Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Living Together Before Marriage?

Question:

My boyfriend and I are having some conflict over the issue of moving in together before marriage. I don't want to until we're married. He says that he wouldn't feel comfortable committing to someone he hasn't lived with first. It still doesn't seem right to me, but what can I say to him? He seems to have a valid point.

Answer:

Tell your boyfriend that you do not feel comfortable committing to someone who is prepared to live with someone without committing.

An enduring marriage is based on commitment first, which brings comfortability--not the other way around. If the comfortability brings the commitment, it is not a real commitment. What will happen if your shared life hits an area of discomfort? Actually, it's not a question of "if," but of "when": there is not a single married couple that doesn't encounter some uncomfortable moments in their life together. Do you jump ship? Or do you work on it because you made a commitment to each other, and to G‑d, that you're going too make this relationship work?

In this, marriage is very much like Judaism itself: our Sages tell us that when G‑d asked the Jewish people if they would accept the Torah, the people of Israel responded, Naaseh v'nishmah, "We will do and we will comprehend." We pledged ourselves to both of two critical elements of a meaningful relationship: the commitment to do whatever it takes to maintain the relationship, and the creation of the comfort zone that comes through knowledge and appreciation of the other. But we understood that for the relationship to have a good chance of enduring, the "do" element must come first.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to say: Being too close when you're supposed to be apart, causes you to be apart when you're supposed to be close.

Rabbi Green

2 comments:

s michlin, w bloomfield, mi said...

I agree and I would like to take this a bit further. Pressure to do something you don't want to do from someone who "loves" you is questionable, at best. When a guy tells a girl "You would x if you loved me." The answer is "If you loved me you would not put pressure like this on me."
I think he is trying to have a cake and eat it too.
In addition to emotional factors also financially marrying is the creation of a partnership. Singles living together can split the rent, but what is fair? Half? One of you probably earns less than the other., Should you go proportional? Furniture? Is that chair hers or his? Who chooses? Who pays? Create and commit to the team, and then you each will look at each subsequent decision for the team, not just one of you. In addition,marriage gives each of you marital benifits at work, and legally that just can't be matched by civil union.
These are tangible rewards for making a comitment when one is called for. Don't play house make one!

horace friedman said...

Amen!! Really great answer!
I was just wondering, when you said "The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to say..." , which of the Rebbes are you refering to?