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Why Living Together Before Marriage Isn’t a Good Idea
A lot of couples believe it is wise to “test run” their relationship by living together before they marry. But is it really as good of an idea as it appears to be? A lot of relationship “experts” don’t think it is a wise thing to do at all.
The question is, why not?
To answer that question, below you will find some of the things written by several of those experts.
Reasons Why Living Together Before Marriage Isn’t a Good Idea:
“In spite of those who say cohabitation is a wise test drive, the research indicates that living together before marriage may actually increase your risk for divorce in the future. Many experts believe that the “squishy” approach toward commitment represented by cohabitation sets a couple up for bailing on marriage when things get difficult. Holding sexual fidelity and the marriage covenant as sacred before God impacts your willingness to work through the challenges of life together.
“Research also indicates that couples living together are more likely to experience sexual unfaithfulness, domestic violence, and higher levels of relational unhappiness. If you are living with your boyfriend [or girlfriend] with the hope to avoid heartbreak, you are likely setting yourself up for failure.” (Juli Slattery, from the Today’s Christian Woman article, “Why Living Together Isn’t a Test-Run for Marriage”)
“You may believe that living together is a good way to find out if you are compatible. You may look at it as a sort of ‘test drive’ that will improve your chances for marital success. While this seems to make sense intuitively, actually the opposite is true. Research indicates that couples who cohabit before marriage have a 50% higher divorce rate than those who don’t. These couples also have higher rates of domestic violence. They are also more likely to be involved in sexual affairs. If a cohabiting couple gets pregnant, there is a high probability that the man will leave the relationship within two years, resulting in a single mom raising a fatherless child.
“The best way to test your compatibility for marriage is to abstain from sex. Date for at least one year before engagement and participate in a structured, premarital counseling program, which includes psychological testing.” (Bill Maier, Ph.D.)
There’s a “marriage myth” for you to prayerfully consider, as well:
“THE MARRIAGE MYTH:
Couples who live together before marriage, and are able to test how well suited they are for each other, have more satisfying and longer-lasting marriages than couples that don’t. Many studies have found that those who live together before marriage have less satisfying marriages and a considerably higher chance of eventually breaking up.
“One reason is that people who cohabit may be more skittish of commitment and more likely to call it quits when problems arise. In addition, the very act of living together may lead to attitudes that make happy marriages more difficult. The findings of one recent study, for example, suggest, ‘There may be less motivation for cohabiting partners to develop their conflict resolution and support skills.’” (Smartmarriages® Subject: TOP 10 MYTHS OF MARRIAGE- Popenoe /Piece of Paper)
Below are a few additional reasons to consider:
“Cohabitation is certainly a moral issue. But seeing it as a sociological and psychological issue as well, reveals that cohabiting relationships tend to be shorter-lived and more volatile than marriages. This is because cohabitation is an ambiguous relationship,” Glenn Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, said.
“The man typically sees the relationship less seriously and more temporary than the woman. Also, each partner’s parents and extended family are not sure what the nature of the relationship is,” Stanton added.
“Would a father-in-law be as likely to get his daughter’s live-in boyfriend a job down at the factory or provide the money for their first home as he would his daughter’s husband, his son-in-law? Of course not. This demonstrates one way in which cohabiting relationships are practically very different.” (From Crosswalk.com article, written by Erin Roach, “Cohabiting Normative but Harmful”)
There is often an awkwardness and a tentativeness that goes on in the minds of extended family members. But even more importantly, there are spiritual reasons for not living together. As followers of Christ we are to do things God’s way.
God Has Reasons Beyond OUR “Common Sense”
“We are told to give our body to our spouse only within the context of a permanent marriage commitment. (See Genesis 2:24 .) Anything less than this dishonors the high purpose that God intends for our sexuality. Premarital sex is, therefore, self-centered. It seeks immediate physical pleasure at the expense of God’s design for us and for our partner. It should be fairly obvious as well that those who practice premarital sex on an ongoing basis are also deliberately reserving the right to exit the relationship easily, should they decide to.
“In other words, he is really saying, ‘I want to use your body to satisfy my sexual appetite, but I want to remain free to reject you afterward.’” (Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt, The Myth of Romance)
To add onto that:
“We have to understand that in God’s sight, when a man and woman marry and join their bodies together sexually. Something spiritual occurs. They really do become “one.” When a husband and wife make love, it is a living picture of the spiritual reality of marriage. Two people are melded into one. But this physical joining is only one part of the union. Marriage is the combining of a man and woman at every level. This is not just sexually, but emotionally, spiritually, and in every other way.
“In God’s plan, sexual union was never meant to be separated from this total union. C. S. Lewis compares having sex outside of marriage to a person who enjoys the sensation of chewing and tasting food. He doesn’t want to swallow the food and digest it. This is a perversion of God’s intent. Food was meant to be chewed and swallowed. In a similar way, the sex act was meant to be part of the whole-life union of marriage. When we attempt to experience sex apart from this union, we’re disrespecting and dishonoring marriage.” (Joshua Harris, from the book, “Sex is Not the Problem —Lust is”)
“Basically, living together is a form of marriage, but a cheaper, flimsier one. …Apart from the evidence that suggests living together is bad for marriage, I appeal to Paul’s words in Ephesians. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” ( Ephesians 5:3 ).
“Regardless of whether you live under the same roof, sex outside of the covenant of marriage is not God’s plan for sexuality. It’s no wonder couples who have cohabited report less satisfaction in marriage and a higher rate of infidelity and divorce. Straying from God’s plan always has consequences. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, they are promoting a lie.” (From the Boundless.org article, “The Living-Together Lie” written by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin)