A lot of couples believe it is wise to “test run” their relationship by living together before they marry. But is it really a smart idea to do this, as it appears to be? A lot of relationship “experts” don’t think it is a wise idea at all. We’re not just talking about Christian experts. We’re also talking about relationship experts across the board.
The question is, why not? It would seem to make sense to do this. So again, why not?
To answer that question, below you will find some of the things written by several of those experts. This will give you at least a small look into this important issue.
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 for Not Living Together?
“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. This often results 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 about living together:
“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 would he 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.” (Erin Roach, from Crosswalk.com article, “Cohabiting Normative but Harmful”)
There is often an awkwardness experienced 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”
“God ordained certain rules regarding living together in order to protect people. His law was born of love, concern, and compassion for His fallen creatures. The sanctions God imposed on sexual activity outside marriage do not mean that God is a spoilsport or a prude. Sex is an enjoyment He Himself created and gave to the human race. God, in His infinite wisdom, understands that there is no time that human beings are more vulnerable than when they are engaged in this most intimate activity.
“Thus, He cloaks this special act of intimacy with certain safeguards. He is saying to both the man and the woman that it is safe to give oneself to the other only when there is a certain knowledge of a lifelong commitment behind it. There is a vast difference between a commitment sealed with a formal document and declared in the presence of witnesses, including family, friends, and authorities of church and state, and a whispered, hollow promise breathed in the back seat of a car.” (R.C. Sproul)
On this Issue, Additionally Consider:
“We’re 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.” (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. They also have 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.” (Suzanne Hadley Gosselin, from the Boundless.org article, “The Living-Together Lie”)
Those are just a few of the reasons why it isn’t good to live together before marrying. There are even more reasons. So, 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:
Here is another linked article that supports this stance, which can be 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 can find 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.
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Sex Before Marriage