This is one of the most difficult blogs I have written. It has taken me forever to publish it. Now that the time has come I feel freshly again the weight of this issue, and I’m not gonna lie, I have some anxiety about these posts because I know I’ll say some things that will be difficult to swallow for some. In reality, this subject is deserving of a book, not just a short series of blogs. There is too much to cover and too many questions to address in a quick few paragraphs. So why am I writing it? Well, the truth is I deeply desire for you, friend, to understand God’s perfect and fulfilling design for your relationship with the person you will marry.
I know that these blogs will offend some. . . but that is not my goal at all! Please hear me out, my desire is not to make you uncomfortable or defensive. (Believe me, as I said above it is uncomfortable for me to write it!) My desire is to love you by at least bringing these things to your attention so you can hear the other side of the story and consider a way of doing relationships that you might not have considered before. This is one of the most significant issues people are facing today and I believe there is a lack of clarity around the decision for some. At least if you disagree with me, you’ll know and understand my points.
So what is this all about? Cohabitation. First lets define it. When I say “cohabitation” I am talking about when a dating or engaged couple decides to move in together under the same roof, often but not necessarily with plans to eventually marry. It’s a popular and normal practice now. But I believe in the bottom of my heart that God’s design for marriage does not include living together beforehand. There is another way that I believe is better. Better for you and better for your relationship.
According to an article in the New York Times published in April of 2012, the rate of cohabitation in the US has increased by 1500% in the last half-century. In the year 1960, 450,000 unmarried couples lived together and today that number has risen to over 7.5 million. Regardless of what you believe on this issue, it is happening everywhere around you. In fact it is not only culturally accepted in the west, but is becoming a powerful cultural norm.
Why do couples do it? There are usually multiple factors. For many it is seen as a step toward marriage, and the idea is to “try out” the arrangement and see if it works; to truly get to know one another in the everyday, and avoid the trap of only seeing someone’s “best behavior” while dating. For others it’s partly about the bills and finances. Some are so ready to get out of their current living situation (with parents, bad roommates, rent is too expensive, etc) that moving in with their boyfriend or girlfriend is seen as a better alternative. Still others may see the arrangement as a way to delay or avoid the commitment of marriage. The decision to move in together for some couples isn’t a planned out decision at all. Many say it “just happened.” researchers call it “sliding, not deciding.” Most people would probably say it just seemed like a natural step; they love each other and want to be together. The reason’s are countless and complex.
It makes sense right? If marriage is about intimacy and companionship, then why wouldn’t a couple want to wake up together with morning breath, figure out housework, share the expense of a home, and go to the store to get meds late at night when one of them is sick? Doesn’t it makes sense to experience all these things before signing your life away to this person before you know if it will actually work?
Well, it seems logical and maybe even wise. But is it really? If you are willing to open your heart and mind about the issue, I hope you come back tomorrow for part 2.