Those indefinite engagements – Why?

THOUGH conventional wisdom recommends six months to a year for persons to be engaged before tying the knot, some women have worn the engagement ring for so long, that it has formed a circle around their fingers.

There are men who have admitted to engaging women when they know they have no intention towards marriage, knowing that some women take great comfort in the fact that they have a ring on their finger. Other men know that they are already in unions, but get engaged anyway, for reasons ranging from the desire for sex to, as one man admitted, power.

All in all, counselling psychologist Faith St Catherine said if there is no good reason for a delay in marriage after a year, the woman should question the motives of the relationship and, if possible, move on.

Carlton G, who remembers with great humour how he engaged another woman while married, but who was too embarrassed to print his last name, said he met and proposed to another woman knowing full well she would never walk down the aisle with him.

“I engaged her,” he said, admitting frankly that she was the type of woman who would not have gotten romantically entangled with him without that commitment. “And she never had a clue that I was married.”

He said she was so keen on the relationship that she even went abroad with the hope of purchasing items for the wedding, while also earning money for their expected lives together. They talked about having children, and still he kept up the charade.

It fell apart, he said, only when a friend of hers discovered his marital status and disclosed it to her.

“Engagement is an act that should in fact be taken seriously by both partners,” St Catherine said. “It is a commitment that says I am serious about this person.”

“And I was serious, or so I believed,” Matthew Livingston told All Woman, explaining that at 33, when he was seriously involved with two women, engagement was his way of testing them to see who would make the better wife.

“I wanted to observe the changes in the relationship — to see whether either one would be a ‘bridezilla’,” the Jamaican Florida resident said, adding that he was, at that time, “pretty sure” that he would marry “one or the other”.

He said when he realised that one of the women started acting differently — “like a nagging wife” — he ended things and married the other.

But what about the women? How long is too long of an engagement? Does the engagement sweeten the deal?

“I’ll admit that when my fiancé asked me to marry him I was ecstatic,” Jenice V said, remembering the moment six years ago when her man proposed during a Bahamas vacation.

“We didn’t set a date, but in my mind I planned to be married by the next year, when he would have finished university,” she recalled.

She said that he finished college, got a job, they had a child, and still, there was no mention of a wedding.

“Every time I bring it up he’ll say we don’t have the money,” she said. “To tell the truth, I’m tired of it, but I have the child, and I fear that if I leave, he will just marry someone else.”

For Sandra Thomas, who has been engaged to her fiancé since 1991, she doesn’t mind the lack of a wedding, as they’re together in every sense possible.

“We raised our daughter, sent her to college, bought a house, and now he’s almost retired,” she said of her fiancé. “I was a show-off initially, when he engaged me, but after a while I realised he wasn’t serious, so I just bought a ring to match the engagement ring, and I still wear it. Everybody thinks we’re married,” she said laughing.

St Catherine said some men will get engaged to keep women comfortable and happy. She explained that while persons are dating, there is no stability to the relationship as they don’t know when it may end, while engagement provides stability.

However, while circumstances may vary, St Catherine said six months to a year is a good time for persons to be engaged before getting married, though this sometimes depends on the circumstances of the persons involved.

“But there is a time to hold on and a time to let go,” she said. “There might be signs there that you should let go, because if you are tied to a relationship that is not going forward, then you should let go. If not, better opportunities may just pass you by, including getting involved with someone who genuinely means you well.”

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