2, 4, 6, 8… please do not cohabitate.

living-with-someone-before-marriageI feel like, lately, I’ve been bombarded with bad news from my girl friends that participate in or are considering cohabitation with their boyfriends. It breaks my heart seeing what they are going through and how much they actually suffer, just to live with the one they love, and how much they are losing and have no idea..

This is such a widely accepted thing in our culture, that men and women would live together, sleep together, have sex, and all the while, not be married. A lot of people have said to me things like: “I don’t think I could marry someone if I’d never lived with them to know how they really are,” or “How do you know you’re truly compatible?” or “We’re test-driving for marriage,” or “I like it because I have control; I can leave whenever I want.”
Now, I’ll wait on what the Bible has to say about the importance of marriage and the dangers of sexual impurity, etc, etc… for a minute. Before I get to that, I want to share some news with you:

Even secular studies in sociology have released results from multiple (quite a large number) of studies that say cohabitation before marriage is not only destroying your chances of marriage, it’s increasing your chance of divorce.

I listened to a really interesting interview a few weeks ago with Glen Stanton on the Boundless podcast who’d written a book about this called The Ring Makes All the Difference. He cited only secular (non-Christian) and mainstream studies. This was not a bible-thumping, Jesus-freak, biased study; these were groups of people who follow mainstream and probably pretty liberal media – have linked high divorce rates among those who cohabitate before marriage. They also found correlation in statistics of couples who waited longer (years) to get married, or even engaged, and high divorce rates among THOSE couples as well.

LADIES: if your goal is to marry the man your with, you actually LOSE POWER when you live with your boyfriend.

Think about those people you know who cohabitate. See if they fit in this model:
One of these studies interviewed a large number of men and women in cohabitating situations and split them by gender.
-One group said that marriage was definitely on the horizon soon, and that there was lots of talk about getting married.
-The other said that they were having fun right now, seeing how things go, and maybe they’d get married someday.

Which was the girl and which was the guy?? To me, that’s all I needed to hear.Scott

I look at people I know who live with each other and they are EXACTLY THAT WAY.
I know of one couple who is on two totally different pages; the girl is practically planning a wedding, and he can neither confirm nor deny it even crosses his mind. Another relationship: the girl says they’re engaged (she has a ring, so I don’t know), but he won’t even talk about actually getting married, even though she wants more kids. A third couple sees their lives going in totally different directions, and yet, they’ve lived together for years and haven’t once had a serious conversation about marriage, even though she’s tried. In another, they swear they’re waiting until school is over, but he hasn’t gone in 2 semesters. A fourth says she’s ready, but he is waiting until they “have enough money to get married, so they can buy a house,” though they’re already paying rent… on a house.

They basically PROVE the study. They might as well have all been a part of it.

The way I see it now is like this:
When you wait to live together (which I’m also lumping having sex into this category) until you’re married, there are so many privileges that are on hold until you actually walk down the aisle and he commits his life to you. Again – sex is a big one, but also, the intimacy of the mundane moments; the sleeping next to each other, the brushing teeth together at night, having breakfast or coffee together in the morning while still in your pajamas, the entertaining guests together, doing the dishes and watching him take out the trash, managing a home together as a single unit… And the rest that goes with it. That’s all on hold until he promises to love you and cherish you for the rest of his life, and also- puts it on legal paper.
But if you move in with your boyfriend and give him all that marriage allows (the cooking, the cleaning, the constant companionship, the sex…) without the actually marriage, you take the ball out of your own court and put it in his. You’re officially waiting on him to decide it’s worth the paper hassle. He has everything in the world a married man has, with the freedom of a single man. You’re giving him all a wife gives a husband, without actually requiring that he commits to you… You completely lose your say in how the relationship progresses at that point.

