Premarital Cohabitation Situations - Am I Being Too Harsh?


Okay, forgive the length of this post. I tried to make an appointment with my priest this morning, but his secretary left early for the day, and I can’t call back until Monday. So, I’d like some solid, faithful advice from those wiser than me. (I will still speak with Father next week, but DH suggested I post, too, since this is eating at me.)

Situation #1: Brother lives with girlfriend, they have 2 year old DD. They live in town. I have never visited their home, and did not help them move. They are welcome in my home (not overnight). The only people who are Catholic are myself, DH, and DD.

Situation #2: Sister lives with fiance. They live out of state. Before I found out they were cohabiting, I enthusiastically agreed to visit her this fall. I told her that now, I cannot stay at her home, eat meals there, assemble wedding favors there, etc., but I would still like to make the trip (I just can’t go see her house, and we could do everything at my hotel room). Rehearsal dinner is planned to take place at her residence, I am Matron of Honor. What a pickle. Again, the only Catholics are me, DH, and DD. When my sister announced the living situation, the family was mad at me for being “judgmental” despite knowing my stance (brother moved in with girlfriend before sister moved in with fiance). There should have been no surprises. :shrug:

Situation #3: DH’s best friend informed us he will be moving in with Catholic girlfriend and proposing marriage soon. Girlfriend is civilly divorced from a Muslim man (less than 1 year). Told DH that we can only attend the wedding if they get married in the Church, since the woman is Catholic. Her mother has encouraged her to seek a declaration of nullity, but she has not done so yet (don’t know if she was married in the Church the first time or not). It is highly likely DH will be asked to be a groomsman. (More pickles…:smiley: )

My take on all of these situations: Politely take a stand, don’t show approval, don’t visit in their homes, but make them welcome in mine. DH says I am being too harsh and restrictive, and that I am turning people off.

I don’t think I forgot anything…

What say you?


I’m with you.


Thank you, 1ke. I was hoping you’d chime in. :smiley:

I think I forgot to mention… If the Rehearsal Dinner is at my sister’s house, and I refuse to go because she’s living with her fiance, DH is afraid that I will alienate the family even more from myself. But I feel that to be consistent, I have to decline the invitation to their home regardless of the nature of the event.

To be clear, I am willing to do whatever is morally correct, even if it means unintentionally angering my family in the process. And since no one is Catholic, I’m sure they all hate the Church now. :frowning:


If it were me, I’d probably go to the rehearsal dinner.

They will be married the next day, and you plan to attend the wedding. If the pastor hasn’t counseled them to separate and they are *that *close to getting married I probably wouldn’t alienate my whole family over it. Ask your priest.

But, as to staying at the brother’s house or being in/attending a wedding outside the Church-- no I wouldn’t do that.


Since neither of them are from church-going families, there is no pastor to offer council (they are getting married outdoors, by whom I don’t know… a justice of the peace, perhaps). I see your point about the rehearsal dinner, I just didn’t want to be viewed as being “selective” on applying moral principles. (“But Beloved, you wouldn’t come over to help put the favors together, why are you coming to the RD?”)

I will definitely ask Father about all of this, for sure. :thumbsup: Thank you.


My own personal opinion: You can’t force someone to believe what you do and the way you do. They are family and to expect them to do what you would do isn’t really fair, nor is it very christian in my opinion.
Teach them by example. They will learn.
But I am curious, are all your friendships Catholics only?


I would not stay the night at a co-habitating couples home but I do think you are going too far. Do you check to see what sins other family and friends have before visiting with them? Do you ask if they use birth control or cheat on their taxes? I understand your feelings but to your non-Catholic family members you are probably coming across as a snooty, holier-than-thou religious nut (not that you are just saying that’s probably what the think).

I don’t think it would do very much as far as evangelization goes - the Catholic faith is probably coming across as a restrictive, judgemental, unforgiving religion in their eyes. We know the beauty of the teachings of the church. I think we have to meet people where they are in their walk. Refusing to go to a rehersal dinner or assembling wedding favors I think is over the top, you are probably doing more harm than good by taking such a rigid stand. We all are sinners, I think we need to be a bit more humble when dealing with non-Catholic friends and relatives.


Quote by Katie1723:
Teach them by example. They will learn.

:thumbsup: It is not a matter of compromising your values, it is a matter of how you present them. More flies are caught with honey than vinegar you know.:wink: While you are in the company of these couples it is a good time to show them by your actions. Preaching to most folks (especially from sibs) usually just turns them off.


Actually, only 2 friends of mine are Catholic. I wish I had many more.

Of course I can’t force someone to believe what I believe, but I can’t be forced to give up my beliefs, either. And what good of an example do I teach, if I say I’m against something, but never really act on it? I am not trying to be mean to my family, and trust me, these issues pain me. I cannot force my siblings to not live outside of marriage with romantic partners, but I can’t go on pretending that it doesn’t hurt their relationship with God, either.

I am trying to be the best Christian I can, and saying that I am not being a very good one is very hurtful. But I did want honest opinions about what others thought of my situation, so thank you for your honesty.


I think my fear is one of scandal. Because cohabitation is a public act, I am afraid of causing scandal and making it appear as if I approve of their decisions. I would hate to lead someone away from the Church, but having someone think that Catholics think it’s okay to premaritally cohabit is dangerous, I think, and would do more harm than good.


Yes, I avoid preaching at all costs, but when directly questioned about why I believe something, I feel the need to answer honestly. I try to be very sympathetic to everyone’s situations, and am honestly scared of compromising my faith.

I appreciate everyone’s opinions so far. I knew that I risked being too harsh, which is why I posted. I am honestly looking for answers, and am not trying to condemn anyone (especially my own family). I just want to put Jesus first.


