A.K.A. the practice divorce

When I first moved out on my own, I moved in with my two best friends: Jon (who has guest blogged on occasion) and Michele (who inspired my “random ‘I love you’ days”). We considered ourselves the “reverse Three’s Company” (now there’s a reference that dates us). We had basically grown up together, Michele and I in the same church, so moving in together was little more than like moving in with my brother and sister. Now, the church we attended was quite conservative and we were eventually called into pastor’s office. Apparently some folks had some issues with two people of the opposite sex living together. His argument boiled down to: fears of temptation, the appearance of wrong-doing, and the fact that “weaker” brothers had problems with it. What he couldn’t point to was a verse saying that two people of the opposite sex moving together was a sin.

However, we were two friends moving in together, platonically. I’m skipping over the whole premarital sex thing, since that is going to be the crux of many folks argument about couples moving in together. That is a whole separate issue that I’ve obviously covered before.* For me, it’s more of a common sense issue.

I never got the move-in together mentality. A woman asking me to move in with her has always sounded to my ear like “you must not want me commit to you and you’re willing to get as close as possible to feeling like a marriage without actually being one in order to hopefully change my mind later.” What are the goals of it? Playing house without commitment? For life convenience as you merge expenses? I remember once reading about

a little-noted peril of cohabitation: the potentially negative financial consequences of breaking up. When unmarried couples who have been living together part company, women are substantially worse off economically than men, according to a study in the Journal of Marriage and Family. Men’s household income drops by 10%, while women lose 33%. The percentage of women living in poverty increases from 20% to 30%, while men’s poverty level remains relatively unchanged at about 20% … “A lot of us go into a (live-in) relationship with a positive outlook. We think, ‘Oh, nothing bad will happen.’ The girl typically thinks, ‘This is going to be great, we’re (eventually) going to get married.'”

Some people consider moving in together a practice marriage. However, I have a friend who says: “separate finances, separate stuff, and they can move out and take their stuff with them? Nope, it’s more like a practice marriage, it’s a practice divorce.” It’s like a play marriage with a built in getaway box (okay, I’ve been watching Women’s Murder Club and one of the ladies was thinking about moving in with her boyfriend but she kept a getaway box at her friend’s house. It was filled with clothes and essentials in case she had to make an emergency exit from the arrangement).

There’s no such thing as a practice marriage. Little prepares you for the real deal and by many accounts, the divorce stats are higher for couples who move in together before getting married. So should you move in together? Premarital sex issues aside, there are a lot of questions you will want to answer for yourself about why you want to do it and where you want the relationship to head.

[Cue the line of comments telling me how wrong I am.]

*We’ve covered some of that ground before: chastity as discipline, “the talk,” the church and sex, biblical loopholes part I and part II, drawing a line, “you burning” part I and part II, abusing intimacy, and even a guest blog of further musings on the topic.

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