Catholic Weddings
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Cohabitation.

Do we have a thread on it already? If so, point me there? Otherwise, please discuss...

Did you live with your spouse before marriage/do you live with FI now?

Is there any appropriate way to say, "We are moving in together, but I promise we will abstain until marriage, please marry us anyway?" without being . . . bratty/trying to subvert the church?

I just packed up my entire apartment post-bar exam today, and I really never, ever, ever want to do that again.

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Re: Cohabitation.

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    Pre-marital sex isn't the only reason the church is against cohabitation, although its a big one.




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    edited July 2012
    H and I lived in the same apartment complex the year before we got married.  I moved there shortly after we got engaged because I liked the complex and it was a great location, so I thought H could just move in with me really easily after the wedding.

    Before that, he stayed with me a lot after college while he was looking for a job.  He has siblings in Dallas, and actually "officially" lived with his sister, but for lots of reasons, he didn't like staying there.  At that time, we really didn't pay any attention to the church's stance on cohabitation.  The more we went to mass together and the closer we got to getting engaged, the less we spent the night together.  Even when we lived just across a parking lot from each other, if he stayed with me, one of us would sleep in the spare bedroom.

    We looked into buying a house close to my school before we found out we were moving, and H insisted he would stay in his apartment and I would live in the house if we bought one, but considering the two were thirty minutes apart, I really doubt that he would have driven all the way home if we were hanging out at the house until late.

    I think it's just something to bring up with a priest, if you're struggling with it.  The other two couples who met with our sponsor couple had bought houses together way before they decided to get married.  I get the feeling no one ever said anything to them about it (I'm not saying that's right).  You can explain your circumstances, you can resolve to stay in separate bedrooms, and just see how it goes.

    I will say, having my own space (and an empty closet in which to hide my dress) was really nice leading up to the wedding.  And I totally get what you mean on the packing!  After we moved into our house, I put my foot down and insisted to H that we will never, ever, EVER pack or move on our own again.
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    FI and I had already lived together for a few years before we got engaged.  We hadn't really thought about the Church's stance on it at the time we decided that I'd move in.  Then a few weeks after I moved in, FI's job cut hours substantially, and he would've been unable to afford his mortgage without my "rent" contribution, so my moving out would never have been an option (financially).

    It was one of the first things our priest discussed with us.  At the first meeting, he just encouraged us to try sleeping separately - we tried having FI sleep on the couch, but he kept coming back to bed in the middle of the night without realizing it.  Now, we've just had to make a "divider" with extra pillows, since we don't have a guest room or extra bed in our condo.

    At our second meeting, when he knew us a little better, he did ask us about pre-marital sex.  We told him that since starting our NFP classes, we'd decided to abstain and were committed to doing so until after the wedding.  He told us that he really appreciated our honesty, and encouraged us to keep praying about it.

    It sounds like your heart is in the right place, but you're just struggling to weigh the practical and financial side of things with the Church's teachings.  I think the best thing you can do is to just be completely honest with your priest about your situation/circumstances, and your intentions.
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    My fiance and I live together because it made good financial sense to do so, and because after being in a long distance relationship for about 5 years, we thought it was important to make sure we were still a good couple when we saw each other all the time!

    My fiance was very nervous about what our priest would tell us when he learned we were living together (I was less nervovus, mostly because I am just very comfortable with our decision).  When we met with our priest we told him we are living together and his exact response was: "Meh, we tend not to care very much about that anymore."

    I found this response very refreshing and my fiance was certainly very relieved.  So I suppose it doesn't have to be an adversarial situation between cohabitating individuals and the church!  Hope this helps and good luck with your moving process (and congrats on taking the bar exam!!).
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    I am kinda scared about this cause i know of the nature of how people feel. FI and I are in the process of buying a house right now and will be moving in together before we are married. My parents are not happy and they are not happy we are not doing the mass for our wedding.  Fi and I have jobs away from our families, so to us we are the only family we have. We are moving in together too finanically. I didn't want too, but it will be nice to be home with him. If we had the money and could do the prep classes for a wedding sooner we would have gotten married already.

