Seven Reasons Why Living Together Before Marriage is not a Good Idea

February 24, 2009 — 67 Comments

—From Women’s Health: Should you be living together? Quote from article:

But research has shown that living together before marriage can sabotage long-term love. Couples who share an address before exchanging rings have slightly higher odds of getting divorced. So how do you know if the timing is right to start shacking up?

Read more: article in the NY Times on 4/14/12 supports my opinion that living together before marriage is not a good idea.

The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage

What are your thoughts?


The Christian Standard magazine just published an article I wrote based on the reaction to this post.  You can read the article here: Cohabitation for Idiots


I’m currently working on a family life book (for information on my 5 other books click here: Arron so I’m very interested in the issue of cohabitation.

This is a big issue today.  I’m seeing a lot of young couples who are living together before marriage.  This troubles me for several reasons, not the least of which is that living together puts a couple in a place of enormous temptation to have premarital sex, which is a sin.

A few years ago, I came across this flier on living together.  It’s been helpful to me in explaining some of the other reasons why living together before marriage is not a good idea (when the sin angle isn’t enough of a deterrent :)), maybe it will be helpful to someone you know.

Seven reasons why living together before marriage is not a good idea:


1.  Those who live together before marriage are least likely to marry each other.

Forty percent of couples who live together will end their relationships before marriage.[1]

2. Those who live together before marriage have higher separation and divorce rates.

The Journal of Marriage and Family reported marriages that are preceded by living together have 50 percent higher disruption rates than marriage without premarital cohabitation.[2] The Universities of Chicago and Michigan reported that those who cohabit before marriage have substantially higher divorce rates than those who do not; the recorded differentials range from 50 to 100 percent.[3] Researchers from Yale University, Columbia University and the Institute for Resource Development at Westinghouse revealed the divorce rates of women who cohabit are nearly 80 percent higher than the rates of those who do not.[4]

The University of Wisconsin at Madisonresearchers report that cohabitors perceived greater likelihood of divorce than couples who did not cohabit before marriage and the longer couples live together outside of marriage, the higher likelihood of divorce.[5]

3. Those who live together before marriage have unhappier marriages.

A review of 10 cohabitation studies found that those who cohabit prior to marriage show a significantly lower marital quality and have significantly higher risk of marital dissolution at any given duration.[6]
Couples who lived together before marriage also separated more often, sought counseling more often and regarded marriage as a less important part of their life than those who did not live together before marriage.[7]

4. Those living together before marriage have more frequent disagreements, more fights and violence.

Three studies find this to be true. Pennsylvania State University researchers found that those who live together were more negative and less positive when resolving a marital problem and when providing support to their partner.[8] They also found that husbands and wives who had lived together before marriage were more verbally aggressive, less supportive of one another and generally more hostile than spouses who had not lived together.[9]


The University of Wisconsin at Madison reported that couples who had cohabited prior to marriage reported greater marital conflict and poorer communication than married couples who had never cohabited.[10]
Research reports couples who live together have more frequent disagreements, more fights and violence, lower levels of fairness and happiness with their relationships compared to married people.[11]

5.  Those who live together do not experience the best sex.

The National Institute for Healthcare Research found that couples not involved before marriage and faithful during marriage are more satisfied with their current sex life than those who were involved sexually before marriage.[12] Another study done by the Family Research Council found that 72 percent of all married “traditionalists” (those who strongly believe out-of-wedlock sex is wrong) reported high sexual satisfaction. This is roughly 31 percentage points higher than the level by unmarried “non-traditionalists.” Religious women are most satisfied with the frequency of intercourse and were more orgasmic than are the nonreligious.[13]

6.  Those who live together before marriage experience more behavioral problems.

Compared with married couples, cohabitors report higher levels of:

  • Alcohol problems.[14]
  • Aggression is twice as common.[15]
  • Greater marital instability, lower marital satisfaction and poorer communication.[16]
  • Depression rates are more than three times higher.[17]
  • Women being assaulted is 56 times higher.[18]

7. Living together outside of marriage negatively impacts their children.

David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, researchers from the National Marriage Project, found that children living with cohabiting biological parents who are unmarried are 20 times more likely to be abused and children whose mother lives with a boyfriend who is not the biological father are 33 times more likely to be abused than children with married biological parents.[19]

Compared to children in intact families, children in cohabiting households had more behavioral problems and poorer academic scores.[20]

Every empirical study seen indicates living together does not produce healthier, happier marriages, but the contrary. Mature love is built on the security of knowing that your love is exclusive and permanent.


