cohabitation, the new norm?


I turned on the TV last night and immediately saw Bob Barker (or whatever the Jeopardy show host’s name is) on Conan O’Brien talking about marrying his wife. First he said she was 24 years younger…which seemed a little off but I don’t really know the circumstances. But then he went on to say, “She is really old fashioned, for example we didn’t move in together until we were married.”

I’m 24 and have had 2 or 3 friends move in with girlfriends or fiances, but they are the great minority. To a degree I am in a Catholic or at least Christian bubble. Is it really that prevalent? To the degree that I could be called “old fashion” by most, or is he in an opposite Hollywood bubble, why American society between our two positions?

On a side note I just read a head line on CNN: “Morning Sickness so Bad that Mom had an Abortion”. It’s terrible to see that. I’m sorry that mother was feeling so bad. But more saddened that she decided on such a terrible “solution” and that our nation has made that “solution” legal. Prayer. I need to spend more time in prayer.


The moving in together social issue is the result of all sorts of social problems. In western Europe marriage is basically a non-issue, and the US is moving that way itself. First, you have the new found social acceptability as soceity is moving away from it’s Christian roots. You have the Generation Y children that grew up under the divorce generation and many see avoiding marriage altogether as means of avoiding it. Of course for children of these couples when the relationship breaks up it’s no less painful. Feminism has had a terrible effect on family courts, and divorces (enough though the bulk of them are started by women) seek to punish men. As such for the growing number of male secularists there is a strong desire to never be in a situation where a woman can use family courts. The logic being if you’re never married you can’t get divorced and some aging lesbian family court judge can’t give everything you earned with 90 hour weeks to the ex and her new boyfriend. This has also lead to, even within marriage, the separation of property as a means of asset defense. Of course this has negative effects on the unity that is required for a successful marriage.

There really aren’t any simple solutions here. Of course it’s always the duty of Christians to proclaim the gospel and hopefully counter some of these negative social attitudes. Family court reforms are another major issue, and it’s time that reasonable men and women took over these issues from radicals on both sides. There’s also a great duty on married people to be an example to others and not fall into the same traps. Modeling a good marriage for children is the best way they can come to see the benefits of marriage. Of course that means a good marriage in the proper context, which doesn’t include (as some evangelical protestants seem to think) digging up every one of St. Paul’s social instructions to first century Jews and thinking it’s cause to tell your wife she has no say in anything and needs to obey without question. What it does mean is to take to heart what St. Paul meant when he said husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church.


Fashions change very quickly. There is still a perception that cohabitation is rather daring, even though the reality, in Britain, is that marriage before cohabitation is rare, marriage before sexual intercourse almost unknown.

In the USA there is still a traditional Christian culture. In the UK you can always find a few individuals who resist the trend, but they really are a few individuals. Probably not even a majority of practising Catholics.


Yeah, it’s pretty normal. I can’t think of anyone within ten years of my age not in college with me (I’m 20 and go to one of those hardcore Catholic mandatum schools) who didn’t live with their boyfriend before they were married. Another woman I know just had a baby and has been living with the father for some time, but marriage is one of those “yeah, someday” things. The mother, and I think the father as well, grew up in fragmented houses, so it might be that.
But yeah, it seems like cohabitation is just what you do these days. You move in together to test out if you want to stay with each other forever, and then because of the way your financial arrangements are wrapped up, you stay together…


Over the last several decades, marriage in our nation has declined, while cohabitation, divorce and unmarried childbearing have increased.
• From 1970 to 1996, the marriage rate in the United States fell by a third, from 77 to 50 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women.
• From 1960 to 1998, the number of unmarried, cohabiting couples increased nearly tenfold, from 439,000 to 4.2 million.
• Divorce rates also increased from 9 to 23 per married couples from 1960 to 1980, before declining slightly and remaining steady at 20 per 1,000 through 1998.
• Births to unmarried women increased from 11 to 33 percent of all births from 1970 to 1994, then leveled off through 1999.
• Nationally, 1.3 million children are born out-of-wedlock each year.
I do both marriage and baptismal prep. In both cases, overwhelmingly we are seeing a substantial increase in families where children are living with cohabitating parents rather than sacramentally married parents. And if the parents are married, most are married outside of the church. Sad but true. Does not mean that we who do the prep do not explain the errors of their ways and how they are going to face some very serious odds in the long term success rate til death do them part.of their relationship.