    I am nevous for Pre-Cana but from what I heard couples who have babies and not finanical stable who are getting married come, so hopefully us living together wont look so bad. My priest will talk with us about it, but will probably understand since he is that type of guy and is very nice.
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    tess6373tess6373 member
    First Comment
    edited July 2012
    It totall depends on your priest/parish.   Ours in located in an extremely liberal area and our priest/parish is very liberal as well.  He actually assumed we lived together and discussed issues that come from that (like not to get too comfortable, make sure you cherish your time together, etc).  It was very refreshing and I never felt judged for our decision. Pre-marital sex was NEVER mentioned in a meeting with the priest, although we did have to watch a vieo on NFP and discuss issues about sex at precana between the two of us only in a break out session. 
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    We have opted not to live together.  We live about 40 minutes apart so the weekends our usually our time.  We did just buy a house, but I will be moving into it on my own.  He will move in after the wedding.  He did live with the girlfriend he had before me, but totally supports and respects my decision to not live together until we are married.  
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    Thanks for asking the question.  This was something I actually hadn't even thought about but it's good to be aware of it I think.
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    Tami87Tami87 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    We chose not to live together before we were married. For the last 3 years we lived about an hour apart by public transit and just within the last 6 months or so did one of us buy a car (making the commute more like 30 min). We usually would only see eachother on weekends unless it was a special occasion. Because we were dependent on public transit and I generally do not like traveling alone at night there were times when we would stay at each others places for the weekend although we did abstain from sex until marriage.

    I agree that moving is a big pain and I was so happy we only had to move my husbands stuff this year instead of mine (We have both moved every year for the past 3 years!). However, I would echo professor in that I really liked having my own space leading up to the wedding and while we could have saved money if we had lived together sooner, it was important to both of us to wait until we were married and I am happy with the decision we made.
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    Riss91Riss91 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    We didn't live together before marriage. I didn't feel the need to - we had known each other for 13 years and were together for 10 years when we were married. We knew everything we needed to know about each other and any quirks we would have found out from living together would not have been a big deal to us in determining whether we wanted to be married.

    That being said, we might not have been too bothered by living together temporarily if there were financial/logistical problems. For instance, if I needed to relocate to where he was working in DC, we might have lived together for a few months. We wound up not choosing to live in DC.

    Regardless of living together or not, we abstained until we were married. I think that is the crucial part.

    One of the reasons we are asked not to live together is the "scandal" aspect. We, as Catholics, are supposed to uphold the faith and be examples of the faith. When we even "appear" to be disregarding doctrine, we are acting against the faith - creating scandal against the Church. This is why living together is more than just about sex. It's also about the illusion that the couple is not abstaining. Unfortunately, in today's times very few people actually believe that you WOULDN'T be sexually active, even if you NEVER live together.

    Many priests understand the predicaments we face and if they believe that you are faithful and dedicated to the Church, they will not have a problem with you being married in the Church.
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    FI and I do not llive together.  It was very important to me to wait until marriage to live together.  I mean, I'm getting married in a few days, and then I'll never live alone again.  I have enjoyed my time living alone, and I'm really glad I had that experience.  I'm REALLY looking forward to living with FI, but I'm glad I did things the way I did. 

     

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    My husband and I were in a relationship/engaged for four years prior to getting married and did not live together or have sex.  Not cohabiting was important for both of us because we knew that we'd struggle to remain chaste if we lived together... so we intentionally sought out separate living situations that were more flexible and affordable (renting rooms in a house/sharing an apartment with roommates/living at parents' house) prior to getting married.  

    I think most priests still discourage cohabitation if the issue comes up during an initial meeting, but I think would appreciate any efforts/intentions to sleep separately or remain chaste prior to getting married... especially if it's a significant logistical and financial challenge to live separately!  As long as you're honest with the priest about your intentions and that you understand the benefits of living separately prior to marriage, you should be fine.
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    We will live apart until the day we are married. Even though life would be a lot easier with my move to Pittsburgh if we did, it is too important for us to stay in line with church teaching on the issue.  Our priest did ask about cohabitation and was quite pleased when we told him that we had no plans for it.  He was very stern in how you aren't really living as Catholics if you choose to live together before marriage (even if you do have separate rooms).  He also explained about the appearance to the outside world.  You claim to be Catholic but are living together.  what does that look like?  The way our society and the world are, the assumption is for sure that you must be engaged in pre-marital sex.
    On that topic, We even struggled with the fact he was staying in my apartment when he visited.  But in the interest of actually being able to see each other on a regular basis and not having to pay for hotel rooms anymore, we eventually gave in to that.

