Cohabitation #5: A Trial Marriage?
Cohabitating couples are often defensive about their lifestyle insisting that they are just as committed as a married couple. We continue the discussion here in part 5 of this series.
By definition, cohabitation is a limited, conditional commitment. It is an arrangement which is understood to be putting the relationship to the test. Partners wisely enter the arrangement cautiously, withholding themselves and safeguarding their independence. They will rightly seek to protect their interests and to maintain financial freedom.
Such self-protective behaviours become domesticated over time leading couples to establish permanent relationship patterns of limited trust and involvement, rather than the complete trust and total self-giving of marriage. A wedding some years later is generally not sufficient to ‘reset’ these patterns. Even after marriage, rather than growing closer, the couple who has cohabitated may find themselves persisting in these self-protective behaviours and drifting apart.
While many view cohabitation as a low risk way to evaluate the relationship for ‘divorce resistance’, the truth is that, without the full scale, life commitment that marriage represents, no one can fully ‘trial’ a marriage without actually getting married. Couples who sincerely desire to give their marriage the best possible opportunity for success are wise to resist the cultural norm of cohabitation and pre-marital sex.