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Why Not Live Together Before Marriage?

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Look, I get it. You like each other so much, that parting isn’t a sweet, sweet sorrow. It’s just sorrow. You want to be together all the time. You want to be in each other’s pocketsses.

That’s terrific! Unless you’re underage...guess what?

You’re ready to get married.

But no! You cry. Can’t we live together for a few years, first? To find out if we’re really meant for each other?

No. Absolutely not. Don't do it.

Living together and not being married is like walking out of the store with a cart full of groceries and saying: “I’m going to pay for them, I just don’t feel like doing it right MEOW.”

When you go to the grocery store, put groceries in your cart, and walk out, that is buying groceries. When you don’t pay for them, what you’re doing is stealing groceries.

When you’re sharing a home, sharing your finances, and sharing your body with a man, you are engaging in the essence of marriage. When you don’t get married first, what you’re doing is cosplaying marriage. And in my opinion, wrongfully using someone else's future spouse.

Such an unpopular view, especially in this day and age! How it angers the woman who wants to continue living the way she is, without pressuring or expecting her man to step up to the plate and publicly declare his love and commitment. Without having to probe deep into her own motives; whether she values and respects this man enough to publicly tie herself to him.

How it angers the man who wants to keep having his pie while leaving the door open for cake too. He gets sex, a live-in mother/housekeeper/wife, and emotional companionship and comfort, at little to no financial cost and zero long-term commitment or penalty for hitting the escape button. How comfortable can a relationship really be with that daily undercurrent of self and mutual deception?

Like ordering six dresses from Amazon - both you and the company knowing that you’re only going to keep one, and both of you pretending that this isn’t awful for the environment. “It didn’t fit.” “Item was not as described.” “Just wasn’t my style.”

Indulge me while we meander down another extended metaphor.

Before I begin, let me make clear that I am 100% of the belief that women are more valuable

than cars. But let’s be honest, when it comes to men, sometimes the question can be a hard one. Cars are one of the few things in a man’s life that cost them as much money, time, and aggravation/challenge as women. Women and cars…the two categories go hand-in-hand.

So let's dive into our metaphor:

Living together without marriage is like a Lamborghini dealer letting a young man take home one of the nicest new models on the lot, saying to the young man: “Here you go! Take it home, park it in your garage, and drive it as fast or hard as you want. Just come back in five years and pay for it.”

To make that deal even sweeter, our lucky young protagonist doesn’t even have to pay to put gas in the car. The car drives itself to the gas station, fills itself up, drives back to its garage, and parks itself neatly with no fuss.

He doesn’t have to do any maintenance and repairs. The car toodles itself back home to the dealership to take care of all of that.

He doesn’t have to pay for the title or insurance.

He doesn’t even have to wash it.

The car is completely self-sufficient. All of its needs are cared for by the car’s self-sufficient design, or by the dealership. The young man need only enjoy the ride.

What do you think would happen in five years?

Would the young man look at the five-year-old Lamborghini with the same starry eyes with which he first drove it home from the dealer?

It would be wonderful if he patted it fondly and said, “You’ve made me so happy, now it’s time to make this official!”

But you already know where this is going.

Rare is the young man who would drive earnestly to the dealership, proudly put down his money, and transfer the papers to his name. In fact, any young man with that much integrity wouldn’t drive away without paying in the first place.

Most men would look at the Lamborghini, that half-a-million-dollar work of beauty, and see something dull and faded, no longer new or exciting. He would feel a little cheated. He’d feel tricked, even trapped. Without any of the bonds of ownership, without any of the obligations or responsibilities to help mature him and appreciate the intricacies of his prize possession, all he sees is something that has lost its value and is no longer worth, to him, what he had promised to pay.

“Don’t married men sometimes feel this way as well?”

Great question. Because it opens the door to discussing why the legal, social, and religious institution of marriage is more than just a boring construct. It’s more than a resented social milestone to scoff at, like a band of misfits at an anti-prom. It’s a brilliant, complex strategy that aims to support individuals and minimize drama, chaos, and strife in any community.

What happens when a married man looks at his Lamborghini and decides that he’s been ripped off, and he wants a new flashy model?

“Well, sir, you can certainly trade in your model for a newer one, but it’s going to cost you.”

It costs him.

It costs money (divorce, alimony, lawyers), time (divorce, alimony, lawyers), social credit and friends (granted, a minor inconvenience for most cheaters. In many cases, it costs him the respect of his children. He loses the love and trust of those who loved and trusted him.

For some people, all of that is worth the short-term thrill of pheromones, unwise hookups, and pretending you’re starting something new - when you’ve really just rewound the movie to the beginning and recast the love interest.

For those of us who are more conservative and a little less willing to throwing good money/time after bad, the consequences of divorce are a big deterrent. Being ostracized by your friends and family, having your ex-mother-in-law throw shade at you in public, getting dirty looks from your child’s classmates’ mothers… for many people, these are inconveniences worth avoiding.

Some men are smart enough to realize that if he picks up a younger version of his ex-wife, she will, in time, turn into his ex-wife. His future would consist of supporting two women who demand the exact same things. As much as women like to brag about being independent, when it comes to ex-wives and subsequent wives… they want EVERYTHING.

So, back to the question: What happens when a married man looks at his Lamborghini and starts to think: “Why did I choose this one? There were so many others on the lot. I should have picked that other one. Or waited longer and got a new model.”

The Lamborghini slaps him upside the head and says, “You better not be thinking what I think you’re thinking, because I am the BEST thing that could have EVER happened to you.”

Kidding, not kidding. >.<

There’s a lot of things that could happen. He could become discontented, and irritable. And that could start a conversation. Hopefully, he would talk to someone in his family or church, and sort out his issues. The couple might talk and reconnect, reignite their mutual attraction, and find new ways to appreciate each other. This moment would become a spurring point to discovering yet another level of intimacy and complex connectedness.

Or he could start an affair, and pay the price. But there could never be a moment when everything the couple once had turns into nothing. It's never as easy as simply walking away, each step in the opposite direction takes work - not just emotionally, but legally, socially, financially.

Not so with a live-in relationship. There is nothing to dismantle, because nothing was built. Like two potted plants sitting on either side of an entryway, both self-contained. There is no social recognition of the heartache, of the difficulty of disentangling housing, furniture, friends, and pets. "Well, it's not like you guys were married," and "If you really loved each other, you would have wanted to get married" are the rallying attempts at encouragement from friends and family. "On to the next," they say as they pour you another drink. Because that's the point of dating - to marry the person you're dating, or to break up and date someone else.

Entrepreneurs and athletes seem to be the only people left in the world who know that there is no gain without risk. If you're afraid to risk making a mistake, so you make yourself easy to have without commitment, without being a burden, without the mess and chaos that comes with entwining two lives together into a family...the price you pay is the failure to gain.

For all the singles who have been through this, I’m sorry if this story impacts you negatively. You may be an under-appreciated Lamborghini, but trust me…you are still a jewel. There are more people out here who would be delighted at the thought of taking home a used Lamborghini to treasure and beautifully maintain, than there are people who are given a new one and don’t appreciate it. In other words, you’re a beauty, a treasure, and a beast when it comes to tackling life’s challenges. Don’t give yourself away for free again.

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