Engagement - Cohabitation - Marriage


#1

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.

[LIST]
*]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
[/LIST]

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.


#2

So I apologize to you apologetics for this long post, but I know no other way of expressing what I have said. While there was no direct question, I am looking for feedback on this matter, but please do not give me the general, run-of-the-mill, Bible quote, Catechism #, speech… I am already well seasoned in the generality. I am looking for specific feedback in regards to everything I have addressed. (You can most certainly use generalities, but don’t just leave it at that).


#3

Your actuarial science is showing…:wink:


Sleeping in the same bed etc is really not the way to go for any unmarried couple. Not really the choice to make - no matter how one may think or act etc. Such is for marriage.

Yes it is “do not judge” that is that for us towards others (and one may read Msgr. Pope’s articles on what such really means and does not mean).

We on our part though are not to give scandal. Or darken our lights…

Yes scandal is a very very real issue. And Christians are not to appear to others that they are living as many others in society around them. They are to be lights set upon a hill.

If one has been long prepared for and called to Marriage - then be simple - enter into the Great Sacrament of Marriage. One does not need any big celebration. Be simple. Get married. Resist the current “wedding culture” that one must plan all these things (with all the hugh costs) etc and live simply.

You have noted that you both are quite prepared.

Here is my being specific:
*
Be simple and marry.*


#4

“…it is good for your wedding to be sober and to emphasise that which is truly important…”

~ Pope Francis


#5

Great answer! Remember you are also setting an example for the siblings too. Weddings do not take years to plan, go simple and remember what is really important.


#6

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

OP:
Sounds as if You and your future wife have already done all of the prepwork… you have the ring, get it out and put it on her finger at the very next romantic opportunity… set the wedding date and be done with it already…

Remember, it is a Husband’s responsibility to help get his Wife into heaven, not to place her in harms way! :yup:


#7

:thumbsup:* Very important point*


#8

As Pope Francis noted…be “sober” …(see quote above).

(and that was not about alcohol -but there too be sober!)


#9

Absolutely it’s a husband’s responsibility to help his wife get into heaven. My frustration is that, if sin is a private matter between yourself and God, and if you do not give into sin and are only guilty of the scandal (as mentioned) and not fleeing the occasion of sin, then are those two sins (scandal and not fleeing) grave sins to the point that I am barring my future wife from heaven? Or are they venial. And if we avoid giving into sin but do not flee from the occasion of it (sleeping in the same bed, etc…), then is it not simply a matter of trust between yourself and God?

Take this scenario for example: Is it a sin to go to work every day knowing that there is a coworker who wears seductive clothing (tight clothing, etc…), by which that event - every day - might put the thought of lust into your mind? Do you quit your job solely because of that coworker - because it’s a sin? I was under the impression that sin is the action of sinful thoughts, but that sinful thoughts were not inherently sinful. Of course there is sin of omission, but every single person encounters that type of sin in their daily life.

As far as getting “done with it already”, that’s impossible as we are both still in school. And when the time comes for making this final decision, there will still be at least a year until the actual wedding. She has her nursing exams to take and I have my actuary exams - in her mind, it will be stressful enough already so she cannot really start planning until mid senior year.

Haha :wink: You know it.

The hard thing is we cannot be simple and marry at the moment, due to school, and right after graduation, because it requires planning. Like I said above, the earliest she will start thinking of picking dates is halfway through her senior year (in all likeliness). Sad to say, we embrace this wedding culture and it makes her ecstatic. :slight_smile:

…Oh, and also. First time I asked her dad (very recently) for his blessing, he mistook what I said as asking for his permission and told me “No”. I am sitting down with her parents at the end of this month to discuss how I am not asking for permission but rather asking for their blessing. Then I’ll do it within a few months, as school will have begun for her already.


#10

You two are creating your own difficulties.

I had friends while in University who go married.

Simple. Be simple and listen to Pope Francis …“a sober” approach to the celebration (not that he does not also note the that the celebration can be important).

So if one choose’s (and one must still have a celebration within Christian bounds of course) to have a more elaborate wedding -that is a choice. But do not use that as a “reason to live together”.

With that choice (of that celebration and planning) comes the sacrifice of other matters. And can involve living in less than desires (and of course separate) situations.

Be simple.


#11

Putting the fluff aside - even keeping it a simple wedding is out of the question. It’s unreasonable because it would completely take up our time and focus and it’s not what we want right now. We want to be married after school yes. And that is what we’re doing… we’re not living together now, this whole thread was meant to be poised in the future.


#12

Sleeping in the same bed etc is really not the way to go for any unmarried couple. Not really the choice to make. Such is really for marriage.

