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Should We Live Together Before Marriage?

Sunday, 10 March, 2019 - 8:53 pm

Question of the Week:

  

I am debating with a friend about the pros and cons of living together before marriage. I think it's crazy to marry someone you haven't lived with. How can you know what life will be like? It makes no sense! What if they need the window open at night and you need it closed? On the other hand, people who live together for prolonged periods of time don't seem to be doing any better at marriage than those who don't. So who's right?

 

Answer: 

 

The argument goes, by living together you can know how someone behaves in various situations. Once you have spent a year or so under one roof, you have tested the relationship to see if it can withstand the varied pressures of life. 



But wait. That isn't true. You only know how things are for that year. You haven't seen how things will be five years from now. A lot can happen in five years. Surely you need to spend five years together to see how that works before committing for a lifetime. 



And then there is the concern about what may happen in ten years. People change, we grow older, sometimes wiser, sometimes not. So you should really live together for a decade before deciding to commit. 



And what about children? They change the equation entirely. You need to have kids first to see how the relationship will be when you have kids. And then, a lot of relationships become strained once the kids move out. Maybe you should live together through empty-nesting and old age, and only then see if you are compatible and ready to commit. 



This is upside down thinking. Committing when you know everything will be fine is not commitment. The very definition of commitment is that you will stick with it no matter what will be. And none of us know what will be. 

 

If you base your decision to marry someone on the assumption that you know everything about them, what happens when you discover that in fact you don't? Better recognise that life is full of surprises. Commitment is the force that keeps you together when those surprises come. 



So when you meet someone, find out about their values, discuss their priorities, explore their character. Their habits may change, but their character won't change much. And if you later discover that they sleep with the window open and you need it closed - people with good character who are committed to the relationship will be able to work that one out. 

 

Good Shabbos, 
Rabbi Moss 



Comments on: Should We Live Together Before Marriage?
3/13/2019

Dr. Shel wrote...

I so enjoyed reading this! Thank you for sharing.