It’s no secret that couples who are choosing to cohabitate together are on the rise.  In modern culture, it’s seen as responsible – even necessary – before even considering the idea of marriage. In fact, every single graph you’ll see reflects declining marriage rates and increasing cohabitation rates amongst young people since the 1960s. For example, in 2018 the US Census reported that 14.8% of 25-34 year olds lived within an unmarried partner. In 1968, this was just 0.2%, meaning there has been a 7,300% increase in the last 50 years. Why is this seen as the popular choice today? As one Redditor puts it, “There are things you can never know about a person until you live with them. It's an important make or break period of time and I can't imagine committing myself to someone for life without knowing what it's like to live with them.” Living together first is seen as somewhat of an enlightened perspective, that wasn’t available to previous generations due to religious dogma and societal norms. This may shock you, but there are currently two states (Michigan and Mississippi) that still have laws in place from the early 1900s banning couples from cohabiting before marriage. Learning about laws like these only reinforce the notion that we know better than our parents and grandparents. Besides, their relationships weren’t exactly shining examples of success.  One of the highest values today amongst young people is the ability to express your full relational and sexual agency. Liberation, as it seems, is the ability to choose.  Amongst millennials and Gen Z, there would be little debate on that point. However, as we set aside the conversations about legality and agency, we’re still left with the question of whether this strategy is actually beneficial Is cohabitation really the enlightened perspective it’s cracked up to be? Do the statistics support that notion? And perhaps most importantly, does it actually help accomplish what we want it to? In this blog, we unpack the most common myths about cohabitation and marriage.



"[It's] very [important to live together before getting married]. There are things you can never know about a person until you live with them. It's an important make or break period of time and I can't imagine committing myself to someone for life without knowing what it's like to live with them." - Reddit Using the word “marriage” here can be somewhat deceiving, because not all couples talk about marriage before moving in together. With young people today, half the time we’re not even sure marriage is on the table. So keep in mind, at the bare minimum, this first myth is seen as a necessary first step before even having a more serious conversation. The ultimate litmus test, per se.  Another Redditor puts it this way, “In most cases, it’s like a dry run to check if the arrangement works before getting married – similar to checking if the water from the shower is the correct temperature before you get under it.” At first glance, the rationale here makes sense, so much so that it’s fueling the decision to move in together for millions of couples every year.

But when we dive deeper into this first myth, an important question quickly rises to the surface. What exactly are we trying to test?

Sometimes we think we need to test the waters on things that don’t really matter, such as a person’s quirks. Uhh..what if they don’t refill the toilet paper roll after the last wipe?!  Or maybe it's about testing how we "feel" having them around the house. What if it's too much? What if I don't like having them around all the time? As we'll learn shortly, the greatest indicators of long-term success have little to do with either of these things.  This myth also deceives us as to why cohabitation is a good test for determining the seriousness of a relationship. We think that moving in together is the only way to learn more about each other, see if we’re compatible and test how we face challenges together. But the fallacy here is simple: you don’t need to live together to test any of these things. If you’re intentional about the relationship, it’s just as likely that you can learn everything you need to about a person living apart, without the added complication of moving in together. One of the last reasons we think cohabitation will be a good test is because of the strong emotions that we feel for the person. It's only the logical thing to do, right? But this first phase of love – the honeymoon phase – is “generally accompanied by poor judgment”, warns John Gottman, one of the world’s foremost authorities on relationship success.  If you’ve moved in solely for this last reason, or know friends who have, you probably have some hard evidence of things not typically ending well. So what should we be looking out for? In 2015, Gottman released his New York Times bestseller 7 Principles for Making Marriage WorkWe’ve summarized some of those points below, as guideposts for long-term success:
    1. Shared values & meaning
    2. Communication skills
    3. Conflict resolution skills
    4. Unwavering commitment
    5. Navigating stressors successfully
    6. Prioritizing & “turning toward” one another:
    7. Healthy power dynamics
 There’s an ancient Proverb that says, “where there is no vision, the people perish.”  In other words, when there is no vision or long-term goal, people are doomed to wander aimlessly. This goes for any facet of life, be it career or relationship. Generationally we tend to think that since we’re getting married older, this will produce the inevitable result of being more relationally and emotionally mature when we decide to settle down. Not so. The points above, and what Gottman discusses in his book, require intentionality, vision and planning. And none of them need moving in together to be figured out.  In fact, you could make a case that if you’re trying to “test” these principles by living together, it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s not hard to imagine. You’re starting to transition out of the honeymoon phase and there’s some “slippage” in the sense you’re not on your best behavior anymore. And you start getting into arguments and you realize that there are incredibly poor communication and conflict resolution dynamics in the relationship. But now you live in the same house. There are a thousand little scenarios like this, bound to go wrong. That’s not to say when two people eventually do decide to get married they need to have everything figured out, but it is to say all of the essentials should be worked out. Getting married isn’t a game, and neither is moving in together. For all these reasons, we consider this myth to be debunked. There’s little evidence that cohabitation actually is a good test for marriage (or something more serious), and it could easily end up turning into a very bad decision.