Be it for weekends or for a year…


Weddings are not really out of the question. As I noted I had friends who did it even during University studies. Keep it simple. Detach from the “idea” and all the expensive approaches that are common…


If one needs to get married then after School -then plan for such. Find the needed means to live separate until the blessed day arrives.

Then move in together after the wedding. Then it will be your apartment together and life as two persons united in Christ will move forward together.

Here is an article that can be of interest: He has been a guest on CA show in the past. Full of actuarial - like stuff.

blog.adw.org/2012/08/marriage-mania-average-couple-spends-more-than-26000-on-weddings/


#13

Keep in mind the example you set for less faithful people. Living together=premarital sex is okay…whether you are chaste or not! that is the message you send.


#14

Sleeping in the same bed etc is really not the way to go for any unmarried couple. Not really the choice to make. Such is really for marriage.

Be it for weekends or for a year…


Weddings are not really out of the question. As I noted I had friends who did it even during University studies. Keep it simple. Detach from the “idea” and all the expensive approaches that are common…


If one needs to get married then after School -then plan for such. Find the needed means to live separate until the blessed day arrives.

Then move in together after the wedding. Then it will be your apartment together and life as two persons united in Christ will move forward together.

Here is an article that can be of interest: He has been a guest on CA show in the past. Full of actuarial - like stuff.

blog.adw.org/2012/08/marriage-mania-average-couple-spends-more-than-26000-on-weddings/ (from Msgr Pope)


#15

Understandably those less faithful have the possibility of giving into that mentality, but if we are keeping each other close to God and in line with our faith - avoiding the committance of sin - then would the only fault we would retain be a scandalous public image?

Thanks for that link - I’m looking into it. And well, the plan is to live separately IF she does not get that job in NY. If she does, well that’s where this thread began.


#16

Sooo, if you don’t want to rush the wedding, then why not live in separate housing with roommates if you are both living in NYC? It may not be ideal financially or socially (if you get a bad roommate), but I don’t think that you will find people here who will tell you that cohabitation is OK before marriage under any circumstances. And I think doing so would damage your relationships with each of your families, parents and siblings.

Also, there is something special about the time when newly marrieds set up house after the wedding with all of the gifts and well wishes; it would be a shame to miss that time with each other.

Ultimately, the choice is yours and your girlfriends.

Also, why did her father say ‘no’ when he thought that you were asking permission to marry his daughter? I guess I’m not clear on is what the difference is between asking for permission vs asking for his blessing, and why he would say no. It might be important to find out if he had any reservations.


#17

If she gets that job in NY then she can live as she would without ever knowing you…like others in NY who get jobs in NY. Or she can commute to NY from NJ. Many do.

The Christian way passes by way of the cross.


Your welcome - read the whole…

And here is a nice snippet:

“Some are surprised when I tell them they don’t have to spend a dime to get married in the Church. They can come to the Chapel with two witnesses and I’ll even buy them lunch. The usual push-back I get is that my suggestion offends against dreams (usually of the woman who wants a picture perfect “Church Wedding”).” ~ Msgr Pope

Hey your only three hours away…take him up on the offer -and he will feed you too :slight_smile:


#18

This sounds fishy. Bookcat’s right about everything - keep it simple (since simple seems necessary to avoid sin) and you all can certainly get separate places in NYC just like everyone else does there who is single.

You’ve already discerned this marriage prospect fully; I assume she has too. Therefore, propose marriage to her within the week, or the next time you see her if that’s further off. She’ll say yes, even if it isn’t the ideal romantic setting.

Get a wedding date that predates her NYC job. Usually the Church insists upon a 6-month time frame, but it is flexible. Talk with her pastor. Plan a wedding, as extravagant as you prudently like, under the circumstances (the timing).

My wife and I were married in 2000 under similar time constraints right after grad school and before a job. We got married for $500 for everything. A beautiful ceremony (the important part), a rented KoC hall, an inherited dress, a self-baked cake, a rented convent space for out-of-town guests, and a potluck dinner - we all had a good time. We put God first and let the rest sort itself out as it may.

Do not succumb to the wedding hysteria culture. God first!


#19

I agree with you all the way. Sounds like he has all the excuses. We have had many beautiful Church weddings in our family and kept it very reasonable. Even set up big tents and had the receptions in the front yard. There is no excuse for not doing it right. God Bless, Memaw


#20

See your pastor; follow his instructions. Get married then have the reception your families want. Live your lives as you know they’re supposed to be lived and stop factoring in “secular” criteria that bears weight only when you give them weight. God is Supreme so live your lives accordingly. Simple. God Bless you and your future wife.


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