The Benefits of Waiting a Decade —Yes, a Decade—Before Getting Married

While cruising Facebook, I came across a status update from Susan Greene, a Florida-based copy writer. It was her anniversary, but rather than write something ordinary like “25 years with Jim,” she wrote the sweetest, loveliest story. I fell in love with every word, so I asked Susan if I could share what she wrote with Babble.com readers. She agreed. What follows is that status update, word-for-word.

The Proposal

(It went something like this.)

Susan: Jim, in all the time we’ve been together we’ve never once talked about marriage. Well, I’ve been sorta playing with the idea in my mind. And if you wanted to get married, well, I’d consider it.

Jim: You would?

Susan: Well, think about it.  We met the very first week of college, and now we’ve been together as best friends for almost 9 years.

Jim: I feel I hardly know you.

Susan: What?!? 9 years and you hardly know me? 9 years means nothing to you?

Jim: Relax. I’m teasing. I’d love to marry you.

(Pulls ring out of pocket.)

Susan: {Gasp}

Jim: Put out your hand.

Susan: Wait a minute. Now I get it. This is a joke. How long have you been waiting to play this trick on me?

Jim: It’s not a trick.

Susan: There is no way that ring is real.

Jim: Of course it’s real.

Susan: So why didn’t you ask me? What were you waiting for?

Jim: For you to stop talking.

Susan: If you’re trying to be romantic, you’re doing it wrong.

Jim: So, will you marry me?

Susan: You’re serious?

Jim: Well, as serious as I get. Work with me here.

Susan: You really expect me to believe that you were going to ask me to marry you on the exact day I asked you to marry me AFTER 9 YEARS???

Jim: That sounds about right.

Susan: Well, if that’s not a sign this was meant to be, then I don’t know what is.

Jim: So is that a yes?

Susan: Is this a real proposal?

Jim: Yes.

Susan: Then it’s a yes for me, too.

(smoochie smooch)

We were married a few months later on October 1, 1988. We just happily celebrated our 25th anniversary.

What You Can Learn From the Happiest Couple on Facebook

Awwww, right?

Reading her update made me believe in love all over again, you know? It gave me something to aspire to. Still, I had to wonder: 9 years!?! They dated for 9 years before getting married!?! Why would anyone wait to get married for that long?

But then I thought of many celebrities with expensive engagement rings, children, and no plans for a wedding. Kate Hudson and Matthew Bellamy come to mind. So do Enrique Iglesias and Anna Kournikova, as well as Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber, Georgina Bloomberg and Ramiro Quintana, Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and the list goes on.

Perhaps they are all onto something? If all couples dated for a decade before exchanging rings, would more marriages last? Are there compelling reasons to wait to get married? I posed this very question to Susan. What follows is what she told me.

  • 7 Compelling Reasons to Wait to Get Married 1 of 8
    brideopener

    Susan Greene and Jim Murphy met during their first week in college. "We lived on the same dorm floor at Syracuse University and immediately hit it off, never dreaming we'd be together for life," says Susan. "Through four years in school and five years post graduation we remained best friends before finally tying the knot. While to most people our courtship may have seemed extraordinarily long, the timeframe worked for us." Here are seven reasons why you might want to wait to get married, too.

    Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com

  • You Can Complete Your Schooling 2 of 8
    Jim-Susan-11

    Because they waited to get married, Jim had already obtained dual college degrees and Susan had gotten her MBA. "That was as far as we both wanted to go with formal education. Goal accomplished," Susan says. With school out of the way, they could now focus more on each other.

    Photo credit: Susan Greene and Jim Murphy 

  • You Can Chart Your Careers 3 of 8
    Jim-Susan-21

    The wait to get married allowed them to feel secure about where they were both headed. "By the time we got married, we were both working in our chosen fields. Jim worked at a TV station as a production manager. I had my own freelance copywriting business. We liked our work and had a plan in place for where we were headed professionally," says Susan.

    Photo credit: Susan Greene and Jim Murphy 

  • You’ll Have More Time 4 of 8
    Jim-Susan-31

    The wait also brought about a healthy work-home balance. "We'd both put in long hours for employers while we were dating, but now, having established ourselves, we had more control over our time. We no longer had to make ourselves available 24/7. We could strike a balance between work and time for each other," Susan says.

    Photo credit: Susan Greene and Jim Murphy 

  • You’ll Worry About Money a Lot Less 5 of 8
    Jim-Susan-52

    There was no debt, and those frugal years of paying their dues were behind them. "We'd paid off our student loans, saved enough for a down payment on a house and begun investing for retirement," Susan says.

    Photo credit: Susan Greene and Jim Murphy, shown here with Ryan, 21, and Katelyn, 15

  • You’ll Be a Grown Up 6 of 8
    Jim-Susan-41

    In three words: they were ready. "We'd left the sheltered world of our college days and proven to each other and also to ourselves that we could handle the challenges of the real world," Susan says.

    Photo credit: Susan Greene and Jim Murphy

  • You’ll Always Remember What Alone Feels Like 7 of 8
    Jim-Susan-61

    Because they'd both lived alone, they could see what they were giving up and also what they were getting out of the deal. "We'd both had our own apartments and enjoyed the solitude of living without siblings or roommates. Now we were looking forward to creating a home together," says Susan.

    Photo credit: Susan Greene and Jim Murphy, shown here with Ryan, 21, and Katelyn, 15

  • You Won’t Have Any Doubts 8 of 8
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    After nine years, Susan and Jim knew without a doubt that they were meant to be together. "We'd been together for nine years and still looked forward to our time together every day. We appreciated each other's talents. We still made each other laugh all the time. We were best friends and knew we would be for life.We'd had our years to be self-centered. We felt it was time to begin living as a couple. We were ready to work as a team toward our life goals."

     

    Susan tells me that she hopes her story inspires other couples who are slow to tie the knot. Proceed with confidence and follow your own timetable, she says. "Jim and I just celebrated our silver anniversary and 34 years together as best friends. We have two children, Ryan, 21, and Katelyn, 15, who bring us a lot of joy. We love our family and the happy life we've built. We wouldn't change a thing about how we got to this point."

    Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com

Read more of Alisa’s writing at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com.

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