Why Living Together Before Marriage Isn’t a Good Idea

Couple with problems on sofaTo a lot of people it seems to make sense that a wise step in knowing if you’re compatible to marry would be to “test run” your relationship by living together first. At least that’s what seems to be the consensus in today’s world. But is it really as good of an idea as it seems like it would be? Here’s what a few “experts” are saying about this situation:

“You may believe that living together is a good way to find out if you are compatible —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 and are 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 are a lot of reasons for not living together before marriage and those discussed above are just a few of them. Another reason is:

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 schedule – 2/13/02)

Another reason why living together isn’t a good idea is the ambiguousness of the relationship, as well as the issue of extended family awkwardness and strain that develops as a result:

“Cohabitation is certainly a moral issue, but seeing it as a sociological and psychological issue as well reveals that cohabiting relationships tend —with all other things being equal —to be shorter-lived and more volatile than marriages 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 and 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 and this demonstrates one way how 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. After-all, how permanent is this relationship, in their view? If they get too tied up emotionally and otherwise, and the relationship breaks apart, more hearts are broken and other complications arise, so it seems to make the best sense to hold back in different ways.

It’s true that many marriages break up, leading to their own set of complications, but somehow when vows are exchanged in marriage between the man and woman, it is viewed that this is a relationship where the couple are vowing to permanence and showed it by getting married. The family members have more reason to believe this will be a “forever” relationship.

And while it may or may not be true that the “man” sees the relationship less seriously than the woman, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that either the man OR the woman is probably less serious about the relationship than the other. Otherwise, why is there hesitation in making it permanent legally as well as emotionally, especially if both are Christians.

Which brings up next the issue which is, even more importantly, that there are spiritual reasons for not living together. As followers of Christ we are to do things God’s way:

“We are 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, when someone calls on you for premarital sex, 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 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—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, but 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 also 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, Sex is Not the Problem —Lust is)

Those are just a few of the reasons why it isn’t good to live together before marrying. There are even more reasons.

For you to be able to read others, we’re providing links below to other web sites that have articles posted, which you can read that might help you to further see why living together before marriage isn’t a good idea.

The first article is found on the web site Focusonthefamily.com. Please click onto the link below to read:

The Problem with Living Together

And there is an article posted at Crosswalk.com you may find it helpful to read:



There is an article posted on the Boundless.org web site that could also give you further insights. Please click onto the link below to read:



For further information on this subject Dr Willard Harley, the founder of Marriage Builders has a Question and Answer article article where he makes some EXCELLENT points in his answers. We encourage you to read them (plus other information you could find very useful on his web site).

To learn more, please click onto the link below to read:


This article was written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.

If you have additional tips you can share to help others on this issue, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.


Filed under: Sex Before Marriage

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32 responses to “Why Living Together Before Marriage Isn’t a Good Idea

  1. How do I get my boyfriend to become more confident and secure in himself while following the path of God?

    1. Brittnee, You can’t GET someone to “become more confident and secure” –it’s something they develop within. It’s something that God can help your boyfriend with, but he must be willing to reach out to God, confess his weakness in this area, and then be alert to things and people, and situations God will bring his way to help him. What it actually came down to for me (because I struggled with the same problem) is leaning more into God, even though I couldn’t understand Him very much, TRUSTING that He would teach me and help me… He has GREATLY! I’ll write more when I get a chance on this. Please know that you and your boyfriend are in my prayers.

      1. Hi, I am a Christian and i have been living with my boyfriend for the past 6 months. We love each other though we argue sometimes often. The whole idea of moving in together is because of my VISA. I’m dependant on his visa ie,the government requires us to live together before further approval of the visa.

        I find this so wrong in God’s eyes because I used to be a very strong Christian and my dream was sex after marriage, live together after marriage. My boyfriend is reluctant towards marriage yet I’m ready if at all he asks, just so I can clear my mind from fornication sin and more. He is a Christian too but he always feels uncomfortable speaking about marriage. He mainly speaks about fixing our finances and other materialistic stuff. He knows right from wrong too but he insisted on helping me with my VISA. I now feel so sinful yet trapped since I cannot leave him because of the visa. I am the one supporting my family back home financially since I managed to secure a place overseas for my work and studies.

        I often cry and pray to God asking for help. We end up arguing in such situations. Please help me.

        1. Hello, Viola. You’re obviously in a tight spot, which is very common for a person in a spot like yourself. The man that you’re living with seems very concerned for your safety and well-being. Getting married is probably the last thing on his mind because he is, in fact, helping you with your visa. He will probably continue to act like that until you get all of your visa stuff worked out. I hope that things are going well!

  2. My mother always said don’t shack with a man her saying was he wont marry you why buy the cow when the milk is FREE?

  3. I am in live in relationship. My boyfriend lives with me. I have started to become very aware of what the Bible says about this yet I have done gone and done it. I see now it very much so for selfish reasons. My boyfriend doesn’t see that we are sinning and that I am reading too much into this sin thing about living together. The Bible speaks about people not seeing the kingdom of heaven for fornication, adultery…Galatians 5. I just don’t know how I can approach this with him differently.

  4. The problem I have with marriage in general terms is that I personally do not feel that I need the state or religious body to legitimise my feelings towards someone else. Neither me or my partner are believers, we have a 5 year old, I am a high earning academic and she is a working professional.

    Statistically, people who get married are typically middle class and conservative, although others do, a much larger proportion of of the mass comes from there. It is much less common in poverty.

    It therefore illigitimises a lot of these claims above, as it is not the marriage that is making people middle class, or making them live longer. it is the social demographic they are in for the most part. Remember correlation does not prove causation.

    Marriage is about choice, and the choice is personal. I sincerely wish that people would stop trying to influence me to legalise and apparently ligitimise my love for someone, in the same way that I do not pester them about the irrationality of the institution and it’s lack of necessity in my opinion.

    Other than that I am quite happy :). talk of tax breaks to this institution is also bonkers though, in the same way as tax breaks for Buddhists would be frowned upon by all who weren’t.