1. Bumpass, Sweet and Cherlin, “The Role of Cohabitation in Declining Rates Marriage” Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (1991) 913-927.
2. Ibid
3. William G. Axinn and Arland Thorton, “The Relationship Between Cohabitation and Divorce: Selectivity or Casual Influence?” Demography (1992): 358.
4. Neil Bennett, et al., “Commitment and the Modern Union: Assessing the Link Between Premarital Cohabitation and Subsequent Marital Stability,” American Sociological Review 53 (1988): 127-138.
5. Elizabeth Thomson and Ugo Colella, “Cohabitation and Marital Stability: Quality or Commitment?” (Study of more than 13,000 adults) Journal of Marriage and the Family 54 (1992): 266.
6. Alfred DeMarris and K. Vaninadha Roa, “Premarital Cohabitation and Subsequent Marital Stability in the United States: A Reassessment,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 54 (1992): 178.
7. John D. Cunningham and John K. Antill, “Cohabitation and Marriage: Retrospective and Predictive Comparisons,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships(1994): 90.
8. Dr. Catherine L. Cohan, “Living Together Pre-Marriage May Lead to Divorce,” Journal of Marriage and Family 64 (2002): 180-192
9. Ibid
10. Elizabeth Thomson and Ugo Colella, “Cohabitation and Marital Stability: Quality or Commitment? (Study of more than 13,000 adults) Journal of Marriage and the Family 54 (1992): 259-267.
11. Susan L. Brown and Alan Booth, “Cohabitation Versus Marriage: A Comparison of Relationship Quality,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58 (1996): 668-678.
12. David B. Larson, MD, NMSPH, et al, “The Costly Consequences of Divorce: Assessing the Clinical, Economic, and Public Health Impact of Marital Disruption in the United States,” National Institute for Healthcare Research, Rockville, Maryland. (1994): 84-85
13. David Larson and Mary Ann Mayo, “Believe Well, Live Well,” Family Research Council (1994).
14. Allan V. Horowitz et al, “The Relationship of Cohabitation and Mental Health: A Study of Young Adult Cohort,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60 (1998): 5005-514.
15. Jan E. Stets, “Cohabiting and Marital Aggression: The Role of Social Isolation,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (1991): 669-680.
16. Jan E. Stets, “The Link Between Past and Present Intimate Relationships,” Journal of Family Issues 14 (1993): 236-260.
17. Popenoe and Whitehead, “Should We Live Together? What Young Couples Need to Know about Cohabitation Before Marriage,” National Marriage Project, Rutgers, (1999): 7.
18. University of Wisconsin’s National Survey of Families and Households, American Family Association Journal, July 1993.
19. Popenoe and Whitehead, Should We Live Together?” What Young Couples Need to Know about Cohabitation Before Marriage,” National Marriage Project, Rutgers, (1999): 8.
20. Ibid.

67 responses to Seven Reasons Why Living Together Before Marriage is not a Good Idea


    This is quite a hot info. I’ll share it on Twitter.


    You seem like a very smart person!


    You conveniently fail to mention all the underlying factors for which were not accounted in those above-mentioned studies. For example, socioeconomic status, the couple’s reasons for moving in together, race (divorce is actually higher among whites than non-whites in cohabiting relationships), and the general personality types of people that tend to cohabit prior to marriage.

    Here is a good overview from another set of bloggers:

    I think that your blog is misleading, and you should include all the facts before presenting this to others.



    Sometimes it is just the strategey and ideas associated to cohab before mariage attracts those who have less self control and tolerance… Religous or not those who do not cohab before marriage. Is probaly more likely to have higher moral standards rather anyways… Even if cohab is feasible


      I can’t believe what I am reading in this post. Pretty judgmental of you to post such a heinous reply! Its funny that most religious affiliates (not all) are more likely to pass such judgements onto complete strangers. Do you think God or Jesus showed such tolerance towards people? I think you are liking moral fiber for posting such a reply!


    Why do you use statistics from over 20 years ago? The most recent statistic was from 7 years before you posted this.


    I would have to say I had quite a good chuckle after reading these “seven reasons” and nearly wet myself. How can one person have their head so far up their butt, they would exclude many important stats on the subject they are talking. As far as my feelings on the matter, the reason why some cohabs prior to marriage split up is because through cohab they were no longer compatiable and/or happy with one another. Whereas gettied married beforehand leads to similar problems later down the road with more serious consequences. Thank you and good night internet town.


    i’m a victim. i’ve been living with my fiance and believe me i lost a sense of self respect and there is a lack of communication. his needs are met and my are not because he has more power than me. it is so bad to cohabit because you perform the duty of wife than fiance. working so hard to be where i’am, it sad that i should explain my finances to a fiance. Believe me, i agree with this article, i know that we will never marry as i have been with him more than nine years without being introduced to his family. IT SAD VERY SAD AND FRUSTRATING. I’m stuck and don’t know what to do because we bought the house together.


      Please bite the bullet and move out. You’ll probably need an attorney for help in splitting the house. It can be sold or one can buy the other one out. It’s a tough situation but you really need help, God’s help.

      HAVE YOU CONSIDERED GIVING YOUR LIFE TO JESUS? He loves you and wants to come into your heart and be your Savior. From your heart confess your sin (wrong doing) and ask His forgiveness. Lastly ask Him into your heart. He’s waiting. Read John chap. 3 I’m praying for you dear one.


      Run girl.. get out and run into the arm of Jesus!


