Part Seven On Cohabitation: The Honorable Estate of Matrimony

Part Seven On Cohabitation: The Honorable Estate of Matrimony

He focuses, in particular, on the positive benefit women have on men when the women are worth fighting for and their hearts are won in matrimony. Women, who are willing to cohabit for nothing, are seen instead as busybodies and nags.  For the first in this series click here.

Marriage is to be held in honor among all.

Hebrews 13:4 (NASB)

We’ve been looking at the downsides of men and women cohabiting with each other outside of marriage these last couple of weeks. Starting with “Cavalier About Marriage” I commented on the legal quagmire of this social arrangement. In “The Downsides of Cohabiting Without Marriage” I discussed how cohabitation hurts sexuality and trust. In the third article I looked at how living together without marriage creates a pattern of impatience, while in the next article I explained my theory that money patterns created as a cohabiting couple (me, my, mine) carry into marriage and since we’re all creatures of habit, this is not the best way to manage their resources and borrows trouble from tomorrow.

The last two articles (“Absent Fathers and the Cohabiting Craze” and “Cohabitation and the Immaturity of Young Men and the Desperation of Young Women”) I developed a theory I had after talking in depth with hundreds of cohabiting and formerly cohabiting couples over many years.I suggested that the absence of present fathers, due especially to divorce, but certainly not limited to those circumstances, influences many young men who cohabit to do so because of immaturity, while their live-in girl friends do so out of a desperate need for warm male affirmation.The young men do so because they do not have active dads in their lives challenging them and the young women do so because they do not have active fathers loving them.Let me say it another way:In previous generations, marriage was held in honor by all and if a young man was interested in a certain young women there were courting procedures that had to be maintained.Discussions would take place with their respective fathers and there was a proper protocol to follow.Shame was an important social value and a young man would NEVER even consider besmirching the name of his future bride.She was highly esteemed in his mind.She was worth fighting for and literally dying for.

This chivalrous attitude of men toward women has gone the way of the 8-track tape player. You can find some in antique stores, but most of them have been crushed, when the cars in which they were installed, were recycled. Consider this quote from the 13th century of how women were perceived to affect men:

“Who does not know that without women we can feel no contentment of satisfaction throughout this life of ours, which but for them would be rude and devoid of all sweetness and more savage than that of wild beasts? Who does not know that women alone banish from our hearts all vile and base thoughts, vexations, miseries, and those turbid melancholies that so often are their fellows? And if you will consider well the truth, we shall also see that in our understanding of great matters women do not hamper our wits but rather quicken them, and in war make men fearless and brave beyond measure. And certainly it is impossible for vileness ever again to rule in a man’s heart where once the flame of love has entered; for whoever loves desires always to make himself as lovable as he can, and always fears lest some disgrace befall him that may make him be esteemed lightly with her by whom he desires to be esteemed highly. Nor does he stop at risking his life a thousand times a day to show himself worthy of her love: hence whoever could form an army of lovers and have them fight in the presence of the ladies of their love, would conquer all the world, unless there were opposed to it another, army similarly in love…

Do you not know that the origin of all the graceful exercises that give pleasure in the world is to be ascribed to none other than to women? Who learns to dance and caper gallantly for aught else than to please women? Who studies the sweetness of music for other cause than this? Who tires to compose verse, in the vernacular at least, unless to express those feelings that are inspired by women? Think how many very noble poems we should be deprived of, both in the Greek tongue and in the Latin, if women had been lightly esteemed by the poets.”

Baldesar Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier, quoted in Newell, p. 8-9*

This type of man will do whatever he can to improve himself to win and keep the heart of his beloved.He was willing to do this because the end result was marriage, which was considered THE major milestone in a young woman and young man’s life.

Imagine this kind of affect of women upon men today.Instead she’s a nag, a busybody, and a control freak.Why?Because cohabiting without marriage has demoted her to the role of roommate.She’s not worth fighting for.She’s not worth dying for.She’s not worth waiting for.We’re both going to pay the rent.

That’s it?NO fanfare?NO jubilation?NO celebration or accolades or hugs from grandpa and hearty handshakes and proud back pats from Uncle Bob?No signing of wedding licenses or both names on the bank account and car titles?No leaving of home for the last time, when the couple drives away and mom and dad are waving and dad smiles proudly while mom cries for an hour?NOTHING.

Well, why don’t you move in Saturday?


Big deal. Big hairy deal.

You’ve heard the saying, “Behind every good man is a good woman?” The good woman in that saying is his WIFE!!! She didn’t have to goad him. She didn’t have to chastise him. She didn’t have to kick his butt. He committed to her for life and he meant it. She did the same and by her willingness to sacrifice herself and his willingness to sacrifice herself FOR REST OF THEIR LIVES we got this built in sense of destiny and a shared identity and a new family that is unique in the history of the world and will be unique for all of history and he kneels before her at a restaurant or near the waterfall or on the shore or under the stars and slips a ring on her finger and tells her he would like to share his life and future and dreams and hopes and aspirations and heart aches and setbacks and successes and grow old together and be at each other’s bedside and eventually the other will stand proudly and sadly before the other’s graveside. And she yells YES! YES! YES! And she jumps up and down and she can’t believe it and she has to call her mom and dad and announcements are made and wedding showers attended and brides’ dresses chosen and ministers consulted and menus pondered and budgets stretched.

