Category Archives: Cohabitation Disadvantages

“Mom, I Want To Live With My Boyfriend”

How could I convince my daughter that she might be about to make a terrible mistake?

By K.C. Scott

(Transcription of an article that appeared in The Reader’s Digest, February 1994, pp. 77-80.)

Mom, Joe and I have decided to live together,” my strong-willed 23-year-old daughter announced defiantly at our dining-room table, her boyfriend at her side.

In many live-in situations, the individuals may view the relationship differently, frequently the result of failing to discuss what they expect of each other. Most women said it was a first step toward marriage. For men, the most common motive was sex. One man, asked why he was living with his girlfriend, replied, “Sex – there when you want it, where you want it.”

Her words made my heart pound and my stomach churn. “Have either of you even thought about the possibility you could get pregnant?”

My daughter looked sheepishly at her boyfriend, admitting they hadn’t. Then defiance swept over her face again and she replied, “Well, I don’t care what you and Dad think. You’ll just have to accept it.”

“We may have to tolerate it,” I said firmly. “But we’ll never accept it. You’re going against every value we’ve taught you.”

As she and her 24-year-old boyfriend marched out the door, I was heartbroken. It was one of the great sorrows of my life.

I couldn’t convince my daughter that, by entering a relationship of sex without marriage, she could be making the worst mistake of her life. But since then I’ve learned unsettling facts about cohabitation. My hope is that what I learned will help other young people and parents facing the same situation. (The U.S. Census Bureau says 6,085,284 unmarried, opposite-sex partners live together.) Here’s what I found:

  • There’s a good chance that a couple living together will never tie the knot.

Estimates from a number of experts are that 40 to 50 percent of cohabitants never marry each other. One 1985 Columbia University study found that only 19 percent of men who lived with their girlfriends eventually walked down the aisle with them.

I also learned that in many live-in situations, the individuals may view the relationship differently, frequently the result of failing to discuss what they expect of each other. When 139 cohabitating students were asked, in a 1973 study, why they lived with somebody, most women said it was a first step toward marriage. For men, the most common motive was sex. One man, asked why he was living with his girlfriend, replied, “Sex – there when you want it, where you want it.” Continue reading

“Cohabitation Before Marriage” by the Kansas Bishops

“God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”1

From the very first moment of the life of the human race, God has loved his people. God loves us not only as a human race, but he loves each of us as an individual, as his own unique creation.

Whether we be a man or a woman, God has a plan for each of our lives. For many, that plan includes the joining of man and woman in the sacramental bond of marriage. This bond is a sacred covenant of love involving a man, a woman and God. St. Paul expresses that this bond of marriage between husband and wife symbolizes the bond that exists between Christ and his church. This sacred covenant cannot be dissolved throughout one’s earthly life.2 Therefore, each person entering into that special covenant of marriage needs adequate preparation to be certain that one is ready to marry. Moreover, all entering marriage must be as certain as possible that their spouse is the person to whom they can make a lifetime commitment of love.

Document Information Description: This pastoral letter was issued by the Kansas Bishops to engaged couples who cohabit and to those involved in their marriage preparation.
Larger Work: Origins
Pages: 39-44
Publisher & Date:
Catholic News Service, 6/4/1998

Today many couples (those who are engaged and those who are not) prepare for their possible married life together by cohabiting, or “living together,” before marriage. Their reasons for doing so are many and varied. However, a view that is commonly held is that couples who live together before marriage can more adequately determine if their lifetime commitment to one another as husband and wife is possible. Two generations ago living together before marriage was viewed as scandalous by our society. Young people were strongly discouraged from cohabiting. As a society, that view has been greatly challenged today. Between 30 percent and 40 percent of couples seeking marriage in the United States today are living together. Many people see cohabiting not only as permissible, but even as necessary to attempt to diminish the possibility of divorce or marital unhappiness later in the life of the couple.

The church does not believe that cohabitation before marriage is a moral or acceptable preparation for this sacred bond. Rather, the church sees cohabitation as a threat to the marital happiness that engaged couples so desperately seek. Cohabitation as an actual threat to marital happiness has furthermore been borne out in recent research studies done by today’s social sciences, as will be quoted in the following section.

This pastoral letter is an attempt to encourage couples contemplating marriage not to live together before their wedding day. Moreover, this pastoral letter is a challenge to all Catholics to support engaged couples as they prepare for a lasting marriage. The letter is intended to stimulate further reflection in the hearts of believers addressing Judeo-Christian marriage as a special vocation to be lived in an increasingly secular world. Perhaps most important, the letter is an invitation to all engaged couples and those contemplating engagement to realize that the church seeks the same end that the engaged couples seek: a commitment of love expressed in the vows by the bride and groom on their wedding day to be strengthened continually day by day throughout their lives as a married couple.

The marriage preparation offered by the church is not to be seen as a list of rules and regulations, but rather as an investment into the lives of the engaged couple and the life of the church.

The church recognizes that marriage and family are vital components of a society. Thus, good marriage preparation is an investment into the future of the individual, the engaged couple, the future children born of that union and of the entire body of Christ.


(*For our purposes, we will accept the general definition which defines cohabitation as a situation where “a couple has been living together for at least four nights a week for an extended period of time, giving the appearance, at least externally, that they have formed a quasi-marriage relationship.”3

There are many and varied reasons why a couple might decide to live together before they are married. It is helpful for those who are preparing couples for marriage in the church to listen and attempt to understand the motives behind such a decision. Pope John Paul II states very pastorally in his apostolic exhortation on the role of the Christian family in the modern world, “The pastors and the ecclesial community should take care to become acquainted with such situations and their actual causes, case by case.”4 Continue reading

eHarmony: Does Living Together Before Marriage Increase Chances of Divorce?

Living Together Sets Most Couples Up for Probable Failure

July 24, 2013


Today guest blog is from author and relationship expert Nancy Pina, who minces no words as she writes about couples who choose to live together without being married. It’s an interesting perspective and definitely worth some consideration.

LittleHousePopular culture implies that after a couple has dated for a certain amount of time, the next logical step in a committed relationship is moving in together. The reason for this? People apparently think compatIbility cannot be tested without the actual experience of cohabitation. The truth is that a trial run before marriage is not the answer for couples who are considering exclusivity.

In my experience as a Christian relationship coach, those who chose to live together experienced a decline in emotional intimacy instead of a strengthened bond. A new study by World magazine measured feelings of commitment and intimacy for unmarried couples who live together, and found they never achieved the level of closeness married couples enjoy.

Essentially, living together sets most couples up for probable failure, because at that point, at least one person in the relationship is unsure if it should lead to marriage. Instead of addressing that reservation with openness and honesty, the uncertain person agrees to a trial arrangement. As seen in the study, 52 percent of men are not “almost certain” their relationship will last. More than half had reservations about the longevity of the relationship. Continue reading