Cohabitation, Commitment, and Intimacy


There are many people today living together without being married. A good question might be: “What’s wrong with that?” Without addressing the moral and biblical angle of the issue, let me talk about intimacy and why married (committed) couples can enjoy much greater intimacy than those unwilling to commit.

First of all, the primary reason people live together without being married is that one or both parties are unwilling to commit on a higher level. The cohabiting relationship allows them to check the other person out on a trial basis before deciding if they measure up. In other words, it’s all about how good the other person is at making them happy and meeting their needs.

It also needs to be stated that people who live together have many more problems (abuse, infidelity, etc.) than married people and if they ever marry, they have a significantly higher chance of divorce. The reason is that their relationship is inherently self-centered and tentative.

Intimacy is the prize of marriage. Intimacy means “inner closeness.” It means we are close on the inside and it manifests itself through deep friendship, great sex and the unhindered exchange of thoughts, dreams and ideas. It is the promised land of marriage. But how do we get it?

Intimacy always begins with real commitment. We just won’t open our hearts to someone we fear might desert or forsake us. If we do, we end up being devastated. That is why marriage and commitment in marriage is so vital to intimacy. When we say, “Til death do us part” in our marriage vows it is very meaningful. It means, “I’m here to stay.” That creates trust which leads to intimacy. Without that level of commitment, intimacy is elusive.

Even married people can communicate a lack of commitment. Threatening divorce when you have problems or refusing to face issues and work through them throws cold water on trust and intimacy. By the way, here is what God says to us in Hebrews 13:5: Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God is committed to us on the highest level. As it relates to breaking His relationship with us He uses the word “never.” Also, God says He will never leave or forsake us. That means He will never physically leave us and will never turn His heart away from us. Both are very important because you can forsake a person you are physically committed to staying with. It’s the old “lights are on but no one is home” scenario. Intimacy begins and ends with a genuine commitment to keep my body and soul connected and directed to the object of my affection.

So, back to my question about those who are living together without being married. What’s wrong with it? It sentences a couple to a performance based relationship that most of the time ends in broken hearts and broken dreams. Marriage is better. It is a commitment based relationship that delivers true intimacy and satisfaction as long as our commitment remains solid.

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