Co-habitation and marriage


Will the church marry a couple who co-habitates and willing states it to the priest?


Such is not a good way to prepare for marriage.

They ought to separate. For such is not good for them and their love – and seriously harmful to each other (as mortal sin is) and harmful for marriage.

A good document from Bishops:

Read to the end.


Some years ago we had a deacon on our church who prepared couples for marriage. He privately asked them if they were living together, and then told them that they needed to live apart. He also told them they needed to be agreeable to that, or he wouldn’t be able to properly prepare them for the sacrament of marriage.


I know several couples that were living together before marriage. In all cases, their priests told them to separate. None of them did; they all lied to their priest. None of them are married anymore. It is no good to start a marriage in lies.


Depends on the priest, I suppose. Some priests surely recommend the couple stop co-habitating before the wedding if financially possible or will say living “as brother and sister” would be sufficient. Others would simply be happy the couple is marrying at all.


My husband to be and I lived together, for 2 years, before we were married. We then were married civilly.

Then we were married in the Church. We never lived apart.

But we had been married civilly for 11 years and we had a child.

I am not sure if the priest would have asked us to separate if the situation had been different.


It depends on the Church, priest/pastor and the circumstances.


I agree!


Not surprising.


Sure, but there will be appropriate consequences for the serious sin incurred.

It would be best never to cohabitate or even to have sex with one another. If the couple is not living together yet, they should not. (They should not plan to use the confessional as a “free pass”, risking their souls in the meantime.)

If they are living together I would suggest separating before going to the priest to demonstrate their intention to make things right.


Of the priests I have talked too. They ask the couple to separate, go to confession before moving forward. If this is your situation, you need to realize the the stats on couple who live to gether before marriage have one of the highest divorce rates as opposed to those who wait for marriage.


The problem with cohabiting, other than the spiritual issues, is that it clouds one’s judgment. Dating is supposed to be a discernment period. You need to spend time together (don’t rush into marriage) but also be objective in deciding whether or not this person would be a good spouse to you and parent to your future children. Sexual intimacy creates a powerful chemical/hormonal bond in the brain and it makes it difficult to tell if you really love them or if you just love the way they make you feel. You are bonding when you need to be discerning. Cohabiting is even worse because once you move in together it makes it that much more difficult to break up (own a house together, share furniture) even though deep down you know it won’t work. So these people spend months, years with the wrong person only to divorce later on.

I think it’s sad that the faith has been so watered down that so many people think that sex outside of marriage is okay or that it’s no longer considered a sin. :frowning:


:thumbsup: preach it!


I think I’ve seen that according to Canon Law (the Church’s laws of operation), a couple cannot be refused marriage for co-habitation.

That said, a priest can make it difficult for them, by giving them the run around. I’ve also heard of priests who flat-out refuse to marry such couples, which really makes sense to me, because how can the priest prepare someone for a Sacrament who refuses to stop living in grave sin.

And as others have said, cohabitation of boyfriend and girlfriend before marriage greatly undermines marriage itself, sets a horrible example for their children down the road, and harms their chances of living Christian lives. The only “exception,” as one person noted, is in the case of couples who have been civilly married, they aren’t technically cohabiting (unless they are Catholics who got married outside the Church).


My wife and I co-habituated before marriage and I regret it. I still love my wife, but I’m not sure if we would have gotten married had we not been living together, or having premarital sex.

Today, we do have issues with religious differences, which were not an issues before we had kids. We also have issues with differences in views regarding punishments for kids, society values, and sometimes money.

When people have premarital sex, they make a decision regarding marriage based on their physical and emotional bond. But if you are not having premarital sex, you can’t base your decision on the physical bond. So that couple then needs to depend on religious and family values to help make the decision.

When living together, you miss out on the above and often become used to living together before sharing a bank account. When a couple co-habitats, they often do not share all money, etc. Or if they do, they feel that they are married without the “legality.”

Plus, your views of co-habitation often become different when you have children. I will NOT condone my children co-habituating. Just because I sinned, doesn’t mean that I’m a hypocrite for not allowing my children. I know now that it’s wrong.

In regards to getting married if co-habituating; if the priest allows you, you will need to go to Confession before taking vows.

God Bless.


In the case I know, the priest asked the couple to live as brother and sister.


I wonder if this is just because more devoutly religious people are less likely to live together and also less likely to divorce? As opposed to secular people who divorce and live together more often. Not sure therefore if one thing actually causes the other :shrug::confused:


My DH and I met in High school, we dated all throughout HS and College and all thorough out twenties. When I was in my early 30’s we moved in together. A year later we were engaged and started planning our wedding. The Pre Cana class we took was designed for couples living together. I told no lies about our situation. We are coming up on our 8th wedding anniversary.


this is what studies have demonstrated repeately. One’s judgement is clouded if they are already having sex which is a pretty powerful bond. When one doesn’t follow the design of God, then there are consequences that follow. It interfers with marital bonding afterwards.



Can. 1058 All persons who are not prohibited by law can contract marriage.

I invite anyone who believes the Church should refuse marriage to co-habitating couples to show the just prohibition in the law.

Who is Not A Canon Lawyer

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