    I find the replies to this topic very interesting. I am a born again Christian and I have not found anything that says that biblically: cohabitation is wrong. I understand that it can put someone in a place of temptation, but between a man and a woman with self control (a fruit of the spirit), I think that this can be handled well. It seems to me that it is viewed by many Christians in a similar way to that of alcohol consumption. Where if you have a drink, you are not sinning, but if you get inebriated then you are sinning, therefore you shouldn’t drink at all. Also I do agree with the fact that these data do not take into consideration that the majority of Christians, are those that believe that marriage is a covenant with God and traditionally will not cohabitate. Therefore I would venture to say that these studies primary use non christians, most of which are involved in premarital sex. In using this study group, it should be no surprise that we would get a high percentage of couples that are unhappy or end up getting divorced, seeing that they expect too much from marriage and at the same time do not view it as a binding contract that is not to be breached. Again, I do not see how cohabitation, without sex, is biblically wrong, and while I would caution young Christians, I can neither condone or forbid it.


      To Mike- Thank you for your response. I’m in a situation where my fiance wants to move out because he feels living together is wrong and I feel that it really does come down to the sex and if it needs to be omitted in order to make things right then i couldn’t agree with you more.


      Mike you need to read again the Bible properly..


      what u say is very true. you can say with self-control( a fruit of the spirit) a person can handle temptations but how strong are those in the world today?

      statistically showing more people tend to fall into it then to not fall into it.
      does it mean their fruit is not strong enough or is it they do not have the fruit of the spirit?

      next on alcohol consuption. what you say is very true but 1 thing.
      if we do not even get inebriated with it technically those around us judge us.
      ( not saying myself).
      especially young christians which are not spiritually strong think they can drink and continue with their habits we become a stumbling block to them.>>
      how does this happen?
      for eg: a young christian sees me drinking and i am a christian, i know my boundaries but he doesnt and I do not know him.
      what then?? he drinks and then the story goes on.

      and lastly. i agree with the lat point. but sometimes it does create ”suspiciousness” around us when we cohabitate. u can say we know what we do and did not sin. but it creates gossip around us thus leading them to sin>>( we are not suppose to judge those around us coz only GOd is allowed to do so) and gossiping is indirectly judging.

      Therefore, it creates many judgemental issues. we can be transparent to ourselves but others might not see it.


    I am not a Christian but I don’t believe in living together before marriage. The is a reason why you have to get a license to get married.
    It is a serious combination of 2 lives, minds, and resources.

    I may never get married, but I want to be loved for what I am. Not if I will live with a guy or what I can give him.


    South Africa – RUN AWAY and call a LAWYER. Don’t let love blind you into the grave!


    I am a Christian, that lives in a small town in South Africa. Im not agains living together before marriage, when it is for the right reasons. My boyfriend of 10 years recently moved in with me. Ive been living by myself for 6 years now. We don’t have premarital sex, although we do share the same bed, we both respect each other and our christianity. Although we are spending more time together it does feel to me that we are only getting to know each other now, some people will dissagree with me but yes we have allot off hurddles lately with our diffrent view’s of our believes in chritianity, eg. that he wants me to remove my belly piercing, for he believe that christians should not have any body piercing for it originates from non-christian people. I differ from his opinion, but now what would have happend if 20 years later and we have a teenage daughter that wants piercing done, im not against it but he is.
    Thats why Im not against living together before marriage, to sort out little or big issues like these. I will not choose my piercing above a life with him but if our views of christianity is not meeting each other (eg: about wearing make-up or wearing a pants or even that I eat meat thats been prayed for by a different religion) then its obvious we are waisting each others time. I’ll rather stop a relationship then becomming a divorce statistic.


    i got a kick out of this site. the info given is very one sided, everyone looks at the negative without considering the positive. not to mention that the problems stated are the same problems that many have even when they are married, abuse, neglect, arguments, all that happens in marriages the difference is a lot if women feel trapped and often times it’s much harder for them to get out. Forgive me for being blunt but i’m the kind of woman that thinks it’s okay to live together, work together, and have your life together without the strains of marriage, the way i see it, it’s just a signature on a paper, love is love no matter whether you are legally binded or not. If you will get treated like crap outside of marriage imagine what it would be like inside of one. living together before marriage where as it was once looked upon as being unholy now it’s okay. welcome to 2010! we’re not naive pilgrims anymore!


      may i just inform you.
      its not just looking at the bad side.
      coz actually hot news like this attracts people to their site.

      if someone is to post up about advantages of cohabiting…
      i do not really think it would attractive as this.

      besides it also creates argument thus not very good..^^


    This Article does not take any of the other views into account. By doing so makes your views bogus and in my own opinion not true. I tend to believe people more if they actually show both sides of the issue instead of just shouting theirs.


    I did the whole wait until you’re married thing and my marriage was miserable. It only lasted a year. I have a girlfriend now who just five minutes with her are 100 times more wonderful than the entire year with my ex wife. So I do not believe that those who wait until marriage will be more satisfied sexualy and with their marriage. Just from my experience it almost destroyed my life.

    AndILoveBuddahToo November 15, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    This may be the most pathetic excuse for a factual and intelligently written and researched editorial I have ever seen. EVER.

    1. Outdated information- As “Matt” said the most recent statistics are from 7 years ago.

    2. Obvious reasoning gaps- The first reason is “Those who live together before marriage are least likely to marry each other.” REALLY? Hmm. Interesting. Could this be because after living together, one of the two partners realized that they were incomparable with their lover? Or one of them realized that their significant other was abusive or unfaithful? Did those thoughts ever cross your mind?

