This weekend . . . (I can’t believe I’m saying this!) I am marrying David, my fiancé and best friend.
But I still remember our first date like it was yesterday—the warm weather, the butterflies in my stomach, the nervous anticipation, the cute restaurant, and the amazing conversations.
David and I have shared so many in-depth conversations since that first date. But the topic of living together before marriage has never been one of them.
We never even discussed it. It’s just one of those things that neither of us considered as an option for our relationship.
Trust me, it’s not for lack of feelings or lack of excitement to be together. We’re crazy about each other. His hazel eyes, strong arms, amazing heart, and godly leadership make me count down the minutes until I get to marry him! I love this guy (can’t you tell), and I’m excited about our future together.
So . . .
- If I like him so much and he likes me so much, why don’t we give this thing a test drive?
- Why don’t we move in together to see if we are truly compatible?
- Why don’t we live together and see if we satisfy each other sexually?
Those are the questions the world asks, and they’re the reasons a lot of couples live together before marriage.
But I’ve considered how we, as Christian women, should answer them.
A Foundation of Feelings or Faithfulness?
Instead of viewing relationships, love, and romance through a narrow “I need to know if this person will make me truly happy” lens, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Most relationships are built on a foundation of feelings. If the feelings are good, the relationship is strong. If the feelings are not so good, the relationships is weak. “Love” is often based on what the other person can do for me.
That kind of “true love” rarely makes it long-term.
Instead of living together and giving marriage a “trial run,” David and I are working on building character that will carry us through the difficult times. Instead of relying on our feelings, we want to pursue faithfulness to be committed to each other no matter what.
Here are some of the perspectives that David and I continue to work on in our relationship. These are the reasons why we chose not to live together.
Why We Don’t Need a Test Drive
1. Marriage is about reflecting God’s great love toward us.
Without God’s perspective, marriage becomes a way to feed our happiness, our romantic desires, our sexual appetites, and our dreams for the future. But the truth is marriage isn’t made for those things.
Ultimately, marriage is about reflecting Christ’s unfailing love for His Bride, the Church, and reflecting the depth of intimacy He desires to have with each and every one of us.
When a person accepts Jesus as Savior, they enter into a covenant that can never be broken.
And when a couple gets married, they are entering a covenant, a promise that cannot be broken.
Marriage is designed to mean so much more than just two people getting together. It’s about Christ and His never-ending love for us.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31–32).
By living together before marriage, we may be getting “a taste” of a marriage relationship—but it’s not the real thing, the real picture of the gospel God designed. Because . . .
2. Marriage is about commitment for the long haul—and not about performance.
At the marriage altar, a couple commits themselves to each other in the good and bad, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.
If marriage is that intense, why shouldn’t we take it for a test spin by living together? Shouldn’t we see if we’re cut out for this?
Here’s how Erin Davis answers that question:
God’s plan for marriage is a permanent merger. It’s combining two people into one new family. It’s intended to endure. There is no way to have a “free trial” of the kind of commitment God designed to be enjoyed between husbands and wives.
Couples choose to live together to get a foretaste of what marriage will be like, but the very things that make marriage work are absent in that situation. Specifically, the commitment that allows couples to weather the trials of life together. There’s no way to fast track a lifetime commitment.
By living together, aren’t we saying, “I’m going to see if you meet my expectations—and if you don’t, I’m out!”
But marriage says, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Even when marriage gets super hard, you’re in it for the long haul. You want your husband to know that you will love him no matter what. He shouldn’t have to earn your love through his performance. Marriage isn’t about performing or being “good enough” to keep the other person around. It’s about a man and a woman committing until death do them part.
“‘And the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:8–9).
By the way, your love shouldn’t be based on how well your guy is loving you. That’s not true love, that’s an exchange. “You do this for me, I’ll do this for you.”
Jesus is the perfect example of true, self-sacrificing love. He chooses to love us completely and unconditionally. Don’t put conditions on your love. Choose to love 100 percent.
3. Marriage shouldn’t include the option to quit.
What good would marriage vows be if they were tossed out the window as soon as times get hard? They’d be good for nothing. Sadly, this is the approach couples often take when they live together.
“If this relationship gets really difficult, we can just call it quits.”
Why do we view marriage as needing to be easy? If love doesn’t come easily, it must not be true love. That is not the definition of love we find in God’s Word.
Everything in life takes work. Hard work. Why should marriage be any different? If you want an amazing job, you expect to work hard for it. If you want to be a strong athlete, you work hard. If you want killer grades, you work hard to earn them. Don’t ever enter marriage with the idea that you can just “quit” when it gets hard.
We shouldn’t be training ourselves to call it quits on relationships but rather to endure through challenges.
Strong marriages require hard work—but that investment is always, always worth it!
Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture
When we keep the big picture of marriage in view, it completely changes our perspective. When we go to God’s Word for the pattern of what relationships and marriage should look like, we realize His plans are bigger and better than our own desires!
I’d love to hear from you.
- What do you think about living together before marriage?
- How would you defend your answer from a biblical perspective?
From the LYWB.com Team: Best wishes on your wedding day, Bethany and David! We are grateful for your commitment to Truth throughout your single years, and we can’t wait to see how God uses you as a married couple.