Living together


#1

I c/ped an article below as a reference.
I just read the article below, and it really opened by eyes a lot. I am 25 years old and have been married for 2 years, so I guess I am part of the generation that is being written about here, though I didn’t arrive at the mindset most people my age have. The article is full of the usual “test drive the car” analogies, etc. I always wonder why people choose to live together before marriage when the stats speak so much against it. What really gets me concerned is self-centeredness of the article. The author seems really concerned about the issue of closet space and laundry. Yes, these are important issues - but the truth is they pale in comparison to our real goal of marriage - to get our spouse to heaven. Nowhere in this article does the author speak of if her actions edify her partner, nowhere does it speak of his value as a person. His personhood is merely an obstacle for her to work out on her way to geting the laundry done. It made me really happy that I am able to say the goal of my marriage is to get my husband to heaven, with such a responsibility as that I barely have a time to waste feeling overwhelmed by him encroaching on my closet space :slight_smile:
But I guess when you do not have that goal, the little things become the big things since there is nothing to measure them against. Anyways, I thought this might be a great opportunity for some of us to point from our personal experiences why it is NOT okay to live together before marriage. Article to follow.

**By Ami Angelowicz
Source: cnn.com/2009/LIVING/personal/08/14/tf.living.together/index.html

(The Frisky) – It’s undeniable that marriage and relationships in general look nothing like they did 40 years ago. What’s happened? Women’s lib, skyrocketing divorce rates, the death of the nuclear family – and that’s just for starters. The whole game has changed.

A writer considers cohabitating before marriage crucial because it provides new insights into the other person.

Sometimes I think that each generation exhibits a reactionary trend to their predecessors.

I am part of the “divorced parents” era. Although my parents are still married, about 60 percent of all people I meet my age come from broken homes. While this phenomenon didn’t necessarily make us “anti-marriage,” it has certainly made us “marriage cautious” or “marriage disillusioned.”

As a modern woman I know the statistics – if I ever do tie the knot, I know it ain’t gonna be all sunshine and roses. And that’s why I plan to be as sure as I can possibly, possibly be.

Before I exchange any vows, I’ve made a vow to myself: I MUST live with someone before I marry them. I’m not alone in this thinking. About 70 percent of couples are cohabiting before marriage these days, according to research from the University of Denver.

Now, I’ve heard all this “Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?” business (wait, why does it have to be a cow?). And guess what? I don’t care because it’s not about my milk; it’s about the farmer. That’s why when Jeff and I were getting serious, I felt the natural next step would be for us to move in together.

When people say, “You never really know someone until you live with them,” they are speaking the truth. Even though Jeff and I had been dating for a year before we moved in, I had no idea I would discover so many new things about him. The Frisky: How NOT to move in together

Our first major moving-in fight totally caught me off guard.

“No, I want half of the closet. We share this place,” he said, not laughing.

“Are you serious right now?”

“Yes.” And he was.

He proceeded to spread his four shirts out while I crunched my 50 million blouses, dresses, and pants into exactly one-half of the closet. The Frisky: Debate this – should you live together before marriage?

Another surprising moment was our first laundry time together.

“Can you throw my towel in with your wash?” I asked casually.

“No, I don’t really want to mix our laundry.”

“Wait – really?”

“Yeah … we should do our laundry separately.” I was speechless. The Frisky – How to survive the first 30 days of moving in together

Other things I learned about Jeff: He always paid his bills on time; he didn’t mind doing my dishes; he spent a great deal of time cataloging his music collection; he was frugal, except when he splurged on important purchases; he was consistent night and day; and, most importantly, he was an extremely caring and generous person (except when it came to closet space).

Living together is a two-way street. I’m sure Jeff had no idea that I hated doing dishes, slammed doors when I was angry, liked to eat out for almost every meal, couldn’t control myself around his ice cream, and hated to sit around the house doing nothing.

Even though Jeff and I ended up splitting after three years, I would not have traded the experience for anything. We’re still good friends and sometimes I call him up just to remind him about the closet fight. We both find it amusing in retrospect. Living with Jeff gave me a more realistic perspective of marriage and relationships.

That’s why I’m very skeptical about the recent University of Denver study that suggests that couples who live together before marriage have a way better chance of getting divorced. Really? The study suggests that couples who cohabitate may be entering into marriage for the wrong reasons – like financial convenience, testing out the waters, or because of a “We’re already here, why not?” mentality.

