Author Topic: Is there a ticking clock?  (Read 7860 times)

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CakeEater

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #45 on: October 13, 2013, 11:58:40 PM »
And that's why "being engaged" is not a full "life stage"--it's a preliminary to a life stage. The social world reacts by treating an engaged couple almost as though they are married. But I think it's also why people get exasperated if the engaged state goes on for a long time. People feel "gamed"--they've extended the social considerations of marriage to someone, and yet the *actual* life change hasn't materialized.

I don't think that many people feel this way.  I appreciate that you do, but so far, you're the only one I've encountered. 

I don't personally care what another person does - whether they live in an unmarried state of committment, live engaged forever, or get married.  Other than the fact that I like attending weddings, I so don't care.  I treat them all the same anyway.

I don't feel gamed or exasperated, but I agree with the rest of Toots's post. I just can't get as excited about a wedding (and I love attending them too) when the couple has been engaged for 8 years, has kids, is living like a married couple. At that point, I wonder why they're bothering at all. The wedding can't be that important to them, or they would have had it already, so I find it difficult to find it important myself.

Of course, none of this affects the way I *treat* my friends. And I wouldn't discuss any of this with them.

Yvaine

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #46 on: October 14, 2013, 12:36:46 AM »
But I guess my own reaction is, that's what marriage is for.

If you want some intermediate stage, I don't really want to know about it. I just think that the "public" really doesn't need to know all the ins and outs of all the intermediate stages.

People can and will do what they want.

But I think that traditional etiquette really doesn't recognize "being engaged" as an "official stage." It's a transition period only.


I'm very curious what makes you think this. Doesn't traditional etiquette recognize engaged couples as social units? True, they aren't married yet and therefore aren't entitled to certain legal benefits, but I've always felt that being engaged comes with a bunch of social benefits. Which to me makes it as official a stage as any.

There is also historical precedence for engagement being its own stage. It varies from culture to culture, but in many the engagement/betrothal period was very much its own stage with specific privileges and responsibilities. In some breaking an engagement actually required a divorce.

I agree with this. It has traditionally been an actual, recognized stage with specific etiquette rules attached to it. The fact that the couple has to be recognized as a social unit once they've announced their engagement is one of them. In the past it often dragged on for many years as the couple tried to save up money, etc. Just because engagement annoys some people doesn't mean it's not recognized in etiquette as an actual thing.

MariaE

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #47 on: October 14, 2013, 01:06:16 AM »
And that's why "being engaged" is not a full "life stage"--it's a preliminary to a life stage. The social world reacts by treating an engaged couple almost as though they are married. But I think it's also why people get exasperated if the engaged state goes on for a long time. People feel "gamed"--they've extended the social considerations of marriage to someone, and yet the *actual* life change hasn't materialized.

I don't think that many people feel this way.  I appreciate that you do, but so far, you're the only one I've encountered.

I'll stand up to be counted then, I completely agree with Toots.

I feel that when a couple gets engaged they should set a date,  or at least a time frame (e.g. "When we've gotten our degree" or "next autumn sometime") shortly after. I know it's no breach of ettiquette not to do so, but this is my, personal opinion.

Granted, I've probably been influenced by the extreme number of couples I've met where we've had this conversation.
Them: We've just gotten engaged!
Me: Oooh, congratulations! Have you set the date yet?
Them: Oh, we have no plans of getting married, we're just engaged.
Me  :o :o :o
 
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nolechica

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #48 on: October 14, 2013, 01:43:36 AM »
With the question of logistics and legalities, I'd just let people know that there's more to work out before the date.

blarg314

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #49 on: October 14, 2013, 01:46:55 AM »
Quote
There's no ticking clock, but some people think that if you don't get married within a certain timeframe, then you might as well not be married and just stay engaged. (Please note, I don't think this, but I've heard the views expressed by dozens of people over the years.)
I must admit I think this.  I wonder why people get engaged if they don't plan to legally marry in the near future.  Just be a couple, live together, have kids... whatever but why be eternally engaged?  I don't get it.


I read an interesting article about this recently. Its conclusion was that for some couples calling someone their 'fiance' lent a certain legitimacy to their relationship when they were doing something like buying a car, looking for a new apartment, dealing with family, even though they had no particular plans to get married. Basically, shorthand for 'more than just a BF/GF'.

