Cohabitation as "brother and sister"


So, I have been living with my fiance for close to 5 years. However, I converted to the Catholic Church back in May. At the time the priest basically said we just need to live as “brother and sister”, which we continue to do until we get married. I have been going to Mass and receiving communion ever since.
But I was listening to Catholic Answer live and someone said those who are cohabitating cannot receive communion! :eek: Does this just pertain to those cohabitating and giving no thought to living a chaste life, or to cohabitating period ?



You are under the direction of your priest, who knows you and your situation, so you should continue to** listen to him**.

What is said or not said on a radio program should not simply be grasped out of context.


Your situation is different in that you have stopped the sex but still living together. Most cohabiting couples are not doing that. you are also speaking to your priest. to be honest with you though. living together with someone not of your family and the opposite sex does give rise to scandal and looks rather questionable even though you are living as brother and sister. I guess if you are already together, then why wait to get married? I meant that not to demean you at all, just kinda curious because this is very unusual situation.


CC you have to use your brain and judge context not just phrases bandied about.
Without context “cohabitation” of course usually means an implied sexual relationship without marriage.

As others state, raise the question with your Confessor not us - he understands YOUR situation better than we do.




The OP is following the directions of her priest, so as a new Catholic I think it is dangerous for anyone on the internet to give her contrary advice. I am sure the priest has considered the ramifications including the possibility of scandal. In terms of “why wait to get married” the Church often requires couples to wait a significant period of time. In my former Archdiocese, all couples were required to contact the priest a full year prior to the wedding date for preparation, etc…just “getting married” is not an option in most dioceses - it is a very lengthy process.


Listen to your priest.


Very happy for your becoming Catholic! :slight_smile:

First if let me say - Prep for marriage is best done when one is not living in such a situation.

I would encourage you to seek other arrangements. There are many things to be considered. Living together before marriage is not only problematic in terms living unchastity. There can be other aspects - including potential scandal…etc. Usually “living together as brother and sister” - is about those who are say legally married and have little ones etc. I would revisit all these things with the questions you raised.


Usually the brother-sister thing is advice given to those who are in an invalid marriage but choose not to abandon it (perhaps for the sake of children that have resulted from that union).

And when an unmarried couple cohabits, the assumption off the bat is that they are having sexual relations. (Thus the advice not to receive communion)

I know that my parish’s pastor will not marry a couple who has been cohabiting (regardless of whether they are in the same bed or not) unless they live separately for at least 6 months beforehand.

But your pastor knows your situation…and, as others have said, you should follow his guidance. Having said that, you need to make sure that he fully understands your situation (could prevent problems later on down the road).


By definition, if you are living as “brother and sister”, you are not strictly speaking “cohabiting”.


While not “cohabitation” in the usual use of the term (due to the reality that most who do so are also engaged in sexual relations–hence unusual)…


Co-habitate. “live - with”.

Guy and girl living together…

Not married. Not family. In a relationship.

Words aside - such still remains problematic.



Catholic Answers Apologist:


And it is important to note that those “living as brother and sister” in an invalid second marriage - are doing so for* serious reasons *-such as raising the Children and would thus not be able to separate. (See Familiaris Consortio -Bl.Pope John Paul II).

And more from Catholic Answers

Catholic Answers Apologists:


There is cohabiting and then there is merely living together under one roof; my dictionary has the definition of cohabit as “live together and have a sexual relationship without being married”, you are merely living together.


The meaning of words is more than the denotative sum of the parts. Cohabitation specifically means living together in a sexual relationship, which is how it was used in the radio broadcast the OP listened to.


As I said - words aside.

The fact that a persons situation does not fit the q&a on that radio show -per the term in its usual sense - only means that such did not fit that q&a. Not that is current situation is not something to revisit.

See posts above. Including from Catholic Answers Apologist.


Here more from the Main Catholic Answers site - from Catholic Answers Apologist:


Here was that reply I mentioned:

Q: What if the a man and his girlfriend did not have any sexual relationship for the entire period of cohabitation?

Even if a couple does not engage in sexual relations for the entire time of cohabitation, their “shacking up” gives scandal and can be become an occassion of sin. For “the person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense"(CCC no. 2284). “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!” Luke 17:1

Peggy Frye
Catholic Answers Apologist


I know that but as other posters on this thread have pointed out living together under one roof with a member of the opposite sex that isn’t family does give rise to scandal because it gives the appearance of what a majority of cohabiting couples do which is sharing the same bed. That is good he is working with the priest on this. Most dioceses the marriage prep is 6 months, not a year and I know many priests will not marry couples that share the same address and require them to live physically apart. There is a lot of info not given here and it seems like Op is working with the priest and they are trying to make things right. But the bottom line is that this does create a question and scandal for others and needs to be looked at.

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