My best friend moved in with her boyfriend who she said she was in love with, but decided it was important to “get to know him better” before marrying him. I asked her how she thought living with him would help her understand what it would be like being married to him. “It’s the same thing,” she answered. It is? I asked her. How’s that? She said she did not know how it would differ once they were married. Well, I said, if living together and getting married are the same, then why isn’t everyone just getting married? She stopped to consider it for a minute and shrugged. She did not have an answer.
When my husband and I were engaged, we took pre-marital classes at our church prior to the wedding. Our pastor said it was important to discuss some of the bigger areas of life such as finances and children before entering a lifetime commitment. The topic was raised of the difference between dating and marriage. “People think it’s the same, living together and marriage. It’s far from it,” our Pastor said. “Living together is trying something out and you can quit at any time. Marriage is a commitment, an “I’m here no matter what” approach. The difference is huge. Even other people, family and friends, will approach you in a different way. I had never thought about that. How would they treat us differently? “They will,” he said. “It is one thing for a son or daughter to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. To have a husband or wife brings someone into the family for good. That is different than the family knowing the person could leave at any time.”
And..” he paused for a moment… “I think you’ll find it’s a wonderful thing.” We were already on the path to marriage so we agreed, but I asked him why he thought there were so many differing views. He laughed. “Marriage brings a respect with it, a dedication that you cannot experience in a relationship until you commit. Couples think living together is the same. Its not even close. Living together is temporary, it breaks down the very idea of marriage. Neither person is going to commit as long as they are watching for things they aren’t sure about and know they can run the other way. This “try me on for size” often leads away from marriage, and that’s unfortunate. When you go from two people to one, its an amazing transition. The unity of closing the door to run to say we’ll face life together leads, well, toward a lifetime of friendship. Good friendships are formed from going through the good and bad times together.” He laughed again. “People have come to look at marriage like a problem. Marriage really wasn’t meant to be a punishment, it’s a solution!”
My friend married her live-in boyfriend that she was in-love with. I asked her later if it was the same as living with him. “No way!” she exclaimed. “Its SO different!” Why? I asked. “Its hard to explain, but I think its about knowing you we’re going to be there for each other no matter what. Its that commitment to go through good and bad together. Its like knowing you’ll always have, well, a lifetime with your best friend! Even though I thought that before, it changed when we took our vows. “And”…she smiled…. “I love it!”
For more about being a friend with your spouse, visit: http://www.proverbs31.org/devotions/your-spouse-your-best-friend-2012-07/.