I still remember it like it was yesterday. There was this girl I had been dating for 4 months and I was crazy about her. Her faith seemed strong, she was kind-hearted, and she cooked great food! I wanted to ask her to marry me but part of me knew it was too soon. However, I found articles and youtube videos that told me what I wanted to hear that there was no time limit to marry someone. I bought a ring and asked her to marry me and she accepted, reluctantly. Still, I was the happiest guy in the world that day! Then the next day I discovered she was still flirting with her ex. She even entitled the conversation “My Lover”. It was the first time in my life I could literally feel my heart fall to the floor.
How Long Should a Christian Date Before Marriage?
Typically a Christian should date 1-2 years prior to getting married. The data show that this is the sweet spot to ensure the longevity of a marriage. Getting married before a year indicates a certain level of impulsivity and those who are impulsive are less likely to think things through. Dating too long can also be problematic because most people know after one year if the person they are dating is the right one. Usually after two years if a couple won’t get married it’s because there are some serious compunctions but the couple often bows to social pressures to tie the knot.
The Bible doesn’t actually talk about dating which is why the question of ‘how long should a Christian date before marriage?’ is something that is hotly debated. Some people say 1-year, others say 2 years, while some even say 4-6 months. So what’s the right answer?
The Data on Marriage Longevity
Couples were more likely to stay together if:
- The man said his partner’s looks weren’t that important
- The woman said her partner’s wealth wasn’t important
- They went to church together (46% less likely)
- They didn’t spend a lot of money on the wedding
A Penn State University study concluded that couples that dated an average of 25 months were the happiest 14 years later. Another study at Emory University concluded that couples that attended religious services together on a regular basis were 46% less likely to get divorced.
The same study concluded the cheaper the wedding the better the marriage as couples that had a wedding that cost less than US$1000 were far more likely to stay together than those with uber expensive weddings. Not surprisingly superficial marriages don’t last either. Couples, where the woman said the husband’s wealth was important, were a whopping 60% more likely to end in divorce. Marriages, where the man said to woman’s looks were important had a 50% likelihood of failure.
What Makes a Marriage Last?
Marriages tended to last longer if:
- The couple are also best friends
- They shared the same religious principles
- They remained intimate with one another
When your spouse is your best friend that means that you can talk to them about nearly anything without a filter. You guys get each other and can communicate on a level deeper than just verbally. When you have that level of a bond that means you know how to resolve a conflict in a way that’s acceptable to both parties. A study from the University of Vancouver confirms this.
Couples that pray together, stay together. That old adage had some truth to it. Couples that attend religious services together on a regular basis had high longevity together versus those that did not. This makes sense because one of the most important factors for the longevity of any relationship, not just romantic, is if the parties shared the same values. Attending religious services together is an indication that you both share the same core values.
Praying also reduces cheating. A study entitled “Faith and Unfaithfulness: Can Praying for Your Partner Reduce Infidelity?” discovered that praying for a partner actually reduced the likelihood of infidelity.[x] In fact, praying for one’s partner was a stronger indicator of lower rates of infidelity than initial satisfaction with the relationship as a whole.
A couple that enjoys each other in the bedroom is more likely to be happy. Sexual conflict can lead to infidelity which is one of the leading causes of divorce. It’s really important that both of you guys are sexually satisfied with each other. Furthermore, if one partner is not that she feels free enough to express her dissatisfaction in a loving helpful way.
There is no definitive answer to how long a Christian should date before marriage, as different couples may have different circumstances and preferences. However, some general principles and guidelines can be helpful to consider.
Dating is Meant as a Transition Only
Dating is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. The end goal of dating is to find out if God is calling you and your partner to enter into a lifelong covenant of marriage. Therefore, dating should be done with prayer, wisdom, and intentionality. You should date someone who shares your faith, values, and vision for the future. You should also date someone who respects you, supports you, and helps you grow in your relationship with God⁵.
The length of dating depends on the readiness and maturity of the couple. There is no set rule or formula for how long a Christian couple should date before getting married. Some couples may feel ready after six months, while others may need two years or more. The important thing is not the duration of dating, but the quality and depth of it. You should date long enough to get to know each other well, to resolve any conflicts or issues, to build trust and intimacy, and to confirm God’s leading and blessing on your relationship⁵ .
The average length of dating for Christian couples is between one and two years. According to some studies and surveys, the typical Christian couple dates for about one to two years before getting engaged, and then another six months to a year before getting married. This seems to be the sweet spot for most couples, as it allows enough time to get to know each other well, but not too long to delay marriage unnecessarily or increase temptation. Of course, this is not a rule that every couple must follow, but a general trend that can be helpful to consider.
The Dangers of Dating Too Long
The Bible mentions the word ‘marriage’ 88 times but doesn’t mention dating even once and there’s a reason for that. God wants us to be either single or be married, nothing in between. Dating is meant to be a temporary transition between those two realities, not something permanent. Couples that date for years and years are not as happy as married couples and couples that date more than 4 years before marriage are far more likely to split.
If you think about it this makes sense. After a year or so most people know whether or not they want to marry the person they’re with or not. After a certain amount of time, the relationship more so becomes a relationship of convenience more than anything. The couple just stays together because its easier than starting all over again.
As Christians, we should remember that our goal in dating is marriage. That’s in stark contrast to the worldly view of dating. If we intend to maintain God’s commandments then dating too long is a big danger to committing sin. You even see some long term daters acting as though they are married when they are not. In those cases from what I’ve seen it is usually the guy who won’t put a ring on it.
Beware of dating too long.
Watch my video on signs God wants you to marry the person you’re dating