In Germany, the engagement is a firm tradition
When two people have decided to get married, it is something wonderful. But it is even more than that. Because anyone who thinks that being engaged or not is all the same from a legal point of view is mistaken. Engaged couples are subject to their own laws. Although tax benefits and advantages in inheritance law only become valid upon marriage, the right to refuse to testify includes not only family members but also fiancés. This means that fiancés do not have to testify against each other in court and may also refuse to take an oath.
Of course, this concerns the very few engaged couples. But this special legislation can also be understood as a sign of recognition from the state - namely, for the unconditional loyalty that engaged couples feel for each other.
Today, fortunately, marriage in Germany is no longer a marriage of convenience in any sense. Neither is the woman dependent on her husband's earnings, nor are unmarried couples looked at askance. In other words, it is only love that causes couples to marry. And that's why it's remarkable that the number of marriages performed in Germany is constantly just under 400,000 per year.
And the divorce rates prove this positive attitude towards marriage. If 36% of marriages are divorced within the first 25 years, this means conversely that 64% of marriages last longer than 25 years! And there is also a general trend toward long marriages in Germany. In 2013, the average marriage lasted 14 years and 8 months, which is more than 3 years longer than in 1993! Overall, the divorce rate recently fell by 5.2%!
The average age at marriage is rising steadily in Germany: While men were still around 28.5 and women 26 years old when they got married in 1991, the age of the spouses today is 31 (women) and 33.5 (men).
From engagement to marriage, you can take as much time as you want. On average, most couples wait about a year and a half. The record, however, is said to be a whopping 67 years: The engagement of two Mexican teenagers lasted into old age. They finally married at the age of 82. The shortest known engagement, on the other hand, took place in Austria. A registrar present at the proposal married the couple 2.58 minutes after answering the crucial question.
No one can sue for marriage, and an engagement can be broken off at any time. However, the promise that one makes with an engagement still has consequences: For example, a groundless withdrawal may oblige to pay damages. This then concerns all costs incurred in connection with the marriage planning, for example the costs for the engagement rings, the wedding rings, the wedding dress, the wedding party or the honeymoon.
In return, however, this also means that valuables given away by oneself, such as the engagement ring, can be reclaimed. But here too, the following applies: Only if the engagement is broken off without good reason is "repeat not stolen". However, this does not apply to gifts given on other occasions, such as Christmas or a birthday. If the person concerned refuses to return the valuables, this is considered "unjust enrichment".
Of course, the woman may also propose to the man. However, in a 2013 survey at the University of California, Santa Cruz, all of the 277 heterosexual male and female students surveyed preferred for their own engagement that the man ask for their hand in marriage. They didn't see it quite as strictly for other couples. At least a third of the men found it acceptable for the woman to propose marriage. Among the women, however, it was only 3 percent!
Homosexuals seem to have it easier when it comes to the application question. No one has to wait to be asked. Anyone who would like to get married simply asks. It only becomes difficult if both would like to be asked. With the ring question, however, no problems arise. It is quite natural to purchase two women's or two men's rings for the engagement or the wedding.