Country Living Series

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What makes more sense?

I'm on a couple of "query" loops in which writers can make queries of anyone who can provide information for an article or book. I've seen so many of these queries come across my computer screen that I seldom blink at the occasional odd one.

So as oddness goes, this one was pretty light, and I didn't pay it much attention. Yet the more I thought about it, the more it bugged me. The query went as follows:

I'm looking to interview men and women age 20-60 anywhere in the country who are dating someone but not living together. Why, in these tough economic times where it makes financial sense to move in together, do you prefer to live in separate abodes? Do you think it's better for the long-term health of your relationship to take things slow? Or is there some other reason? Respondents can remain anonymous, although if you’re OK with it I’d like your first name, last initial, age, profession, and city/state of residence—or just whatever you’re comfortable telling me.

The reason I found this query troubling was the genuine puzzlement the writer expresses. I mean, he or she seems honestly confused that anyone could possess a moral code that would not allow for them to live with a man or a woman outside of marriage.

When Don and I were married in 1990, I was renting a house with a yard (I had a dog) and he was renting an apartment in a nearby town. It never -- not in a million years -- occurred to us to move in together until after the vows were said. There was something thrilling about the idea of setting up housekeeping together once we returned from our honeymoon.

He moved in with me since my rental house was larger than his apartment. A few weeks into our new arrangement, I stepped onto the porch just as the mailman walked up. "Lewis and Smith?" he asked, shuffling letters.

"No," I replied proudly. "Lewis and Lewis." I wanted no misconceptions whatever that Don and I were not husband and wife.

Back to the query. Why, in these tough economic times where it makes financial sense to move in together, do you prefer to live in separate abodes?

Well, maybe people who don't live together before marriage want marriage to actually mean something. Statistics have shown that people who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce. Perhaps those who approach marriage as the sacred covenant that it is view it differently than those who move in together merely for economic convenience (and free sex).

If someone "practices" setting up house together with any number of partners, how will this be any different when they settle for one person permanently? It won't. The new spouse will be just like an endless list of ex-partners with whom you've set up house. There will be no sparkle, no novelty, no fun of moving furniture around until both parties are satisfied. Instead it will just be another tedious time of moving furniture around until both parties are satisfied.

And deep down in their heart, they no doubt wonder if this housekeeping setup will last any longer than any of the others.

The obvious thing that sets marriage apart from merely living together are the vows. (Whether people really mean those vows is a whole 'nother blog post.) But marriage is more than just vows. It's the fun of setting up a life together. It's getting used to another person's idiosyncrasies while still wearing the rose-colored glasses of newlyweds (which makes those idiosyncrasies easier to live with). It's the planning for the future -- the house you'll want to buy someday, the children you'll bear together, the job prospects you'll entertain...

Yes, marriage is a whole different mindset than merely living together for (cough) economic reasons.

But I won't bother explaining any of this to the writer who sent that query. I see it as one of those "if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand moments."


  1. Husband of the BossAugust 4, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Husband of the Boss comment:

    To be entirely honest, and don't tell Patrice, I wasn't ENTIRELY opposed to the whole moving in together thing. But she wouldn't have gone for it, so I didn't even suggest it.

    One of the most important points of marriage between a good woman and a less than perfect man is the civilizing factor. (Love you honey.)

  2. lol, my hubby and i did not shack up together until the vows..but, we did have a rather "whirlwind" romance ....we met and had one date, he proposed, i asked what took him so long, and we got married...38yrs ago and have not looked back.

  3. I just wanted to say tell you that your blog has inspired me to make one of my own, I have trouble with being shy, even on the internet.

    Because of the economy my daughter and I are living with my mother while I get my RN degree. Then I plan on saving as much money as possible to build a home! Never until I cam across your blog did I realize that maybe my dreams could come true and are not a fantasy after all.

  4. Back in my day, living together without benefit of marriage was called *shacking up* and was the exception and frowned upon .... today, it seems almost unheard of to NOT live together before marriage, and society appears to have accepted this without a whimper of protest and as *normal*. Where have all the morals and values gone?

    What I find absurd is people who have multiple children together without marriage, and then refer to their significant other as their *fiance*. Uhm, an engagement is supposed to be a relatively short period of time BEFORE marriage (and children) until two lives and households can be joined, not years and years of co-habitating and children together! I guess people think *fiance* sounds better than *boyfriend* or *girlfriend*.

    I pity the poor children who grow up in households where their parents aren't married. Yeah, that piece of paper DOES mean a lot! I wish I would have been born in my parent's generation; it would have been a better fit for my values.

    Sign me,
    Born too late!

  5. It's just too 'out there' this wacked out world of baby-mama and baby-daddy "relationships." The prospect of same-sex commitments some aggressively seek to force us all to call marriage is a commonplace of discussion. Our radicalized governing class have homsexualized our military. This didn't all happen over night,so it's not at all surprising to encounter grown 'adults' who know no other kind of world.

    I served for some years as a deputy county commissioner whose sworn task was performing civil marriages. Oh. The stories I can tell.

    A. McSp

  6. Lived together and shouldn't have. Our marriage is good 17 years now but I feel sad that I was an unbeliever at the time . I do remember feeling a bit disappointed in my soon to be husband that he confessed Christ and yet he had no problem with moving in because it made sence financially. Non Christians really do have Christians on a pedestal We should be careful how we live because they do want us to be of a certain standard even as they complain about Gods standards!! Karen

  7. I think you should send the blog post address to the person who asked the query. He/she might at least understand that his/her priorities are not shared by everyone else in this culture. Some people Do think marriage is not about finances or taxes, or governmental "blessing" or free milk or a cow. That marriage is about a lifelong relationship between two people and God...


