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How Long Should Courtship Last Before Marriage?

Ian has experience in relationship and marriage counselling.


The amount of time necessary for courtship is a bit of a puzzle Some people argue that the longer couples spend dating before marriage, the better the outcome of their marriage in the long term. But is this always the case?

Studies suggest that there are as many marriages breaking as those being made each day. In fact about 50% of all marriages end in separation or divorce. This can be scary for people looking to commit and there is no easy way to wish it away.

On the brighter side however, the other 50% do thrive for a lifetime. You just need to look out for the signs of a successful marriage, which in many cases are present in the relationship, even in the dating phase. But for one reason or another are ignored.


How long should couples date before marriage?

Truthfully, there is no specified amount of time dictated as adequate for people to court before they commit to marriage. This is mostly because every relationship is unique and there are no rules that can universally apply to every situation.

There are a variety of factors each couple will consider before determining whether or not they are ready to tie the knot, depending on the circumstances surrounding their relationship.

There is evidence that couples that date for longer periods before marriage have less divorce rates.

For example, a 2015 study in the journal Economic Inquiry, found that couples who dated for one to two years were 20 percent less likely to later get a divorce than those who dated less than a year, and couples who dated for three years or longer were 39 percent less likely (Romm, 2018).

Many separated couples often give reasons such as lies, disrespect, abuse and infidelity, as reasons for separation. Most of these reasons point to the fact that people often commit before fully understanding their partner and therefore the nature of relationship they are involved in.

The longer couples stay together, the more likely they are to understand each other (Romm' 2018). The longer you stay with someone, the easier it is to discover that they are self-centered, disrespectful, sexually unremarkable and have a life full of secrets and habits that you simply can’t live with.

Not all relationships are meant to last a life time. You just need to open your eyes to the signs, and evaluatethe kind you are involved in and whether or not it is likely to succeed. Do this before you commit to marriage.

The first few weeks or months of a relationship are often filled with sky rocketing passion and romance and everything feels right. (Perhaps it’s from this stage that the saying ‘love is blind gets its origin).

Deciding to get married at this early stage of the relationship is likely to backfire in the long run. This is because your judgment is clouded by passion and admiration for this person. You simply can’t see the bad things even if they are right there in your face.

Even when you see them, the love you feel for this person gets you thinking that they can change for the better. It is true that no person is perfect, but you must understand that old habits die hard. If you are lucky to notice a habit that pisses you off while you are still in courtship, it is very likely that it will be around for a long time.

You can talk about it or evaluate how much of it you are willing to live with. While this is the period in the relationship where love and passion are shooting through the roof, anything less than two years of courtship is unlikely to be adequate time for people to fully learn and understand each other’s true personality and therefore make rational decisions in regard to commitment.


Why do people rush into marriage?

Peer pressure as well as family influence is the leading factor on this list. As we graduate from college and University, the next big thing expected of us is marriage. This is true for both men and women. Many of your age mates will be getting married and when you meet at social gatherings you will always look like the odd man out. You will be struggling to catch up with their conversation. You will feel the need to work yourself up to fit in the group. If you are a woman you will start rushing your man and setting ultimatums.

Religious beliefs such as no sex before marriage is the other major cause for rush. While I agree that abstinence is the safest and most reliable form of prevention of STIs and unplanned pregnancies, it can be a challenging strategy to go through with because of the raging hormones that run through our blood as we mature into adults.

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Adults need sex, and because religions like Christianity teach against fornication, many young men and women rush into marriage to enjoy its benefits (I am a Christian as a matter of fact). I know a friend who was in love with her guy throughout college. They were devout christians who actually met in church during ministry (the man was the youth leader at the time). They deeply loved each other and agreed that it was best to keep away from sex until after marriage, because it’s what the bible teaches. Within a year after graduation we were at the wedding wishing them the best in their marriage. Before they could celebrate their 3rd Anniversary, the brother had already started complaining that his wife never seemed to want sex. When she gave him any, she got tired to quickly for the brother. It was becoming frustrating. They attended a few counseling sessions at the church and things seemed to be working for about 2 years. Five years into the marriage it was discovered that the brother was enjoying sex with some other woman.