Cuz she’s worth it.

Cuz he’s worth it.

Cuz they are worth it.

Pity the couple that sleeps together for nothing.

Part Seven On Cohabitation: The Honorable Estate of Matrimony

Part Six On Cohabitation: Cohabitation and the Immaturity of Young Men and the Desperation of Young Women

In my last blog I explored the role of divorce and absent fathers in the rise of cohabiting of young unmarried male and female couples in our society. If you haven’t read that blog, you will want to read it before this one, as today’s blog is building on the thoughts shared there (Today’s blog is part of a longer series of consecutive blogs on the subject of cohabitation outside marriage. So far I’ve looked at the legal problems of cohabiting, how cohabiting hurts sexuality and creates mistrust, how cohabiting promotes impatience, how cohabitation encourages money problems, and the effect of absent fathers on creating a climate that encourages cohabitation.).

“The last thing an immature young man needs is a young woman trying to help him grow up by sleeping with him for nothing.”

Dr. Bing Wall as quoted right now.He just wrote it.

My theory, that I explained in my previous blog, is this: Young women and young men, who are willing to cohabit with each other without marriage, often don’t have good relationships with their dads (mostly through divorce, but intact jerks for fathers apply).

As a result of dads not being around, young men, who are willing to cohabit, are, by and large, immature.They don’t have dads around to challenge them.Cohabiting doesn’t help them grow up either.A generation ago young men used to have to wait to be sexual with their future wives for whom they yearned.They had to prove themselves.With cohabiting there’s no waiting.Instant gratification.

Young women, without dads, often struggle with being loved and really, really, really want and need affectionate and caring attention from loving dads.Their dads didn’t commit to them and weren’t reliable.They need their boyfriends to show them they are different by REALLY, REALLY committing to them (i.e. marry me!). Even though she wants to be married, she has such a need for a young man to shower her with the attention she never had from her dad, that she is eager to enter into cohabitation in order to win the guy of her dreams over.My belief is that fewer young women cohabit without marriage, who have healthy and warm relationships with their fathers.With present, loving dads, these young women aren’t desperate!They know they are valuable.They don’t have to prove anything.They can wait.Patience is good for women, too!

When women, without close relationships with their fathers, cohabit, they eventually begin to pressure their live-in boyfriends to marry. Of course, he’s not at that stage yet emotionally, but she is, and so these two different goals don’t make for smooth sailing. Unfortunately, the very thing she wants and needs (a loving, committed man in her life), is the last thing she gets. By moving in with him without a ring and a wedding and a license and a reception, she is conveying to him that she’s not worth waiting for, she’s easy. This act of moving in or “sliding,” which has only recently become common, without a bona fide mark in time that has accompanied human history for millennia in societies across the world (You know…. A wedding!) conveys to everyone else and each other that there is NOT MUCH OF A COST INVOLVED AND IF THERE IS NO COST INVOLVED (WAITING, PLANNING, HOPING, DREAMING, ANTICIPATION, LONGING), IT AIN’T WORTH FIGHTING FOR!!!! There’s no challenge for him. It reinforces his leaning toward immaturity. And her eventual push to marry comes across to him as desperate and bitchy, devaluing her in his eyes.

If a young women struggles with being loved and a young man struggles with growing up, it’s not gonna help anyone if she lives with him without marriage in order to finally have some man love her (Look, her divorced dad loves her, no doubt.But he only sees her intermittently, so when he sees her it takes days for her to warm up to him and trust him and then she has to go home again.How can she trust her dad who’s never around?She doesn’t know him well enough to understand his sarcasm or his chiding.She takes it personal and writes him off.He goes, “What’s her problem?”He says to himself she’s rebellious and won’t take advice.He withdraws from her because he feels rejected.It’s a lose-lose.).

It’s not going to help him if he finds a woman willing to share his bed and he doesn’t have to stand at any altar and, you know, commit and promise and everything.It would be much better to wait for sex and marriage, so he learns a little patience, and he learns to work for something, and to pursue a goal worth having (You know, grow up!), but with cohabitation, he can have everything right now without the mature part (You know, marriage!).

Does it get any better than this?Whoa, baby.And she wants sex! Woohoo! She even cleans the house! Are you kidding me? Dang. And for the first six months she never even complained!!!!Nirvana, Baby!And I can go out with my buddies and drink beer and she’s just so happy to have me around when I’m around. And did I mention the sex?And clean sheets!Ha!I didn’t even know I liked clean sheets.

But alas.All good things come to an end.Six months, tops.You can figure this out right?It occurs to her that she’s doing the bulk of the work around the place.It occurs to her that he likes his video games or computer or his shotgun or his stock car or his _________ (fill in the blank, but it’s not her) more than her and that he barely lifts a finger and he wants sex all the time and like what’s in it for her?So she starts sharing her opinion.