While the study may have a point, I don’t think it changes my mind in the least. The findings make me no less cautious about marriage. You’re damn straight I want to test-drive the car before I purchase it (to use another awful analogy). And believe me, this “cow” will be in the driver’s seat before she ties the knot. **


#2

*Thanks for posting this Mia–what a bizarre and somewhat sad article. :frowning:

I believe with almost absolute certainty, that my nephew who is 30 and his wife who is the same age, wouldn’t be going through a divorce right now, had they not lived together. Wait, let me say, they probably wouldn’t have married altogether, had they not lived together. I really believe that in their case, they felt obligated to go to the next step, after living with each other through college, and out of it, for nearly 6 years. It shouldn’t take that long to decide whether or not you wish to marry someone, and I think my nephew would have kept things going as they were, had his wife not pushed and pushed. Now, 4 years into a marriage, they are getting a divorce. Is that the only reason? No, but really, I don’t think they would have married, had they not lived together first.

There are couples of course who are the exception, but I think that for the most part, the stats stand for themselves. Most people who live together before marriage end up in divorce, because they married for the wrong reasons. First, if you really follow God’s plan for marriage, you shouldn’t want to choose this route. It is degrading for both partners, and makes marriage out to be nothing more than sharing closets, and finances. Marriage is way more than that, don’t we know it! :o

I also don’t like the ‘test drive’ the person mentality. Are you marrying a car? So, if your future spouse passes your tests, you’ll marry him/her? How degrading!

I have impressed upon my kids the value of waiting to live someone until marriage–and hopefully, they will choose that route…as it’s really the best plan. :)*


#3

I really believe that in their case, they felt obligated to go to the next step, after living with each other through college, and out of it, for nearly 6 years.

So they wouldn’t have “felt obligated to go to the next step” after dating for 6 years?

People claim that cohabitation leads to divorce, but I’ve long argued against the theory, and I have yet to see a controlled, well designed academic study that proves it - most show a correlation and assume a dependency, which is dishonest at best. Quite frankly, it’s pseudoscience.

What I feel happens is that the more religiously-grounded couples, those that believe marriage is a sacrament, have a lower incidence of cohabitation and a lower incidence of divorce. The more secular crowd that believes marriage is a 5 year commitment have a higher incidence of cohabitation and divorce. This would mean that it’s not cohabitation that leads to divorce, it’s a person’s philosophy about marriage that causes cohabitation and a person’s philosophy about marriage that causes divorce.


#4

*It’s just my hunch between my nephew and his wife, not an exact science nor a one size fits all kind of theory that I have. It seems to fit them, though, having known them for as long as I have.

I agree with your assessment about cohabitating, and that could have been their main reason. I think that they definitely fell into the secular crowd. *


#5

I was more arguing against the general concern with cohabitation rather than your specific case.

It seems like cohabitation is something that’s been banged into people’s heads as an inherently sinful act, and people try to argue against it starting with the assumption that it’s a sin. However, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with it, and disagree with those who do (including some in the Church).

You can make the arguments of near occasion of sin and scandal, but both of those arguments depend on a case-by-case assessment of each relationship and are based on the assumption of fornication, which shouldn’t always be made. A couple with two rooms that do not sleep together have the same near occasion of sin (possibly more) than two couples with separate houses that visit each other alone (then again, there are some that argue that dating without a chaperone is a sin :rolleyes: ). A couple that keeps their living arrangement private is not necessarily subject to scandal.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s a positive thing and everyone currently dating should move in together, but my argument is that, of itself, it’s not inherently a sinful thing. If a couple is acting married (e.g. cohabitating and fornicating) before marriage, that’s a different story, but in that case the issue is the fornication not the cohabitation.


#6

Interesting article…
I wouldn’t move in with my boyfriend/fiance before we got married… if we were serious enough to consider marriage, why not just married then move out? We should be able to put up with eachother’s differences if the love is there.

Though i can’t believe he wouldn’t mix their laundry! Haha!


#7

Towards the beginning/middle of my boyfriend’s and my dating relationship we actually sat down and talked about whether we’d want to live together before marriage or not. We mentioned that our day didn’t feel complete without seeing one another, that we were working towards the same goal of long-lasting marriage that both our parents have, and that we wanted to be successful in our relationship. Those discussions led us to believe that for the most successful marriage possible we should NOT live together.

I do know of people who lived together before marriage, for various reasons and so far all of them are happily married. But, just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it’ll work for us. I’d rather put all my eggs in the bucket that seems to provide more success than being risky. So, until that day we say “I do” we’ll continue to live in separate homes.


#8

This really is the mentality of a lot of young adults. Just recently I had a classmate who said he was living with his girlfriend. He said it’s necessary to “test drive the car before you buy it.” Many others agreed with him. It was only the Mormon kids in my class who didn’t. Good for them.

