“Advantages” to Living together – He’ll Get the Marriage Bug (Cohabitation Part 5)

When the topic of male/female differences arises, the cliché factory is hard pressed to keep up. Men are from Mars—women are from Venus. Men won’t ask for directions. Women speak twice as much as men. Guys use love to get sex—gals use sex to get love. Guys marry hoping she won’t change—gals marry hoping he will change. And on it goes. Some have factual roots. Others are easy fodder for MythBusters. However, when cohabitation is being considered, separating fact from fiction is critical. One confirmed fact is men and women approach living together differently.Groom getting away cropped

Meg Jay, in a NY Times article, wrote, “Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment.”1That may not seem like a significant bump in the road, but the findings of the National Marriage Project is a sinkhole. They list ten reasons why men won’t commit.  (Basically, why living with a guy usually fails to lead him to the altar.)

The top 5 were:

  1. Men can get sex without the ring.
  2. Men enjoy the social benefits of a wife without the ring—sex partner, lowered expenses, housekeeping
  3. Men want to avoid divorce to protect their finances/assets.
  4. Men want to wait until they are older to have kids.
  5. Men fear that marriage will require too many changes and compromises.2

Wow! In any other setting, the guy would be run out of town. Why do we play dumb here?

hands with wedding ringsThe bottom line is there are far better ways to spend the 18 – 22 months you’ll lose when the live-in relationship fails. Oddly enough, you and God have the same goal; a strong stable marriage. Will you trust Him enough to do it His way? When you look at all the facts, you’ll find that God’s plan is still the best.

 

1Meg Jay, “The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage,” April, 14, 2012,    www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/opinion/sunday/the-downside-of-cohabiting-before-marriage.html?_r=5&pagewanted=all& , (June, 9, 2014)
2Mike and Harriet McManus, “Living Together; Myths, Risks, and Answers, (New York: Howard Books, 2008), 21.

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“Advantages” to Living together – It’s Easier to Part Ways (Cohabitation Part 4)

living together tiled both

“Dan” and “Selina” hadn’t planned to move in together. Love had bloomed, but he wanted to be sure they were compatible before the ring appeared. Four years later he still wasn’t convinced. Selina’s marriage ultimatum met with a blank look and a shrug so, angry and hurt, she planned to move out. Since they weren’t married, ending their cohabitation should have been easy. However, trying to untangle the many ways their lives had entwined proved overwhelming to Selina.

In her New York Times article, Meg Jay observed, “Sliding into cohabitation wouldn’t be a problem if sliding out were as easy. But it isn’t. Too often, young adults enter into what they imagine will be low-cost, low-risk living situations only to find themselves unable to get out months, even years, later.’”1 What live-togethers don’t realize is leaving the relationship hurts three ways; materially, physically, and emotionally.

Materially, it’s a hassle to separate items, particularly when there are emotional attachments to them. Cohabitors also have limited legal rights when it comes to property. Consequently, a congenial parting may become acrimonious because of the hassle of splitting the stuff.

Physically, parting after an extended sexual relationship is difficult—particularly for women. For females, satisfying sex is a concoction of their physical and emotional breaking upneeds being met. When that part of the bond suddenly ends, poor self-image and depression can result.

Emotionally, the very things adult children of divorce  hope to avoid happen with the breakup; rejection, feelings of inadequacy, abandonment, unworthiness, lack of trust, and even deeper loneliness. Combined, the material, physical, and emotional cost cohabitors often pay creates bondage, not the freedom they’d hoped for. True freedom comes with God’s ideal plan for couple relationships.

Two thousand years ago Jesus said,”…from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”2 Today, research corroborates God’s wisdom; true happiness is found in God-honoring marriages, not cohabitation.

Next, the cohabitation “advantage” of nudging him into marriage.

 

1Meg Jay, “The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage,” April, 14, 2012,   www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/opinion/sunday/the-downside-of-cohabiting-before-marriage.html?_r=5&pagewanted=all& , (June, 9, 2014)
2Mark 10:6-8, New King James Version

“Advantages” to Living Together – Confirming our Compatibility (Cohabitation Part 3)

Living at ground zero for the three major automakers periodically provides glimpses of car prototypes. For those outside the Motor City, the camouflage attempts toCamouflaged car keep the design of a future-model-year-car secret from the competitors. These potential showroom occupants have left the drawing board and are being tested in actual road conditions. The intention is for major and minor issues to surface and be corrected before the auto’s general distribution to the public.

Similarly, many couples believe that testing the relationship in real conditions before matrimony will confirm or deny their compatibility–thus, protecting the couple from a messy divorce. Seems sensible, but is this true? Not entirely.

