Living Together Before Marriage: What Are the Costs?
- Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center, will address questions from Crosswalk readers in his weekly column. Submit your question t TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
Stan and Terry enjoyed a whirlwind romance, one of those “love at first sight” kind of things you see in movies. There was an undeniable chemistry between them. They talked for hours at the local coffee shop. There, over the ensuing weeks, their relationship grew stronger.
Stan and Terry discovered they shared the same faith and soon began attending church together. They enjoyed deep theological discussions. Laughing and talking led to a quick and exciting connection, which understandably turned physical. He began spending more and more time at her apartment.
One night, sitting close on her couch watching a movie, Stan felt the time was right to pop the question.
“Terry,” he began shyly.
“Hmm?” she answered, hardly looking away from the television.
“I think it’s time for us to talk about something,” he continued.
Nestled in his arms, she sensed a seriousness in his tone.
“What’s up?” she asked, looking up at him
“Well.” He paused. “I wonder what you’d think about me moving in with you?”
Terry stared at Stan, dumbfounded. She wasn’t prepared for his question. She could not deny her feelings, and hoped he felt the same attraction toward her as she felt toward him. But, moving in?
She was instantly flooded with questions.
What if she said “no” and he felt rejected? What if she said “yes,” going against her values? What if she told him she needed time to think about it? Would he push away and reject her?
Terry is one of a growing number of singles who consider living together before marriage. As the singles population swells, from individuals waiting longer for marriage, failed marriages and widowhood, not to mention issues surrounding commitment, living together has become more popular.
Let’s consider Stan’s question and the ramifications. What are the costs to such a decision?
First, while living together is often seen as a preparatory phase to marriage, this is not always the case. Many “try out” the relationship as if they were trying out a car. However, when the inevitable storms of relating hit, many bail out, leaving wounded people in their wake. What was considered to be a safe option now turns into an ugly nightmare. Numerous studies confirm that cohabitating before marriage leads to less marital happiness and greater marital conflict. Some predict a greater incidence of divorce with those who have cohabitated before marriage.
Second, cohabitation doesn’t fit with God’s plan for marriage. As much as we might like to fudge on God’s laws, he promotes sexual purity. The Scriptures say love is patient and kind and does not seek to please itself. (1 Corinthians 13) The Scriptures tell us to “flee fornication” and save sexual intimacy for marriage. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
Third, those who live together often feel guilt and fear. Cohabitation often leads to the fear of STDs, unwanted pregnancy, or being “found out” because of violating God’s law. At some level, most Christians, and non-Christians as well, have misgivings about living together prior to marriage.
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