Living Together: Making the Right Moves

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My husband and I had a long distance engagement. We lived across country as we planned the wedding and anticipated getting married and living together. I remember telling my restaurant coworkers that my fiancé currently lived in Texas. Realizing my situation, with wide eyes they asked, “Wait –have you guys ever lived together?”

“No, we wanted to wait until we got married to live together.”

“Whoa! What?! You’ve never lived together and you’re just going to marry this man?! How do you know if you’ll like living together? You might hate living with him.”

Another co-worker looked at me in unbelief. Shrugging and shaking his head he said, “Man, well, I hope that works out for you.” That conversation clearly marked me as the odd one out.

Around that time one of my coworkers in that same circle was contemplating moving in with their significant other. I remember discussing the pros and cons as we rolled silverware.

This second scenario is becoming the norm for both men and women. One report by the National Center for Health Statistics especially agrees that more women than ever live with a partner before they get married. For the purposes of this article, “living together” means two people living together as a couple, including sexual relations, before marriage.@

Are there any real benefits of moving in together before marriage? Why do most people do it? And why did my now husband and I decide not to go with the cultural norm and wait until marriage to live together?

According to a recent Fox News article, many couples decide to move in before marriage for at least four of the following reasons.# The first reason is that if you aren’t yet engaged, maybe it’ll cause a step in that direction. A lot of women move in with men hoping it will lead to marriage but in the end, they are sorely disappointed. Another article by the Huffington Post shares findings that say the fundamental difference between men and women is that many women view moving in together as a step towards marriage but many men see it as a test drive.$ Needless to say, it’s important to know why each person is motivated to move in together.

The second reason people shack up before marriage is they want to see if they are compatible roommates. Living together and being a roommate is a very different situation though. In college, I had women roommates but the understanding was that at the end of the school year, we would stop being roommates and find someone else. Knowing you were with someone for only a year made their annoyances bearable. If you are living together, the point is to stay committed longer than just a year. You have to be at least somewhat committed to working through those annoyances in order to stay together.

According to the Fox News article, the third reason many people move in together is because it’s easier on the wallet. Most of the time it’s simply cheaper to share the cost of rent, groceries, and other household expenses. This reason alone though, is never a good reason to move in with someone.

The fourth reason for moving in together is convenience. If you are constantly with each other and over each other’s homes, it just seems easier to move into the same space. But there is a big difference between being around someone all the time and living together in the same place.

On the other hand, because my fiancé and I were apart, it could’ve been tempting for us to move in together before marriage. However, despite how emotionally draining it was to be apart, and how much easier it seemed to live together, we chose not to move in before marriage for at least three reasons.

The first reason is because we believe God designed marriage to be a good thing. Marriage is to be celebrated, enjoyed, and held in honor (Hebrews 13:4). My fiancé and I wanted to walk into marriage fully aware of what we were doing and fully committed to one another. We didn’t want to just slide into living together because it was convenient. As we were engaged, we intentionally talked about why we were getting married and why we were going to wait to have sex.

The second reason is we believe not only does God uphold marriage as beautiful, but He tells us to abstain from sexual immorality. In Ephesians 5:3, Paul says that it’s not fitting for believers to be sexually immoral. This includes sex before marriage. It simply is not who we are as believers. God doesn’t tell us this to squelch our enjoyment of sex; instead, He gives us this standard for our safety and for our enjoyment! Sex inside a committed, loving relationship can be better enjoyed and more fully participated in than sex without the security and respect of commitment.

The third reason is that we didn’t want to treat each other like a commodity. Some people move in together before marriage for a “test period” much like how you would test drive a car. That car analogy works great if you picture yourself as the driver, but it really hurts if you picture yourself as the car.% We believe that God created all human beings with dignity, honor, and value (Psalm 8:5). Men and women have hearts, minds, and lives. They are someone’s daughter, sister, and one day –husband or wife, mom or dad. People are valuable and cannot just be used for a time, and if we don’t like them, cut off in hopes of something better.

Despite the vast number of studies being produced on this topic, the results are obviously hard to measure as a person’s heart and mind cannot be measured by mere numbers. It’s important to think about your motivations for moving in with a person and what your expectations are for living together. As believers in Christ, it’s important to ask those same questions and consider what God says on the topic. If we claim to follow Christ, we must follow Him with all areas of life, knowing He has our best interests in mind.

@- Koebler, Jason. “More People Than Ever Living Together Before Marriage.” U.S. News: A World Report. April 2013. Web. 15 May 2016.
#- Fox News. “Top Reasons Couples Move In Before Marriage…And Why You Shouldn’t.” Fox News Magazine. April 2012. Web. 14 May 2016.
$- Gaspard, Terry. “Should I Move In With My Partner?” Huffington Post. Oct. 2013. Web. 15 May 2016.
%- Morse, Jennifer Roback. “The Problem With Living Together.” Focus on the Family. 2001. Web. 15 May 2016.

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