Never believed in cohabiting. Have always roomed with someone of the same gender. Now when you consider that I experience same gender attraction there are those who might point the finger and say it’s just the same but it’s not. I’m not having any sexual relations and have to share expenses economically.


Cohabitation unfortunately seems to be the norm today for about-to-marry couples or those in their 20’s who are in long-lasting, committed relationships. I see it all around me, even with somewhat religious people.

It’s nothing new really, either. With the exception of homosexuality, which has really accelerated in acceptance over the past ten years or so, particularly among young people, society seems to have been stuck in something of a holding pattern on sexual morality. This “holding pattern” has been maintained for maybe 30 or 40 years now. I was born in 1986, so I’m not a first-hand witness, but rather speculating, but if you look at statistics and the like, you’ll see what I mean. I don’t see fornication, cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, and promiscuity on the rise or decline. There are counter-currents: the growth of movements like “True Love Waits” and the like which may not be very successful in completely curbing fornication but delay sexual intercourse, declines in sex among high-schoolers, lots of youth involved in religious activities vs. the increasing acceptance of “hooking up”, the extremely popular show Sex and the City’s influence on college-age girls, and the very pronounced rise in acceptance of homosexual behaviors (sometimes with pseudo-religious justifications).


I have a best friend who was in a few relationships that didn’t go anywhere. She’d move in with a guy (sad to say she’s Catholic but only follows the rules as she sees fit) and then breaks it off when something went wrong. Wouldn’t work things out, nothing.

She even mentioned to me a while back that she really enjoy being intimate w/a guy and I tried my best to tell her how wrong it is, not only morally, but physically. I even went on further to discuss the dangers of AIDS and STDS but it fell on deaf ears.

Now come to find out that she was dxed w/ HPV and has had it for some time w/o any physical symptoms. She told me she had to tell her current bf (he lives in MO she lives in NC–they went on vacation in FL last month) about the situation. She told me that she’d be mad if he broke up w/her for not being understanding & sticking by her side through this. sigh

I tried again talking some sense into her. I mailed out information on the difference between lust & love, HPV info, and what the church teaches. She told me not to worry even though I told her that depending on the strain of HPV, it could lead to cancer. She told me she’s not worried that she won’t catch it. All I can do now is pray for her. It’s like talking to a brick wall.

When I was growing up, living together was never really heard of. I pray that my nieces and nephews don’t fall into that mentaility of going along w/what society says is ok to do.


It’s improbable that one can be a practicing Catholic and get married. Possible, but improbable.

And the sad thing is if you are faithful to God, you will probably be rejected by your local parish. Many parishes reject people who are single.


I’m not sure if you typed something you didn’t mean, if I’m reading it wrong, or if you really believe this. But if you believe that…WHAT?!

I’m not married, but the last 2 girls I’ve dated (I am still dating the second) are fully committed to Catholic teaching. None of us are perfect, but we all admit that the Church’s rules are the standard that we’re striving for.

I have even bought 2 books on married saints one by TAN and one by Ignatius Press to get examples of incredible christian living for married people.


I’ve posted on this before and its very difficult for a parent to keep expectations of behavior for late teens and early college kids high when all around us in media or in life - so many examples exist of cohabitation as the new norm. Why? We can, should and do control our behavior responsibley within many expected norms and why should sexual behavior be viewed any differently than say being rude to people? Why?

“But it isn’t” I keep insisting and continue to point to the failures of marriages in our own family where it didn’t do a bit of good and produced fatherless children.

