Read about cohabitate / living together before marriage, and what it does to a couple who want a long term relationship. Check out the research results below showing that couples who cohabitate before marriage are worse off if they live together after marriage. What does God want from us?
Cohabitate, or living together before marriage.
Cohabitating is more popular than ever. The majority of all marriages are now preceded by cohabitation: 60-75% of first marriages and 80-85% of remarriages (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2000). Is this a good trend? Are the objectives for doing so being met?
Dr. David Olson formed Life Innovation Inc. in 1980. The objective was to develop exercises allowing a couple to explore their strengths and growth areas. The result was an inventory that has been taken by over 1,000,000 couples. This organization recently released a report on cohabitation to their over 50,000 certified counsellors.
Here are some excerpts from this report:
Why is cohabitating so popular?
Economic – ‘We can share living expenses.’
Time together – ‘We are able to spend more time together.’
Increased intimacy – ‘We have more opportunities to share sexual and emotional intimacy.’
‘Testing’ compatibility – ‘Enables us to learn more about each other’s habits and character and see how we operate together day-to-day.’
What are some characteristics of those who cohabitate?
Cohabiting couples have significantly lower scores in most categories of Life Innovations’ inventory. (Olson, 2001)
Areas covered in inventory:
Family & Friends
“Couples living together have the lowest level of premarital satisfaction when compared to other living arrangements (Olson, 2001)”
Marriages preceded by cohabitation are more likely to end in divorce Another good input source for finding out about current marital trends can be found in the Rutgers University social behavior report ‘The state of our unions 2001.’ (Popenoe & Whitehead, 1999)
Living together before marriage ‘appears’ to be a wonderful and satisfying thing to do. It has become so acceptable that we often hear that ‘everyone is doing it’. The facts from social studies, as well as God’s Word, does not support this to be a wise and profitable practice.
“God’s words in Isaiah 55:8 come to mind ‘ ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.”
What is the alternative? How can one be sure that they are compatible and marrying the ‘right’ person?
- I suggest that there are many ways to confirm a relationship. Here are some cornerstones:
- Give the relationship enough time to surface traits and character. This means that one does not jump into a marital relationship within the first few months of dating.
- Get as healthy as you can before placing your unreasonable expectation upon a relationship to bring you happiness.
Seek one with spiritual compatibility first. This will allow God to be a part of your process and bonding.
- Develop an accountability group with one or two Christians of your own gender. Their perspective and accountability will go a long ways toward finding and building a healthy and compatible relationship.
- When you are ready to consider a more serious relationship, seek a Christian counsellor’s input and assessment. (I recommend that you find a Christian counsellor who will use Life Innovations’ premarital inventory.)
- Seek the confirmation of Christian friends and family, as well as your Pastor.
What about sexual compatibility?
Sexual compatibility is not a sexual activity, but an act of intimacy that comes AFTER a healthy bonding. Ask a couple who has been married for 10 to 20 years and they will tell you that their greatest sexual satisfaction came many years after marriage.
Do not be fooled! God is not only our Creator, but also the creator of marriage. He knows what is best and has taken the time to leave instructions to bring the maximum fulfillment and happiness into our lives. Do not short-circuit your future happiness and fulfillment by shortening the course. It is your future!
Author of “Guide to Successful Online Christian Dating”