"You learn so much about someone when you live together. You might discover that you utterly suck as a couple during that time, and breaking up is so much easier than divorce." - Reddit Even with the downsides we discussed in the last section, some people are willing to take the risk. The intense feelings for another person can seem too strong to overcome. You just want to be with that person and they with you, all the time.  You think… love will carry us through and we’ll work out the details later. Even if the worst case scenario will be messy, at least it’s not divorce. At least you can just move out. The “at least it’s not divorce” mindset is like saying, “I know I might get stage 2 cancer by doing [XYZ], but at least it’s not stage 4.” We might not have to deal with the legal ramifications of divorce, but there is still the painful emotional and relational damage of moving out.

What we often miss is that moving in together is essentially getting married. 

Here’s what GQ has to say: “A lot of couples live together as a kind of pre-marital test, to see if they can handle living together before making everything official. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's already too late. This is it, baby.” Historically, the sharing of your life with another human being in such an intimate way was a core function of marriage. So in today’s terms, we may not have a piece of paper that says we’re married, but when we break up we are symbolically getting a divorce. This doesn’t bode well for our future relationships, either. When we move in together, then break up and move out, we are establishing a bad pattern. Consider the data on divorce.  50% of first marriages end in divorce. But with second marriages, that number jumps to 66%. And third marriages? A mind-boggling 75% Clearly, the data doesn’t show that practice makes perfect. Yes, this data on the legal separation and dissolution of a marriage. But as we mentioned, moving out is a symbolic divorce.  Ultimately, we might learn lessons from our previous relationships, but the core problem is the mindset we begin with. When we think of cohabitation as a safe option, it means we are seriously considering that the relationship might end in the future.  We send mixed signals of commitment and this poses serious issues for our attachment needs, which we’ll get into later in the blog. Dr. Sue Johnson, another global authority on relationships, writes in Love Sense. “Many romantic partners break apart when one person starts to ask, “Are you there for me?” and cannot get a clear answer. It is one thing to accept you’re having a casual amorous adventure and another to face up to another person having a hold on your heart. Then you question how much you can really depend on that person, how strong is the devotion on his or her end.” Is moving out less messy than divorce? Sure, from a legal standpoint. But it’s anything but safe. And for this reason, we consider this myth to be debunked.


"You'll save money by living in a live-in relationship. One, it's cheaper because you share rent and utilities with someone else. Combine that with the fact that you spend less time commuting and one person can stay home and watch the dog while the other goes to work, and it's clear that saving money is essential for you," writes Varun Pahwa in Medium. This myth is highly subjective, because it depends on your particular living situation. If you started a lease together, moving in together could actually turn out to be financially disastrous. If you do end up breaking up, there is still the lease to take care of. If you have multiple bedrooms, you might be lucky enough to get a roommate. But what if you don't? The lease is in one person’s name, which makes them legally responsible to finish out the agreement. And if the breakup was bad, one person can just say deuces, and leave the other high and dry. The person you so deeply loved, now becomes even more of a villain.  You’ll be paying double the rent, for a one-bedroom apartment, unless you have a really, really kind landlord. But sometimes, the dynamics are simpler, such as your significant other moving into an apartment that you’re already paying the full rent for. Here, you might be seeing dollar signs. Immediately them moving in cuts the rent in half and now you get to be around each other all the time. Sounds like fun, right? For the reasons we already discussed in the previous two myths, the financial benefits do not outweigh the long list of potential downsides. If you were already paying the full lease, you might as well continue doing so and save yourself the trouble.  And if your situation is fluid, there are various other ways you could save money. Namely, moving into an apartment where you can simply get a roommate. For these reasons, consider this myth is debunked. Theoretically, there could be some financial benefit to moving in together, but it also could end up being financially problematic.


