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Why my husband and I are glad we didn’t live together before marriage

HOLDING HANDS
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Some people think you should test-drive your relationship before walking down the aisle. Here's why it's not a good idea.

It was two weeks before the wedding, and my fiancé and I had turned into nomads. We were both living out of suitcases and were familiar with spending the night in a sleeping bag. It’s not that we didn’t have a place to call home. Between our parents’ houses, his college apartment and our new apartment in another city, we had a lot of options. But juggling ensued because of a decision that we’d made for the good of our relationship — we were not living together before the wedding.

My fiancé and I had never discussed the option of moving in together. It wasn’t even a conversation that we had when we moved our things into the apartment we’ll live in after the wedding.

Don’t get me wrong — it was super tempting to ask him to just stay the night in the apartment with me instead of one of us finding a friend’s couch to crash on. We’d already been paying the rent and utilities for our apartment. We didn’t have jobs that required us to be in our home town. And it’s no secret that many of our peers were choosing to cohabitate before marriage. After all, 65 percent of marriages today start with cohabitation.

The real reason that we decided not to move in together during our relationship and engagement was because we love each other, and living together is an important part of marriage for us — and therefore it wasn’t part of our engagement.

Our close friends agreed with our decision to not live together until the big day. But that didn’t mean we didn’t hear plenty of dissent from co-workers and others. Some thought we were crazy. Even our pre-marital counselors asked for more explanation when we told them we didn’t want to live together before being husband and wife; they questioned our decision. But most people asked us a version of this: How can you jump from a long distance relationship straight into marriage without knowing if you’re compatible? Don’t you want to “test the marriage thing out”?

But marriage isn’t a car, and it doesn’t need to be test driven before starting a life together as husband and wife. Because there is no way to test out marriage without actually getting married.

I understand that many other couples find a sense of comfort in living together before marriage. They view it as an opportunity to get used to those quirks that only a person who shares your living space would be privy to. They see it as a trial run to view all those intimate details which I believe should only come with a wedding ring. Little things, like what someone looks like when they’ve just woke up and haven’t brushed their teeth yet.

But being able to share everything, including the space you live, does not encourage intent and commitment towards the sacred vows of marriage. Because when there’s no definite transition into shared life, cohabitation allows couples to slide into a life together instead of deciding on a life together. If Joseph and I had started sleeping in the same place, before you’d know it, we’d have slid into living in the same place together. So by choosing to live apart before our wedding out of love for each other, we decided intentionally how our relationship progressed.

I couldn’t wait to wake up beside my soon-to-be husband in the same bedroom. But I also loved him enough to wait until we both had a ring on our left hands. As easy as it would have been to slide into living together, I believe that our relationship wasn’t made for comfort, it was made for greatness.

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Marriage
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