    3. Lack of realistic and raw data- Rather than giving raw data (a classic propaganda technique) the author gives his interpretation of the data, which leaves vast room for biased extrapolation and data masking

    4. One sided, attack mentality- It has been observed consistently that in totalitarian states, people are coerced into submitting to an ideal or a figure of power by coming together for a common enemy. This tactic is used in this post by giving negative reasons about a subject (Seven Reasons Why Living Together Before Marriage is NOT a Good Idea) NOT. Key word. Rather than examining the positive aspects of refraining from cohabitation before marriage, the author uses negative reasons to scare readers into believing and adhering to this idea.

    This is also a classic trait of many religions and media organizations (Fox Fear Network) to gain and control followers, but that is an ENTIRELY different rant.

    5.Simple grammatical errors- “Those who live together before marriage have unhappier marriages” [sic] Unhappier. Really? In a “report” with “factual sources” the author neglected to even ATTEMPT to sound somewhat intelligent. Less happy is a great term.

    This is pathetic. I respect Christianity and its basic ideas, but this is disgusting.


    i think yall should read this what really gallup polls have to say.


    respon of mike said :

    in my opinion the life it not just sexual relation it all about to respct and living to support each other but it happen some time that dislike each other that not mean living togather its better accept if you dont like to carry something like this responsabillty. on aother hand, if you have this sexual relation with out responsabillty just for sex that mean one day will be in some hard satution that let you left her becaus their is nothing strong related conect you with her accept sex .


    I think that this is one of the most bias and unintelligent sounding posts I have ever read.
    Rating a relationship’s survival chances based on old statistics and religious jargon doesn’t change anything but the view’s of some very naive individuals out there.
    I understand those who believe in waiting for marriage to have sex; however, feel that the claims based on religion are simply placed there as a gimmick to sell your theories on marriage.
    I am a 26 year old female who is happily living with my boyfriend for the past few years, he is a good man who is good to me. That should be all that matters in any relationship.

    Pointing out statistics based on violence or sex lives is so insulting. Anyone can succumb to a violent relationship or a bad sex life if you allow it to happen, how does marriage fix this?

    Let me give you a hypothetical situation: A young women marries a young man because she wanted to be pure until marriage. The two of them have a decent go at it for awhile until suddenly the husband decides to handle an argument with violence. How is this any different? Now this girl has to find it in her to either live with the violence or go against what her religion has told her and get divorced to protect herself…

    Ok so once again… how does this prevent violence? Anyone has the ability to be violent.

    On to another hypothetical situation: A young woman and a young man stay virgins until marriage and now that they are having sex they realize that it’s not fulfilling and their marriage slowly deteriorates. They try new things but still feel they are not satisfied and now sex has become a tedious chore.

    Ok, do you think that this marriage will survive a mundane sex life? Sex is extremely important to a relationship whether you are married or not, it is your livelihood and something that human beings are born to desire. Taking the thrill and drive out of a marriage cannot help… so does this mean this only happens to non-married couples?

    I would love some insightful information that isn’t bias… if you would like an opinion of a very happy woman who is living with her boyfriend and doesn’t feel that their relationship should be dictated by a piece of paper then please… I’m all ears.


    Isn’t cohabitation more like joint ventures then a covenantal relationship Ephesians 5 talks about? If so, does these words from business writter Seth Godin apply as why joint ventures fail. He writes “Because there isn’t one boss, one deliverable, one person pushing the project relentlessly, [the venture] stalls” Not only is there not a clear success outcome but they have not one agreed upon person to drive the relation towards that goal

    While talking about businesses, he says the answer is “One side buys the right to use an asset that belongs to the other.” The two remain separate but the venture “belongs to one party” for the use they determine. The man agrees to a venture involving low commitment and sex and the woman allows the man his freedom to whatever he wants. He then works to make sure that this venture is a success. When time to upgrade, he will then move on to find another “asset” to meet the needs of his business model. Woman will do this with the idea of having kids. Enter into a relationship with guy in order to get a father and then when kids come, forget about him. Oversimplification? Maybe but this is the modle Pop Culture gives us.

    When two people who aren’t married live together (especially for financial reason), aren’t they just doing the same thing? Isn’t that the scenario that just play out above and in most homes today. Man wants sex so man gives money to an apartment/home for use of woman (asset). He will let the woman do whatever she wants if he A) still gets sex and B) has success outlet. Take away one, partnership dissolves and the woman is hurt. The same can be true when a woman’s needs are not met because the partnership’s goal is the individual’s happiness

    Objectors will say, “marriage isn’t a business and shouldn’t be run like one.” But isn’t that is how a cohabitation is talked about, in business terms? If it isn’t good enough for a healthy business how much more should it be in a marriage/family which is FAR more important. This may sound cold and harsh but when people talk about the marriage/dating decisions in terms of money/sex/children/job alone, aren’t they ignoring the spiritual/relational/social consequences of these decisions? When people reduce marriage to simply sex (of which I was guilty as a single man) or something else and call it love, we are ignoring the ramifications of any poor decision could have on other aspects of a relationship or life. At that point, we are simply using others for our “business” needs rather than using the Gospel example to transform relationships. Cohabitation of companies don’t work, why would it work in a relationship?