"My partner and I live together and we never plan to get married.. we aren't worried about social status so we don't see a point.. You can love someone and share your life with them without having the government officially sanction it." - Reddit Not only is cohabitation on the rise, but so is the “married but not married” relationship as a long-term option. This extends as far as having children together as well. As Vox reports, “Births to unmarried mothers have risen sharply over the past generation, from about 21 percent of all births in the early 1980s to 43 percent during the 2009-2013 period.” One widely publicized example of this was the relationship between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They started dating in 2004 and went on to have six children together, without tying the knot. They did eventually decide to get married ten years later (mostly because of the pressure from their kids), but their original stance is somewhat of a signpost for this fourth myth. Jolie told Marie Claire in 2007, “It just doesn’t seem necessary.. it’s not that contract or that ceremony that makes you feel solid,” adding to Vanity Fair in 2008, “it’s very easy to get married, but it’s not easy to build a family and be parents together. And maybe we’ve done it backwards, but we certainly feel married.” For many who take this approach, there is a strong emphasis on not having the “need” to label things, as they make the point that marriage is just a social statement. A contract, a ceremony, but nothing of real substance that a verbal partnership can’t also accomplish. Sometimes this mentality is driven by experiences in our past, like witnessing divorce in our family and experiencing a divorce ourselves, as was the case for Jolie and Pitt.   The problem with this approach also goes back to our attachment needs. Choosing not to get married is a common symptom of avoidant attachment behavior.  In their New York Times bestseller Attached, Columbia researchers Amir Levine and Rachel Heller list it among their deactivating strategies, which are behaviors or thoughts designed to quelch intimacy. Levine and Keller write:  “If you’re avoidant, these deactivating strategies are tools you unconsciously use to make sure the person that you love (or will love) won't get in the way of your autonomy.” You could say that marriage is just a label, but then again, why don’t you want to make that commitment to the other person? Like myth #2, it sends mixed signals about commitment. In another New York Times bestseller The Meaning of Marriage, author Dr. Tim Keller writes: “Someone who says, “I love you, but we don’t need to be married” may be saying, “I don’t love you enough to curtail my freedom for you.”

Dr. Sue Johnson equates these types of partnerships to “bouncing on the diving board but not plunging in,” adding that they “stop short of complete emotional linkage”. 

Why is that?  Keller expounds, “Marriage is a more inescapable relationship than cohabitation. When unmarried people live together, they certainly see one another “up close,” but each party knows that the other one does not have the same claims on him or her that would be true if they were married. They don’t merge their whole lives -- socially, economically, legally -- and so either one can walk away with relatively few complications if they don’t like what they are being told.” Symbolically, to not get married is to withhold a level of commitment from the other person. You may view marriage as a piece of paper, but in this sense, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Marriage is the ultimate statement of going all-in. You’re putting all your cards on the table. You’re linking completely and believing so much in that linkage long-term, that you decide to merge your entire lives together. You’re not going to withhold anything. Another version of the “married but not married” dynamic is getting married, but signing a prenup. You’re committing to the other person, but not really completely in the financial sense. It’s a sign that you think things might not work out and you’re preparing for that up-front. So is cohabitation really a good option in the long-term? Not if you want to meet your deepest attachment needs, which is critical for our ability to thrive. And for that reason, we consider myth #4 to be debunked.


"For many couples, living together is simply the next logical step in the progression of intimacy," writes Dr. Craig Malkin of Psychology Today. We alluded to this one earlier. You may be considering moving in together, simply because you think it’s the next logical step. Maybe you’re not thinking about marriage, but cohabitation is just something you do in the present age as your relationship progresses. The statistics seem to be backing this up. As Refinery29 reports “According to a survey of 4,000 recently married couples.. the average couple spends 4.9 years in a relationship before getting married..This breaks down as 1.4 years (17 months) of dating before moving in together, living together for 1.83 years (22 months) before getting engaged, and spending 1.67 years (20 months) engaged before getting married.” In a vacuum, this myth makes a lot of sense. The wider culture has instilled a confidence within us about the evolution of relationships. Since “we know more than we did back then”, taking a methodical approach and adding more steps into the process will lead to more informed decision making and long-term success. Over the last 50 years, the average age of marriage has been pushed back by an additional eight years. In the same article, Refinery29 reports, “we're getting married far later in life now than the previous generation, with the average first-time bride now 30.8 and groom 32.7 years old, compared with 22.6 and 24.6 years old in 1971.” But many of the same ideas we talked about with the first myth, also apply to this one. Getting married later in life doesn’t automatically mean more successful relationships, not unless there is intentionality, vision and strategy. Adding another step into the process, just because it appears to be logical, doesn’t mean it will be beneficial. Upon deeper investigation, we find the narratives around the evolution of relationships are somewhat of an echo-chamber.