  8. "Born too late" says back in his/her day living together was called "shacking up." In MY day it was called "living in sin." Oh, but calling it that is too harsh. It offends those sinners. All I can say is, someday when they meet their Maker, they'll have NO excuse or explanation for why they lived such an immoral, godless life. I'm afraid saying it just wasn't hip anymore won't cut it with the Lord!

  9. This topic came up this week in one of the classes (lifespan psychology.) Colleges are teaching that marriage is something poor, desperate people do, women who are needy and have no other option get married. Since "modern" women don't need a man to take care of them, there is no reason to, because it will just leave you trapped and unable to take care of yourself, and you will be "forced" to take on all of the household responsibilities once you are married.

    The same classes teach that single parents are just as good as two parents, because the roles of mothers and fathers are only determined by stereotypes, not by biology. So a father can be just as agood at nuturing a child as a mother, and women can be perfect "fathers" if they choose to be.

    Now, mind you, I am the ONLY married student in this class, and all 18 students have children. I am the only one NOT on government assistance, and the only one who doesnt perpetually complain about not being able to pay the bills. These single parents also complain that they never "get a break from" their children... as though these children are an inconvenience to be managed, rather than a blessing...

    ...but surely marriage should still be avoided at all costs, because it's not "modern". Talk about not being able to see the forest through the trees...

  10. As a child of divorced parents, and a religious non-believer (then), I wanted to be sure that the person I got married to would be the ONE and ONLY. I have a genetic disability and I wanted to be sure that whomever I married had his eyes wide open to what he was getting into by marrying me. My parents were ill-matched and I was determined to have a husband that respected me and *I* was the one that wanted to live together first to be sure that we could live together, to wake up to each other each morning and still love each other, to let down our guards and pick our noses and burp and do all those other things that dating people don't do in front of each other and feel nothing but love. We dated a brief month before he asked me to marry him and moved in together 2 weeks later. Our engagement was a year and a half and I have no regrets to living together prior to marriage. It's been 13 years of marriage now, and 4 children later (for the record, the kids are 9, 7, 5, and 3), we are as happy as ever and our faith in God is stronger every day.

    I can't speak for others, but I'm positive that if my own sister had lived with her husband first before marriage (he refused because of his own beliefs), she would not have married him in the first place. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing and it breaks my heart to know he has her wrapped around his finger.

  11. in most states many years ago, "living in sin", "shacking up", and having roomates of the opposite sex regardless of the relationship being on the "up and up" was against the law and a person could in fact be jailed and fined for "cohabitating".

  12. You know I have thought long and hard about this.
    Thank God my husband is in much better health than I am right now. I mean I can hardly walk on
    one leg. the other one hurts that bad. Yes I am
    going to the doctor and I do hope that it gets
    But If something happen to my husband, o well.
    First off all I would not be looking for another
    person, but if it fell into place our government
    has made it so that we would live together, and how awful. You see my husband is retired military, and I would loose all of my benfits if I was to remarry and I simply cannot afftord
    at this time to pay much higher prime on our health insurance, and with all of my medical
    problems right now.
    So I am trusting God that notheing will happen to him, but think about people in my position
    Blessing to all

  13. My husband and I did not live together before we were married. My husband had been married before. I had not. I am happy that I can look my daughter in the eye and tell her God's order and that Mom and Dad didn't live in sin before getting married. Maybe that's why we were also one of those quicker relationships. Met in September of 1986 and were married in February of 1987. We will celebrate our 25th anniversary in Feb 2012.

  14. This is still bothering me. Totally aside from my religious beliefs, I place a higher value on myself than would allow me to trade sex for an easier financial situation by shacking up with some guy without the blessing of God in marriage. Maybe I'm the only one left who thinks that's prostitution. I'm starting to think so.

    Xa Lynn

  15. My husband and I lived together before we were married. He wanted to tie the knot ASAP, but I wasn't ready, having been through the painful breakup of my first marriage. We were "Shack-Up Honeys" for a year before I felt the Holy Spirit smack me upside the head.

    Shortly after, we got serious about God and made a lot of changes in our lives. We stopped getting frisky(no mean feat!) and started looking for a house to rent that would be big enough for the kids we wanted to have. We found one, and I moved into it, while he stayed in our previous home.

    Seven months later we became man and wife, married in the church that had first met us when we were living in sin, had been patient through God's transformation of our hearts, and now was rejoicing with us in His ability to make all things new. Sleeping with my then-boyfriend was easy to do; backing out of that aspect of our relationship was both one of the hardest, and one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

    It's been thirteen years now, and we have eight beautiful children. My fervent desire is that our children know what we never did--what it's like to marry with pure hearts and bodies, to experience that soul-stirring passion for the first time, with the one you've made your vows to. Our God is merciful, and by His grace, my marriage is strong and growing. But we want even more for our children, we want the best. And God's best is for them to marry without having "known" each other beforehand.

    You know, there is something so satisfying about following His plan, and seeing the fruit of that obedience. We're looking forward to the weddings of our children, and praying that God will be planting whole orchards of blessing in their lives!

    Ari K.

  16. Well, I just wrote a very long comment which was quickly deleted due to user (my) stupidity. No matter. Short version:

    My boyfriend and I are dealing with this issue right now. We are both beginning our careers and are both looking forward to moving out of our parents' houses. He thinks it makes more financial sense to live together (which it does) but I am not willing to do so. I think that living together should be postponed until marriage. There is just something special about getting to know each other all over again through the sanctity of marriage. Plus, we both need a little "independence training" having both stayed at home all throughout college (now THAT made financial sense!!) I just think that I am special enough to wait for (:

    Okay, short version achieved. I hope this one posts correctly!

    (Reading through your blog from beginning to present:)