    (I’m arguing from a complementarian position so feel free to disagree with that point but don’t ignore the bigger point of cohabitation being dumb in business so it is dumb in relationships)


    It is too easy to back out of a door that has not been shut. That is what living together is like, no commitment, easy out. Been there, no good. Somebody always gets hurt.


    I thnk guys is ffyn living with ur man before marriage it jst depends how u guys knw nd undrstnd each ada


    Baloney, all of it. I was married and would never do it again. Living together is much better. If you don’t like the guy, it’s easier to kick him out than to divorce, and cheaper. By living together you get to know the person, what he or she is like on a day to day basis. If I had lived with my husband before saying “I do” I never would have, I knew that within the first year. As it was i was stuck with him for years before I had to guts to kick him out. I strongly advocate to my son to live with a woman before getting married, if I could I would forbid it. You may love someone, but it’s the little things that ruin love. Religious freaks spoil it for everyone, waving their bible. Some say “Why buy the whole cow when you can get the milk for free” I say “Why buy a whole pig for one tiny sausage”.


    1. As was said before, listing off things that were more common of people who had chosen to cohabit before marriage (such as not getting married, the sex life, the ever-smart-sounding ‘unhappier people) aren’t even valid arguments. Someone who is an ‘unhappier’ person probably has underlying issues as it is, which may influence them to cling to someone for a sense of security, thus being vulnerable to violence, etc. Knowing what you’re getting into before entering into a legally binding contract of marriage, in RECENT studies, shows to have a bit of a ‘funner’ outcome (since we’re using intelligent words).

    2. At the time a lot of this research was done, those who cohabited probably had higher divorce rates, because at that time, those who were less religious were more likely to cohabit–thus more likely to tell their other half to kick rocks and get a divorce if things went south, whereas those who waited until they were married to move in together are probably the more religious types who feel obligated to stay in an unhappy marriage for religious reasons.

    3. There is a big difference between correlation and causation. Do research on both sides of the argument before deciding that ‘a causes b, so obviously, it’s going to be a recipe for disaster’. The writer of this article quite obviously had an agenda and searched for the articles to support their laughable claim thinking people wouldn’t read and realize that all of their ‘points’ are being backed up by completely outdated material.

    4. If you’d like, I can send the information for RECENT studies, which show that those who cohabited only with the person they ended up marrying actually had a slight edge on people who had not cohabited. I might even dig it up, just for fun.

    Glad to see quite a few responses which are actually intelligent on the issue, since the writer of the original post obviously needs to pull his/her head out.


    Here’s a collection of Bible passages on the matter:

    ON Marriage and sex:

    *Genesis 2:24 — For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

    Genesis 1:27, 28, 30 — So God created man in his own image,in the image of God he created him;male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; God blessed them…he saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

    Proverbs 18:24 — He who finds a wife, finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.

    (Conclusion: Marriage is good. Sex in marriage is good.)

    ON adultery as a sin:

    Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.”

    (CONCLUSION: Adultery is a sin.)

    ON what Adultery is:

    Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure.”

    (CONCLUSION: Lust, thinking about sex with someone you are not married to, is adultery. Thus, Lust is a sin.)

    ON the punishment for adultery/lust/sex outside of marriage….(which is called sexual immorality):

    1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 — It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit

    1 Corinthians 6:9 –9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders

    1 Corinthians 6:16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

    Galatians 5:19 — The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;

    On Cohabitation

    Jesus Brings up a woman’s cohabitation. He doesn’t commend her, but he shames her to see her sin as a need for a Savior:

    Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

    The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

    He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

    “I have no husband,” she replied.

    Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

    “Sir,” the woman deflected, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

    Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

    The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

    Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

    (CONCLUSION: Jesus made this woman realize her need for a Savior by bringing up her cohabitation with a man she wasn’t married to.)

    Ephesians 5:3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, or greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

    (CONCLUSION: Even a hint of sexual immorality is a sin. Meaning, if it appears you are sinning sexually, which cohabitation real…then you are sinning.)

    Proverbs 6:23-29– These commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life,keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.
    Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread,
    and the adulteress preys upon your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.

    (CONCLUSION: If you are cohabitating, you are putting yourself in deep danger. God says, don’t be silly. You will sin…repeatedly and often. Thus, cohabitation is a sin. .)

    ON obeying the government:

    Romans 13:1 –Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God

    (CONCLUSION: Living together, as if you are married…common law marriage…and not following the government’s law, is sin.)

    ON continuing to sin, when you know it is wrong:

    Hebrews 10:26 — If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.

    (CONCLUSION: those who keep sinning willfully, in which cohabitation fits, will forfeit the grace of Christ’s forgiveness.)

    ON Forgiveness for cohabitation:

    Colossians 2:13 “When we were dead in our sins…God made us alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.”

    2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.”

    Ephesians 1:7 ” In Christ, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

    Isaiah 53:5 “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.”

    (CONCLUSION: Jesus forgives the sin of cohabitation and all the sins associated with it.)
    ENCOURAGEMENT to stay away from this sin:

    Romans 12:2 ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.”

    Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

    John 8:11 “Go and sin no more.”

    (CONCLUSION: Stop living together. It’s a sin. And you are God’s child. God’s children don’t do such things. They live differently than the world.)