We think that just because we hear something over and over again, it makes it true. Just because this new approach is constantly touted as more evolved and informed, that means it is.

First discovered in the 1970s by Temple and Villanova researchers, the illusion-of-truth effect revealed that when we hear the same false information repeated over and over again, we come to believe that it is true In Captivology, Ben Parr talks about this subject at length, writing, “the familiarity of a statement seems to have an impact on our assessment of its validity… plausible statements.. become more believable every time we hear them on the news, on the radio or on social media.” But when it comes to long-term success in relationships, the opposite narrative seems to be what the data is revealing. Dr. Johnson, one of the top authorities on relationships in the world, writes in Love Sense, “Data shows that couples that have lived together [before getting married] are more likely to be dissatisfied with marriage and divorce.”  Cohabitation without marriage (naturally) sets the stage for insecure attachment to become more likely than not. And as Dr. Johnson writes, “One consistent research finding is that the more insecurely attached people are, the shorter their significant relationships tend to be and the more likely they are to divorce.” As you progress in your relationship, cohabitation may seem like the next logical step. But the reality suggests something entirely different. So consider this last myth debunked.


The problem with the conversation on cohabitation can be summed up in this one sentence: there’s a disconnect between what we THINK we need and what psychology has proven that we actually need.  This all stems back to attachment theory. Discovered by John Bowlby in the 1950s, attachment theory has proven that the need for love and connection are hardwired into human beings. Based on our upbringing and previous social experiences, we all develop attachment styles, which are broken up into the categories of secure, avoidant and anxious. These styles are some of the most well-attested facts within modern scientific academia and they have a significant impact on how we express ourselves in adult relationships. As Peter Lovenheim writes in The Attachment Effect, “These early beliefs are about the self in relation to others… Am I lovable? Am I someone other people are going to value and care for? How comfortable am I being close, depending on another person, making myself vulnerable to another person? When I need others, will they be there for me?” Much of the behavior we witness on the modern dating scene can be linked to avoidant and anxious attachment. Not defining the relationship, avoiding being rejected, ghosting, sealing off yourself emotionally and yes, choosing cohabitation over marriage, are common symptoms. One of the biggest recipes for disaster is when someone who is avoidant attachment ends up dating someone who is anxious attachment. The data shows this almost never ends up well. Regardless of our attachment style, this doesn’t erase our need for love and intimacy Even with avoidant attachments, Levine and Heller explain in Attached, “avoidants.. aren’t such free spirits after all; it is the defensive stance that they adopt that makes them seem that way.”  This doesn’t mean that every serious relationship should automatically equal marriage. That would be reckless. There’s so much more to the equation, which we’re about to get into. But it is to say there should be far more intentionality in our relationships, understanding our own needs and building the necessary skills that are critical for long-term relational success. We talked about this in our blog on attachment theory, but part of the appeal of cohabitation is a rebellion against the dysfunctional examples of marriages we’ve seen in past generations. One report puts the divorce rate amongst the Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) at 65% and it’s been widely publicized that divorce is skyrocketing with Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964).  We associate the generations that conformed to religious dogma and patriarchy as examples of epic failure. For them, the best case seems to be living out your latter years in perpetual unhappiness, devoid of love. And the worst case scenario, getting divorced, perhaps after initially staying together for the kids. Who would ever want that for their future? If this is our past, then it’s easy to see how the idea of cohabitation has become popular. In 2018, The Atlantic’s Kate Julian wrote a critically-acclaimed piece documenting “the sex recession” amongst millennials. During her research, she interviewed two students who were tasked with observing long-term committed couples as part of their Marriage 101 class at Northwestern University. “To see a relationship where two people are utterly content and committed,” one woman said, with real conviction, “it’s kind of an aha moment for me.”  Another student spoke disbelievingly of her couple’s pre-smartphone courtship. “I couldn’t necessarily relate to it,” she said. “They met, they got each other’s email addresses, they emailed one another, they went on a first date, they knew that they were going to be together. They never had a ‘define the relationship’ moment, because both were on the same page. I was just like, “Damn, is that what it’s supposed to be like?” Notice the last line. To see an older couple, who are still in love and thriving, is shocking. So where does this leave us? If cohabitation without marriage is a breeding ground for anxious and avoidant attachment, what pathway provides a bulletproof strategy for long-term success? It is here that we would propose the way of Jesus as our starting point. But before we go any further, we must clarify what we’re not saying. As we alluded to earlier, our culture views the religious dogma of generations past as the primary reason for patriarchal, restrictive, apathetic, selfish or inevitably unsatisfying relationships. We believe that it not only limited our relational and sexual agency, but also oppressed an entire people group: the LGBTQ community. And this is absolutely true, but in a caricature sort of way. If you haven’t heard of this concept before, defines a caricature as a, “grotesquely exaggerated representation of (someone or something).” Some could argue that the harmful practices of previous generations stem back to biblical teachings, but we also live in the most biblically illiterate generation in history. Meaning, we have no idea how to interpret or read the Bible.  Many people have claimed to be Christians, who appear to be faithful church-goers, yet their behavior and marriages resemble nothing of Jesus. A strong argument could be made that in this sense, the majority of the “Christian” population is not actually Christian. They have not devoted their lives to Jesus, in the way he invites us to.