Now again, this is for THOSE WHO’S GOAL IS MARRIAGE. If it’s not, then… I don’t know what to say to you.
But let me be plain: I’m not advocating marriage just to get married and do these things, or using these things as a form of manipulation or control, because that’s not right either (I know a couple very unhappily married because of that). What I’m saying is that I’m BEGGING YOU LADIES, PROTECT YOURSELVES.
Waiting to live together until you’re married gives you a better chance of not having a man who is going to waste your time, using you for all of these things if he can’t promise to do all that a husband vows to do. Not every husband is a good husband, but there are ways to learn about him and his tendencies BEFORE YOU COMMIT TO HIM. Take the time to learn the guy your with on deeper levels and open your eyes to the big picture. You don’t need to live with him to know what to expect.

I know this from experience. Before I was saved, I lived with a boyfriend, and I can tell you that it did me no good, emotionally, physically, or financially.
Thankfully, God delivers and Christ redeems. I’ve been made new. I’ve never lived with my current boyfriend, and I can tell you that I know that I know that I know that even if I can’t predict every little detail of what living under the same roof will bring, but my eyes are open. I can see that his heart is good and he’s dedicated. When we’ve faced some tough situations, he’s been the first to step up and not just plow through, but to grab my hand and walk with me side-by-side. I know that his heart is for my good because of his actions toward me, as well as his words. So even if I don’t like the way he makes the bed, or he doesn’t like the way I do the dishes, we know that we can love beyond those things and talk rationally about them. He’s respected my feelings about almost everything, while he hasn’t always agreed. THOSE are the important things.
So to those who say they don’t think they can know the person they’re with, I say, “false.” I can see the genuine heart of my boyfriend and God has revealed to us both and confirmed our direction, so I don’t fear commitment to him, and we anxiously await it together. I never feel used or devalued by him, but rather just lovingly adored and free to love him and pursue him with that same passionate heart.

So, okay… I’ve said this before, I’ve said it again, and this is where I’m going to get Biblical.
God has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). If I or we or whoever trusts that God’s plan is good and right, and they are pursuing His will, they won’t need to test drive a marriage by cohabitation because they know that in His time, His plan will be revealed and they’ll be able to confidently marry the one He delivered to them to marry.
God says marriage is honorable, and that the marriage bed should be kept pure (Hebrew 13:4). Living together outside of marriage is a façade or cheap illusion of something God designed to be a representation of Christ’s love for us and our reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21-32). Marriage is the imitation that is flattering. Cohabitation is the imitation of the imitation, the phony that only insults the original. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true…
People aren’t perfect, so we’ll never achieve the same relationship Christ has with His church, but in striving for a Godly marriage, we are at least working toward it. When you remove it one more step and say, remove the Godly aspect of marriage, it gets messier… and then remove the marriage, and it’s even worse off.

And because it happens, I feel the need to address Christians in cohabitation.
Even Christians aren’t perfect and we make mistakes (Romans 3:23) but what kind of representation of God are we to this world if we are living in such blatant and obvious disregard for the Word and desires of God for our lives? We are to be a picture of love, self-control, peace, joy, and THE LORD HIMSELF to the world around us.
Some might try to say that they aren’t having sex, which okay- maybe you’re not. But we are to avoid the appearance of sin (1 Thessalonians 5:22). So whether or not you ARE, what do you think living together looks like to outsiders? THINK ABOUT IT – PLEASE.

For whatever reason, more and more people choose to live together outside of marriage, regardless of what any of this says, but I just can’t help but see here that with or without God directing your life, it’s just not a good idea, especially for the lady in the relationship. We sell ourselves short, we lose our say in our relationship, and in the cases of those that claim Christ is Lord, we grossly misrepresent and disobey our God.

Protect yourselves, ladies. Protect your hearts, protect your image, and above all, protect your relationship with God.
I love you all increasingly more each day, though I don’t know most of you, and I don’t want anyone to have to learn things the same way I have. Please, please, please, learn from my lessons and/or the lessons of others here. Do not believe the lie that living together is a good idea if not necessary. It’s NOT. You’re worth so much more than that.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

LINKS:
http://www.boundless.org/podcast-section/2013/living-room-episode-267
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/352997?uid=3739840&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102541966711
http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2013/07/24/does-living-together-before-marriage-increase-chances-of-divorce/
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/opinion/sunday/the-downside-of-cohabiting-before-marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
http://www.worldmag.com/2013/07/living_together_before_marriage_leads_to_less_committment

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