After all these years it remains a question that couples continue to ask. Is it right or is it wrong, is it a good or bad idea? I recently helped the Finese Magazine in South-Africa answer the same question.
From my personal experience, I must tell you that I did not need to stay with someone first to get to know him better as people tell us we should. I had been in several relationships over a number of years and we just spent weekends together and it was more than enough for me to see if it could work for me or not. Sometimes we saw each other during the week as well depending on our schedules. Even as we went on vacation with family, I could see what I needed to. People check each out to see if they can have a future together or not. Sometimes only one bad habit or mannerism can make or break the relationship.
I then sat down and asked myself what are the advantages and disadvantages of staying together in a house before you get married and had to ask myself a few questions as well. Here is what I came up with;
Here are the Advantages:
- You can get to know each other’s good and bad habits and decide whether you can live with it or not.
- You can see how dedicated the person is when it comes to your boundaries. Boundaries must be drawn and communicated in advance so that each party understands. They can not say they did not know, as you communicated it clearly. So that both of you understand. Here you can see if the person respects your boundaries and values. For example, your view on sex/intimacy before marriage.
- You can see how the person lives with his or her household duties and whether he or she even does it. For example cleanliness of the house and hygiene on and with themselves and the house.
- Costs are shared – that’s usually the main reason couples move in together. My husband and I moved in just before we got engaged and it helped us a lot to save for the wedding. Note that we were already committed to each other and our future together and moved to a point namely marriage.
- You see the person’s true colors in all seasons, good and bad. You get a very good idea of who the person really is.
The disadvantages are:
- You are missing out on all the newly married life’s challenges and experiences that you could work through at the beginning of your marriage.
- You are much more and easily exposed to sexual temptations. If you do not have values, boundaries or self-control it can become dangerous.
- It damages your reputation because as soon as people stay together, people believe and see from the outside that you are already living like a married couple. Staying together means sleeping together from the outside. The question is, what example do you set for others and your children one day if they wanted to move someone in?
- Statistics show that only 50% of people who move in together end up marrying.
- Staying together gives you a very good idea of what it would be like to be married to this person. BUT it does NOT mean that your relationship will be happy or successful. Studies show that people who stay together before marriage are more likely to divorce than couples who have not stayed together.
- It is not a real commitment. Many couples believe that moving in is a form of commitment, but it is not. Married couples work much harder on their relationship than unmarried couples. Unmarried couples walk away from their problems much easier than married couples. It always seems to me like people want to leave the back door open just in case things don’t work out. This is a sign that they can’t commit especially if you have been dating and living together for several years and it’s going nowhere.
- Chances are that you can, unfortunately, become part of the statistics.
So in my personal opinion, I oppose staying together before marriage even though it may be the harder path to choose but I can assure you that it leads to valuable endings.
Before moving in with your sweetheart, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your values and is your partner aware of them? And will it be respected? If not what are the consequences?
- How much does your relationship mean to you when you know the chances are that you and your relationship can only become part of the statistics as mentioned above?
- Are you willing to sacrifice the relationship if you have long-term plans in mind and if you really love this person and like your relationship?
- Who do you want to obey? What the world and your finances say or what your value system is?
I had to be very honest with myself and ask why would the Lord not want us to stay together before marriage. If I read and understand my scripture right, it is very clear that the Lord is trying to protect us from ourselves when it comes to temptations. Adultery and fornication. He does not want us to awaken love / sex / intimate before his time. This I would say is the main reason for not living together beforehand.
We can argue and say whether you stay together or not, should you stay with each other over weekends and or go on vacation together you will also be tempted. We don’t need to just live together to be tempted. You two being alone in one room is the temptation if there is n healthy chemistry between the two of you. At the end of the day, it comes back to your value system. On what do you base what is right and wrong in your life? Do you value your values?
My frame of reference is my Bible. It’s not at all difficult for me to make such decisions because I know what my values are, I stick to them no matter what. This way I protect myself against myself because my Designer knows exactly what I am capable of doing and whatnot. The question then is…can the Designer trust me?
Today, I can tell you with all honesty as a married woman how special and pure our marriage is because of us who have kept to our value system. We wanted to honor God with our relationship and set an example for others and show that it is possible if you choose so. It was worth every decision and sacrifice.
So, will it be worth your while?