Surveys consistently show that the majority of people in the modern United States hold marriage as the gold standard of a relationship. Whether you're religious or an atheist, whether you're young or old, whether you're an immigrant or native-born, you probably lean toward the idea that marriage is the end-state that a serious relationship will eventually reach.
Even people who personally see no value in it - or who even think it's a relic of a bygone cultural age - can appreciate the idea of tax benefits, medical next-of-kin privileges, and the other hundreds of rights that you can only access by signing that little piece of paper. Indeed, you don't even need to appreciate the legal upside to like the idea of making a public commitment and inviting all of your friends and family to publicly commit to supporting it.
Still, even with broad agreement that marriage is a great place to get to, how people get there is enormously idiosyncratic. Billions of dollars are spent every year on books, seminars, courses, and therapy to help people figure out how to better navigate the course of true love. The truth is that there is no single right answer - but there may be an answer that you like the sound of, for now at least. What answer you pick will certainly affect how soon you'll find your way to the altar. Let's get started.