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Risks of Living Together Before Marriage

Photo courtesy of © "Foytography by Jesse Foy"
Photo courtesy of © “Foytography by Jesse Foy”
Our ministry partner, MarriageToday, will provide articles specifically for preparation for marriage. In this article Jimmy Evans addresses the risks of living together before marriage and the blessings that come from waiting for the covenant of marriage.

If you live together with someone before getting married, your chances of divorce increase significantly. Also, almost every problem people think they are avoiding by living together actually increases—abuse, infidelity, breakup, etc.

Even though cohabiting with someone might seem like a good idea, it is a practical disaster. The worst thing about cohabitation is the mindset that drives it. To understand this mindset and how it sets up a relationship for failure, you must first understand the mindset that is necessary for success in marriage.

Marriage is a covenant relationship, as is every important relationship God has with man or we have with each other. The word covenant means “to cut.” The idea is sacrifice and total commitment—just as Jesus instituted the New Covenant with us in His blood.

We must enter into marriage with a covenant mentality. When we say our vows, “… for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health … until death do us part,” we must mean business. Covenant commitment lays the foundation for lasting love and mutual care.

In cohabitation, covenant commitment is absent. In fact, the spirit that drives cohabitation is the opposite of covenant. You see, in covenant, when a man and woman are getting married, the spirit of the vows they are making is one of assuming responsibility to “love and to cherish” each other in a sacrificial manner.

The spirit of cohabitation is the opposite. The primary reason people choose to live together is to see how good someone is at taking care of them before they will commit. This is why the divorce rate is so high if they marry. From day one, self was at the center stage of the relationship.

Today, half of all couples getting married have lived together before marriage. As I already stated, their chances of having serious problems or divorcing are much higher than couples who didn’t cohabit. But are they cursed without remedy? No. However, to avoid the consequences of cohabitation, there must be a real change in the orientation of the marriage.

Here is how you change things: You must make a covenant commitment that focuses on obeying God and serving your spouse sacrificially. You must get the focus off of yourself and get your foot out of the back door.

Because of their fear of marriage problems or divorce, our society has taken the approach that the best way to solve the problem is to live together without formalizing a commitment. In sociological terms we call this cohabitation. On the street it’s called, “shacking up” or “living in sin.” Whatever you call it, it just doesn’t work, and it actually produces and multiplies the problems it fears.

God’s way is best. If you are living together, my advice to you is either to split up or to get married. If you’re married and lived together before marriage, change the orientation of your focus from yourself to God and your spouse in a covenant commitment. This will remove the flaw in the foundation and give you a solid chance for success in marriage.

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  1. I find this article very interesting and to be true as I myself can testify from my experience. Married now, I cohabited with my current wife for one year and the mindset we created when we start living together makes our first year marriage harder, as we constantly doubt if our decision is true. This is despite our happy marriage and expecting a baby. Sadly, there isn’t many articles on how to make up for such decision once you got married.

  2. Love the article except the last bit of advice…any couple living together who is not married should first stop living together, seek God (on marrying this person or not) then get married to that person if The Lord says the same.Because the alter is holy it requires two people who are clean to come to it. We have , for to long in the church, been so sin conscious we have forgotten about relationships & marriage the way God intended. We must also realize that God honors His own will and choices He made for our lives and we must agree with that choice including whom to marry. Marriage is God’s institution and only He can tell us how to run it. Once the church begins to teach people how to choose good mates we see the divorce rate go down significantly.

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