This length of commitment increases the risk of divorce

The time between a proposal and marriage can be an exciting time for couples. For others, it could be filled with stress and wedding planning. But no matter how you feel about your engagement period, how long it lasts could make a major difference in your relationship. According to research, the amount of time you spend getting engaged before you get married could have a direct impact on your risk of divorce. Read on to find out if the length of your engagement could spell trouble for your future.

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A group of psychologists examined the correlation between the duration of an engagement and the risk of divorce, publishing their research in a 2006 paper for North Carolina State University. Forum on family and consumer issues newspaper. According to the researchers, couples who are only engaged for a short time before getting married may be at a higher risk of divorce. In their paper, the psychologists said that an engagement of less than 12 months is more likely to result in a divorce after seven years, in line with what they call “delayed action divorcers.”

“One can imagine that the partners in a couple of delayed-action divorces are two people who are passionately attracted to each other, perhaps because of superficial characteristics such as beauty. These two people can get along well because they don’t address or question things that they may not like each other,” the researchers wrote. “They can profess their love for each other a few months after they meet and progress to exclusivity and a sexual relationship in a very short time. When problems arise, the partners can convince themselves that the problems are of little consequence. importance, or they may ignore the issues altogether.”

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Man with engagement ring proposing marriage to girlfriend in new house, they kiss with smile
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But a quick marriage proposal timeline isn’t the only thing when it comes to engagement length. Couples who have been engaged for longer than average are also likely to face a higher risk of divorce, according to the study. Psychologists said partners who have an engagement of more than 27 months “were likely to experience a more pronounced decline in affection during the first two years of marriage” before separating.

In this type of experiment, “premarital partners appear to have been aware of problems in their premarital relationship, as indicated by partners with very long dating characterized by very little passion,” the researchers explained. “For these couples, the dashed hope of a better relationship after marriage may be the primary reason for loss of affection early in marriage.”

Close up of married couple carrying champagne glasses at wedding party.  Bride and groom hands clinking glasses at wedding reception.
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The length of an engagement is a very personal choice for each couple, but there are commonalities in the United States. According to wedding planning company The Knot, many couples end up waiting at least a year before their wedding, which allows them to circumvent the dangerous period of a too-short commitment. The company surveyed more than 25,000 couples who got married in 2019 and found that the average length of an engagement in the United States was 15 months, or just under a year and a half.

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the couple wear face masks at their wedding reception
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Like many other areas of our lives, COVID has impacted engagement trends in the United States. In February 2022, The Knot published the results of a study in which it surveyed more than 15,000 couples who married in 2021. According to the company, the average length of engagement increased by one month to reach 16 months, but the range was wider than any previous year.

“Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that this number is a national average and takes into account a variety of responses,” The Knot explained. “Some engagements are shorter (like a month, for example) while others last for years – and many couples have been forced to extend their engagements due to the COVID pandemic.”

According to their study, couples who had to postpone their marriage were engaged for an average of 24 months, approaching the dangerous length of 27 months. But those who didn’t defer had an average commitment of 14 months.

young man proposes to his girlfriend
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Not all experts agree that being engaged for too long or not long enough is necessarily worrisome for couples. “Long engagements are useful when individuals are at very different times in their lives,” Scott Haltzman, MD, board-certified psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University, told The Knot. This could include couples who are long distance, busy with various commitments, or need more time to plan.

On the other hand, a shorter engagement period might work better for couples looking to make big life decisions like having kids or moving in together. And it could also allow for extra excitement at the wedding. “One of the problems with an extended engagement is that the level of excitement starts to dwindle over time, not just with the person who’s engaged, but also with friends and family,” Haltzman said.

RELATED: Getting married at this age led 45% of couples to divorce, study finds.

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