If you have ever been in a relationship, I can almost guarantee you have either thought about your relationship timeline or someone has asked you about it. If you are in a relationship (especially in your late 20s and above) or have been dating someone for three or more years, people seem to ask the same basic questions:
- “How long have you two been dating?”
- “When are you planning to get engaged? Have you talked about it?”
- “When are you planning to get married?”
- “When are you planning to have kids?”
- And then after having one child, “When are you planning on having more?”
These are normal questions to be curious about, especially if you are excited for the other person. I’m sure as annoying as these questions can be, we have been guilty of asking our friends and family them at some point in time.
I don’t have a problem with the questions. I have a problem when the person asking begins to place their judgment on the answers and proceeds to interrogation. When this has happened to me, it ultimately left me feeling like I needed to defend my timeline or the strength of my relationship.
I have a public service announcement: There is no one-size-fits-all relationship timeline.
Why? Because we are all on our own unique life path.
For many reasons, our society has communicated certain relationship timelines and expectations to us. We often think we know how another person should live their life. However, most times, we barely even know how to live ours. Yes, there are universal truths, wisdom, and lessons we should pay attention to but what works for one person does not always work for someone else. We need to respect that.
If you are in a great relationship, do not allow yourself to be swayed by other people’s opinions of your relationship timelines. You can be in a strong relationship and have different timelines for different reasons. And, that’s OK!
People have different timelines for a variety of reasons. Some people have values and beliefs about marriage due to personal or spiritual reasons. Sometimes people are in positions where they cannot have children or want to have certain structures in place before they do.
As I talk to friends about relationships, I find myself living by and sharing the same piece of advice: “The best thing you can do for your relationship is to stop comparing the relationship and timelines to other couples.”
With that said, do not use this statement as an excuse or justification for staying in a poor relationship! Every couple’s relationship dynamic and timeline may be different, but love is identifiable and distinguishable. Disrespect, cheating, abuse, degradation, and selfishness are not characteristics of love. While you should not compare your relationship to others, you should look to great relationships for positive traits of love.
If you have found a great life partner, which requires more than chemistry, chances are you are destined to have a wonderful life together. When you chase another couples’ relationship timeline, you might experience issues in yours because that road is not meant for you. You are missing out on the many blessings on your unique road because you are too busy traveling on another couple’s path.
Many years ago, a few couples I adored and knew closely went through a divorce. Everyone I knew LOVED these people together. We were shocked by the news because we thought they had it all. On the outside, they were the perfect couple, or so we thought. Feeling confused, it was at that moment that I decided to learn from their successes and failures but to always do what works best for my relationship.
I am not a relationship expert, but I know that having a successful relationship requires more than checking off a list—engagement, marriage, babies, house, and more. Instead of comparing your relationship to others, keep doing the real work necessary to make any relationship last.
- Keep working on your mental/emotional readiness, finances, health, and career.
- Do the healing work from your past so it doesn’t prevent you from giving and receiving powerful love.
Remember, a strong relationship that is built to last takes time to build.