    Bless you, dear friend, for being willing to post the truth in a kind voice. May God bless your obedience.


    Just because one thing precedes another thing does not mean that it is the direct cause for the end result…. it would be like if you found statistics that showed people who play golf or chess have a higher IQ than those who don’t and concluded that you needed to play golf or chess to raise your IQ level. The reason people who play golf or chess have a higher IQ is not because they play those games…. they are likely to be attracted to those games because they have high IQs, not the other way around. And I think this applies to the statistics about having a successful marriage. Deciding not to live together before marriage will not directly increase your odds of having a successful marriage. It is the personal character traits and relationship skills that those people already had that helped them have a good marriage.




    I currently live with my fiancee. We have lived together the whole of our relationship. I do not see any relevance to this article. Every couple is different and not every couple who lives together out of wed-lock follows these statistics. There are several married couples who have waited till after marriage to live together now divorced, abused, etc. Those kids are affected too. I honestly find this very opinionated and closed minded. If you love the person you are with, then marriage is just a ceremony made public of your love to each other. The commitment to love each other should not be defined by the words “I do” it should be defined by actions.


    I am a Christian and I believe that a couple can live together. . . . If they’re engaged. I feel as though being engaged and living in different homes is quite complicated because when they get married they can’t drop everything at their current homes and get a place together. Doing things like finding a place to have together takes time. My boyfriend is also a Christian and if he were to ever ask me to marry him , eventually we would move in with each other. We both practice abstinence so it wouldn’t be a problem for us.


      Are you sure you aren’t just rationalizing your sin? Take a look at the passages up above. Is it really just fine to live together? Are you sure God would come down and give you a high five?

      Examine your heart: Are you testing God? Are you just trying to get away with something? Is making sure that it isn’t ‘quite complicated’ really the way to view obedience to God?


      Don’t you think it would be very difficult to practice abstinence once you move in together? You can plan your wedding around your when your lease is up, if that’s the issue. Have one person move into your new home and then the other can move in after the wedding.


    this is a very biased article. you religious people scare me. i lived with my husband, happily in sin, 3 years before marriage and we have been married for 4 years…and we couldn’t be happier. and no, we do not HAVE to stay married because of children (do not have any) or obligation…we stay married because we love each other. if you do not test drive the car before you buy it, odds are you are going to end up with a lemon. living together before commiting fully teaches you if you can stand the person you think you want to grow old with. the opinion that a legal piece of paper makes your sex any more godly is asinine


      Thanks for your opinion. What were your thoughts about the NY Times article? It’s not a religious periodical. I really would like to hear some of your reaction to that article.


    this all sounds like a crock of religious shit!


      Thanks for sharing your opinion, Lesli.
      Are you talking about the NY Times data or the other data? Unless I missed something, the NYT is not a religious newspaper.
      I’d also be interested in any data you can share with me that supports the idea that cohabitation makes marriages stronger. Unless, you have none and this was just a “drive-by” angry comment.
      I’ll share whatever data you send my way.


    I understand you have statistics, but not every unwed couple living together fall in the statistics. My boyfriend and I are 20 and live together. We are very happy and feel living together before marriage makes things less awkward and more natural. We have both had hard life’s and dont really have family. This has made us appreciate each other so much and given us drive to succeed. We even run a home based business and are involved in the stock market..all at age 20! Young people who have had bad luck in life need to watch out though, they are more susceptible to meeting the wrong person. But yes, we are very proud of is as if we are reaping the reward after everything that’s happened before each other. Alot of people say young people dont know what love is, that’s horrid because my parents and grandparents have been with the same person since they were teens, happily so. We are an old fashioned love story and of young people can love above the influence they can succeed.


    Me and my fiance r on the verge of breaking up we have three beautiful children we met and a year down the line were engaged to get married then my father passed away due to a heart attack we moved in together as I found out I was pregnant a year later my eldest brother couldn’t handle the loss of my dad so he took his own life leaving us all distraught and my wedding couldn’t take place I got very depressed and we started to drift apart roughly a year after that my mom had an op and very sadly I lost her too I then fell pregnant with my second child the pressure forced us to seperate and the engagement called off then we got back together and the fights got out of hand 3 years down the line we resolved issues and things got better we found out we were pregnant took the morning after pill but we now have a beautiful little girl with that joy came a second proposal and definite plans to make our love official in front of the Lord but today I’ve been sitting in tears its the 4th of july my moms birthday and the very day I lost my brother now ill be losing my dream of a complete happy and healthy family I guess it doesn’t matter who u r or what background u come from if its not meant to be its just something in life u have to accept I am a firm believer in God and doing His will unfortunately I’m not a strong person I gave into temptation and living together in the hopes of one day making my family complete

    Anyways that’s just me I hope if u r in a similar position that u find peace or that with the love and strength of God u build ur dream good luck


    thanks- true insights for those that think Gods word is not necessarily the best moral campus.


    Let’s not begin to deliberate & argue over an issue that will make God angry. Right from the onset, man has always had a good sense of judgement before he fell. Cohabitation should be for married couples alone. No arguments!