My dear, you aren’t the one "living in sin " with someone.
Personally, I think you are being a bit “snooty” . They are family for goodness sake. You can disagree with what they are doing without ostracizing them. I am sure they know how you feel. But really, you should back off and enjoy the fact that you have family living. Some of us don’t.


I’m having a hard time imagining the Jesus who ate with sinners and tax collectors declining to visit in the houses of co-habitating couples. They would definitely know what he believed - because he would carry the Light into the house with Him. I have such a deep respect for the fact that you are trying to do the right thing. I’m just not sure if you are doing it the way Jesus would have done it - I may be wrong. I am wondering if your family will ever be willing to listen to the Truth when it comes from such a stance. Jesus very specifically said not to judge people, and to work on the beam in your own eye not the mote in someone else’s. I realize this is not a mote, but another beam, but I don’t think that’s the point Jesus was trying to make :wink:

As I said, I may be judging your specific situation wrong, and I will definitely be listening to the other responses with an open mind.


Sounds a bit like shunning to me. —KCT


I was brought up Catholic and have been taught all my life from my parents and Catholic school that love is unconditional (especially in families) and we should have tolerance towards the things that we do not understand or agree with as everything we do is *our own *personal choice and view ***and ***God made us all.

I personally, love my brother too much to do that to him or my sister (if i had one.) To me family is so important… I would *stand by my family even if i didn’t agree with them, i was brought up to love unconditionallly. I could never say to my beloved brother that i would not enter his home because his own personal choices didn’t agree with mine, but that he could come to my home. Knowing my *brother, i think i would offend him by saying that.

You’ve got my curiosity going now…

Why would you *only *attend your husband’s best friend’s wedding if they marry in a Church? What will you do If he is asked to be best man or a groomsman and it is not in a Church, let alone the Catholic Church?

My DH has a friend from his work who is getting married next Saturday in their backyard, and i wouldn’t dream of us not going because they are not marrying in a Church… What would they think of me and my Catholic faith? I am not to judge them. They live together, she is pregnant to him and she has 3 children from a previous relationship. They love eachother and love is from God.

We went to a Christian Naming/Baptism Ceremony too which was outside on a property in all of God’s glorious nature…trees, birds singing etc - it was beautiful… I wouldn’t do it, but i still saw the beauty in it… :slight_smile:

I know an ex Catholic nun who is happily married to a Buddhist… He respects her faith and the children were brought up Catholic…

I am a fairly open minded Catholic, maybe that is why i couldn’t do it, but each to their own Truly Beloved… :slight_smile: If that is how you truly feel, then you shouldn’t do anything that you are uncomfortable with. I married an atheist in my Catholic Church… it is paying off… He is now an agnostic not an atheist… Anything is possible with God! You know what the next step is for my DH don’t you? :smiley:

We have a 3 + 1/2 yr old son, and are desparetely trying to give him a sibling. It would break my heart to know if we are blessed with another child, that they would not have unconditional love for eachother and between them as they grow up together… :frowning: No, i wouldn’t like that… If my son God forbid, would end up homosexual - i would love him just the same, no limitations on my love for my child - regardless of what he does. I may not like it or approve, but as his mother, i will love him unconditionally as God loves me.

Anyway, that is my take on the situation… You must do what you feel is right in your heart, and go talk to your priest of course…

I hope you get it all sorted out Truly Beloved. :slight_smile:

God bless.


Of course I don’t think I’m ostracizing them - they are still more than welcome in my home, and I spend time with them in all sorts of public places - but maybe they feel ostracized, nonetheless.

See, I had thought of this, too, except I had thought of Him eating with prostitutes. But then I read something from someone (here on CAF, I think), pointing out that yes, Jesus welcomed prostitutes, but He didn’t go into the brothels to do it. This is what got me thinking, you know? So I thought that keeping my own door open to everyone was okay, while declining an invitation to theirs. Does that make sense?


Remember that our Lord entered the homes of the most wicked, so long as HE was welcome. Once there, He also charitably spoke the truth. These are your people you love. Do not judge them. You can point out your disapproval, and explain why, but of course charitibly. Try to be as Christ would be, as should we all when confronted with these situations. It is not the easy road, but it is the one to which we are called. Remember of course to pray liberally for all involved.

Yours in Christ,



This is a very hard question. How to participate in life in the world and still maintain our faith.

Well, they know what you think.

Jesus would go. He would stay in their house. He would make the party favors and have fun and be loving.

You don’t catch anything or cause scandal if you stay in the house of a sinner. We are all sinners.


I would only attend if it were in a Catholic Church because the future bride is Catholic. It was my understanding in RCIA that if a Catholic marries outside the Church, they are not validly marrying, and I would be witnessing “fornication” of sorts, which is a sin for me. For non-Catholics, like my sister and her fiance, it’s not an issue, since they aren’t bound by Canon Law. We are attending their wedding, and it’s outdoors… A nice little secular wedding. :wink:

Thank you. I was also raised to love unconditionally, and I do love them, no matter what they do. I was also raised to stand up for what is right. For instance, if my brother commits murder and I know about it, I have to tell him it’s wrong and I cannot lie to police to protect him or cover it up. I know murder is a much bigger issue, and there’s no comparison to cohabitation, but I thought the example illustrates how I feel about the situation. Unconditional love and standing up for what is right are not mutually exclusive, I don’t think.


Steven and Paul, thank you for your opinions, as well. I truly appreciate that you could give me your assessment of my situation without calling me things like un-Christian, judgmental, snobby, etc. I have had enough of that, already. :stuck_out_tongue:

All of these opinions are really making me look forward to speaking with Father next week! I really want to get all of this settled, and it’s nice to know what others think of the situations I described.

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