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Does Living Together Help or Hurt?

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
April 16, 2021 6:00 am

Does Living Together Help or Hurt?

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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April 16, 2021 6:00 am

Pastor David Gudgel explains how parents can influence their teen and young adult children to avoid the risks of cohabitation and instead choose God's design for marriage in a discussion based on his book "Before You Live Together: Will Living Together Bring You Closer or Drive You Apart?"

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Tired and I was ready to walk away from our marriage.

Abby's husband serves in the military, which means a lot of family moves in a huge strain on their relationship with through our podcast. Abby found hope for marriage. I don't believe that we would be where we are today without focus on Jim Daly. Working together we can bring hope to more marriages like Abby's gift today family and then I said no. So tell me little bit about your practices right now are you living together and they said yes I said how does your current situation not just thinking of the woman at this point for your spiritual beliefs with regard to living together before marriage is this congruent with your spiritual beliefs and she started crying. Pastor Dave cudgel is our guest today on Focus on the Family helping you and your family navigate the topic of cohabitation in your hostess books presidents Dr. Jim Daly and I John four John, I don't think I'll surprise anyone with this step, but it's more common today for young adults, a 20 something thirtysomething to be living with a boyfriend or girlfriend rather than being married mean if you think of that. That's a stunning statement and I know because we hear from you here Focus on the Family many of you are dealing with that issue with your young adult children.

Or maybe you're that person and we definitely want talk to you today about what God's expectations are what the healthiest thing for you is so often John, here's the thing.

God's boundaries on we will call rules, but his boundaries for us are meant for our good. And somehow we've got to do. Obviously a better job communicating that to our own children so that they can embrace those boundaries.

Knowing that this is the best way to go yet he designed marriage for very specific reason. And when when we short-circuit that path.

There can be problems. We have Dr. Dave cudgel with this as I said, he's got over three decades of pastoral counseling experience and has talked to a lot of young couples over the course of his time in the pulpit. He's a husband and dad of three children I got 11 grandchildren and his lead pastor at Bridges Community Church in the Bay Area of California is book is called before you lived together and we do have copies of that here at Focus on the Family.

Look for the link in the episode notes Dave, welcome to Focus on the Family, thank you is privilege to be here. You know, one of the main reasons couples live together before getting married is because they're not sure this is right and so we just wanted Mrs. the excuse that they'll give Israel want to make sure that were in love and then we can play house together and those kinds of things in this Christian young people to statistics aren't that different. You came from that place of uncertainty when you were courting your wife. That's kinda common right uncertainties part of the blessing of marriage. You're not can be absolutely sure that this is perfect.

Yeah, not sure at all. I mean for me. I thought that Bernice was the one that I ultimately wanted to marry but I needed some help and I went to a friend and mentor and he gave me some good information.

Essentially, it was you need to marry her. Yeah, and it was nice. He got to the point, you know, but it's really it is a key question because I think that's often times the response of the parent is going to hear from their twentysomething child that you know mom, dad, I just don't know. And I thought you know Bob and me doing this would be really smart way to go so we know that were made for each other. Wire couples today so afraid of making a mistake rather than doing it God's way and that you know just trusting that the Lord he's given you the green light if you had a good mentor say hey she's the one in your praying about it and you're listening to the Lord jump then yeah you know that what you just said Jim is so true. I mean, a lot of it is connected to what their thinking compatibility and we need to figure out if are compatible or not, you don't buy a car without backing it out right. So we need to take this thing for a drive and they begin the relationship. Often times that way in terms of living together. So to the fear issue, though I mention it seems like we inject a lot of fear into our Christian children about dues and don'ts, and if you do that you know you're going to get this and I me I think generally they can be a very fearful group of people rather than a positive group of people that are fearless yeah II think part of the fear is what they see in our world and what they see in other relationships kids that they are friends with other students. Whoever and their parents got divorced or they been around the home and see him yell hunted each other or whatever in the home was just a terrible place to be and they don't want to go down that road so you know, one of the things they think they can do that is to prevent that from happening is by living together and checking each other out as really it's unhealthy and will get all the data soon, but that is one of five reasons that in your book before you lived together you talk about one of the other four reasons that people will give as to why we need to test drive yeah absolutely why I think of the compatibility is one I think of them actually sees okay see you got compatibility. I you got the cash you know finances is just a lot cheaper for us to live together. Instead I like the limits yeah instead of building into different homes. We are running rather live with each other, you heading and then there's the companionship factor. You know God made us to share a relationship that's two are better than one, and you can justify anything and put yourself into living together relationship just out of loneliness, and of course culture today says it's okay, you know that's normative now. Used to be wrong to live together. Now you're like wrong if you don't live together and so cultures gone that way and then also I think of the bluff over and live. So why not write well and in fact one of the common things will be. What does a piece of paper do to make our love for each other in a different speak to that. I mean, there is the government recognition of a union between a man and a woman, but there's much more to it spiritually and that's what we as Christians need to zero in on yeah and I think there are a couple ways we can look at that the wind is just from the biblical perspective.