Financial gain. Financial insecurity could be another reason especially for young girls. Some girls grow up with the belief that all they ever need in life for happiness is a rich gentleman who can settle all their financial needs. At times it is the family that wants to marry her off to enjoy the benefits of having a rich in law. When a rich man shows up in her life she grabs the opportunity without hesitation, or questioning the man’s personality. No matter what your reasons are, the bottom line is that marriages that last, depend on how much the partners understand each other and how much they are willing to compromise in order to make it work.


Should you move in together before marriage?

There are more arguments against moving in together before marriage. Some suggest that cohabiting reduces the chance that you will actually get married.

But recent studies show that two-thirds all new marriages happen between people who have been living together for some time (Kuperberg, 2014). This means cohabiting in itself may not prevent you from getting married, but what you discover as you stay together can help you make an informed decision about commiting or trying elsewhere.

Some people suggest that cohabiting increases the likely hood that the marriage will end in divorce.

However, according to kuperberg, sociologists Wendy Manning and Jessica Cohen found that for marriages formed since the mid-1990s, living together before marriage did not raise the risk of divorce.

Practice makes perfect. This sayin applies to many situations of life and marriage is definitely one of them.

While marriage can be fun and exciting --especially if you find the right partner, It should be common knowledge that it’s no bed of roses and those who have made it to their golden jubilee deserve a standing ovation of some sort. It takes patience, faith and hard work to successfully navigate through many of marriage challenges as there is no single story of exclusive bliss.

In order to master the patience, trust and all other traits required to sustain a marriage, one must spend some valuable time learning and understanding their prospective marriage partner. In my opinion this must include a considerable period of moving in and living together.


Romm, C. (2018). 'Do Marriages Last Longer If couples dated for longer first?' Available at:

Kuperberg, A. (2014). 'Does premarital cohabitation raise your risk of divorce? ' Available at:

© 2015 Ian Batanda

How does courtship affect the quality of a marriage?

Ian Batanda (author) on February 09, 2016:

dashingscorpio, thank you for that interesting comment. Some times I think marriage is overrated because of some of the examples you have given. Never the less, marriage tends to be every young woman's dream. I think the real question to ask is ; How can couples have a long happy marriage?

If we can find some practical answers to that question then may be we can save many people from marital bondage.

torrilynn on May 11, 2015:

I've always wandered how long a typical courtship should last. thanks for the great hub. very informative and insightful.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on May 08, 2015:

The following statement you made pretty much says it all!

"There is no specified amount of time dictated as adequate for people to court before they commit in marriage. This is mostly because every relationship is unique and so one cannot find uniform rules that can apply to every situation."

Everyone is looking for some "magic formula" that will guaranteed a lifelong marriage. There are no guarantees!

The goal is to find someone who shares your same values, wants the same things for the relationship that you do, naturally agrees with you on how to obtain those things, and last but not least there is a depth of mutual love and desire for one another.

And even if you have found all that "seasons change". Nothing stays the same. Communication is the GPS for relationships which lets us know if we're "growing together" or "growing apart". Marriage is a living evolving thing.

Our society tends to measure the success of a marriage by how long it lasts. However there are many married couples who are "emotionally divorced". They live in the same house but sleep in different rooms, share no intimacy, and simply have adjusted to tolerating one another. From the outside many people will wonder what's their "secret".

There are many long lasting marriages which under close examination resemble (life sentences in a prison) more than loving and nurturing relationships.

Several years ago a radio host asked her grandmother who had been married for 60 years; "What is your secret to such a long lasting marriage?" The old woman paused and said: "Baby, we just stayed together." In essence if neither person has any "deal breakers" and have decided to stay together whether is infidelity, abuse, or whatever may come they're likely to ride it out. For the rest of us the old adage applies:

Like attracts like and opposites attract divorce attorneys!:)

Ian Batanda (author) on May 08, 2015:

Thank you for the feed back. I too believe that longer courtship can be helpful towards the success of any marriage

Mary from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet. on May 07, 2015:

I dated my husband for a few months before we decided to move in together, and we were together a total of two years, before we decided to get married. I truly believe us living together for so long, before marriage, is what has kept our marriage so strong. Great hub, voted up, shared, and more.

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