April 24, 2024

Practicing Failure

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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.

Cooking their own receiption foodYou see, what a couple that moves in together does is practice a series of things that insulate them from the possibility of the breakup.

  • 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.

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8 thoughts on “Practicing Failure

  1. You’ve made the point well here and added a few facets I had not contemplated in the past.  Having been married for 30 years now I think I have something to say about successful marriage.  First, I can say unequivocally that commitment is necessary.  Second, if you’ll make the commitment the benefits of sticking it out are beyond the comprehension of those who haven’t–either through divorce or because they have not lived long enough yet.  There is a completely different kind of love, a deeper level of connection, a finer sort of acceptance, a deeper peace after long marriage.  Try it; you’ll like it!

    Larry Eiss’s last blog post..Audio of Messages I Have Given

  2. “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” 
    While that may be true in some cases, it isn’t in others.  You make assumptions that this will always happen, regardless of the individual circumstances of each couple.  Can this happen?  Sure, but don’t try to pass it off as an absolute, definite inevitability.
    Also, I know of at least one married couple who didn’t shack up first who still have separate finances.  I’ll be sure to tell them they’re “doing it all wrong” and are headed for failure, says Min. 

    Musicguy’s last blog post..Who is he kidding?

  3. Hence why I say that it “lends itself.” The phrase implies not as much certainty or causality as much as a contributing factor. I do not say it is inevitable, just as I don’t say that those that date are going to divorce by saying that they are practicing divorce. The point I’m trying to make (which statistics bear out) is that cohabitation before marriage lends itself to divorce more than staying separate until marriage. Part of this reason is the practice that’s involved inside and outside of marriage.

    If you have joint accounts, there is more to lose for the couples. If you’ve put your house in both names, there’s more to lose. If you’ve read articles about what to do about finances and marriage, you’ll see people advise you that if things are going to break up, make sure you have a prenup, and keep separate accounts. This tells me that the opposite is also true. If you want to have more incentives to stay together, make sure that two actually do become one.

  4. My mother is currently all but living with her boyfriend (he goes home at night, but his computer is at her house.  Being geeks 90% of their waking time is spent on their computers) and I must say I see some errors with your assumptions.
    ·  Keeping separate checking accounts.
    While still both have separate checking accounts (due to the necessity of upkeeping two different houses), they have a joint account.  They spend the joint account money on whatever they do together or both use.  Sest they like each other and wish to spend time together (more than I can say for most good Christian married couples I’ve seen) most of their spending is done by this account.
    ·  Selecting certain bills he will pay and others she will pay.
    This one does not come into play for them, as they each pay the bills for the house they own (even if one of them is using the electricity, water, gas, etc. of the other).
    ·  Making sure to have time with friends.
    Wait a second, so when you get with someone you are supposed to drop all previous relationships.  I don’t know how to even discuss this with you Min.  If you can drop the friends you had when you get married like its nothing they weren’t good friends in the first place and you need to work on your relationship building.
    ·  Trying not to be jealous.
    I’ve seen a marriage broken up on the insecurities of one partner.  I should not have to be isolated from the world because my partner is so insecure in himself that he thinks the second I meet another man I’m going to have an affair.  Have faith in the person you married and the decision you made when you married them.  If you can’t have these you need a marriage counselor and possibly a physiatrist.
    ·  Allowing themselves to flirt.
    If you are talking about with each other, then I must say, yes let them flirt with each other.  It helps keep the love alive.
    Now if you’re taking about with other people, you seem to fail to comprehend what dating a person entails.  When you are dating you are exclusive, and unless you call the relationship off, you are supposed to stay that way.
    ·  Living off the thrill of being together physically without the commitment.
    Thrill???  Min unless they are some fundamentalist’s child who is trying to rebel against mommy or daddy, there is not thrill in not getting married.
    Now I must ask min, why is marriage so critical in your eyes.  In the past there were no marriages but the commitment was the same (think about Adam and Eve, or the old “marriages” where the guy just picked the girl up and took her home).  If a couple truly cares about each other and plans to stick it out, why do they need to marry?

  5. I think too one rebuttal against the test-drive argument is that marriage is intended to be permanent and a car isn’t, so one isn’t even comparing two equivalent things.  (Unless you’re Irenee DuPont, still driving the 1918 Cadillac he bought second-hand in 1938… and yes those years are correct!)

  6. I understand what you are saying.  However, when you are surrounded by so many people getting divorced it is understandable that you want to be absolutely sure of making the right decision.   I think, however, that if you are with the right person it will work out whichever way round you do it!  You’re really asking people to take more risks.  It is a shame, though, that marriage does not change more in your life these days.

  7. It is a a great shame that people want the “lifestyle” of marriage but not the committment it entails.
    I have read the bible many times and no where do I see, that Adam and Eve were in a committment, God was the one that made them together as husband as wife.  Abraham and Sarah were mentioned as husband and wife, not in a committed relationship. 
    Marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman.  It is a covenant. 

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