Some couples choose an engagement lifestyle which is a cause of concern for the faith community. Specifically, cohabitation or an intimate sexual relationship, is a serious block to healthy marriage preparation and has been proven to be linked with problems later in marriage.
A couple might think that living together will help them get to know one another better so that they will have a better chance of a happy marriage. Actually, the exact opposite is true. Statistics show that couples who have lived together divorce at rates considerably higher than those couples who have not lived together. We offer this information not as a scare tactic, but as an important invitation to take this marriage preparation time very seriously.
Cohabiting and sexual intimacy outside of marriage is also in opposition to Church teaching. This kind of opposition is sin, not because an arbitrary human law is being broken, but because it is acting outside of God’s great plan for man and woman in the marriage covenant, which has been created and intended to flow from vows of permanency (“until death do us part”) and faithfulness. Only within the permanency of the marriage covenant can you love one another freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully, as described previously.
Cohabitating and sharing a sexual intimacy outside of marriage can set in motion negative thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors toward one another and cloud a proper discernment of true love. Sexual intimacy outside of marriage is often treated as something owed to the other and focused primarily on physical pleasure.
If you are living together, or sexually active, you will probably be asked by the priest to separate and to maintain a chaste relationship. This will free you from living in opposition to Church teachings and allow you to understand more deeply the beauty of our human nature and God’s plan for sexual intimacy within marriage. It can allow you to start your relationship anew without the pressures and distractions of sexual activity, and thereby enter the Sacrament and receive the graces with a proper disposition.
For Further Reflection
- “Two Questions for Every Engaged Couple?”, a short video by Fr. Joseph Vogel