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    I've been living with my grandparents since I left my ExH.  Technically, FI and I live together, as my grandparents took him in when a bunch of family drama left him feeling uncomfortable staying at home, and he didn't have the $ to get an apartment while still saving for the wedding and for a permanent home for he and I post-wedding.  In some ways, it's a great solution, because we get used to each other's habits, but we have separate rooms and "chaperones" as it were, so it helps us live up to our resolve to abstain.  Of course, since cohab is so common nowadays, most people assume that we are living together in a more carnal sense, and if it comes up, we correct them.  Otherwise, whatever.  We haven't had any in-depth meetings with the priest or a sponsor couple yet, and the last time I met with the priest, which was to set up my lack of form annulment, it was before FI moved in.
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    princessro07princessro07 member
    First Comment First Anniversary
    edited July 2012
    We are not cohabiting prior to getting married, though part of that is that he lives about an hour from where I do.  So when he visits on weekends he stays with me (though we still abstain), but he still has his own apartment (and vice versa).

    For me though, I would have chosen to live apart even if we lived in the same city--it's never been a question of if we would live together prior to getting married.  Marriage is about bringing two separate lives together into one new life, and living situation plays a big part in that.  Nothing against other couples who decide to live together for whatever reason, it's just not something I would choose.
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    Riss91Riss91 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_cohabitation?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:dcb14382-8e35-4596-8a31-f308136634a0Post:9bd9f1e2-207b-4d25-8146-c29c4f9360d3">Re: Cohabitation.</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Cohabitation. : It looks like two people living together.  I think the world would be a far better place if people stopped spending so much time  judging other people's decisions and spent more time worrying about their own lives.
    Posted by cfaszews25[/QUOTE]

    While I agree that we shouldn't ever judge someone's soul - I think the comment about the appearance is more generic. It gives scandal to the Church and her teachings when Catholics publicly, willingly and continuously disobey them. Giving scandal is a sin.
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    The idea of scandal always confuses me.  I think a lot of times people use it as an excuse to judge people, and that's why it confuses me.  And I think sometimes people are less concerned about actual sins than they are about the "scandal" of it.  That, to me, is extremely misled. 

     

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    Riss91Riss91 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    I struggle with the scandal thing myself. I mean - why should I care what others' think of me? Isn't it only His judgment that matters? And especially in regards to cohabitation because I feel like the assumption is ALWAYS that any couple that has been together for more than 5 minutes is sleeping together.

    So it seems scandal will exist regardless of our actions. We even had close friends of ours (that we knew for 10+ years) rolling their eyes when we'd say we were abstinent. They're like "yeah, right". Even knowing the importance of our faith in our lives didn't make a difference. So - it's a tough concept, for me.
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    I probably wont say this well and others would say it better, but I'll try. (and im painting my finger nails. ;-) )

    Scandal can cause OTHERS to sin, and that's why we care about it.

    If you say you're a good Catholic and you believe what the Church teaches, then someone who sort-of-knows you sees you living with your BF, they're going to assume you're sleeping together. But why do I care what they think about me? you might ask.

    Because then they think, "oh those Catholics... a bunch of hypocrites. They're just like everyone else!"

    We are called to be signs to the world and witnesses of Christ's transforming power and love and mercy. When they see you living differently than others, they might wonder why, and their own questioning can lead them to find the Truth. If they assume that you are living in persistant sin (although they might not think of it like that,) how will that affect their view of Catholic Christians?
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    I totally see that, Lalaith, and I think you said it well :)

    At the same time, I think a lot of time people act as though causing scandal is a bigger deal than sinning directly.  Let me give some examples so you know what I'm talking about (and these are real examples, btw)

    1.  My sister got pregnant in HS.  Being pregnant out of marriage causes scandal, but obviously aborting would have been worse than causing scandal.  People in our Church community were adamant that it was wrong for our family to celebrate the baby in any way, including a baptism party.  I thought their concern of "scandal" was placed far beyond their concern for my sister or her baby.  To turn your back on someone who needs support is wrong, and "boycotting" her obviously did not "undo" the scandal. Further, that's the kind of thing that encourages teen mothers to abort, because they're worried about being treated so cruely.

