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Tammy Nelson, Ph D, licensed relationship therapist, board-certified sexologist and author of also believes that while each couple's situation is different, it's most important to learn how to communicate when you have a conflict, rather than focus on the time frame."Many couples wait until they are ready to have children, or ready to buy a home before they marry," Nelson says.Or maybe couples that have modest rings and receptions feel that their boundless love is a celebration enough.

For me, it's more about the range of experiences that lend themselves to compatibility rather than the amount of time.

" to "It took him way too long to propose—are you sure? Only you can know when you're ready to take the next step.

But as a baseline, Ian Kerner, Ph D, LMFT, licensed psychotherapist, couple's therapist and author of "I've worked with a lot of couples who have strong relationships, and they met and fell in love quickly and really got to know each other's friends and family," Kerner says.

Just because a couple plays house by cohabitating or taking vacations with each other's families, that doesn't necessarily equate to marriage, Seligson said. Her book, released earlier this year, combines scientific research and interviews with more than 160 couples who are "a little bit married." CNN asked Seligson about these lengthy relationships, cohabitation and advice for couples who are in long-term relationships.

The median age of marriage is at a record high (about 26 for women and 28 for men), according to the U. CNN: How do you know when you are "a little bit married"?