I must have missed the memo, that human beings no longer deserved respect and should be treated like inanimate objects. :rolleyes:

I honestly don’t believe it is necessary to live with someone to know whether or not you can “put up with them” for the rest of your life. If you are going through pre-marriage counseling and you and your fiance are being honest with yourselves and each other, why the rush? To me, cohabitation seems like it would take the excitement out of getting married to someone. I guess maybe I am a bit traditional, but that’s how I see it.

I also agree with Whatevergirl, that those who are after God’s heart shouldn’t really delve into this kind of thing. You put your soul at risk, kinda like playing with fire you know?


#9

I disagree that cohabitation leads to better marriage. Correlation doesn’t mean causation.

You can test all the cars that want, but if you’re not willing to compromise and realize each of them will have a defect that you’ll just have to get used to you can forget the idea of ever owning a car. Besides, as humans we change and acquire new annoying habits over the years. When that happens, then what? You want to first design a new time machine to see if your future spouse will be someone you can tolerate?


#10

I also agree with Whatevergirl, that those who are after God’s heart shouldn’t really delve into this kind of thing. You put your soul at risk, kinda like playing with fire you know?

Specifically, how are you placing your soul at risk?


#11

Other things I learned about Jeff: He always paid his bills on time; he didn’t mind doing my dishes; he spent a great deal of time cataloging his music collection; he was frugal, except when he splurged on important purchases; he was consistent night and day; and, most importantly, he was an extremely caring and generous person (except when it came to closet space).

My theory… the people who cohabit think that cohabiting helped them get to know each other better than if they didn’t. Because they made the decision to move in and play house relatively early in the relationship.

This woman couldn’t learn about Jeff’s bill paying routine by having coffee with him one afternoon as he wrote his checks and mailed them before they went out?

She never had him over to her apartment and saw him pitch in to help?

She never saw his anal retentive music collection classed by genre and subclassed in alphabetical order and figured things out?

She never went shopping with him and watched how he purchased things? Or looked at the kind of gifts he bought his mom on her birthday or how he spent money at restaurants or how he tipped the waitstaff?

She didn’t observe this constancy over a course of a year and realize it wasn’t an act?

None of what she wrote was stuff that an observant person couldn’t glean (and more) from watching him.

News flash: You can also learn more than you want to know about a man by the way he maintains his car. You don’t need to live in his car to figure out how he treats an expensive purchase and how responsible he is about getting it inspected and renewing his tags.

You can figure his cleanliness habits when he throws a fit because you dripped coffee on his arm rest. (And learn more about him if he reaches over the burn spot on your leg to wipe the coffee off his door.)

You can tell a lot about him by watching what he puts in the collection plate when you attend Mass with him. (Does he have an envelope? Did he actually JOIN a parish? Or does he fish out change and leave the $5 in his pocket.)

You can tell if he is kind by how he treats service people, waiters, and store clerks.

You can tell if he is honest by listening to him lie to his boss and claim he’s sick as you plan a day hiking the trails.

Can he keep a pet alive or a houseplant?

How he treats, children, dogs, beggars and anyone who can’t do anything for him will tell you more about him than living with him will.

It’s bogus. And moving in with someone can be dangerous. What if he ISN’T a great guy. What if you learn that he’s an abusive person and you want to move out? What if he doesn’t want you to? Then you’re a prisoner. And you have to have a totally different way of getting out than if you were dating from separate houses.

None of this even touches the morality of the issue of premarital sex and the attitude both people have of “I don’t have to be married to you to have sex with you.” That’s great! :thumbsup: Now remember that when you’re married and he’s out late and you realize with a sinking feeling in your stomach that for years he told you by his actions that he was just fine with having sex with people he wasn’t married to.

Bad road test. Used car salesmen let you test drive lemons all the time.


#12

*Excellent post, Liberano…my thoughts exactly. *


#13

I hope you’re waring a parachute on all those leaps in logic that you’re taking. When you move in with someone, you’re legally required to have premarital sex with that person? Someone that is willing to have premarital sex is automatically an adulterer?


#14

One thing I’m curious about is how men (in general) perceive cohabitation. From what I can tell, the responders to this thread so far are all female and we probably have had some assumptions about the purpose of cohabitation we’re not even aware we have.

So how 'bout it, boys? Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions?


#15

Yes the used car analogy is infuriating to me. After years and years of women complaining of being objectified, they then equate their value and the value of their boyfriend as being a “car.” Ever been to a used car lot? Well I am sorry, but the more miles on a car, the more it decreases in value. This is why it is dangerous to equate a person with a used car, because you think of their value in quantitative terms and a person’s soul cannot be measured by earthly scales.

