Whether you call it “test-driving marriage,” “living together,” “shacking up” or “living in sin,” cohabitation is on the rise. Sadly, so are the consequences of sharing a home without the commitment of marriage.
Try as you may, it’s not easy to defend cohabiting as “just the same as marriage.” The following myths and truths paint a compelling picture.
So, what do you do if you’re convinced that living together is/was a bad idea, after all?
- If you haven’t moved in together yet, don’t. Even if you think you’re the exception; that you can dodge the realities listed above, why risk it? If you “really love each other and plan to get married some day” why live together and lower your odds to 30 percent? Or if you buck that trend and do get married, why increase your likelihood of divorce 80 percent over couples who didn’t live together first?
- If you’re already living together, end it. It doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship. It just changes it to a more appropriate dating relationship, where you’ll be able to actually court and romance each other and work toward a possible marriage. Reclaim your singleness. Wouldn’t it be nice to be “wooed” again? You either consciously decided to live together or you drifted into it. How it happened doesn’t matter. Now, consciously decide to stop living together. Take a look at alternatives so you can afford to get out. If money’s an issue: find a roommate, move back in with your parents for a time, look for a more affordable place.
- If the person you’re living with disagrees with changing your relationship, is he or she really worth having anyway? Ask, “So you love me enough to live with me, but not enough to keep dating me and work toward a lifelong commitment together?” If that’s the case, ask yourself, “What kind of commitment is that?”
- Get some support. It’s probable this won’t be an easy transition. Doing the right thing rarely is. Whether you’re faced with the loss of a lover who wasn’t willing to stick around after you moved out, or you’re just going through sexual withdrawal (because he was willing to make the change with you and now you’re abstaining), it will be easier to honour your new way of relating sex-free if you have the encouragement of other people. Spend time with couples who agree with your decision to live apart until marriage. Seek out the input of a pastor or other trusted adviser who will reinforce your decision. Don’t go it alone. The temptation is too great.
- Get married. If your reason for moving out is to improve your chances for a lifelong marriage, why not get started? If you were serious enough to live together, you should be serious enough to seal the deal. Talk about getting married. If he/she is willing, find a premarital counsellor. The best place to start the search is at church. Going through a class together should help you make a wise decision about your suitability for marriage to each other. And if you’re not meant to be, why delay the inevitable. Life’s too short to waste precious time with the wrong partner.
Copyright © 2002, Brad Lewis. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.
|Part 1: Test-Driving Marriage|
|Part 2: The Problem with Living Together|
|Part 3: Cohabitation as a Means to Marriage|
|Part 4: Ending the Test-Drive|
|Part 5: Six-Month Security|
|Part 6: Dr. Bill Maier on Cohabitation|