Why Living Together Before Marriage Isn’t a Good Idea

Couple with problems on sofaA 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”)

Another Reason?

“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:


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”)

Also Consider:

“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)

Those are just a few of the reasons why it isn’t good to live together before marrying. There are even more reasons. Below, we provide links to other web sites to help you to further.

Please read this first article, found on the Focusonthefamily.com web site:

The Problem with Living Together

Here is a link to an article posted at Crosswalk.com, which you may find it helpful to read:



Please read the following linked Boundless.org web site article for further insights.



Dr Willard Harley has a Question and Answer article where he makes some EXCELLENT points. 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:


Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

If you have additional tips you can share to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.


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34 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.

  5. My boyfriend of almost 5 years has all of sudden made it very apparent that we SHOULD be living together. While I grew up with at lot more reservations and more of a spiritual background than he, he just never really latched onto the idea. I love him, I really do, but I truly do not want to move in with him. Living with someone before marriage has been something that I have been against my whole life. Now, I’m faced with this decision to move with him off to school, or stay home and barely see him…I don’t know what to do. I want to get married, he wants to be further along in his schooling and feels that we are not in a good place to get married right now, and that’s fine. Other than the fact that I’m scared that we’re going to drift apart if I don’t move with him. Do I go against my beliefs and possibly lose him or do I give in and have that guilt with me for the rest of my life? Please any advice is welcomed and greatly wanted, thanks!

    1. Nicole, Please don’t lower your standards here. If he wants to spend more time with you, then he needs to marry you. If you lose him over this, then you didn’t lose much. I know you feel like you will, but in the bigger view of these matters, you wouldn’t be. For him to ask you to do something that is against your beliefs –to load you with guilt and bad feelings, just because he “wants to be further along in his schooling”, there is something wrong here. He is not treating you with the value that a future husband should hold you in. He is also not viewing marriage with the same sanctity that you are holding it. You are both on different pages.

      Again, please don’t lower your standards to meet his lowered ones. You will regret it for the rest of your life. You are worth waiting for, if he feels the wait is important. Right now school, and being in “a good place” is more important to him than you are, I’m sorry to say. You will be neglected if you move in with him, as well. His values are a bit screwed up. Please don’t screw yours up, to accommodate his. It’s better to lose him now, than to lose him later after your heart gets even more entangled and your life becomes more complicated. If you aren’t worth it to him to wait for now… what makes you think things will change after he further cheapens your worth? You are worth more than that. Stick to your values. You may hurt now, but you will hurt MUCH less than you will if you go in this direction.

      Please prayerfully consider what I’m trying to say here. Dr Joyce Brothers said something you should pay attention to: “Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” I can’t help but believe God is waving red flags for you to pay attention to, warning you that this is not the way to go. I hope you listen to His warnings within your heart.