In the past, long engagements were common, lasting years. It might be because the parents wanted their daughter to be at least 21, or the man had to get to a point where he was earning enough to support a family (no birth control - so marriage generally meant kids would follow quickly), or the need to finish training or military service.

But an engagement, by definition, is a period before getting married. If a couple calls themselves engaged but is not actually planning to get married in any definite way, it's sort of like telling someone you're pregnant when what you mean is that you are thinking of having children some day.

That's not the case in the OP - they're actively planning on getting married, but haven't decided on exactly when yet.


figee

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #50 on: October 14, 2013, 02:12:40 AM »
I got interested in this whole length of engagement and lifestage thing so I went to Wiki.  Not definitive, but interesting, and it may serve to explain some of the responses both to the thread and by others hearing of engagements:

"The exact duration of a betrothal varies according to culture and the participantsí needs and wishes. For adults, it may be anywhere from several hours (when the betrothal is incorporated into the wedding day itself) to a period of several years. A year and a day are common in neo-pagan groups today. In the case of child marriage, betrothal might last from infancy until the age of marriage.

The responsibilities and privileges of betrothal vary. In most cultures, the betrothed couple is expected to spend much time together, learning about each other. In some historical cultures (including colonial North America), the betrothal was essentially a trial marriage, with marriage only being required in cases of conception of a child. In almost all cultures there is a loosening of restrictions against physical contact between partners, even in cultures which would normally otherwise have strong prohibitions against it. The betrothal period was also considered to be a preparatory time, in which the groom would build a house, start a business or otherwise prove his readiness to enter adult society.

In medieval Europe, in canon law, a betrothal could be formed by the exchange of vows in the future tense ("I will take you as my wife/husband," instead of "I take you as my wife/husband"), but sexual intercourse consummated the vows, making a binding marriage rather than a betrothal. Although these betrothals could be concluded with only the vows spoken by the couple, they had legal implications: Richard III of England had his older brother's children declared illegitimate on the grounds their father had been betrothed to another woman when he married their mother.
A betrothal is considered to be a 'semi-binding' contract. Normal reasons for invalidation of a betrothal include:
  • Revelation of a prior commitment or marriage,
    Evidence of infidelity,
    Failure to conceive (in 'trial marriage' cultures),
    Failure of either party to meet the financial and property stipulations of the betrothal contract.
Normally a betrothal can also be broken at the behest of either party, though some financial penalty (such as forfeit of the bride price) usually will apply."

So historically, the engagement has been a specific life stage, involving the development of a relationship or the opportunity for the couple to get to know each other better in a socially sanctioned way.  However, given that this is no longer necessary in many cases in modern society, I guess people wonder why there is a need for a long engagement given that the purpose of the engagement is now fulfilled in some cases by living together.

Yvaine

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #51 on: October 14, 2013, 11:33:37 AM »
So historically, the engagement has been a specific life stage, involving the development of a relationship or the opportunity for the couple to get to know each other better in a socially sanctioned way.  However, given that this is no longer necessary in many cases in modern society, I guess people wonder why there is a need for a long engagement given that the purpose of the engagement is now fulfilled in some cases by living together.

I think the one reason that does carry over into our time is that the couple is often putting off the wedding for financial or educational reasons--they're saving up money for, say, a home (or possibly for the wedding itself, though that can lead to a whole other debate), or one or both of them is in school and they're waiting till school is finished. Additionally, in some conservative religious sects, it does still mark a loosening of some restrictions on time spent together, but not as many as the wedding itself.

GlitterIsMyDrug

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #52 on: October 14, 2013, 11:39:14 AM »
Quote
There's no ticking clock, but some people think that if you don't get married within a certain timeframe, then you might as well not be married and just stay engaged. (Please note, I don't think this, but I've heard the views expressed by dozens of people over the years.)
I must admit I think this.  I wonder why people get engaged if they don't plan to legally marry in the near future.  Just be a couple, live together, have kids... whatever but why be eternally engaged?  I don't get it.


I read an interesting article about this recently. Its conclusion was that for some couples calling someone their 'fiance' lent a certain legitimacy to their relationship when they were doing something like buying a car, looking for a new apartment, dealing with family, even though they had no particular plans to get married. Basically, shorthand for 'more than just a BF/GF'.

Now see, that's why I started call Partner my partner. She was my girlfriend for awhile, but then we joined our lives together and she became my partner. Plus I'm listed on her medical insurance as her domestic partner so it seemed logical to call her my partner, which to me is more then a girlfriend. I rarely think to caller her my fiance even though she is (though it's still new, she's been Partner a lot longer then Fiance).

