Struggles with Cohabitation

Unfortunately, cohabitation has been on the rise in our culture for quite some time. Many couples are cohabiting, rather than making the commitment to marriage. This isn’t just a sinful practice; it is a bad idea for many reasons, including the fact that marriages preceded by cohabitation are far more likely to end in divorce. The Church desires people to have happy, lasting, fruitful, strong marriages, which is why she discourages couples from cohabitating. Cohabitation can have a profoundly damaging impact on relationships.

Why is cohabitation sinful?

Cohabitation generally refers to a man and a woman living together as husband and wife (having sexual relations) without being married. Sexual intercourse by its design, however, is meant for a married man and woman, who have committed themselves to one another in a sacramental matrimonial bond before and with God. Sex outside of marriage cannot fulfill what God intended or what a couple truly desires in the deep recesses of their hearts—happiness and total commitment to one another.

Even if you intend to marry the person with whom you are cohabitating, Catholic Church teaching—and often just plain experience—makes it clear that true love is incompatible with “trial” marriages. Statistics also show that couples who cohabitate have marriages that are more likely to end in divorce and have overall poorer quality relationships than those couples who do not cohabitate.

The Church is like a loving parent, who cares about the decisions of her children and wants what is best for them. For this reason, the Church tries to steer all couples away from cohabitation, because of the damage it can do to families. Please take time to read the articles below to learn more about the Church’s teaching on cohabitation, as well as social science trends and information about couples who cohabitate.

The good news is that if you are cohabiting, you can change the situation you are in. It is never too late to make changes in your relationship that can have a positive impact on both of you as a couple for years to come.

Further reading/listening