So why is the way of Jesus such an appealing model for long-term relational success?

Two words. Self-sacrificial love. In modern culture, our understanding of love is often superficial. It’s usually associated with strong emotions towards another human being. But Jesus’s life was a testament to the true meaning of love, a shining example of how to fulfill our ultimate attachment needs. And if you are following him, he invites you to model this pattern. In John 13:34, Jesus calls us to “love one another just as I have loved you” adding in John 15:13 that “greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” In fact, repeatedly, the Bible teaches the opposite of patriarchy, as it calls us husbands to lead the way in this department. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” This command is the perfect response to Peter Lovenheim’s questions in the Attachment Effect. “Am I lovable? Am I someone other people are going to value and care for? How comfortable am I being close, depending on another person, making myself vulnerable to another person? When I need others, will they be there for me?” It is here we find a remarkable union between the spiritual and the scientific. And it makes sense. If God is our Creator, then he was the one who wired us with attachment needs. Like the laws of nature, self-sacrificial love is built into the rhythm of our existence. Dr. Keller writes in The Meaning of Marriage, “If you have a child, you will find that the Biblical pattern of love is forced on you. Your new child is the neediest human being you have ever met. She needs your care every second of the day, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.” And if we, as parents, don’t embody this self-sacrificial love? It will negatively impact brain development, leading to a world of anxious and avoidant attachers. In Love Sense, Dr. Johnson expounds on the research of brain development right from birth: “Infant monkeys who are isolated from their mother show gross deficits in multiple areas of the brain, including those involved in the processing of emotion, such as the hippocampus.. Isolated babies, such as those reared in institutions, show similar effects. Many sicken and die at an early age. Survivors often mature with attention problems and cognitive and language deficits.” Again, a seamless union between the scientific and spiritual. The data doesn’t lie. For married couples that have Jesus at the center of their marriage and regularly practice the rhythms of self-sacrificial love, divorce rates are non-existent. Marital satisfaction is consistently rated as very high. In these types of relationships, the fairy tale love of The Notebook becomes the most likely outcome. Through intimate friendship and mutual sacrifice, marriage becomes a liberating union that helps us become our most authentic selves. “Romance, sex, laughter and plain fun are the byproducts of this process,” adds Dr. Keller. But this doesn’t happen magically. It requires work. It requires intentionality. It requires God himself empowering you to live this way on a daily basis.


