When it comes to relationships, some of my pastors recommended only dating for one to two years before pulling the trigger and getting married by arguing that the longer the dating period is prolonged, the more boundaries may be crossed. What do you think is the optimal dating length? Should I date without knowing for sure when I’ll be ready for marriage?
It should set off red flags anyone tells you that this very specific set of parameters works all the time, for everyone. That is very rarely the way that Christianity works. I suppose there is a case to made that a relationship should be moving forward, and if it has totally stalled out, there is no reason to just hang around (“time to fish or cut bait” as we say in the south), but that is not what is being discussed here.
What your pastors are describing is absolutely not the way that temptation works. If you are dating someone you are physically attracted to (which you should be), there is going to be a temptation to go too far physically from the beginning. You will need strategy and communication to deal with that temptation, whether it is day two or year two of the relationship.
There is no such thing as an optimal dating length. That depends on where you and the person you are dating are at in your lives and your walks. I know happily married couples that only dated for a few months before getting married, and I know just as happily married couples that dated for the better part of a decade. It is not about a magic number, it’s about listening to the Lord and working stuff out together.
As for your last question, it doesn’t make any sense to say you have to be “ready for marriage” to date. Marriage and dating are different things. Engagement and dating are different things. You just have to be ready to date. Which means being ready to take steps towards figuring out what you want in a relationship, not knowing for sure.
You don’t just wake up one day and feel ready to be married. In fact, it could be said that no one is truly ready to be married. Marriage is a whole new thing for you, how could you be ready. What happens is you are in a relationship with someone, and you feel ready to marry them, after having walked through things with them. And that journey has to get started with dating.
-Matt from The Bridge