I do have one set of friends who is going on 2 years for their engagement. But they had the "we're waiting for it to be legal" excuse. And the one set that was engaged for 3 years, but they did have a few unexpected life crisis come up, then had to move their wedding because of issues with the venue or something...I just remember we were all very excited when they finally got married. And I know on her wedding day the bride said "I'm just glad I never had to plan another one of these things again", there were a lot of issues.

Yvaine

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #53 on: October 14, 2013, 11:42:53 AM »
Quote
There's no ticking clock, but some people think that if you don't get married within a certain timeframe, then you might as well not be married and just stay engaged. (Please note, I don't think this, but I've heard the views expressed by dozens of people over the years.)
I must admit I think this.  I wonder why people get engaged if they don't plan to legally marry in the near future.  Just be a couple, live together, have kids... whatever but why be eternally engaged?  I don't get it.


I read an interesting article about this recently. Its conclusion was that for some couples calling someone their 'fiance' lent a certain legitimacy to their relationship when they were doing something like buying a car, looking for a new apartment, dealing with family, even though they had no particular plans to get married. Basically, shorthand for 'more than just a BF/GF'.

Now see, that's why I started call Partner my partner. She was my girlfriend for awhile, but then we joined our lives together and she became my partner. Plus I'm listed on her medical insurance as her domestic partner so it seemed logical to call her my partner, which to me is more then a girlfriend. I rarely think to caller her my fiance even though she is (though it's still new, she's been Partner a lot longer then Fiance).

I do have one set of friends who is going on 2 years for their engagement. But they had the "we're waiting for it to be legal" excuse. And the one set that was engaged for 3 years, but they did have a few unexpected life crisis come up, then had to move their wedding because of issues with the venue or something...I just remember we were all very excited when they finally got married. And I know on her wedding day the bride said "I'm just glad I never had to plan another one of these things again", there were a lot of issues.

The bolded is another very good point. With same-sex marriage gradually becoming legal, but not everywhere at once, there are many couples who know their intentions but can't make it legal in their home state yet.

TurtleDove

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #54 on: October 14, 2013, 11:53:05 AM »
The bolded is another very good point. With same-sex marriage gradually becoming legal, but not everywhere at once, there are many couples who know their intentions but can't make it legal in their home state yet.

This situation is altogether different in my view.  That is a very clear reason to be engaged without being legally married.  For me the confusion is when couples who have no impediment to getting legally married nevertheless remain engaged for extended periods of time and are clear that they have no intention of getting married now or in the future. 

GlitterIsMyDrug

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #55 on: October 14, 2013, 11:55:47 AM »
Quote
There's no ticking clock, but some people think that if you don't get married within a certain timeframe, then you might as well not be married and just stay engaged. (Please note, I don't think this, but I've heard the views expressed by dozens of people over the years.)
I must admit I think this.  I wonder why people get engaged if they don't plan to legally marry in the near future.  Just be a couple, live together, have kids... whatever but why be eternally engaged?  I don't get it.


I read an interesting article about this recently. Its conclusion was that for some couples calling someone their 'fiance' lent a certain legitimacy to their relationship when they were doing something like buying a car, looking for a new apartment, dealing with family, even though they had no particular plans to get married. Basically, shorthand for 'more than just a BF/GF'.

Now see, that's why I started call Partner my partner. She was my girlfriend for awhile, but then we joined our lives together and she became my partner. Plus I'm listed on her medical insurance as her domestic partner so it seemed logical to call her my partner, which to me is more then a girlfriend. I rarely think to caller her my fiance even though she is (though it's still new, she's been Partner a lot longer then Fiance).

I do have one set of friends who is going on 2 years for their engagement. But they had the "we're waiting for it to be legal" excuse. And the one set that was engaged for 3 years, but they did have a few unexpected life crisis come up, then had to move their wedding because of issues with the venue or something...I just remember we were all very excited when they finally got married. And I know on her wedding day the bride said "I'm just glad I never had to plan another one of these things again", there were a lot of issues.

The bolded is another very good point. With same-sex marriage gradually becoming legal, but not everywhere at once, there are many couples who know their intentions but can't make it legal in their home state yet.

