Once you’re engaged, the debate is normally whether you want to have a short or a long engagement. Do you want to give yourself some breathing room to plan and enjoy being engaged or jump right into married bliss? But, while those are definitely the more common approaches, there is an Option C: some people just don’t get married. The engagements don’t end in marriage, not because the couple splits, but because they just choose to stay engaged—happily ever after, with no plans of a wedding in sight.
For every woman who’s wanted to get married, that must seem like a total nightmare—living in marital purgatory. The wedding is the day that they imagined with their partner and the significance of that is too much to ignore. But for women who like the idea of commitment, but aren’t that keen on the wedding or the having “a day,” staying engaged can be a really great option. An engagement party means you can still have a celebration (and, crucially, the gifts) but for those who just find the idea of a wedding too much pressure, you don’t have to take the next step. You can just...be.
So, why would a couple choose to stay in an engagement? Well, there are a few different reasons that real women shared. When it comes to why marriage isn’t always the end goal, the rationale can be very practical to downright romantic.
Saving Money and Biding Time
Sometimes, real-life gets in the way. The plan may be to get married but, as events unfold, it starts to seem like less of a reality—and less of a priority. “Originally, we wanted to save money for a big wedding, so we thought we would wait a couple of years,” Lauren, 31, who’s been engaged for two and a half years, says. “But then there was always something better to put the money towards. We’d like to get married someday, but now we both feel like we want to get a home first—which could be five years away.”
Money is a really common theme in having a long engagement that turns into a longer engagement and maybe even an indefinite one. With the cost of living and student loan debt being so high, it’s easy to see how it happens. And once you put the wedding off for a bit, there’s always something else you can find to spend the money on.
Money and practical considerations aren’t always about the wedding itself. For some couples, getting married can look like a great idea until they look at the impact it will have on their lives, then they see that issues like taxes and grants can make a difference. “We have decided to wait because my son will be going to college and if he can get grants they will just go by my income,” Sossity, 45 who’s been engaged for almost two years explains. “My fiance is all about saving money! And I don’t mind waiting.” They were together for 10 years before they got married, so she said that waiting a few more after an engagement didn’t seem like a huge change. Even if they never get married, she said it doesn’t really matter.
This Was All They Needed
It wasn’t always money driving the decision to not get married. For some people, being engaged just felt like enough. “I was so happy to get engaged and I love my partner,” Zoe, 38, says. “We’ve been engaged for five years and, if I’m honest, I can’t see it changing. I wanted to have a public (and private) display of commitment between us, but I feel like I have that. We’re engaged, we have a house and two kids together, it was never about a wedding.”
Although for some women this might sound counter-intuitive, I completely see the benefits of staying engaged. You can feel secure that you have both acknowledged your plans to be together, to yourselves and to everyone else, but you don’t have to spend the money and energy to plan a wedding. Plus, some people just don’t like the attention being on them. This way, it doesn’t have to be.
It might seem like the logical thing to do after you get engaged is to start planning a wedding. And for most people, that’s exactly how it plays out. But for some, life gets a bit more complicated. That doesn’t mean that their commitment is any less strong, it just means that priorities shift. One of the great things about modern relationships and modern marriages is that it can look different and be different for everyone. And if being engaged works for you, then there’s no reason not to just stay that way.