And that’s when the fighting starts. He didn’t want her opinion! She thought he’d want her opinion. Not if you are going to be mad about it. No, no, no. We’re roommates, remember. You don’t get mad at your roommate. That’s impolite. You just go with the flow. Married? Are you kidding? Why would I want to marry somebody, who acts like a crazy woman, nagging me all the time about never being around and not growing up and being immature and when am I gonna be a man (Ah, that’s the message he should have gotten from his dad, remember?) and how come I never help and am I some kinda sex perv, cuz all I think about is sex? She’s just on my case all the time. All the women are like that. All my buddies, their girlfriends treat them the same way. No way I’m ever getting married. Not if she’s gonna fight all the time. That’d end in divorce for sure. I don’t want to be divorced.

And she’s thinking, he won’t listen to my opinion. I can’t say one thing without him getting mad. He doesn’t lift a finger. He’s taking advantage for me. He’s just using me. He won’t commit to me. He’s so lazy. I can’t respect someone who just __________ (fill in the blank with your self-absorbed immature behavior of choice) all the time. What kind of crap…..?

Of course, these respective attitudes don’t do much to endear each other to each other and so they go their separate ways and they break up. In spades. Way, way, way more often then couples who wait and court and get engaged and wait and save their money and court and wait some more and then get married. And as I’ve said before, cohabiting couples, who break up, are hurting really badly, just as if they divorced. But now, it just disappears from their past. “Oh, me? Yeah, well, I used to live with a girl once. For a year or so. Yeah, she was a crazy woman.” Or, “I only lived with him a couple of years. Yeah, I broke up with him. He was so into himself. He never grew up. Like he was 14. All he did was ______ all the time. I heard he’s still acting that way.”

Like it never happened.Like it didn’t really affect them.

Oh, yeah? Hmm.We’ll see.

And nobody learns anything. Not anything good, anyway. He learns he doesn’t want to be too committed to a woman or she’ll henpeck him to death. She learns that she still has an ache in her heart and she’s out looking for mister right. And she’s looking and looking and looking….

Great. So let’s be real and change the years of adolescence from 13-19 to 11 to 35. May as well face reality.

Here’s a thought: Grow up! Court! Wait. Get engaged. Plan your wedding. Let your relatives host a wedding shower for your bride. THEN get married! Then move in with each other! Then be sexual (Dr. Wall…this just sounds so, you know, old fashioned and everything. You are so out of touch.)! Take Responsibility. Share your life with someone ‘til death do you part. Commit. Really Commit. Share oneness, respect, mutuality, dreams, hopes and aspirations. Have kids (Hey, they are only little for a little while! You can handle it.). Live in community. Be involved in citizenship. Go to church together. Grow old together. Accept each other. Did I mention love? And the sex. Sex with the same lover for 50 years? Sixty if you’re lucky? Are you kidding me? Woohoo! Being known. Really known. Secret jokes. Laughter. Secret teases. Furtive glances. Still. Forty years later. Your lover and companion standing next to you by your hospital bed. For the sixth time! Burdens shared. Burdens lifted. Burdens faced. Victories won. A few defeats. Being loved anyway. Leaving immaturity back in Junior High where it belongs.

Part Seven On Cohabitation: The Honorable Estate of Matrimony

Part Five On Cohabitation: Absent Fathers and the Cohabiting Craze

He suggests that young men, without everyday intact fathers, struggle with immaturity and young women, without everyday intact fathers, struggle with being loved by a male. Both seek to meet these needs by cohabiting without marriage.  For the entire series on Cohabitation click here.  For the first in the series click here.

Grandchildren are the crown of old men,

And the glory of sons is their fathers.

Proverbs 17:6

You know, after you’ve talked with hundreds of cohabiting couples, you come up with a few observations. I’ve connected some dots here and there. I have some hunches about unmarried cohabiting couples (see my other thoughts about cohabiting couples in the four previous blogs on this subject: Cavalier About Marriage, The Downsides of Cohabiting Without Marriage, Cohabiting and Impatience, and Marriage, Money and Cohabiting). There are probably a hundred reasons why young people cohabit (the availability of birth control and abortion, the high cost of living, the emphasis in our society on career development before marriage and the late age of marriage, which is now around age 26, and the deterioration of the Judeo-Christian ethic, to name a few). For the purposes of this blog I’d just like to narrow it down to one.My hunch is this: Young men and women who cohabit with each other have a high incidence of growing up with an absent father, whether from divorce or their fathers living at home, but being distant.

It’s easy to take pot shots at dads in our society because they’ve been relegated to the role of being virtually worthless. Women are divorcing their husbands, thinking that their respective children will be fine if they only see their dads, oh, say 8 days a month.Yeah, that will do it.A woman, with this frame of mind, will be tempted to think that her sons and daughters don’t really need their birth fathers, just a man and any man she happens to fall in love with will do, so she marries some other dude with even less fortitude than the last one, but at least the last one actually LOVED her kids.This one, at best, thinks her kids are a nuisance and, at worst, thinks they are all psychos.

