After news broke this week that actress Blake Lively married her boyfriend of one year, actor Ryan Reynolds, you could practically feel the animated gossip rippling through coffee shops, offices and lunch rooms. Besides talk of her dress (Marchesa), the location (Charleston, South Carolina) and questions like "How old is she again?", the most resounding dialogue was about the timing: isn't one year a little "too soon" to get married?
Ohh the marriage countdown. It’s an unavoidable ticking time bomb that every couple must endure, whether they want to or not. Most notably associated with huge expectations, stress and “hypothetical” conversations about the future, it also comes with a big dose of personal opinion from just about everyone.
Yes, along with pregnancy, marriage is another seemingly private matter that suddenly becomes open for public scrutiny.
"Two years and then, and only then, should you even start talking about marriage," says Louise, a 27-year-old mother of one, who married her husband after four years of dating.
"You need that time to do things like travel or live together before you dive into a till-death-do-us-part commitment. You can’t really get to know someone after only one year. Trust me!" she laughs.
While Louise believes strongly in her “two years and over” rule, (and therefore thinks Blake and Ryan are completely doomed), can anyone really put a magic number on a pre-martial timespan?
Surprisingly, a research project called the Processes of Adaptation in Intimate Relationships (PAIR), started in 1979 by US researcher Ted Huston, found that couples who got hitched after two years of courting did actually did end up happily married.
The study, which looked at 168 couples over a 13-year period, also showed that those who divorced after seven years of marriage generally got engaged around the nine-month mark.
While this research gives us an interesting insight into the subject, the personal nature of relationships and their many variables make it almost impossible to truly know when it’s the "right time" to put a ring on it – and if it will last.
According to Samantha Joel, a Ph.D. student in psychology at the University of Toronto, relationship research can be used to assist people in making life decisions based on scientific fact. However, in her article published on Psychology Today, Joel also says it’s the strength and effort you and your partner put into the relationship – not the facts or figures – that truly matter when it comes to marriage.
“At the end of the day, relationship outcomes aren’t just dependent variables to be predicted by a host of pre-existing factors; they’re also choices that we actively make,”Joel explains.
Whether it's three months, one year or 12, it seems there isn't a perfect length of time you spend pre-wedding that determines your happiness after. It simply comes down to what's right for you. So cheers to the newly married couple, Blake and Ryan. May you live a long and happy life together.