    2.  I believe that a lot of priests/bishops, even Joe Pa, and many more, cover up sexual abuse because they're concerned about scandal.  For some, maybe it's more of a pride thing, but for others it might even be more genuine than that.  But covering up abuse and not protecting children from predators is a far worse thing than anyone being scandalized.
    It surely scandalizes the faithful (as well as the greater population) to hear that a priest/teacher/etc abused a child.  But it scandalizes people a heck of a lot more to be abused by a teacher/priest/etc, and it scandalizes us a lot more to hear about principals/bishops/etc coving up for abusers. 

    3.  A "friend" of mine confronted me once about not having received Communion.  I had forgotten about fasting for a daily Mass, so I couldn't receive.  She told me that it causes scandal not to receive communion, because it makes other people wonder what you could have done to have to skip communion, and that leads their minds to possibly sinful thoughts.  She said that I should have just received, in order to avoid scandal.  I was shocked that a) she admitted to judging people for not receiving, b) she blamed me/others for causing her to judge basically, and c) she advised that one should receive communion in the state of serious sin.


    In all these examples, people are sinning (objectively, as we can't judge their souls) in order to avoid causing scandal.  Doesn't it seem silly? 

     

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    Exactly. Scandal for the church doesn't have the same meaning as it does in regular social use. Scandal doesn't mean just something appalling or judgeworthy. Scandal refers to an action that causes our brethren to stumble. Not only might people think we're hypocrites if we cohabitate, but some may assume we're having sex, and then conclude that it must be okay to have premarital sex. And now that person is sinning. Scandal is not about judging. It is about being charitable to our brothers and sisters, especially those that might be less knowledgable about church teaching. for the record, there may still be some special circumstances under which the need for cohabitation supercedes concerns about scandal

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    To clarify, I was agreeing with lalaith, but I agree with you too resa. But I think in the situations you named, that's a false understanding of scandal. It doesn't cause anyone else to sin to celebrate a baby, legitimate or not, or to not receive communion. And sadly, the abuse cover up caused more scandal than just revealing the truth would have. :

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    (grr why do my posts never load properly only when i forget to save them before posting!)

    Yes, Resa, good examples like monkey said. I definitely agree with you on those.

    For the record, I am horrified/annoyed by your third one! Yell
    Would that more people didn't receive Communion to PROTECT those who aren't prepared to receive! Some people feel pressured to receive b/c they are afraid of being judged like your friend did, and therefore commit (additonal) sin by receiving! that makes me soooo sad...
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    I always thought the whole emphasis on 'scandal' is kind of ironic, being as what ACTUALLY seems to cause a 'scandal' in the present day environment is NOT living together and NOT having sex until marriage. I've had numerous conversations that have ended: *gasp* "What do mean you don't live together? You're getting married!" "You mean you don't even have sex? Yeah, right!"
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    I find the priest that says "we don't care much about cohabitation anymore" scandalous, not refreshing.

    Morality doesn't change, so implying that there are "new" rules is furthering the heresy of relativism.  There are very serious concerns about living together before marriage, beyond sexual activity. Beyond scandal, and beyond temptation and near occasion of sin. and what I just mentioned by themselves are good enough reasons to stand alone. 

    I don't think there is any reason good enough to put so much risk into the success of a marriage. If one tries hard enough, they can find alternatives to almost every obstacle to living apart before marriage. 
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    True, Agape, there are lots of negatives to cohabiting before marriage, but there are also lots of good reasons to live with someone you're going to marry before you get married and it's hard to ignore that, especially now.

    Hell, when H got laid off right before our wedding, I actually suggested that we go ahead and get married just so I could add him to my insurance.

