Secret life is like the king of all teenage dramas. It is a show completely centered on teenage relationships, dating, pregnancy, etc. Sometimes the characters make some really stupid, life destroying choices (like when Adrian and Ben decided to have sex last season), but sometimes they make some good, solid ones. I want to focus on one decision that Adrian made on last night’s episode that showed tremendous maturity. As Ben is pressuring Adrian to agree that living together would be the best thing for their relationship and for their daughter, Adrian quickly shuts Ben down, saying very clearly that they won’t be living together unless they’re married. Here’s the quote from last night’s episode…
“I really appreciate that you’ve so stepped up to the plate here, Ben, you’ve just been so responsible and kind and considerate, and everything else, but…look I’m not living with you, I’m definitely not living with you unless we’re married.”
In making this decision, Adrian decides that there is something special about living with someone that should be saved for marriage. I think that a lot of people today would probably think that Adrian is crazy. Adrian and Ben have already had sex, they are having a daughter, they love each other and will probably end up getting married…why shouldn’t they live together? If really love each other, wouldn’t living together only strengthen their love? At the very least, wouldn’t it be good for Adrian and Ben to try living together so they can see whether or not they’d enjoy a lifelong marriage together?
People today, like Ben, who justify couples living together before marriage usually cite one of the above reasons. However, for me the major problem with living together before marriage is that it spits on the integrity of marriage. In marriage two people publicly declare their love to one another, giving their entire lives to each other. This culminates in the physical unity of sex. The complete gift of self in the sexual act is meant to seal the marital vows, as well as produce new life which further unites the couple as they have to come together to raise the child. Many couples who decide to “shack up” do so in order that they may more readily show their love for each other physically, not seeing the true purpose for sex within the context of the marriage vows.
However, this isn’t really the case for Ben and Adrian. If they were to move in together, they probably wouldn’t be having sex, as Adrian is already pregnant. Actually the main reason why Ben wants to live with Adrian is so that the two could raise their child together. Despite these seemingly favorable circumstances, Adrian still thinks it would be wrong for them to live together before marriage. When a man and woman decide to shack up before marriage they are unable to see the beauty of the sacrificial nature of marriage. Through marriage a man and a woman vow to sacrifice everything for each other. Sharing of everything, including a home, food, etc. naturally follow from the self sacrifice found within marriage. The fact that shared living is found within marriage is also significant because the sacrifice forms a perpetual bond. When two people shack up before marriage this sacrificial commitment is not present in the same way. For example, if Ben and Adrian did start living together either one would be free to move out at any time since they have not vowed their lives to one another. On the other hand, two married people living together have vowed to work out their differences “in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer till death do us part.” The self sacrifice within the marital commitment is so strong that it can only be broken by death.
There is also one very strong practical reason, besides all this theology, for not shacking up…it doesn’t work. Statistics show that “Most couples who live together never end up getting married, but those who do tie the knot have a divorce rate nearly 80 percent higher than those who waited until after the wedding to move in together. Couples who cohabited prior to marriage also have greater marital conflict and poorer communication, and they made more frequent visits to marriage counselors. Women who cohabited before marriage are more than three times as likely to cheat on their husbands within marriage. The U.S. Justice Department found that women who cohabit are sixty-two times more likely to be assaulted by a live-in boyfriend than by a husband. They were also more than three times as likely to be depressed as married women, and the couples were less sexually satisfied than those who waited for marriage.” It seems the surest way to a healthy, long lasting marriage is to leave sex, as well as living together, for the context of marriage where they belong.
“There is no place for selfishness-and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice"
- Pope John Paul II
Statistics taken from: http://chastity.com/chastity-qa/dating/shacking-up/should-i-move-with-my-boyfrie