know her middle name. This is one example of pertinent personal information you should have concerning the one you love. If you don’t even know what name will appear on the marriage certificate (or other basic info like her birthday, her parents’ names, and her favorite food or color) then perhaps you should hold off on the engagement for a while.
3. Neither of you has celebrated a birthday since you met. This is just a matter of timing, and the point is that it takes a year or more to get to know someone adequately (much less know them well). Ideally, you should not only date for a minimum of one year, but you should also try living together before you decide to tie the knot. Your mother might be prone to spouting the expression, “Why buy the milk when you can get the cow for free?” But until you know if you can peacefully coexist with another person, you shouldn’t permanently (and legally) entwine your lives.
4. You haven’t met the parents. These people are going to be your in-laws. Even if you can live with their child, you’d better make sure you can handle them, as well, since you’ll be stuck with them once you walk down the aisle.
5. You’re having doubts. Hello! This is a wake-up call! If you’re hearing alarm bells instead of wedding bells, then you might not want to get to one knee just yet. Marriage requires work, but more than that, it calls for unwavering commitment. So before you drop the money for a ring, make sure your heart and your head are in the same place.