In ‘Living Together’ Before Marriage a Statistical Risk, it is rightfully argued that doing so is significantly more likely to not lead to a strong and lasting marriage.
While that is statistically correct (and I am opening my heart and life to the web here, not the most comfortable thing), it isn’t 100% correct. My wife and I cohabited before marriage. While I would agree that part of it may have well been selfishness, I would also argue that we had a different view of what we were doing. In the article (and I suspect also in the book), it states:
Women see it as a step toward marriage. They think they can audition for this job. Men do it because they like to have the ready availability of sex and having someone share their living expenses. Women should heed their mother’s advice — if you give away the milk, he won’t buy the cow.
While there may be many women and men who be classified as those above, my wife and I weren’t it. I think, that if we had thought it through a little better, we would have just gotten married, but without the marriage ceremony (and the chaos that ended up around that almost happened is crazy enough). When my wife and I moved in together, there were no separate lives. We had a joint checking account the moment she moved in. Everything was joined…as if we were married. I don’t know if my wife and I are different (okay, yes, we are), but marriage conservative Christians need to understand that statistics don’t tell the whole tale.
My wife and I did get marriage counseling prior to marriage, and I still have to admit that it was very beneficial, even though we were already living together. I know that I will have to confront my decisions when my children grow older, and be honest about them. However, it is understanding what a true marriage is, its benefits, the consequences of not having it, and (most importantly) being able to explain it, not just as statistical facts, but as a heart issue with Jesus.
Sometime, I will have to explain why/when we got married, but suffice to say (for now) that God moves in mysterious ways.