We're in that boat. Our state it isn't legal in (and probably won't be for the forseeable future), but our neighbor state it is. So we could do the wedding over there, or we could do it here and just get the legal bit done there. Or we could wait because some areas of our states of started allowing "civil unions" which may or may not be almost the same thing but kind of different. I think. Its times like these I wish I had listened to my mother and gone to law school.

Ms_Cellany

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #56 on: October 14, 2013, 12:10:44 PM »
For my wife & I, the timing of our first date ended up driving everything. I proposed to her after about six months of dating, and she said she wanted to wait until we'd been together a year to give me the answer (she said yes). Then she wanted a yearlong engagement.  That put us in an early summer timeframe.


We had to get married out-of-state, because Texas has no same-sex marriage. Of the (then) six available states, we picked Massachusetts because I was born in Boston and went to college there. We picked early July so we could see the July 4 fireworks on the Espanlade. That made the engagement about 13 months.

The timing worked great - we had a big reception party when we got home, and we had plenty of time to plan it.
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Lynn2000

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #57 on: October 14, 2013, 01:44:18 PM »
I'll tell you one thing I don't understand (only one!), though it has no material effect on me. Couples who have discussed and agreed to marriage and are actively making plans, but don't consider themselves engaged yet, generally because one of them is expected to arrange dinner at a fancy restaurant, go down on one knee, present a ring, and formally propose to the other one, and that hasn't happened yet (though it is imminent). I'm like, "You're asking me about being a bridesmaid, but you say you aren't engaged yet, because the ring you helped pick out hasn't arrived yet?"  :o Again, really makes no difference to me, it just kind of boggles my mind. But it speaks to the idea of "engagement" being a discrete stage of life with defined beginning and end points marked by ceremony of some kind, I suppose.
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EllenS

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #58 on: October 14, 2013, 03:13:09 PM »
I'll tell you one thing I don't understand (only one!), though it has no material effect on me. Couples who have discussed and agreed to marriage and are actively making plans, but don't consider themselves engaged yet, generally because one of them is expected to arrange dinner at a fancy restaurant, go down on one knee, present a ring, and formally propose to the other one, and that hasn't happened yet (though it is imminent). I'm like, "You're asking me about being a bridesmaid, but you say you aren't engaged yet, because the ring you helped pick out hasn't arrived yet?"  :o Again, really makes no difference to me, it just kind of boggles my mind. But it speaks to the idea of "engagement" being a discrete stage of life with defined beginning and end points marked by ceremony of some kind, I suppose.

I agree with this completely.  "Engaged" means two people have agreed to marry each other. To call it something else because one doesn't think the actual engagement was "romantic" enough is, in my mind, exceedingly silly.

Perhaps this is what happened in the other thread, where the son wanted the parents to pay for his wedding, although he "wasn't engaged yet."
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GlitterIsMyDrug

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Re: Is there a ticking clock?
« Reply #59 on: October 14, 2013, 03:19:17 PM »
I'll tell you one thing I don't understand (only one!), though it has no material effect on me. Couples who have discussed and agreed to marriage and are actively making plans, but don't consider themselves engaged yet, generally because one of them is expected to arrange dinner at a fancy restaurant, go down on one knee, present a ring, and formally propose to the other one, and that hasn't happened yet (though it is imminent). I'm like, "You're asking me about being a bridesmaid, but you say you aren't engaged yet, because the ring you helped pick out hasn't arrived yet?"  :o Again, really makes no difference to me, it just kind of boggles my mind. But it speaks to the idea of "engagement" being a discrete stage of life with defined beginning and end points marked by ceremony of some kind, I suppose.

I agree with this completely.  "Engaged" means two people have agreed to marry each other. To call it something else because one doesn't think the actual engagement was "romantic" enough is, in my mind, exceedingly silly.

Perhaps this is what happened in the other thread, where the son wanted the parents to pay for his wedding, although he "wasn't engaged yet."

The friends I've known to do this call it being "pre-engaged"....I can't roll my eyes hard enough at that concept. Now, I'll admit, we've discussed wedding stuff. Colors, styles, who will have stand up for us, ect, ect. Before we were engaged. But we weren't really telling anyone else, or asking anyone to make commitments. We were just ya know...talking. Two girls in one relationship in their late 20s...weddings are bound to come up.

And we got engaged at the car wash where we met. So...no fancy dinner for me (we got lunch at a sports bar afterwards). The engagement still seems to be sticking...