This all lays the foundation for us to understand what is truly required to make something work in the long term. The problem is that our culture tends to treat relationships casually, but if we actually want to succeed, nothing about this process is casual. To actually achieve success in the long-term, it might require taking a step back, which is anything but easy. The cultural pressure that comes with being single is real.  When you’re young, there’s a social stigma that’s placed upon you if you’re not dating or hooking up with someone. A recent Tinder ad on the NYC subway featured two people hooking up, with the tagline “realizing you’re not dead inside.”  But sex is not a need and neither is being romantically involved. Jesus himself was single and was the ultimate example of human flourishing for all of us.   If you don’t spend the time becoming a person who is capable of self-sacrificial love, then you will live without the necessary ingredient that makes relationships work. Falling in love is often deceiving, because in the early stages of a relationship it feels like you have superhuman strength. In the infatuation stage (or honeymoon phase), things tend to come easy.  You’re on your best behavior. You will, in a lot of instances, do anything for that person. So in this sense, you become convinced that self-sacrifice comes naturally when “love” is present. But when the infatuation stage starts to end, which science says is usually around 18 months, things start to become infinitely harder. Our true colors start to emerge. Since the high that we got from the other person is no longer there, sacrificing for them and serving them comes at a cost to ourselves. Anyone who has ever fallen in love knows exactly what this downfall feels like. Ultimately, we lack the personal and relational maturity to progress through what John Gottman calls the three stages of love. We don’t know how to embody self-sacrificial love over the long term, so it only becomes a matter of time before the relationship implodes.  Which goes to say, we often don’t take the time to step back and consider who we want to become. Not what we want to accomplish, or what accolades we want to rack up, but who we want to become in five, ten, fifteen years.  This is often what is so deceiving about the “getting married later in life” narrative. Building your character is not a natural byproduct of getting older. You could be just as selfish at 32 as you were at 24. You could be just as prideful or emotionally closed off. We live under the illusion that moving in with someone will allow us to “learn more” about them and see if we’re “compatible”, but if neither of you are capable of self-sacrificial love, it doesn’t matter. If neither of you are actively trying to learn and practice the principles that make marriage work, as laid out by John Gottman, then the playing house experiment is pointless. And as we mentioned earlier, moving in together is not the environment to practice these principles.So how do we learn to become a person of self-sacrificial love?  By apprenticing under the person that did it best, Jesus. We learn his rhythms, observe how he responded in particular situations and then start practicing them in our own lives. And we do this separately, before introducing another person into our lives in such an intimate way. We understand how this dynamic works when it comes to our professional careers. As athletes, knowledge workers or blue-collar workers, we learn under the tutelage of someone who has gone before us. Someone who has mastered the craft. So why wouldn’t this also be true of our relational lives and building our character? When we eventually do feel we are ready to date other people, practicing the way of Jesus will completely transform the dating process, in the most beautiful of ways.  As we operate from a secure foundation and identity, we can honor the people we are going out on dates with. We can be more thoughtful in every step of the process, communicating our expectations and what we’re looking for. We can be clear in defining the relationship. This doesn’t mean we need to take ourselves too seriously, but it does mean recognizing anxious and avoidant attachment behavior within yourself, and choosing a different path when you feel compelled to give into those behaviors. And when we are ready to commit to someone, we go all the way. Marriage is the symbol of being all-in, that you are going to be there for them through hell or highwater. 


To close, there is one other critical element worth talking about. Self-sacrificial love is foundational to long-term success, but you also need what John Gottman calls shared meaning Listed among his relational principles, the Gottman Institute explains, “A successful marriage is about more than raising kids, paying bills, and getting chores done. It is also about building a meaningful relationship that has a spiritual dimension and is rich in rituals of connection.” What Gottman is alluding to here is a similar idea to what we see within the biblical teachings on romantic relationships. 2,000 years ago, one of Jesus’s original disciples Paul warned against being “unequally yoked” with another person (2 Cor. 6). In other words, if you’ve dedicated your life to following Jesus, and the other person hasn’t, it’s a recipe for disaster. While this is a consideration for some people, others don’t think about this at all when it comes to getting married or moving in with another person. Some are proponents that “mixed arrangements” can work, where both people share different foundational beliefs. But if you take those beliefs seriously, over time you’ll find a gulf developing where the other person is pulling you away from your vision for life. The healthiest thing is making sure you’re on the same page as the other person, before the relationship even starts. “Sharing a common dream or vision for life can help you gain a healthy perspective. When couples have that shared dream, the inevitable ups and downs of marriage are less bothersome. Creating a larger context of meaning in life can help couples to avoid focusing only on the little stuff that happens and to keep their eyes on the big picture,” adds Gottman Institute. Together, self-sacrificial love and shared meaning form a powerful combination. These ingredients give us a bulletproof strategy for long-term success, and they only really work within a committed marriage, not cohabitation. Dr. Johnson adds in Love Sense, “The significance of getting married has emerged… marriage allows full emotional commitment in two ways. It formally transfers attachment from one’s parents to one’s partner.” But ultimately, as we learned, the starting point must be considering who you want to become. You first have to become someone who is capable of self-sacrificial love, before you can give self-sacrificial love. And who better to learn that from than Jesus himself? For more resources on sex and relationships, click here.


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