Hooking Up, Shacking Up, & Other Marriage Busters
Right after my first wedding, my ex-husband and I visited his brother and one of my bridesmaids. They had recently moved to another town in Florida. They’d been living together for about eighteen months. I had weddings on my mind and asked her when they were getting married. She said, “Oh, we’re never getting married.”
I was kind of shocked. Despite the fact that my husband and I had lived together for a year, the entire year I planned our wedding, knowing for certain that we would get married. In my mind, that excused the fact that we were living together.
She confessed that they didn’t love each other. But, they were dating, were having sex regularly, and it didn’t make sense to keep paying for separate apartments.
I said to her, “What happens when you meet the man you’re going to marry, but you’re living with this man?”
I remember her thinking that was the weirdest question. They were together maybe another two or three years. The last time I saw her was at my baby shower for Kaylee, and she was miserable because his pregnant girlfriend (with whom he was currently living) was there as well.
In continuing our discussion of Vicki Courtney’s 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter, we enter into Chapter 15, “Hooking Up, Shacking Up, and Other Marriage Busters.”
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“Hooking up” is such a part of our culture that no thinks twice about it anymore. I’ve told you that I write Christian romance novels. Well, before I wrote Christian romance novels, I wrote secular romance novels. I’m just about finished with a book and will need to start another one soon. Gregg just pulled an old one I wrote from deep in the bowels of his computer and re-read it this week to determine if it could be converted to a Christian novel. As soon as I found out he was reading it, I was embarrassed and nervous. Well- the nervousness comes with knowing anyone is reading something I’ve written. But the embarrassment came with the plot line – boy meets girl at a party, they hook up (though in a romance novel they “make love”), never finding out each other’s names and don’t know how to find each other – years later, their paths cross again and they begin the mating ritual that culminates in true love and happy ever after.
I wrote that as a Christian – happy as a lark with one foot in the world. But until I started looking at life with all of my devotion handed over to God, I didn’t see the pervasiveness of sin around me and how much I’d just blindly accepted it and partook in it. We’ve talked how damaging premarital and extramarital sex is in depth when we talked about the chapters Boy, Oh Boys!, The Culture’s Message: Sex is Great! What Wait?, What the Culture is Not Telling Your Daughter About Sex, and Teen Pregnancy: Being Honest About the Options. There’s no reason to further hash it here. But, we just need to stress to our daughters (and sons) what we learned in those chapters and the permeation into society of such a sexual freedom is going to damage them in more ways than just a risk of disease or pregnancy.
With that sexual free culture comes this concept of living together before marriage – of shacking up. I know I did it – and didn’t think twice about it. If you’re already sleeping together and spending most of your time together, what’s the point in not living together? I have a friend who is living with her boyfriend. He recently proposed and she has had a hard time finding a preacher who will marry them because they’re living together. She had a Facebook status when she finally found one and the forty-some-odd comments underneath covered the bases of how dare these pastors judge to lauding a preacher who finally is able to bring this couple some happiness. My response to her was that I could understand a pastor who had a problem with the two of them living together, and would seriously question the worldview of any pastor who didn’t.
A friend of my husband has been with his girlfriend for eight years. He helped her with some medical issues and the associated bills, put her through college, asked her to marry him, spent tens of thousands of dollars to fly her and her family to Switzerland to a beautiful scenic villa for their wedding, and the night before the wedding she confessed that she didn’t want to get married right now. She didn’t feel like it was the right time in her life to get married. Yet they went back to life as normal – still together, still sexually involved, still sharing a life as if they were married.
It isn’t like this is a new phenomenon. If you remember the story of the woman at the well found in John 4, you’ll know that she was currently living with a man who was not her husband, and Jesus totally called her out on it. So we can’t claim it as new. What’s new is just how acceptable and even expected it is to our culture today.
There’s a serious problem with living together – and sleeping together – before marriage. It goes beyond the emotional and physical damage that we’ve already talked about. It goes beyond the statistics cited in this chapter about satisfaction in marriage, sexual promiscuity after marriage, and divorce rates.
It boils down to the very simple fact that sex outside of marriage is a sin. The Bible makes absolutely no bones about it. And when you’re sinning, you’re out of God’s presence and out of God’s will. If you’re sinning, you’re not able to live the life that God intends for you. You’re removed from God, and you have no purpose. Until you remove sin from your life, you cannot be fulfilled, you cannot be truly and deeply happy, and you cannot truly discover what real love is. All you have is n emptiness inside of you that needs to be filled somehow, and in a big giant holding pattern circle it will be filled with sin. Until you give it over to God, let God be the one to fill that big emptiness inside of you, you cannot even begin to conceptualize what your meaning of life is here on this earth.
This book states that 70% of couples who get married live together first. That number is staggering, and explains why culture turns such a blind eye to it. We need to stress to our daughters that it’s not okay, that it’s not acceptable, and they deserve to be treated better than that and with more respect than that.
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