We used to tell mother-in-law jokes. Now, the dregs of society are the divorced father, who never sees his kids or never pays his child support, or the dad who’s never home and always working or always drinking. What a bum. Of course, if you are a divorced dad you know how difficult it is to fulfill the role of father when divorced because fatherhood is meant to be a full-time job and if you are divorced you can’t be a full-time dad. You’ve been fired. Most kids live with mom after divorce. Dads’ a sideshow, reduced to taking them to Chuck E. Cheese’s on weekends. Every other weekend at that. This is what dads do? For crying out loud. It’s just sad.

And don’t tell me divorce doesn’t affect the kids and your divorce decree is fair and the kids spend 50% of the time with mom and 50% of the time with dad. Kids need a mom and dad 100% of the time. What’s fair about living in two houses, never having roots and being a nomad? What’s fair about never being settled? What’s fair about two sets of rules? And if both mom and dad marry some other blankety-blank, now we’ve got 4 sets of rules and everyone’s tugging at my loyalties and I’d just like to forget the whole bunch. What’s fair about that? Divorce isn’t fair. And what’s normal about being a parent, a mom or dad and having every 3 or 4 days completely to yourself and then 3 days later there’s kids again? How long before you do that and you become completely undone? What’s so fair about that? Motherhood and fatherhood are supposed to be full-time jobs.

Kids need a mom and dad. No, not two dads or two moms. That’s just creepy (Please see my other articles on this subject: here, here and here). Kids need a mom who says, “You poor dear. Come here, let me take care of that.” Kids need a dad that chides. Goads. Spurs on. Challenges. How can you ever grow to be a man or a woman if you don’t have a dad standing there with his arms folded at the appropriate time with a scowl on his face and says to you that what you just did isn’t gonna cut it and you’re not gonna make it if you live like that? Come on, you know you can do better. Enough of that already. I expect more of you. Some kids rebel, perhaps, some not. But every kid wants to please his dad. Every kid wants the approval of his father. I didn’t just make this up. Three thousand years ago King Solomon wrote:

Listen to your father, who gave you life.

Proverbs 23:24

My son, keep you father’s commands.

Proverbs 6:20

But the verse that really is a kicker on this deal is the one at the beginning of this blog. Look at it again:

Grandchildren are the crown of old men,

And the glory of sons is their fathers.

Proverbs 17:6

The glory of sons is their fathers. Wow. Talk about responsibility. Talk about a sense of purpose and pride. We all WANT to respect our fathers. It’s a very comforting thing to have a father you can look up to. The verse above talks about sons and fathers, but you can bet, given the writer of Proverbs’ penchant for keeping things concise, (see my earlier blog on the use of “sons” in Proverbs), that daughters are included.

It’s difficult to respect a dad if he isn’t around, whether by choice (he’s a drunk, he plays pool or golfs all the time or is gone for work or church!) or circumstance (fired from fatherhood by a divorce decree).If he’s not around enough neither gender is going to understand his abruptness.He’s to the point.He takes the direct approach.He doesn’t hold your hand.He says go do it.Don’t let the world push you around.Make your mark.But this is all interpreted as intrusive, invasive, insensitive, sarcastic, mean, even abusive.Why?There’s not a daily relationship there.These kids don’t understand nor know their dads.So they write them off.Reject them. Scoff at them.It it any wonder these dads withdraw and rarely come around.I’ll just leave them to the wolves.I guess they’ll have to learn the hard way.So what happens to these girls and boys with no dads?

Another related hunch I have, is that children get a larger share of their identity from their mothers in their early years, say before age ten, and during their teen years get the lion’s share of their identity from their fathers. Absent the father from a teenage boy and the boy will struggle with immaturity because he doesn’t have a dad to kick his butt once in awhile (Relax. I mean, you know, “challenge” him.). Boys need to be exhorted, urged. This God-given adoration of boys for their fathers is used by the wise father as a way to train up his son in the ways of life: To teach his son honor and honesty and hanging in there and not giving up, to “Man-up,” bear responsibility, do it with pride, develop your gifts, be a blessing to the world, sense God’s hand on you shoulder. Only a dad can do this. Did you hear me? ONLY a dad.

The daughters without dads will wonder if they are lovable to the opposite sex: You know, males.Mothers can’t teach that to their daughters.Only a dad, who is there, at home, every night, who goes up to his daughter and tells her he missed her and how is she doing and what’s new and he loves her and he hugs her and he says he’s proud of her and you go girl and you can do it and I know it sucks, but I know you can solve this deal. Only a dad can fulfill that role.If dad isn’t home, if dad doesn’t hug me, if dad doesn’t talk to me, if dad doesn’t believe in me, if dad doesn’t give me advice and actually SHOW me how to do stuff (Be sure and check the oil when you fill up with gas.Here’s how to do it.), then, ah, there must be a boy out there who will.

And we’ve created the perfect storm: Immature boys very willing and able to cohabit without marriage to unloved girls very willing to cohabit without commitment and needing to be loved. Neither of them had a dad who showed much commitment to them. Neither learned respect of men or what it means to be a respectable man (ah, you know, someone you can rely on…..always). Commitment is in short supply all the way around.