    I think a church official saying they "don't care" about cohabiting is not a GOOD thing, but it's refreshing to hear that a couple won't be turned away simply because they live together.
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_cohabitation?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:dcb14382-8e35-4596-8a31-f308136634a0Post:1343c7f6-a18f-46e9-b061-1835e83f2216">Re: Cohabitation.</a>:
    [QUOTE]True, Agape, there are lots of negatives to cohabiting before marriage, but there are also lots of good reasons to live with someone you're going to marry before you get married and it's hard to ignore that, especially now. 
    Posted by professorscience[/QUOTE]

    <div>I disagree. </div>
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    agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited July 2012
    Anecdotal stories of "happy couples" really don't prove anything. How many put all of their negative life out there for everyone to see? 

    -The occasion of sin would be a huge one. Not worth the risk.
    - introduction of intimacy that belongs only in marriage
    -loss of mystery of the person
    -No grace from the sacrament to make the combined living together be fruitful
    --The mentality of commitment and problem solving. 
    -Entering marriage "freely" is severly compromised. 
    -Conflicts are grossly under or overestimated of their value
    --2 of the 5 major stresses in life are moving and loss of a relationship (the other 3 are death of loved one, parent's divorce, and job change). When having to discern to continue one, the other is automatically a factor, and it shouldn't be when in formation for a sacrament. 
    --Clear thinking and discernment from a more objective stance is compromised. 
    --Emotional and financial investment in the mutual home is a somewhat permanent commitment that can give a devastating loss if broken. Owning a couch/dog/house together acts as glue, first, due to financial weight, but the emotional bond is artificially created. 




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    I'm not trying to argue with you, Agape, but I am curious for you to explain a few of these subpoints?

    Like, what do you mean "mystery of person?"  Even though we don't live together, I feel like after 9 1/2 years with my FI, there are no mysteries with each other, except sexually, I suppose.  Can you explain that further?

    Also, how does it compromise entering marriage freely?

    I kind of feel like some of what you're talking about is already a danger if you're simply in a relationship with a person for a long time, which is not a sin, you know?

    Again, not trying to argue, just wondering.


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    agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited July 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_cohabitation?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:dcb14382-8e35-4596-8a31-f308136634a0Post:3e9e8f2e-d494-4edf-b384-c97ba2febbf6">Re: Cohabitation.</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'm not trying to argue with you, Agape, but I am curious for you to explain a few of these subpoints? Like, what do you mean "mystery of person?"  Even though we don't live together, I feel like after 9 1/2 years with my FI, there are no mysteries with each other, except sexually, I suppose.  Can you explain that further? Also, how does it compromise entering marriage freely? I kind of feel like some of what you're talking about is already a danger if you're simply in a relationship with a person for a long time, which is not a sin, you know? Again, not trying to argue, just wondering.
    Posted by monkeysip[/QUOTE]

    <div>Mystery of the person is talking about about the ontology, theology,  and discovery.  In song of songs, the 2 are lovers, in a holy way, yet there is still mystery. A woman is master of her own "mystery".  Even though a couple may be married for 50 years, they can still maintain "mystery" in their own person, this is a good thing, which is motivation to continue to give of oneself to the other as they actively receive each other. </div><div>
    </div><div>This can remain though, with the ontological union that happens at marriage. Without that union, discovery of the mundane part of a person is more "fact". There isn't a gradual reveal, instead, its just "display" and it comes too early. There is not a binding commitment yet, so the safety isn't there. </div><div>
    </div><div>The freedom to enter marriage is essential. This overlaps with a few of the others I listed. If you can't say no, what does it mean to say yes? How free are you if you already have a financial investment? How free are you if you've built a home together for a year, where its a refuge from stress and place of safety, to have to give that up in addition to ending a relationship, in addition to all the other major upheavels of breaking of an engagement? A person's home base, while they may barely be there, is where most survival needs are met (food, water, shelter). It's an intrinsic instinct to protect that. When that is threatened as it is known and experienced (someone's gotta move, the other income leaves, etc) is a major impediment to freedom to the commitment. </div><div>
    </div><div>I talked about this awhile ago here, and someone responded that its not that big of a deal. The very next week there was a girl on another board who had some major red flags come up with her fiance, but she shared how difficult it would be to have to move out, etc.  I've seen this issue become one the most predominant issues in engagements with the couples I meet with . </div>
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