1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
Although I'm far from an expert, this past season of Let's Stay Together—especially the dramatic finale—begs the ultimate question: When is the right time to tell your partner that you're ready to spend the rest of your life with them?
Let's break it down by stages ...
The Wonder Years
No, not those teenage wonder years. But we all recognize that refreshing sense of having found something new and exciting—and it is comparable to the first time you started taking notice of that girl in physical-ed class. Your never-ending quest has led you to somebody you feel compatible with. The stars have aligned like subway cars at Grand Central station. Life is good.
The First Honeymoon
Not that you're married yet, but just consider those first six months to a year; a lot happens. It's within the first year that you both learn what each of you enjoys, what you can't stand, and what you can (and ultimately will) learn to put up with (see Pet Peeves). The epiphanies you experience will set the shape for the rest of relationship.
The Seven-Year Itch
There's nothing magical about the seven-year timeframe—it's really a figure of speech. Some people may start getting restless after one or two years, others don't even make it that far. I don't think it's advisable to get married after one year, but you can't tell some people otherwise. They feel they are ready and that's all there is to it.
This would be that moment when you get on your knees and ask for her hand in marriage. Make sure you do it big. The more melodramatic the better—it makes for good fodder during mixers and parties, and of course you can share a great story with your children down the line.
If I could guesstimate the perfect time to propose, I'd say it's somewhere in that gray area between The First Honeymoon and The Seven-Year Itch—when you start coming to realizations about the relationship. Of course variables such as age, income and career will all play a factor, but if your epiphanies are any indication, that itch should be easy enough to scratch. You were married in the mind even before you put a ring on it.
(Photo:Yuriko Nakao/Reuters /Landov)