So then we get these two young people together without the commitment of marriage and what do we get?

Stay tuned. My next blog will explore this dynamic.

Part Seven On Cohabitation: The Honorable Estate of Matrimony

Part Four On Cohabitation: Marriage, Money and Cohabiting

Money symbolizes the couple’s relationship.  If the money is separate, well, there you go.  For the first in this series on Cohabitation click here.  For the entire series click here.

And the two will be one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.

Jesus as quoted in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:8

They say it takes six weeks to develop a new habit.They say old habits die hard and you can’t teach a dog new tricks.They say we are creatures of habit.If these are even remotely true it would be an argument against living together before marriage without a wedding.Why?Because the habits that have been created by the cohabiting couple have already been set.The road has been traveled.Traditions are in place.Attitudes determined.The relationship is on a trajectory determined by the habits the couple developed before they got married.These will NOT be changed just because a couple has a nice wedding and a raucous reception.If any of the habits before the wedding are to be changed after the wedding they will be hard fought.You will have to storm the gates.There will be casualties.It won’t be fun.It’s hard enough to change yourself.Now trying changing both of you, especially if you are both stubborn enough to live together without marriage.You are both going to be a bit feisty by definition.This ain’t gonna change…more than likely.

The biggest relationship change for a cohabiting couple after the wedding is in the area of money.Well, let’s just say, the biggest relationship change for a cohabiting couple after the wedding SHOULD be money.Most don’t.Nearly none do.None do?

Hey, if you are grad student and want an interesting research project, here’s an idea. It’d be easy to code:

What percentage of couples who cohabit and have their money separate before marriage, have their money together after marriage verses those who have it separate before and after marriage? How do they differ in marital quality?

Count me a skeptic, but I bet 99% of couples who cohabit have it separate before marriage and 90% after. If you were really an ambitious researcher, you could study the divorce rate of couples who have the following money patterns:

  1. Never lived together; have their money together after marriage (Very small sample size. You might be hard pressed to find these people. You might try a church with young couples.)
  2. Never lived together before marriage; have their money separate after marriage (I’m guessing Group 1 is bigger than Group 2.)
  3. Lived together before marriage and had their money separate before and after marriage (This group gets bigger every year. This is the new way. You can interview your sister.)
  4. Lived together before marriage and had their money together before and after marriage (Not many here. Unfortunately, it’s an oxymoron.)
  5. Lived together before marriage and had their money separate before marriage and together after they were married (Rare, rare, rare.)

My apologies to anyone out there who’s already done this research. I really haven’t looked. Sorry. If you know of it, let me know and I’ll pass on the results. But my hunch is you’d be hard pressed to find a cohabiting couple that had separate money before marriage and money together after. My bet is that those couples would do better than those who had it separate before and after. Of all the types above my money is on the couples who have their money together. I would double down on couples who didn’t live together before marriage and who had their money together after they got married.


Old habits die hard, remember?You live as roommates before you are married, you live as roommates after you are married.Couples come to see me in all kinds of turmoil, and often it is the result of having separate bank accounts and he’s in charge of these bills and she’s in charge of those bills and that is never fair, but who said marriage is about being fair.Roommates need to worry about things being fair.Brothers and sisters worry about things being fair.You want to treat your neighbor fairly.But in marriage you SACRIFICE!!!!Screw fairness.You better be more than fair if you think your marriage is ever going to be more than roommates and brother and sister (and who wants to have sex with your sister or brother or roommate for that matter?Yuck!).But when you live together before marriage you train each other that you are roommates who happen to be sexual.We share our bed and that’s about it!!!!Great.Dogs do that!!It takes a real man or woman to trust your loving spouse with your all of your assets.Only the brave need apply.You got the guts?You live together without marriage you are a wuss.It takes absolutely NO sacrifice to do that.No one learns a thing except to be more selfish and to protect your butt.

So these couples come to see me with all kinds of chaos and much of it is because they got into the bad habit of having separate money while they were cohabiting and they are cohabiting still and having separate monies and a million problems or they are now married and have separate monies and so the trust isn’t there and the communication isn’t there and there’s unnecessary hurt feelings about fairness (not a fight for married people, remember) and they are supposed to be one but it doesn’t feel that way because they are both protecting their own personal butt and not protecting their spouses butt and then they wonder why it doesn’t feel right.

And then I suggest to them that they put their monies together and start acting married: You know, rich and poor, sickness and in health and oneness and all kind of stuff. Their faces curl up. Their brows furrow. Their neck stiffens. They fold their arms. They say defiantly:

“We’ll always have separate accounts. It works for us. That’s how we’ve always done it.”

And that’s the end of it.You’re the marriage guy.Stay out of our bank accounts.We’ll take care of that.

Okay, fine. But we’d make a lot better headway if we quit acting like we were in 3rd Grade and started admitting that we, ah, are married and we’re supposed to be, like, you know, one and all? Work together? Shared goals? Discuss our future? Plan our future? Save for a rainy day. Knock off our debt? Pay off OUR student loans? Pay off OUR cars? Be committed to the same things? Prioritize our assets together? Both have a vote? Sacrifice for each other? Get rid of the “Me” statements (and the I and the MY)? Give and take?