    Let’s not begin to deliberate & argue over an issue that will make God angry. Right from the onset, man has always had a good sense of judgement before he fell in the garden. Cohabitation should be for married couples alone to prevent disappoiment. No arguments!

    Phil Kornegay July 16, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Thanks for the article. Regardless of what current or future research may show, I think that the basis of all this misunderstanding about living together vs. marriage stems from our culture’s definition of “love.” Co-habitating love contains elements of marital love but in the end, only a wedding, a ring and yes- the cheap piece of paper- seal a commitment between a man and woman and allow them to experience a love that goes beyond the initial chemical romance (but still includes it!). Yes it requires a ton of work, years of patience and doesn’t always work out. The more i think about the traditional vows…better or worse, richer/poorer, sickness/health, until death…the more amazed I am that anyone would agree to it. But when we hear those words spoken back to us, it’s an offer we just can’t refuse. Living together before marriage has become the norm, and it may satisfy needs temporarily but the message still says “I don’t love you enough to marry you.”


    There seems to be some misunderstanding on the use of statistics. Statistics are facts that show results of a given study group. A study could show that 78% of people who drive on 7th street and speeding got into an accident. Now, there are some who were speeding down 7th street and did just fine every time they did it. Does this mean that it’s safe to speed down 7th street? The statistics shows that there are some very real dangers in doing so which 78% of the drivers couldn’t or didn’t avoid. The reasons could vary but this statistic shows that it is not best for people to speed down 7th street.

    Now, the majority of us will say, “Yea, but, that’s them. I’m different and I’m part of the 23% who don’t get into accidents. Most people who live together say that they are different and the bad stuff won’t happen to them. But the statistics say differently.

    Even Marriage statistics show some interesting facts. With the national divorce rate between 40 to 50 percent the following information is good to know. With stats like this some say they don’t want to get married. I can understand why some think that way but the reason for this is that most people jump into relationships and then marriage without learning how to keep a good relationship going well. We go to school for 12 to 18 plus years to get a job but few bother getting educated on how to build a good relationship that helps you to find and keep a mate for life. Most people, not all, just go through trial and error relationships that create horrible pain from breakups and abuse. I’m not saying that there is a fail proof way of preparing for marriage but stats show that those who go through a good pre-marriage counseling can reduce the divorce rate from 40 or 50% down to 10 or 20%. That seems like incredible odds to me!

    I wonder what the breakup rate is for cohabitants? What is the success rate for pre-counselling for them? I don’t think there’s a good way to determine that. The problem is that there are many different reasons people cohabit. The purpose for marriage is overall singular; it is to be together for life. Cohabitants going into a relationship who say they are “test driving” are already behind the “8 ball”. There is not the same level of purpose and commitment for the majority. There are a few who have made it work but not the majority.

    When we are educated on good principles of love, communication, flexibility, children, money, etc. before marriage the choice of our mate and the commitment to each other is more sure than without.

    Premarital preparation can reduce divorce rate by 30%. (Stanley, Amato, Johnson & Markman,2006)

    Recent research combining information from 11 experimental studies found significant differences favoring couples who received premarital education. There was a 79% improvement in all marital outcomes compared to couples who did not receive premarital education. (Carroll & Doherty, 2003)

    Couples who participate in a premarital program (like PREPARE/ENRICH) significantly increased their couple satisfaction. In a recent outcome study, couples improved in 10 out of 13 relationship categories. (Knutson & Olson, 2003)

    One last thought:

    I can’t find the source at the moment but about 30% of children are born to out of wedlock parents.

    There is a wealth of evidence that children raised by their biological, married parents have the best chance of becoming happy, healthy, and morally upright citizens in the future.

    Not having married parents deprives children of the love, security, and attention they need. Marriage provides the optimal environment for rearing children, the future of society. Children raised by their biological married parents receive numerous social, health, and economic benefits, and these gifts benefit the whole of society. Conversely, it is through the breakdown of marriage that children and society are harmed.

    While there are some exceptions to the rule the majority of these 30% fall into this troublesome category.


      I am with a nonchristian. To me, it is sin. I dont believe in test driving relationships bc to choose to spend the rest of your life with someone, to choose an attitude of love, is a choice. It is a will that should be determined by seeking to love the other selflessly. The ability to love should not be test driven! If it is so easy to walk away from someone due to habits that can hopefully change, then you don’t love the other. I was engaged to a Christian. We were abstinent and were going to get married and did not live together. Needless to say i broke the engagement bc I knew I could not stand the thought of marrying someone like him (he had a lot of issues). I chose to live with my boyfriend not as a test drive but becvause i view him as my husband. He says he views mme as his wife. He respected my wish to remain abstinent…but i am the one who chose to succumb to temptation. Point blank: these statistics are not the end all be all or are judgments. They are however potential outcomes. Every rs is different, but as Christians oiur actions shouldnt be determined by worldly successes (outcomes of rs) but iunstead we act only to honor god. So not living together should have nothing to do with trying to avoid being a statistic. I am not conedmining nor condoing for i myself admit to my sin. May God have patience with me in my repentance, for I know I must, Thank you for the post! —-OH! ALSO i used to do street evangelism….there was a couple who accepted christ and someone on our team advised them they must live seperately….looking back i think this was poor advisement…two people who committed themselves to christ need each other…they did not know anything of it being sinful to live together. I say that in the end, let God advise and judge. His Word lights our feet and we can guide but we cannot control them.


