-By Soraya Joseph

A wise woman once said, “If you like it, then you should’ve put a ring on it.” However, there was never a part two that included “I Do’s.” So the real question is, what happens next?

Well, the first rule of engagement- there are no rules. For some couples, engagement leads to immediate wedding planning and a ceremony the following year. For others, they get caught up in the cozy in-between of being on the doorsteps of marriage for quite a bit. Take singer Jennifer Hudson and long-time partner David Otunga for example. Recently J.Hud revealed that after 9 years of being in a relationship with her child’s father (eight of which they’ve been engaged), the couple is still in no rush to head down any aisles. She joked:

“I’m a believer in you do better in what you want to do rather than what you have to do… I feel like everything is about timing, and he ain’t going nowhere. He’s still there. He can wait.”

On a serious note, Jen pointed out that marriages that are rushed or forced tend to lead to divorce, something she hopes to avoid altogether by taking her time to tie the knot.

Jennifer Hudson isn’t the only celeb caught up in a long term engagement-ship or relationship. Even former Love and Hip Hop stars Chrissy Lampkin and Jim Jones ,have been together for 12 years and engaged for four, and are still going strong.

So with that said, check out some of the pro’s of prolonging your I do’s with your boo.

  • 1. More Time to Learn About Your Partner (and Yourself)

    I know, I know. You’re probably thinking that if you’re already engaged, then you should already know who you’re about to marry. But depending on age or circumstance, that may not always be the case. You ever heard of the saying, “Time reveals all?” Sometimes growing up means growing out of a relationship, and the same way it takes time to grow, it also takes time to really know who you are and who you’re about to marry. Who we met in our 20’s may not be the same person in their 30’s and vice-versa. A long-term engagement allows couples to commit to the idea of marriage and working towards one, but at their own pace. And sometimes it’s those extra years that either make or break a relationship.

  • 2. More Time to Save for the Wedding of Your Dreams

    Marriage is expensive but so does the life that comes with it. Aside from the average cost of a wedding nearing $30,000, one also will have to consider the cost of living thereafter (buying a home, inheriting your partner’s debt, etc.) With that being said, a long-term engagement allows a couple to get their finances together, while also saving up for the ceremony of their dreams. Not to mention, booking your venues and vendors ( for food, florals, decors, etc.) way in advance can save you lots of money too.

  • 3. More Room to Correct Your Mistakes

    An extended engagement could alleviate the pressure to be perfect. As actress Goldie Hawn, who has been with Kurt Russell for 34 years, recently said: “There is something psychological about not being married, because it gives you the freedom to make decisions one way or the other.”

    Once you’re married, the margin for error is way smaller than before. Sometimes an extended engagement gives couples more time to get right (or get left!)

  • 4. Don’t Stress the Technique

    As the saying goes, everything ain’t for everybody. And sometimes it takes an engagement to learn that marriage is not for you. Ask Oprah Winfrey, who has been with her partner Stedman Graham for 31 years now. Back in 1996, Stedman proposed to Oprah, but the wedding planning was placed on hold for her book tour, and they never rescheduled the date. Fast forward to today, and according to Mama O:

    “If you ever interviewed [Stedman], he would tell you that had we married, we would not be together today. Because he’s a traditional man and this is a very untraditional relationship.”

    Different strokes for different folks!

    So in short, not everyone’s happy ending includes a wedding, at least not right away. As long as you and your partner are on the same page, move at your own pace. At the end of the day, people can have their opinions, but ultimately it’s you that has to live with your decisions.

Check out some of these engaged and married couples discuss their very different families:

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