Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The One Year Rule

Quite a few men, including very good men, are terrified of getting married. They are not usually afraid of sex, mind you. Nor are they afraid of good home cooking and warm baskets of laundry washed, dried and folded by somebody else. They are just afraid of getting married.

Sometimes they need help. The best help I know of is called "It's very important to me that I not have sex before I am married." I love this line. This is the line that separates the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys and the husband potentials from the wastes of space. It is a tough line for girls to say, for it is also the line that separates the women from the girls.

One of my readers (I think it was Maggie) observed elsewhere online that women who do not sleep with their boyfriends get engaged a lot faster than girls who do. I don't know if there are scientific studies on this, but I've noticed something similar in my own acquaintance. My acquaintance, however, is mostly made up of Roman Catholics, a community that has not entirely come to terms with the virgin-whore problem bedevilling some of its younger, more sensitive, more conservative (whether they know it or not) male congregants. (Bless their hearts.)

Incidentally, girls, we are all sinners and we all make mistakes, but for heaven's sake don't make the mistake of sleeping out of wedlock with a sensitive, conservative Catholic man. Insanity! Have you learned nothing?????!!!!

Shorter Version of the Letters between Heloise and Abelard

Dear Abelard,

I try to be a good nun, but it is difficult because I remember how hot you were. I long for you. I dream of you.



Dear Sister,

I think you should try harder to be a good nun. Personally, I'm beyond all that now. And I cannot help but reflect that I will have 100,000,000,000,000,000 extra years in Purgatory because of our youthful madness. Woe is me.

Yours in X,

But, as I said, people make mistakes, so maybe some of you are sleeping with your boyfriends. Others of you have been chastely dating the same guy for months and months and no mention of marriage has he made. Alas.

So here is my advice. If you are out of school, and by school I mean secondary school/post- secondary training program/undergraduate college, you should give a man no more than one dating year of your young and precious lives before he pops the question. If he doesn't know that you are the Perfect Girl for Him within a year, you must broach the subject. If he bridles, freak out and dump him. Don't take him back if he doesn't bring a ring.

Is this easy for me to say? Yes. Have I done this before? Yes. Was it painful? Yes. But now I am married to B.A. instead and we got our new fridge today and tra la.

If a year seems awfully soon, reflect that I shorten this time to six months for childless ladies over 35. Ladies over 35 who would like to have children have even less time to waste than young sprigs in their twenties. And really, I think it's worth repeating that the easiest way to see if a guy is that into you is to refuse to have sex with him while assuring him that you think he is marvellous. Don't do any wife stuff whatsoever. If he wants you to do wife stuff, he'll have to wait until you're a wife. Make him work for it. Seriously. It's kinder to you and it's kinder to him. Friends don't let friends become woman-exploiting swine-dogs.

We have all heard stories about people who met, fell in love within a couple of weeks, got married ASAP and lived happily ever after. We have also heard stories about people who met, became mutual but unequal admirers, resisted marriage for months or years, finally got married, and broke up in a hideous acrimonious divorce. I've lived both stories, and the first is better.

One of the more hilarious aspects of my Seraphic Meets Bridezilla days was the poor parish priest's face when he informed me that I had got permission from the diocese to marry, on one condition. (Don't think your annulment papers make all ways smooth, people.) The diocese's condition was that this time I made sure I knew my fiance really, really well before I married him. The p.p. had a kind of hopeful-puppy-dog-begging look on his face, like I was going to say, "Okay then. We'll get married next year instead." Ha ha ha! I think not. Although at the age of 25 I was pretty dumb, at the age of 38 I was pretty smart. I knew who I was, and who I wanted, and I got him that May, just as planned.


theobromophile said...

When I was in my early 20s, I would have said that this rule is madness. In my late 20s, I know otherwise.

I should also add that men are afraid of commitment, but usually expect that women will be committed to them. Thing is, with exclusive dating and marriage, men assume that women will be there for them, so there is nothing to gain by rushing things and everything to lose. Ideally, commitment and marriage should be mutual: each gives up a bit of freedom in exchange for the other's commitment.

Sheila said...

I've got to disagree with having a hard-and-fast rule. Sure, there should be a limit to how long a guy should be allowed to string you out ... but at the same time it would be awful to lose a great guy/ make him feel pressured to propose before he's ready simply because of an arbitrary guideline.

For the record, my husband and I had known each other for five years before we got married, and not all of that was because of college. It just took awhile for us both to be ready for that.

I would say the amount of time you need to know someone before getting engaged decreases with age. However, I'm of the opinion that in your 20's at least, one year is more of a minimum for dating, rather than a maximum. (Some friends of mine just got engaged after almost exactly one year. So I guess that would please both of us!)