What in the world is that? It’s a mystery to couples who keep their money separate. Too bad for them. But they won’t listen to me, remember? I’m just a marriage guy. What do I know about money?

Okay, I repent of the sarcasm and here’s some genuine guidance that may help you on this very important journey from wherever you are to having your monies together. I generally recommend two books. Here’s brief summary of each:

Smart Couples Finish Rich, David Bock ( If you are not in debt too much this is a fine book to read together. It goes over the nooks and crannies and will help you both get on the same page. He’s got 10 other books out, his newest being: Fight for Your Money: How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune.

The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey ( If you are saddled with debt, Ramsey’s plan is more doable than Bock’s. Also, an advantage of Ramsey is that his Total Money Makeover is available on DVD and CD (and can be downloaded into your iPod) and you can even go to live events where he teaches the material to large crowds (upwards of 5000 at a time). So if you are not the reading type, you can listen or watch and learn the material. Many churches host his 13-week Financial Peace University where he covers the material in The Total Money Makeover book (click here and type in your zip code.  There are currently (August, 2009) 22 classes in central Iowa at various churches). These classes generally meet for an hour and a half and include watching one of his thirteen 40 minute videos and discussing the material with others in the class for another half hour or so. The discussions reinforce the material. It’s not touchy feely and you don’t have to reveal your finances to anyone in the class. His material includes software, online support group, Facebook, Twitter, and budgeting forms. He also has a free 40 minute download from his popular radio show (Monday Through Friday 2-5 in Central Iowa on 1260 AM in Boone) available at the iTunes (search for Dave Ramsey) bookstore and a 1 hour TV broadcast Monday – Friday on Fox Business at 7 central time (also available two weeks later for free on I highly recommend attending the classes or watching the DVD together as a couple so that both of you can get on the same page financially. If you haven’t seen his video on how to buy a car for free the rest of your life, it is a must see. Click here.  To read my previous blog on his free car video click here.

Hey, this is a big deal. Money problems lead to a very high percentage of divorces. Don’t be casual about this very important area of your lives. You are no longer two, but one, remember?

Part Seven On Cohabitation: The Honorable Estate of Matrimony

Part Three On Cohabitation: Cohabiting and Impatience

You learn patience by waiting; you learn anger by doing what you want when you want it.  To see the other blogs in this series on Cohabitation click here.

Love is patient.

I Corinthians 13:4

This a series of several blog articles on cohabitation without marriage. The first one addressed some of the unintended legal nightmares created by cohabiting. In the second I discussed how cohabitation hurts sex and trust.Today I’m looking at how cohabitation encourages anger and fighting.

You’ll note the verse at the start of our blog today says that “Love is patient.” The whole idea of cohabiting is that “Love will conquer all.” Love will conquer all is a modern spin on love that says love is a feeling: As long as we have these loving feelings we’ll be fine. In contrast to a feeling, the two thousand year old quote above that love is patient is based upon an action: If we love each other we will wait until marriage. You are worth waiting for.

The subtle message of cohabitation is: Our loving feelings supercede old-fashioned values like marriage. We don’t need a piece of paper. We can do what we want. Morality does not mean anything. Sex is just an act. It does not need protecting. Marriage is just a legalistic social norm, and patriarchal at that. And the stupid weddings cost thousands of dollars and who can afford that? Besides we can save money NOW. We can live together NOW. We don’t need social support and legal encouragements and the blessing of God or the Church or our parents or anybody else. We have each other and love and feelings and that will be enough.

The catchword for cohabiters is NOW.

The catchphrase of cohabiters is NOW, NOW, NOW.

The catchword for people who wait to marry is: patience.

The catchphrase for people who wait to marry is: it’s worth the wait.

Love is patient.

But if you JUST move in with each other, love is not patient.That loving feeling is impatient.Our choices affect our behavior.If you want sex NOW, if you want to live together NOW, and our parents’ values be damned, and marriage is ol’ fashioned and boring and we don’t want a divorce after all (see my blog Cavalier About Marriage on destroying that myth) you will take this lifestyle of impatience into other areas of your life.You won’t have patience because you haven’t learned to have any.You learn patience by waiting!!! Practice, practice, practice.

Bake dough without letting it rise and you have a brick.

Paint a room without mixing the paint, taping the hardware, covering the floor and you have a mess.

Build a house without first planning what it will look like and you end of with a hodgepodge.

Drive a car without oil and see how far you get.


That’d be good.

But what do we get when we cohabit? What subtle messages are we sending?

You are not worth waiting for.

You aren’t valuable enough to wait for.

You can take me just on my word.My actions don’t meaning anything.

Sex is just sex.It doesn’t need protecting.

Do whatever you want whenever you want.

We can do this without consequences.Nothing bad will happen to us.