    This is a wonderful article. Well done. All the hateful comments are because people know what you are saying is the truth! I have had sex before marriage once, was the biggest mistake ever. I fell for sweet words, gave my virginity to him, he used me and then called me his ‘friend.’

    I did not stand for it, and immediately broke up with him. It was a hard and very painful lesson, but I have no one but myself to blame as whenever you disobey God you always suffer.

    People hate God for no reason whatsoever. God has said that women should be cherished, and cared for and protected for in a MARRIAGE… more loving could God be? As much as women say ‘I don’t want to get married’ most of them are liars! At least I am honest, as I do want to get married.

    Most relationships these days are dysfunctional, transient occupations to fill people’s time. I call them the leapfroggers, as they claim to be so in love, yet they are always keeping their eyes peeled for someone better.

    I do not believe in living together before marriage, because that is the role of a wife. The reason why people get agitated about articles like this is because it reveals the true motivations behind shacking up which are:

    1. Financial – a lot of people just shack up to save on their bills.
    2. Convenient – it means they don’t have to make as much effort to see you any more, as you are right there.
    3. Wife/husband duty, free of charge – they get free cooking and cleaning services!
    4. Ego – some like the security and thrill of love, without the commitment of marriage.
    5. No trust – they don’t want to marry you as that involves financial integration.

    I shall give the example of my brother. He has a girlfriend, they moved in together soon after getting together, she has had three kids by him. They have been together for 25 years. Kids are all grown up now. He has not married her. All his bank statements still go to my Mum’s address. He has written a will in which all goes to his kids. She does not even know.

    I know this is an extreme example, but it is a real one. The truth is if you live with someone, or have premarital sex, it clouds love. It stops you from seeing if YOU are their delight and joy. Other considerations get mixed in i.e. ‘I enjoy having sex with him/her’, or ‘I want to leave her/him, but I can’t afford to move out’ etc.

    I know God’s way is not popular, but waiting for marriage is the only way to refine your love and put it to the test. That’s what God meant about refining silver. If you have obstacles early on in the courtship and manage to overcome them, i.e. controlling your desires/finding other things to do together, then you know your love is being refined and getting purer and stronger like silver.

    If you just jump straight in, no refinement occurs, silver remains mixed with impurities, and your love has no chance to grow and develop. It is just sex and convenience. Then people become miffed when after playing wife/hubby for years, they find out that marriage is not on the cards.

    Even if it is on the cards, it is a hollow victory in that it is just a formality, everyone knows that you have had sex already etc, so the specialness is lost. Then people become disillusioned as they thought marriage would cement their love, but instead they feel disappointment.


    I found this article while googling the topic because all of my close female friends and even my sister lived with boyfriends long-term; men that they always stated that they weren’t going to marry. (I hated hearing the phrase, “Mr. Right Now, not Mr. Right”).

    Now I am married and expecting our first baby, and I am so disconnected from my female friends and sister, who are single and very discouraged after having gone through what I consider their “fake marriages” and “mini-divorces” with those boyfriends.

    I googled the topic because I wondered if these women would ever be able to get over the experiences they put themselves through, and have happy relationships. Or if I should just completely move on and not expect to ever be on the same page as them…which wouldn’t be strange because we weren’t on the same page up until now. I was mostly single and never lived with a man while they were constantly in relationships and living with men. But it’s sad to think that their choices in living like they were married without being married may have sabotaged their chances of really experiencing the joys and challenges of marriage.


    I live in USA a country where Divorce cases seems to be the order of the day,i was married to my husband Lawson for 18 years and we were living happily together with our 3 kids and all of a sudden their came this sad moment for the first time in my life i curt my husband having an affair with a lady outside our marriage before this time i have already started noticing strange behavior like he used to spend some time with us, comes home early after work but since he started having an affair with this lady all his love for his wife gone and he now treats me badly and will not always make me happy.I had to keep on moving with my life never knowing that our marriage was now leading to divorce which i can not take because i love Lawson my husband so much and i can’t afford to loose him to this strange Lady,i had to seek a friends advice on how i could resolve my marriage problem and make the divorce case not to take place and my husband live this Lady and come back to me again having heard my story my friend decided to help me at all cost she then referred me to A spell caster named Priest Ajigar, my friend also told me that Priest Ajigar have helped so many people that were going through divorce, and also finding possible ways to amend their broken relationship. To cut my story short i contacted Priest Ajigar and in just four days after the spell was done my husband left the other lady and withdrew the divorce case all till now my husband is with me and he now treats me well and we are living happily together again all appreciation goes to Priest Ajigar i never could have done this my self, so to whom it may concern if you are finding difficulty in your relationship or having problems in your marriage just contact Priest Ajigar he is Powerful and his spell works perfectly,i am somebody who never believed or heard about spell but i gave it a try with Priest Ajigar and today every thing is working well for me and if you need his help his email is (

    Margit Hammer May 23, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    I think the sorts of people that believe couples should not live together first are also the kinds of people who are more likely to remain in a marriage with someone they are unhappy with.

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