When was a person married and I always go back to John chapter 4 where Jesus met the woman at the well your number and they had that amazing conversation about water and how he could give her something that she didn't have and she needed it and he really surface that need when he said you had five husbands, but the one you're with now is not your husband so that she would evidently was in some kind of a living together arrangement with another man.

1/6 man in this case, and he didn't recognize it as marriage, so even right there. You've got what you're just talking about is that there's something more than just living together that constitutes marriage a course in that world. There was the commitment for the plaids you know the signing of the contract, so to speak.

The additional cabinet. It seems to me that God's heart is about covenant marriage. You know, we don't talk a lot about that in the Christian community but is not contract now is this that's what the state gives you is a contract but what God is talking about is a commitment, a covenant marriage for life until death do us part. That's what the Lord's heart is for us correct absolutely, and I heard that when we went through our premarital counseling.

I was as clear as it possibly could be.

When the pastor that was counseling us stuck his finger in into the air and he said no data got understand this commitment. This covenant commitment that you're making to each other.

You're getting married on January 10, 1976 are based on math on that and so that's the day were you're making this covenant commitment before others and before God and you're going to have in the course of your marriage you're going to have this line of commitment that you're making to each other. They can be times were you going to be really excited about your relationship and things are going to be so easy and other times below the line and you think this is crazy, but you gotta come back to commitment and that's what keeps you in the game. Contracts don't keep you in the game because you can break a contract if you can find a way to loophole, but in this commitment. You don't want that loophole, you gotta fight through it so you can have the marriage that God wants you to have on the other end at Dave let me take a minute here. I want to talk directly to parents who have children living with a boyfriend or girlfriend. One mom wrote to assert focus and asked one of the most common questions for parents in this situation and I want to read this comment from her.

She said we received a call from my son last week and he was informing us that he and his girlfriend have decided to move in together now again this the Focus on the Family consensual in the lesser Christian home. I'm assuming this is pretty common. She went on to say he is very open to hearing our heart on issues we told our son that we don't agree with him living together and that we feel what's against what God wants for them.

He said he understood but that it wasn't going to change their minds and then the question how can we still love them and support them and have a relationship with them without condoning them living together. So everybody's lien and then now that is in the situation.

How do you answer that will first I want to say please know you're not alone in this. This is become commonplace in the churches become commonplace in practicing born-again Christians.

So you're right there in fact the church that I met now when I started there 10 years ago. The first five premarital counseling's that I did with couples that four of them were already living together for out of the five for out of church yes but I mean in terms of your part in helping them to me.

The main thing is is that you want to continue the relationship do not sever the relationship. Whatever you do, you sever the relationship you don't have a chance to continue to influence, but that really does beg the question, how do you do that how do you engage your adult child to say boy this is really not what I expected.

It's I know displeasing to God's heart, but I love you and what were to go from there well and I think that's what you gotta say, I think you gotta be honest you have to be clear yet to speak the truth in love, and so all of that the child needs to hear where you are.

Your convictions are where you believe the Lord wants them to be so's don't hold back on that.

But then at the same time I don't think you want to foster the their living together.

So don't start you know enabling that in any way you did.

I believe that some friends who are in the situation and make just taken it upon themselves to not only love their child but also to love the boyfriend and to say there is a ministry opportunity because he doesn't know Jesus and housing in a know Jesus. If we don't show him love. In other words, if we just show condemnation because you know Scripture says this is wrong, then how is he ever going to understand grace and love of Jesus, so I totally agree with that.

And I've seen parents impact their children because they work through it.

They continue to pray with them over it. They didn't compromise their beliefs and and what they did in terms of how they helped her didn't help their kids as they were getting ready for marriage. But they stuck through it with them. It's a real opportunity for grace in ministry. So Dave Gotshal is our guest today on Focus on the Family and we have his book before you live together. Call us for a copy or check the episode notes for a link, Dave. There was a couple that came to you for premarital counseling and they were planning on living together, but you're able to talk them out of it again. Parents or say what did you say Dave, how did it work and it's gonna be different but for this couple. You're able to convince them not to what happened. Yeah, it just depends upon what happens in the sessions, but of course I'm always looking for opportunities to speak truth in the situation, and I often begin with a couple that I don't know all in some ways you could even relate this to parents with their children. I know they obviously know them but I began with, you know, tell me a little bit about your spiritual beliefs.