Hey, this is a bunch of crap. I’m not making this up. If you come to see me and you tell me you smoke marijuana everyday, I’m going to know that you are going to be lethargic and have the stictuativeness of a piece of used scotch tape. If you tell me you are masturbating to porn everyday I’m going to assume you are a selfish prick and I wont’ be far off. If you tell me you are cohabiting I will assume you will be:

  • self absorbed
  • self-serving
  • selfish
  • impatient
  • easily offended
  • easily angered
  • argumentative
  • everything’s-an-issue kind of person
  • insecure
  • suspicious
  • jealous
  • protective of yourself

Why? Because you don’t think waiting is worth anything and you want what you want when you want it and you want it NOW. IF THIS RELATIONSHIP ISN’T WORTH WAITING FOR IT ISN’T WORTH ANYTHING!!!

So…if two people both believe that their relationship is not worth waiting for, what kind of patience with each other are they going to have? NONE. Zip. Zero. If I can’t wait to marry you to live with you, be sexual with you, then you can bet I’m not going to wait for anything else either. I want everything NOW. Frickin’ this and frickin’ that.

You might be the most fun partner in the world.You might be the most beautiful and gorgeous or handsome.We might have a ball.We might just laugh and laugh and the sex, oh, man, the sex is out of this world.

For awhile.

Six months average.

Maybe less.

Maybe more.


And then the fighting starts. Why? Because you said you believed this and you are doing that. You never help. All you do is nag. We’re hardly sexual ever anymore. You ignore me. All you do is video games! All you do is on-line chatrooms. All you do is hunt, fish, work on your car, work, watch TV. You never do the laundry. I have to do everything. Quit complaining. You’re so impatient!! You want everything your way all the time!!

And you are surprised by this? Hey, we don’t have to wait remember? What’d you expect?

Here’s a sobering quote. I’m not making this stuff up. If you want the whole article click here.If you want a life of fighting and anger, I suggest you rush to live with your lover.It’s the fastest road I know (although smoking pot everyday or masturbating to porn everyday will get you there pretty quick, too):

One study in Great Britain did look at the relationship between child abuse and the family structure and marital background of parents, and the results are disturbing.  It was found that, compared to children living with married biological parents, children living with cohabiting but unmarried biological parents are 20 times more likely to be subject to child abuse, and those living with a mother and a cohabiting boyfriend who is not the father face an increased risk of 33 times. In contrast, the rate of abuse is 14 times higher if the child lives with a biological mother who lives alone. Indeed, the evidence suggests that the most unsafe of all family environments for children is that in which the mother is living with someone other than the child’s biological father.  This is the environment for the majority of children in cohabiting couple households.

You say you don’t have kids, it’s just the two of you? Well, ahhh, if you are living with somebody that way and, you know, you, ah (uncomfortable moment…), ah, after awhile you will more than likely end up with kids. If you both are biological parents abuse is lower, but if you live together and aren’t married, you are way, way, way more likely to break up than married folk and now, after you break up, you’ll be living on one salary and who can afford that, you know, and pretty soon mr right or miss right will show up and it’s amazing we get along so great and before you can pay 3 rental payments you are sharing your rent with him or her and wow, this is so cool, until he or she loses his or her patience over your stupid kid and can’t you control him and he’s a total brat and he gets away with murder and you never discipline him and I’m not gonna live like that and CRAP…

A little patience people. The Jewish nation was founded on a guy who worked and waited 7 years in order to marry the girl of his dreams. After he married her he was an indentured servant for another 7 years in order to pay off his obligation to her father. Fourteen years! Fourteen years he waited and worked and loved. And, no, Jacob and Rachel weren’t shacking up on the sly and her sleazebucket-of-a-father, Laban, just wasn’t aware of it.  No.  He waited.  Literally.  For the whole enchilata.  Really.  Look it up yourself.  Genesis 29. Is it any wonder the Jewish nation has made such an impact upon the world?A nation built on the love of one man for a woman he was willing to work for and wait for 14 years.

And you? You can’t wait 14 days till the end of the month because you have to sign a stupid new lease.

Part Seven On Cohabitation: The Honorable Estate of Matrimony

Part Two On Cohabitation: The Downsides of Cohabiting Without Marriage

O LORD, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?…

He (who) swears to his own hurt and does not change. (NASB)

Psalm 15:1,4

He who keeps his oath even when it hurts. (NIV)

Psalm 15:4

In yesterday’s blog (“Cavalier About Marriage”) I looked at some of the legal nightmares that cohabiting outside marriage creates. Today I want to focus on how cohabiting inadvertently hurts marriage. Curiously, the people who cohabit tell me that the reason they are doing so is because they don’t want to get a divorce. Most cohabiters I see in therapy grew up in divorced families or highly conflictual families and dread the thought of having a marriage that ends up a catastrophe like that themselves. The theory goes that if we cohabit we’ll have a chance to try on each other for size to see if we fit. These young people fully believe that if they cohabit they increase their odds of success. They also believe that if they don’t marry and only live together, that if the relationship sours, they can break up with each other and not suffer the legal quagmire and emotional trauma of divorce. Yesterday’s blog said that that is absolutely not the case. Property rights in cohabiting cases are a nightmare as are child custody chaos. And the emotional trauma of breakups after cohabiting are at least as painful as a divorce and in some cases even more painful.