Chris - I hope you find a parish where singles are indeed welcome - there are way too many ministries where singles are needed in parishes - seek out the men’s club, KofC or other organizations - trust me they will put you to work immediately.


Wrong remains wrong even if everybody is wrong.
Right remains right even when no-one is right.



If everyone in my town decided that they’ll start fueling their cars off of ketchup or pixie-stix it doesn’t mean that their cars are going to run. We can’t change our moral rules, God made them true for us at the beginning of time, and as much as we may ignore them, they will always be the correct way.


Okay, I have to say that I am confused :whacky: by this also, could you please clarify your first statement?

Secondly, where is the “backup” for your opinion that is you are faithful to God you will be rejected by your parish. My experience has been the exact opposite. If you feel rejected by the parish can you not choose to go to a different one? Also, please provide support for the statement that “many parishes reject people who are single.”

I am not sure what church you are attending, but I do not even remember a time that I saw a priest see a single guy or girl walk in and say…“Sorry son (daughter), but we are not allowing those that are single today.”


At least where I live (Southern Ontario in Canada) it is very much a norm and considered part of the natural progression of a relationship. When I moved in with my fiance after dating for 4 months, no one blinked an eye (except for my father!). I lived in sin for 3 years before realizing I was doing anything wrong. Now my fiance and I are living as brother and sister until marriage, and it’s hard after sinning for so long!
I’m so impressed by those of you who remained chaste until marriage and I really and truly regret not waiting. I fornicated with others before this relationship and even before I knew it was wrong from a Christian POV I regretted it every time and wished I could restore my purity. Well obviously, you can’t do that and it was too late. I think most women regret not waiting for their husbands, even if they aren’t Christian. I only wish I’d known this sooner!!


Good for you to live as brother and sister. That must be tough for the both of you, hopefully you can remain chaste until you are married. Which is when? Just curious. Also, there is such a thing as a secondary virginity. It is late and I do not have all the particulars in front of me, but you may want to do that. A lot of stories that I have read say that this is a big relief to know that they can become pure again. I think that would have some information on this. Check it out :thumbsup:


I saw the story about the woman that had the abortion. It was terribly sad. She was crying and she deeply regretted it. Apparently she lost a huge amount of weight and couldn’t keep any food down. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong. She later found out she had a disorder that could have been treated to make pregnancy more tolerable. She actually went on to have two more children. She named her first child that she aborted and you could see how devastated she was at her decision. I actually thought the story was good representative of a woman who had an abortion and regretted it. You don’t see that in main stream media these days.


I think he is right. If your a practicing Catholic then people think your strange and go overboard with your beliefs. If you hapen to find a girl your interested in, what are the chances she is catholic AND practicing? Your more likely to find a devoted protestant rather than a catholic, (at least where I live) but that leaves huge problems with doctrine and HISTORY that they choose not to hear or aknowledge.

I bet I could find a needle in a 1000 hystacks before I find someone.


Again, as I did with Chris, I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you. Is this the situation that you find yourself in…single and viewed as strange because you are Catholic? I find this to be a very shallow view of people. Why is it that you feel that being Catholic and following the church is going “overboard?” Why does anyone?

It all depends on where you are looking. In a bar? Chances are you are not going to find that. In Church? Good chance. I think that it all depends upon where you look. But this mentality that there are no good “practicing Catholic” girls out there is so far out in left field.

So your agreement with the statements above is based on your geographical region and the fact that you cannot find a good “Catholic girl” in your own area? Have you thought about branching out a little farther? Have you thought about trying some of the Catholic dating services on the internet? Just curious.

Where do I call to place that bet? :thumbsup:


There’s a lot of truth in that. The pool of young practising Catholics who are faithful to the magisterium of the Church is small. Then all the normal ways of establishing a relationship are closed to you. Finally, others are suspicious of single people, even within the Church.

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