First, people aren’t real during the dating period. You may get a glimpse into the idiosyncrasies your future mate has, but not much more. We work hard to be our best until the knot is tied. Living together doesn’t change that. Often, at least one of the parties is interested in marriage. Consequently, they will keep the, I’m a loving- puzzle-pieces couple togetherforgiving- caring-flexible-serving-person illusion up as long as possible. This continues until the ring appears or conditions indicate no ring is coming.

Second, though unspoken, the “if” principle is engaged. If you meet my needs, if you meet my standards, if you meet my desires, we will stay together. Basically, perfection is the benchmark for moving forward. In contrast, with marriage  true success comes when two admittedly imperfect people honor their vow to adjust and accept each other’s foibles and grow stronger individually and as a couple over time.

Regardless of what we may have heard, women flourish in the security of a God-honoring marriage. Satisfied women make great spouses.  Fulfilled wives come from men who “… remember, this means that the husband must give his wife the same sort of love that Christ gave to the Church, when he sacrificed himself for her.”1 No trial period is necessary with this kind of God-directed compatibility.

Next “advantage,” It’s easier to part ways without the marriage certificate

1Ephesians 5:25, J.B. Phillips New Testament

“Advantages” to Living Together – Economic (Cohabitation – Part 2)

Four popular “advantages” to cohabitation were listed in our last article.  Here we’ll examine the “If we live together, we can save money” belief. This statement sounds logical on the surface, but “saving money” can come in different forms so we must be careful.

For example, many live-in couples don’t pool their financial resources like married people. Bank accounts and paychecks are kept separate just in case the love doesn’t last. Funds may be combined for food, utilities, and other basics, but the likelihood of accumulating wealth, or items that appreciate in value, is small.Our relationship but my money

Additionally, relationships must be built on trust. Keeping your money separate, to avoid experiencing the financial havoc your divorced mom or dad went through, may feel like security in the short run, but won’t yield the love and commitment you desire over the long haul.

For adults with divorced parents, the fear of marriage leaves them vulnerable to the “advantages” of living together. Compared to tying the knot, Economics vs. fear of marraige in cohabitationcohabitation seems like a safer and low-risk alternative, but economically, it’s a gamble at best. At worse, it can generate the rejection, abandonment, and inadequacy the adult child of divorce is trying to avoid.

Other financial “advantages” are purported as good reasons for cohabitation as well. However, under further scrutiny, they too don’t add up. Mike and Harriet McManus’ “Living Together; Myths, Risks, & Answers” is a good source for further information.

To wrap up, marriage can be a scary prospect for those who have experienced parental divorce, but God knows what’s best. The Bible teaches, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.”1 This may not be in vogue, but doing things God’s way will lead you to what is truly safe and low risk.

Next, we’ll look at the belief that living together will “confirm our compatibility.”

 

1Hebrews 13:4a English Standard Version

I’m afraid so… Why Don’t We Live Together… instead?

Adult children of divorce rarely vocalize “I’m afraid,” but fears creep along the corners of our minds like bugs in the shadows. Amidst those things we dread are inadequacy, conflict, and abandonment, but the fear of marriage lurks closest to the surface. When we see our parent’s marriage collapse… and our neighbors’, half of our friends’, and their parents, and even people at church, it’s no wonder we approach the nuptials with foreboding.toothbrushes his and hers cropped png

Those brave enough to push through their trepidation, find weak or missing templates for achieving a successful marriage. Consequently, a trial-run makes sense on the surface. An old Barry Manilow tune, “Why Don’t We Live Together” sums up the sentiment;  “Why don’t’ we live together. Only the two of us, we’ll learn to trust. Don’t have to say forever, ‘Cause we know the rain could start and break our hearts….And still have our wings to fly, if love should die.”1

These lyrics came to mind after reading a recent survey of cohabiting couples from PostiveSingles.com.  To my surprise, 45% of their respondents didn’t think living together was a good idea. Additionally most of their members believe marriage is the best solution for a stable relationship.2 The Bible agrees stating, “because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”3 But is this realistic in the 21st century?

This series will look at some commonly held “advantages” to cohabitation:

  • Economic benefits – we’ll save money living together
  • We need to confirm our compatibility before we tie the knot
  • Without the marriage certificate, it will be easier for us to part ways if the relationship doesn’t work out
  • Though he isn’t enthusiastic about marriage now, he’ll come around after he sees how great living with me is.

God lamented that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”4 Let’s allow His truth to allay our fears and illuminate our path to the relational happiness we desire.

 

1Barry Manilow, Trying to Get the Feeling, 1975, Written by Phillip Galdston & Peter Thom
2http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11880315.htm
31 Corinthians 7:2, English Standard Version
4Hosea 4:6, English Standard Version.

Marry or Move in Together? Brain Knows the Difference

The fear of marriage is common among adult children of divorce. Living together can seem to be a far safer alternative.  This article discusses research that shows another benefit of traditional marriage. Very interesting read.

Click here to read, “Marry or Move in Together? The Brain Knows the Difference.”