One of the standard arguments you hear for cohabitation today is that it is practice for marriage. The reasoning goes something like this:
I may be living in sin now, but at least I’ll know what she’s like. I’ll know what I’m in for. I’ve done my window shopping, now it’s time for a test drive before I commit to buy.
The problem with this logic– it’s fault– is that it really isn’t practicing for marriage, it’s practicing for divorce.
Over the past few years, many Christians have Kissed Dating Goodbye (aff) and many more have come to equate dating as preparation for divorce– since all you do is get emotionally attached and then break up.
While this does have a degree of truth in it, what’s more amazing is the recent surge in shacking up that we have seen in recent years. As the culture attaches less shame to the practice, we see more people “playing house” and what these couples do not realize is that they are actually practicing (during those times that they live together without being married) for their divorce.
- Keeping separate checking accounts.
- Selecting certain bills he will pay and others she will pay.
- Making sure to have time with friends.
- Trying not to be jealous.
- Allowing themselves to flirt.
- Living off the thrill of being together physically without the commitment.
The problem is that while these things, and others, continue to give the person shelter should the other person decide to leave (something that you must always be prepared for), if they get married these habits and arrangements will persist into marriage.
It will not be “our money”, “our bills” or “my spouse”, but it will stay as it was– something that lends itself to an easier divorce. And since that specter or break up was always there, one member of the couple may be looking out for reasons to break up even though there’s now supposed to be commitment in place.
And then there may be the difference of roles. Before they were married, he helped with the laundry and cooked dinner a few times. Now he doesn’t– either because he’s taken on other things, or has a traditional mindset of responsibilities in the home of a married couple versus the divided tasks of a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship. In either case, these changes cause instability.
Lastly, there’s nothing special about the marriage bed. They’ve already done everything there is to do (probably). They’ve experienced the physical love that’s supposed to be the glue that helps bind them together in the early years, and now there’s no more options (ethically) for other sex. So, their physical intimacy suffers– and the only way to cope is to leave.
This is why it’s best to keep things in their proper order– to save commitment, living together, and sex for a committed, marriage relationship that is something that both have a stake in and that both are committed to. Everything’s working for the couple there, versus everything working against the couple the other way.