Living together, falling apart

Why don’t more couples who live together stay together?

Marcel over at Aggie Catholics offers one answer:

The analogy that is most commonly used is that cohabitation is like taking a car on a “test drive”. The problem is that when we use people as objects, it is the worst thing we can do in a relationship. Pope John Paul II said the opposite of true love is use. This is because we make them less than human when we use them. So, when we cohabitate we are using them in every respect, whether it be for sex, companionship, intimacy, good feelings, etc. – because true love is wanting the best of someone regardless of the cost to yourself.

Furthermore, if you never have sex before marriage, you will learn along with your spouse how to be compatible with one another. There is no need to “test drive” any other person. It is offensive to even think so.

Putting a relationship in such a “danger zone” is never loving. It basically is saying to the other person (or more than likely to each other) – I see you as useful to me at this time and therefore I am willing to take a risk in hurting you physically (pregnancy, disease, etc), emotionally, spiritually and relationship-wise.

This is the short reason that cohabitation leads to such statistics. Marriage should be a permanent state – for Christians it is a covenantal and sacramental bond that is irrevocable. This permanence along with faithfulness offers a safe environment for real sacrificial love to grow. When a relationship can be changed like a shirt, love can’t grow to it’s fulfillment.

To make yourself a true gift to someone is the point of marriage. When you cohabitate, you are only able to give a partial gift – which points the relationship down a dead-end street.

A partial commitment is no commitment.

Read more.


  1. No one seems to realize this, which is unfortunate.

  2. Isn’t there a subset to this discussion for cases where a cohabitation is chaste?

  3. Kevin – the cohabitation might be chaste, yet it still might be an impediment to a valid Sacramental marriage. Check out this argument:

  4. Dcn Scott says:

    The best explanation of this I have ever heard came from the relatively well-known theologian, Msgr M. Francis Mannion, for whom I worked in the mid-90s, he would say “Couples who live together before they are married tend to keep living together after they marry.” What he meant is captured well in the last line about partial commitment.

  5. Deacon Kevin says:

    I think you are overstating this. The vast majority of cohabitating couples I come across (in the context of marriage prep) have done this for the (perceived) mutual benefit of both..usually financial reasons. I always encourage them to live chastely until they are married. Another conundrum is when the couple gets civilly married, also for financial reasons, e.g. Insurance coverage, military benefits, etc. It’s difficult to tell those folks to live chastely until they are married in the church.

  6. pagansister says:

    I’ve known many couples who “lived” together and married and are still happily married—46 years for my sister-in-law and her husband.

  7. Pagansister, we know there are exceptions to every rule, sister! In general, it is unwise (as well as immoral if (ha!) fornication is involved).

  8. pagansister says:

    If a loving couple is going to live together before they marry, chances are they are intimate. One of the teachers in the RC school I taught in (happend to be the PE teacher) married the father of her first child after 2 years, and had a 2nd child with him. They married in the largest Catholic church in the city I live in, so guess there are lots of exceptions to the rule, huh? Yes, she was and is a practicing Catholic.

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