Generalities make life simple, but life is not made up by generalities. It’s the specifics that truly exist and truly make life difficult. Allow me to explain.
*]Girlfriend and I have been dating for 4.5 years
*]We are both in seperate colleges (2 hrs apart), I in New York, her in New Jersey (where we’re from)
*]During college visits, we have slept in the same room and in the same bed without involving the occasion of sin (both with and without roommates present)
*]I will proposing to her within the next year
*]We are chaste and devout Catholics
*]We have the complete intention of marrying and have already gone great lengths to prepare (private pre cana, spiritual direction, etc.)
*]Both our families are Catholic (mine more so than hers, but nonetheless)
*]We are pursuing very rewarding careers (nursing and actuarial science, her and I respectively)
*]We will have a decently sized student loan debt between the two of us upon graduation
Now that I’ve briefly walked you through those bullet points, my main issue. As I indicated, I will be proposing to her within the next 365 days. I have already purchased the ring - it’s gorgeous - and am currently in the process of speaking with her parents about the whole matter. She has expressed to me she loves the idea of being engaged before we graduate and marrying after, as opposed to engaging after graduation and waiting even longer to be married.
But here’s the issue I face: most likely, the only way we will be able to plan the wedding is a year to a year and a half after graduation (graduate in May, begin working, plan wedding, have it the following spring/summer). That means, as I aspire to work in NYC, I will most surely be living there. She is looking at nursing in either NJ or NY. If she goes with a job in NJ, she will live at home and work close by, while I will be away in the city (1.5 hours away) and will only be able to come home on weekends (not to mention she will have weekend shifts). So that is a difficulty to be met when the time comes.
BUT, in the event that she finds a job in NYC, as will I, we have discussed living together (in the most literal sense). It’s absolutely ridiculous to consider two separate apartments with NYC pricing, so that has been ruled out. Not to mention we will have been dating for over 8 years (entering our sophomore year now), sex free and baby free. We trust each other and even at the temptation of sin, we do not give in and stand our ground. College visits have given us the opportunity to see if we can withstand this temptation and keep one another safe and chaste. There has been no major issue in this situation.
So the main frustration is my parents disapproval of this, as well as the Church’s view on cohabitation, and still the publicized reports detailing divorce rates amongst couples who live together before marriage.
**On my parents: they are incredibly conservative, to a point that it does get a bit silly in certain situations (not this; matters of less importance). For some reason, even after 4.5 years, and even being college students, my parents still have my younger siblings follow us around my house (when we’re over) and it becomes a bit too much sometimes. I love my siblings to death, but you know how that can get. So I still get the feeling that my parents do not trust me OR are in denial that we really are chaste (I do not think it is the latter, but who knows). I have come outright and said that we are not engaging in anything immoral, especially in light of our college visits, but I do not think my point got across 100%.
On the Church’s view: I have read countless articles and posts on CA, as well as other websites, and have found that the Church is against cohabitation due to the fact that it can lead to immorality and scandal. Immorality in the sense of either the occasion of pre-maritial sex or the temptation of, and scandal being others’ impression of our faith life and how since we have no issue living together - why should they?.
I completely side with the Church in that couples should not live together before marriage because of the pressures of sexual intercourse and othersuch connotations, and that for couples who do live together in the most literal sense (with the pressure of intercourse partially removed via chastity), they are most at fault for poor display of their religious values.
But now, this is completely the public’s viewpoint (or rather, judgement) of our relationship. Does God not say to avoid judgement, as He is the only one who should judge? We would be approaching the living situation as sign of our financial responsibility and a matter between only us and God - no one else. We will not be living in sin, we will be living in an apartment. We will not be having sex, we will be having dinner. We will not be blaspheming the Church or purposely committing sacralige - we will be attending mass, praying with each other every night, and attending retreats/seminars/engagement counseling, and will be evaluating how one another lives.
On divorce rates for cohabiting couples: I believe it depends upon the couple and if the person you are with is the right one for you. Many of the reports I have read detailed couples who purposely lived together for the sake of being able to have sex and be together intimately before marriage, with an average living time of 2-4 years (compared to our 1 to 1.5). These same reports detailed major issues with communication and conflict resolution, as well as respect for one another. My girlfriend and I have tackled all three of these potential issues and effectively work well in these areas.