One of the things I love about The Art of Manliness is that it does not shy away from addressing the tough subjects. And one of those, in today’s world, is the question of cohabitation before marriage. Traditionally, of course, there has been a religious prohibition against it, and that remains in force in more traditional Christian churches, denominations, and communions, my own included.
But for many today, “because the Bible says so” – or, even less, “because the Church says so” – is not of itself a sufficient reason. Even for myself, perhaps because my namesake is “doubting” Thomas (“questioning” Thomas would be a better and more accurate monicker), I want to know not just what, but why. This article goes into considerable and thoughtful detail on the subject, and I recommend it highly.
It focuses on twentysomethings, because that is the focus of the blog. But the issues are not limited to those in their 20s; I am quite a good bit older than that, but though I do not presently have a girlfriend, I still hope to, some day, and when I do, this issue will undoubtedly come up. Perhaps even more intensely for someone of more mature years: I may not be as hormone-driven as a younger man, but I am even more anxious to settle down… and that carries its own dangers.
In any case, I strongly encourage you (especially if you are not married, or if you are and have kids who will be facing this issue one day) to read the article. If you read nothing else, read this:
Studies show that couples who don’t cohabitate serially, only living with the person they end up marrying, and who wait to move in with that person until they get engaged, have the same rate of marriage stability and compatibility as those who only move in together after actually walking down the aisle. The ritual of engagement, having a deliberate plan to marry, carries the kind of ambiguity-slaying intentionality that leads to a happy union.
But, if you’re going to wait to live together until after you’re engaged, why not hold out a little longer and move in after you’ve tied the knot? From an objective standpoint, it won’t have any negative effect whatsoever on your chances for wedded happiness and longevity. From a subjective one, it will enormously enhance the transformative weight of a ritual meant to weld two lives into one. There’s so much sameness in our culture, in our lives, that it pays to intentionally create moments of memorable, meaningful, heightened drama yourself.
For it’s one thing to say “I do” and go right back to the same old apartment you’ve been sharing for a long time prior, and another to carry your bride across a threshold into a new abode, a new life, that’s now neither mine nor hers, but ours.