Here’s an example to illustrate that point: A young man and woman move in with each other without marriage. She’s got a little boy, say a 2-year old.The young man dearly loves this little boy. The boy’s real father is out of the picture and the little boy takes to his mom’s live-in lover as his father. The two bond over the years that they are living together. When the boy is 7 the couple breaks up. This young step-father has NO rights to see this child.In most cases like this the mother will insist the step-father NEVER see this boy again.Do you know what that does to this little boy? Do you know what happens to that young man?

Maybe he could go to court to fight this under common-law legalities but the fight would be brutal and expensive and more than likely both of these two young people are broke. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the pain of breaking up with someone you lived as though a married person, but not really, for five years. These folk come see me for therapy after the breakup and they are every bit as devastated and emotionally damaged as any divorced person I’ve talked to. They use the same language, they have the same mannerisms, they convey the same hopelessness, fears, worries, self-doubt and sense of failure as divorced people do. Only it’s worse because nobody else understands what the big deal is: You weren’t married!!! So they don’t get the social support they need to recover. Most won’t have the courage to go to a Divorce Care group. They didn’t divorce, right? Who are we trying to kid?

Let’s go beyond breakups and look at how cohabiting fights marital success. Cohabiting without marriage hurts later marital sexuality, marital trust, encourages fighting and arguing, promotes money problems and promotes general selfishness. Let’s look at marital sexuality and trust today:

Marital Sexuality: The whole idea of sexuality in marriage is that marriage is a boundary around our love to protect it and this boundary is good (on this topic of marital boundaries being good see my blog articles “Far, Far Away,” “Guard Your Heart,” “The Advantages of Wisdom,” “Boring Integrity,” and “Wandering Eyes.”). The whole message of cohabiting is we can do what we want without any consequences and sex outside of marriage is not wrong. Cohabiting couples believe that marriage limits sexual freedom. The boundary of marriage is bad. We want to fully express our sexual love NOW. Boundaries be damned. Well, ahh, in case you are not aware, this is the same message of pornography! Boundaries are bad. Do whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want. A cohabiting couple might say that they are solely committed to each other and may not be sexual with anybody else. This is the same as saying I’m only going to shoplift from Target. I’m not one those reprobates that shoplifts from Target, Wal-Mart and Penny’s. No siree. Just Target for me. If you are willing to shoplift from Target, what’s going to keep you from shoplifting from anywhere else? What principle will guide your decision?

This is the same problem cohabiting people have. What principle will keep you from being sexual with anyone else when there is no boundary around us to protect our commitment? Just your word? Is that good enough? You must know that your actions speak louder than words? And what are your actions saying? Sexuality doesn’t mean anything!!! Sexuality needs no boundaries. Sexuality does not need protecting. We can do what ever we want!!! Morality be damned. Need I say that my impression is that cohabiting couples have WAY more affairs than married couples? Is it an affair if you cheat and we’re not married? It sure feels that way. (See Dr. Wall’s other blogs on affairs: “Morality and Chaos,” “An Open Letter on Homosexual Temptation and Marriage”,” “Good or Evil From An Affair”, ” The Wickedness of Affair”, “Integrity for Life,” and “The Prison of Happiness.”)

The problem is that sexuality NEEDS protecting! The temptations in the world are so strong that we NEED the solid commitment of our promise to our spouse before all of these witnesses to seal our commitment and to keep the wolves at bay, both literally and figuratively. The wedding band literally keeps sexual tempters away. Your wedding promise keeps your heart in the right place. Do some fail here? Sure. But for most of us, when we married and we stood in front of all those people and said “Til death us do part” we meant it, so that when temptations come we have some fortitude to fight off the wolves.

Marital Trust: I hope you can see how these issues bleed together. If you are willing to be sexual with me when we are just living together and haven’t committed to each other before God and the State, the Church, our families, our friends, and each other, and we’re just committed to each other based upon our word which doesn’t mean anything because our actions are saying we don’t need the boundary of marriage and can do whatever we want, well, yeah, trust is going to be an issue. Marriage isn’t going to help us much here, because we already have a history of saying we can do whatever we want way before we got married. Who are the most insecure people in the world? Cohabiting couples! Why? They aren’t fooling anybody. They are both sexual with each other without marriage. What will stop the other from “cheating?” Just your word? But your actions of cohabiting are saying that a promise before God and a company of witnesses means nothing. So now that we are married why would that all of a sudden matter? Oh, boy, what a mess. Of course, after you marry your spouse is a control freak and he or she wants to know wherever you go and with whom and they are freaking out all the time and this is a bunch of crap and I’m not gonna put up with that….

Hey, if you are cohabiting and struggling in your relationship and wanting to work things out, you can come see me and I’m not going to sit there in judgment over you. If you are doing these things I’m not mad at you. I’m sad for you because I know you are borrowing unnecessary trouble from your future. But I’m not going to pressure you to get married. I’m going to try to help you work out things between you so that you can come to the place where you are secure enough to REALLY give your hearts and lives to each other. That’ll be your choice. I’m about helping couples have a solid foundation. If we have a solid foundation we will have something to build our future upon.