Absolute Rule on Living together Before Marriage


I had a disagreement with my wife over this one. I stated that the Church does not want a couple to co-habitat for at least six months before marriage and having a child between them in their pseudo-marital arrangement did not matter. After having considered my wife’s statement that I never think she is right. I thought for a moment and decided that maybe I was wrong and then decided that this may be the place to get the answer.

So is there a dogmatic rule which prohibits a couple from living together regardless of children being present prior to marriage, this assumes a chaste relationship. Same question but this one with children. If there is a rule how long by that same rule must they be separated before marriage?

Thanks and God Bless


Talk to the priest about your situation, the 6 month time frame is waved considering your situation, but he’s going to tell you to live as brother and sister under the roof until the marriage ceremony is completed. I assume you had a civil marriage, if not, get one now to expedite this process…you didn’t hear this from me, he he…:wink: It shouldn’t take more then a month or so before the ceremony is initiated.


Well the rule against “living together” (a euphemism for having sex outside marriage while living in a pseudo-marital arrangement) isn’t a rule, it’s a commandment. Number 6 to be exact.

When a couple who has been *disregarding *the sixth commandment comes to the Church to rectify this situation by entering into Holy Matrimony, they will go through the same premarital process as anyone else. They will be asked to live according to the teaching of the Church. Which means, as the single people that they are.

Whether or not they are asked to separate *physically * during that preparation time will be a pastoral decision that does take into consideration the impact on any children and other factors.

There is no universal law of the Church prohibiting a pastor from adminstering the sacrament of marriage to a couple that is living under the same roof.

Pastorally, the Church *wants *to regularlize these situations and bring them from sinful to sacramental through counseling and bringing the couple back to the sacraments. So, there is some lattitude here.

There are individual diocesan and parish guidelines established to pastorally deal with this situation. These will vary by parish/diocese.





It highly depends on the circumstances. And is usually addressed on a case by case basis.

Minimally, you’ll be asked to refrain from any type of sexual activity until the union is blessed by the church.


A longtime friend of mine was also in a marriage situation that the Church considered to be “irregular.” Long story short, my friend (non-Catholic) married is wife (Catholic) 25 years ago in his protestant church. Their three children (two of whom are in college and the other is out on his own) were raised in this same church. Over the years the wife had occasionally expressed a desire to return to the Catholic Church. To be honest, I don’t think my friend really cares what church he goes to (or if he even goes at all), so he had no reason to stand in her way. In fact, he started attending mass with her. When the wife approached the priest to inquire about returning to the sacraments, he informed her that her marriage situation would have to be resolved - a convalidation would be required. Since their only impediment was a lack of form, the process wouldn’t be too complicated. My friend had no problem with this. Then the priest dropped this bombshell: he informed them that they were living in adultery, and he insisted that they separate for at least six months before he would marry them. Not sleep in separate bedrooms…not “live as brother and sister” (a truly absurd concept given that they had been married for 1/4 of a century)…but that my friend actually move out of the house for six months. My friend and his wife thanked the priest for his time, and that was the end of that.

Now, I have another Catholic friend who was living with his girlfriend for about two years before they got married, and the priest just looked the other way. So…I guess whatever rules there are aren’t applied very consistently. It would seem to depend on whether the priest you are dealing with is more interested in bringing you into the Church or enforcing the rules.


There is no absolute rule. There might be an issue of prudence and scandal, but having a father leave his child is also scandalous. Even without a child, they could wed.


Wait a second guys. A chaste relationship is not enough. The couple are not married. They are living in sin. If they chose to marry they must prepare to recieve the sacrament in a state of grace. The very act of living together unmarried chaste or not is itself scandalous behavior due to the fact that the sin is public. There are neighbours and children watching what Catholics do. You are setting a bad example and may cause others who may not be aware of the situation to fall into sin themselves.

This point is often mishandled by many priest who are poorly trained in catholic ethics and moral teaching, that is why it differs from place to place. You can if you want go out and find a priest who will approve anything but you will not be pleasing to God. The sacrafice you make to prepare properly will not be lost to God who rewards those who serve him faithfully.


Um, how on earth would their neighbors know if they were married in a catholic church? :confused:


I truly appreciate all the thoughts presented. I tend to be on the conservative side of the issue. With that said though and after reading all of the posts that have come in. I am resigned at this point to believe that the church outside of mortal sign has no universal rule regarding separation prior to marriage considering the circumstances stated. The mortal sin and ensuing scandal created is enough for me.

Thanks to all and God Bless


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.