My boyfriend and I are very different. He made the proposition to me that we live together and, if we stayed together for a year, then would get married. But… I want to get married before we live together because it makes the most sense. He says that he loves me. I love him, but I am desperately torn because I don’t want to lose him.

I am an attorney. I have a good job and want to do things right. The fact that he wants to live together before marriage makes me think that he believes it won’t work out between us. I am a positive person who wants to start a family within a marriage relationship. What do you advise me to do?

Dear Friend,

My parents were each married multiple times, so I had many opportunities to observe failed relationships. As a result, I made the decision that I wanted love that would last for a lifetime. So, when my husband and I were married thirty-eight years ago this week, we made the verbal commitment to each other that we would stay together for our whole lives, even if we someday no longer felt any romantic love for each other. Because we have known that we will always be together, areas of conflicts have had to be resolved. For us, there has never been another option. We have been blessed that our love has grown and that we are happy after all these years, but the key factor has been our commitment to the relationship.

Some men want all the advantages of a woman in their home, without the commitment or responsibility. Their girlfriends, who are usually more emotionally attached to the idea of marriage and family than they are, may be afraid that their guys will walk away if they don’t agree to living together first. However, if a guy is going to walk away, then isn’t it better sooner than later? If he is not more committed to his girl than that, then it is good for her to know before she wastes years of her life on him.

Couples who have lived together before getting married have a much higher rate of divorce than do couples that did not live together before marriage. If you love someone enough to live with them, but you are not committed enough to get married, then moving in together lowers your statistical chances of ultimate marital happiness.

Your boyfriend may have friends or family whose marriages haven’t worked out, and this may have caused him to be hesitant about marriage. Or, he may have friends who live together without any commitment, and he has come to believe that it is normal or even preferable.

However, God designed marriage for the safety and happiness of both men and women. Jesus Christ Himself said that a man and his wife “become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.”(1) They have shared goals and shared priorities. On the other hand, couples that live together without getting married must look out for themselves, making sure to not be taken advantage of. Their lack of commitment creates an unstable environment in which one of them may have a change of mind at any time, with little or no explanation or responsibility.

Commitment is what it takes to finish a college degree. It also takes commitment to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle. Commitment is necessary to pay for home ownership or to pay off debts. And commitment is absolutely required in order to make a relationship last. Don’t settle for a guy who is not ready to marry you. Don’t throw away a year of your life. You are worth much more than that!

We wish you well,

1 Mt 19:5,6; Mk 10:7,8