Liberanosamalo - You summed it up perfectly, especially the part about “I don’t have to be married to you to have sex with you.” It is such a dangerous game because if someone doesn’t value the idea of sex only within marriage before they are married, why would the suddenly change their mind afterwards? You are setting yourself up for a lifetime of mistrust. You are right also that you can tell a person’s habits and character without living together. Spend some time with his family and lifelong friends, spend afternoons together doing mundane things and see how he is. That will give you some insight. The author of this post did not seem to feel the need to know these things about him before sleeping with him, which is quite a serious plunge to take.

Living together before marriage is a trap that so many people get caught up in. I see many women who wish their boyfriend would marry them, but they settle for his table scraps of “living together.” I think a lot of women lie to themselves and say it is okay, only because they know if they put their foot down and demanded marriage instead they would dumped immediately. There is no self-sacrifice in living together, and there is no love without self-sacrifice. Plus, when a man wants something he goes after it. I am sure many of these people living together, when they want a new car, house, video game – claim it for themselves. If a man wants to marry you, he will move mountains. Yet most men today are full of excuses – hint: he doesn’t want to marry the woman he is with, he wants the readily available sex with no strings attached. I think it speaks to our society today not valuing the entire person, but parts of a person as a means to their own ends.


#16

Sure, there may be some couples that live as “brother and sister” but that is very uncommon and I cannot think of any circumstance where it would be very prudent. And having premarital sex reveals that that person has no issue with sleeping with someone who is not your spouse. Why would that belief system suddenly change when one is married? If you don’t respect the concept of marriage-exclusive sex before marriage, why would you after? BTW I am not talking about someone who has a conversion experience or reverts and repents, all fall short - I am talking about someone who never views the premarital sex as sinful.


#17

*I agree Mia! Table scraps…that is so perfectly stated, too! I couldn’t find the right words, but I definitely think that many women (and men) settle for this ‘arrangement.’ I think that our society has an escape route for just about anything. Don’t want the baby? Abortion. Don’t want to get pregnant? Birth control. Don’t want to get married? Live together.

Not that someone can’t get a divorce if the marriage turns sour, but if one really believes in the Sacrament, they won’t want table scraps. Well put, Mia. *


#18

I’m trying to think of any couple I know who lived together before marriage where it did not end in divorce. I honestly can’t think of one. Every couple I know who cohabitated first is now divorced. :shrug:


#19

Mmm, that’s odd, as I know a number who did, and still are married. My wife and I included. I’m not bragging about it, or saying it was right, but we lived together for 2 years before getting married. Why? I don’t know. We were young, in love, and wanted too. We just didn’t get married first, it’s really as simple as that. Would I do it again? At my age now, no. Turn back the clock and make me 20 again? Probably, as I looked at things very differently back then.

Oh, for reference, my wife and I will be happily celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this year. :slight_smile:


#20

I hope you’re waring a parachute on all those leaps in logic that you’re taking. When you move in with someone, you’re legally required to have premarital sex with that person? Someone that is willing to have premarital sex is automatically an adulterer?

No parachute. Just dismal personal experience with a spouse who felt that way before marriage and married me (we waited) and had never changed his mind about that.

No, you are not legally required to have sex with someone you are cohabiting with. But I would venture that a healthy young couple in love that could live together for months or years without succumbing to temptation or without that temptation becoming a spiritual problem has another issue going on. If they DON’T want to sleep with each other, what is going on? Given the number of people who come to CAF as married people complaining that NFP restricts them from having sex for a week or two a month, apparently people living with each other are incapable of living chastely. (How’s THAT For a leap of logic? :thumbsup:)

Someone who is willing to have premarital sex does not believe in self control or the sanctity of sex within a marriage. No doubt there. I’d bet the statistics would bear me out that people who never exercised the virtue of chastity before marriage would be less likely to exercise it afterwards. You see someone. You want them. You take them. Simple.

As for why men shack up? My guess… free household services, someone to split rent with, laundry and cooking done. All the convenience of mom taking care of them with fringe benefits of a girlfriend on the side. And a ready booty call they don’t have to drive somewhere for on Friday night. (C’mon… none of this is romantic. Romance has nothing to do with shacking up.)

Women shack up because let’s face it, THEY are the car being test driven. They think if they get in an apartment with a man they can convince HIM that test driving them will make him want to buy the car. And they’re already there! No work to make the man have to do. And then he’s not left alone for another woman to easily come along and take. Lots of insecurity going on here with the ladies. If the guy is a cheat, he has to actually leave his house and do it. She isn’t really seeing how devoted he is or how honorable, but she may find out how sneaky he is. Again, you can learn that living separately. Ladies, if he’s easily takeable by some other woman, you want to find that out sooner rather than later!

And by the way, even for those living chastely, those rare stalwart saintly souls who can manage to play house and not fall into bed at some point… this experiment in sharing a roof means little because it is a relationship without the graces of the sacrament.


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