Should We Live Together? part 2
Before You Live Together: Will Living Together Bring You Closer or Drive You Apart? by David Gudgel
Also check out the author’s website, www.beforeyoulivetogether.com, to read book excerpts and more.
Revealing and helpful book on this topic. Very well researched and practical, complete with real life scenarios and testimonies of those who have paid consequences after deciding to live together. The author, a Pastor and Counselor, piles high the research and real life evidence for deciding that cohabitation is not God’s best for any relationship. KEEP READING BELOW TO FIND OUT WHY.
In chapter two, Gudgel defines the five reason couple choose to live together.
1. EXPERIENCE: We are living together to find out if we are compatible with each other.
2. FINANCES: We are living together because it makes good sense financially.
3. COMPANIONSHIP: We would rather live with someone we love than live alone.
4. CULTURE: We want to live together because nowadays everyone lives together before they get married.
5. LOVE: We’re going to get married eventually. We’re in love.
All the reasons sound reasonable and a decent application of conventional wisdom but ,of course, leaves God out of the equation and reminds me of a profound verse in Proverbs. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” Proverbs 14:12.
In chapter three, entitled Welcome to the Real World, Gudgel shares how evidence is stacked against conventional wisdom in this matter. It always will when cultural wisdom is opposed to God’s Word. He give five reasons why Christians and secular authorities today say living together is unwise:
1. GREATER CHANCE OF DIVORCE. “50% of couples that marry end up getting a divorce. But 75% of couples that live together before marriage end up divorced” (Page 39-40). Gudgel lists eight separate studies, from publications such as US News and World Report, on pages 40-41 that back up this position.
Researchers with the Journal of Marriage and Family in 1995 summarized their findings like this: “The popular belief that cohabitation is an effective strategy in a high-divorce society rests on the commonsense notion that getting to know one another before marrying should improve the quality and stability of marriage. However, in this instance, it is looking more and more as if common sense is a poor guide.”
2. BETTER ODDS OF CONFLICT. Living together outside marriage increases the risk of emotional and physical abuse. Gudgel lists SEVEN separate studies that back up this conclusion.
US Census Bureau researchers found that “unmarried couples living together argue, shout, and hit each other more than married couples do” (page 41).
3. LESS CHANCE OF HAPPINESS. Unmarried couples that live together have lower levels of happiness than married couples, both before and during marriage.
Gudgel argues that this is due to the fact that the relationship is built upon performance, “the need to prove himself or herself” to the person, instead of “til death do us part” commitment. “If” tends to be the watchword.
In a 1995 issue of the Journal of Family Issues, researchers revealed that out of 6,203 couples surveyed, “married partners reported significantly higher levels of happiness than did cohabitating couples” (page 44).
4. GREATER RISK OF ADULTERY. Dr. Joyce Brothers (who is not a conservative Christian Pastor) states, “Cohabitation has a negative effect on the quality of a subsequent marriage” (from Reader’s Digest, February 1994). Unhappy relationships put couples at risk for marital unfaithfulness.
The Journal of Marriage and Family found that women who lived with their partner before marriage were 3.3 times more likely to have an extramarital affair.
Gudgel also sights the conclusion of the widely used National Sex Survey, which concluded that married couples have more and better sex than unmarried couples. Gudgel says, “A long-term marital commitment deepens emotional and physical satisfaction…Premarital sex is not as satisfying as marital sex” (page 46).
5. LESS LIKELIHOOD OF SAYING “I DO.” Only about one out of two couples that live together ultimately marry each other. Gudgel sits a survey of 13,000 people that found “40% of cohabiting unions in the U.S. break up without the couple getting married” (page 48).
We can all think of exceptions and of course we all think we are the exception. But this evidence all points to the fact that cohabitation is not in the best interest of couples in romantic relationships. Gudgel concludes, “If you and your girlfriend or boyfriend cohabit your chances for divorce are 50% greater; for aggression, 50% greater; of not marrying, 50% greater” (page 48).
Living within God’s boundaries for romantic relationships, one man and one woman committed for all of life in a covenant relationship is the sure path to lasting love.
Hebrews 13:4 (ESV) – Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.