Jun 262018 2 Responses

Stop Lying to Kids About Marriage

AT&T promises more for your thing. “That moving out of the friend zone and moving in together thing.” “Those fur babies preparing us for real babies thing.”

Chevrolet promises the perfect car for each couple from dating to moving in together, from no kids to a few kids, from a few kids to a full house.

Notice the assumption–marriage doesn’t matter. It’s not even mentioned. It might be implied in the AT&T commercial as the end result if everything works properly, but it’s the last step, not the first one. It’s the sprinkles on the cake…a nice addition, but in no way necessary to a good relationship, effective parenting, or a meaningful life.

In modern thought, marriage doesn’t matter and it clearly isn’t an intentional step a couple takes toward one another. Instead, it’s a passive event which may or may not happen to occur.

We Think We Know, We Don’t

There is a problem with ignoring or delaying marriage. When a couple chooses to live together before marriage, it diminishes their likelihood of having a satisfying or lasting marriage. It’s counterintuitive. We think testing marriage before committing to marriage would increase our likelihood of success. We don’t buy a car without test driving it. We don’t buy a house without touring it several times. So we assume that living together would make a marriage better. But it doesn’t.

So many studies have proven the dangers of living together to both the longevity of marriage and the actual satisfaction of a couple that social scientists invented the term the “cohabitation effect.” What we think would help marriage actually hinders it.

Why?

Living together before marriage creates several issues (See: Are You Being Used Not Loved?), but the biggest issue is a lack of intentionality. Marriage requires intention. It is a choice two individuals make which should greatly impact how they think, act, and feel. Marriage is a radical transformation of life. It’s not something into which you can drift.

It must be a choice–one which has specific consequences. There is a difference between a couple who simply chooses to live together and one who makes the conscious decision to get engaged, prepare for marriage, have a wedding, and live as husband and wife. The former are drifting toward commitment while the latter have made a conscious choice.

Instead of Living Together, Do This

While society tells couples to live together as the natural progression in their relationship instead they should take wiser actions. Rather than moving in, do this:

  • Communicate your desire to deepen your relationship
  • Begin reading (and discussing) books about marriage (Of course, you should start HERE or HERE)
  • Find a mentor couple
  • Begin pre-engagement counseling with a professional counselor (See: Do This Before You Put a Ring on It)
  • Consistently make mature/adult decisions which are consistent with the married life

These choices are far more productive toward creating a lasting relationship. Your dad might say, “move in together in order to save money.” But a year’s rent is far cheaper than a divorce. Your mom might say, “Move in together so you don’t lose her.” But moving toward the other person emotionally and spiritually is far more productive than doing so physically. Your friend might say, “Move in together to see if marriage is for you.” But having the tough conversations will tell you far more about marriage than living with the other person.

Marriage Matters

Living together makes sense, but it doesn’t work. Not a single study ever conducted concluded that living together leads to a better marriage. Instead, multiple studies have shown the opposite. This isn’t to say that a couple should just get married. Carelessly going into marriage is just as foolish as trying to live together. (See: Ignore the Internet–Marriage Still Matters)

Yet when a man and woman consciously reject what society says is right and intentionally choose to make wise decisions regarding their relationship, they are far more likely to create a marriage that not only lasts but one that thrives.

2 Responses to Stop Lying to Kids About Marriage
  1. Tipi Word Reply

    I’ve seen the hurt living together does to any children who are brought along into the relationship, especially when the parents enter into this type of relationship more than once. They feel rejected, hurt, abandoned, andhave a hard time with trust.

  2. Jo Reply

    When living together before marriage was becoming popular, the core idea was to have an “family” while reserving the option to leave easily. The difference was solely the option to leave at will, no messy legal entanglement. That hardly seems like a good foundation to a lifelong commitment.

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