I got a get a sense of where they are spiritually and that's always fascinating. This particular couple the woman said man I love God and he's been very much a part of my upbringing, my family and so he's very important to me and then the guy said well I'm I don't really have any relationship with God. And so I'm not really there. I so will you know what place the second question would you like God to have any relationship, if he's gonna have any place in your marriage, what would be and she said yeah-I just really up on that. He said well I'm open to it, you know, that sort of thing and then I said, you know. So tell me little bit about your practices right now are you living together and they said yes and well, I said to how does your current situation and not just thinking of the woman at this point. Fit your spiritual beliefs with regard to living together before marriage is this congruent with your spiritual beliefs and she started crying.

I mean, you know she was really really cry. I am fact, I had to get up walk over get the Kleenex box and bring it over as if she was convicted. Yes, and I think that's why these questions are so important are questions like that because sometimes you know nobody's asked him the questions and that was the beginning of a breakthrough. David, it's hard. I can see that conversation have happening successfully with a pastor who are coming to you for input in their looking for wisdom are probably anticipating you're going to go there direction but apparent may not be able to have that conversation, which can be awkward or sucking to be received by the way, it will be by know a stranger if I could say it that way. So how does a parent go about challenging their daughter in this case, and it's asking the same questions would just encourage a parent to come to stick with that same outline yeah I it to some degree were seen the value of questions over telling right. Let's ask God lunch over telling down. This is not the time to lecture so but I think that you can say honey. You've walked with the Lord all these years, what place do you want them to have in your marriage and hopefully that will calm its vendor like to get married you. I really like the woman at the well, but as a is very much with us was say and we know that 95% of young adults want to get married so we are okay with. So we already anticipate that she's going to say or he's going to say yeah I want to get married, what place you want God had relationship will have a house I can work out, you know the Bible says in Hosea 1012 and on not saying you gotta use this verse.

So righteousness, and you will reap the fruit of unfailing love is a huge statement there because couples one of their fears is the the love won't work out the relationship won't work in there end up getting a divorce like her, but he also they see so I always look at that and I think to myself, okay, we want to help them reach unfailing love in their marriage and their commitment and that sort of thing in Hosea 1012 says that's the result of sowing righteousness, a honey if you compromise your faith right now that's a set up toward ultimately losing it. Dave, I think this is a good place to ask about some of the data I referenced at a moment ago, but what happens generally know there's always outliers. We get that. But in the data.

When you look at couples that live together, not married, what is the typical future. What are some of the greater pitfalls that they face etc. let me just make it as clear as I can's first then we'll see if we get the money you know part of this company, but the other eight couples that live together before marriage K, four of them are going to split up the never marry for a luminary of the four that Mary three will divorce and one will live on from there is a 75% divorce rate absolutely in that group.

If you live together before marriage.

That's frightening is frightening. So if those are eight couples that live together before marriage. It's not a good potential future. There's also other risks.

I mean it's a more dangerous environment. Typically, for the woman etc. correct and especially if that woman is bringing children into the relationship, absolutely potential for conflict in the relationship. I mean there could be aggression and abuse. All of that can be a part of the abandonment so yeah adultery often comes because of you know how the arrangement got going in the sort of the conditions based relationship that they have.

So if you perform long enough and well enough, then will get married or will stay married. So something has to change back to what we talked about the beginning some kind of covenant unconditional commitment lot right that it is different. That's the point.

It is different when you are committed versus having an exit door to just make sure behavior different and you see that in the data in the surveys you refer to these as the three elements.

Statistics is the first soul wounds is the second. What are the soul wounds. Yeah. So when you do go down the performance-based relationship Road that if only or if then it can hurt you when it doesn't work. You know I'm not loved because I don't perform well enough or whatever it is now.

Proverbs 423 says guard your heart because it's the wellspring of life and one of the places that this really can hurt a person's heart is emotionally an emotional connection. I did a two hour: program out of this area where the third caller said list.

Let me tell you my story. We lived together for two years and then we got married and then shortly after we got married we found Christ as our personal savior and she said an hour and intimacy therapy, counseling.

I said wow she sits ice tell me little bit more about that she said were in intimacy counseling because we don't have emotional intimacy in our relationship and this one of the greatest challenges I think they potentially can happen is as the couple has not built an emotional connection. It is absolutely crucial to happy relationship doubt that some study some years ago and found that the number one factor of happiness in marriage is friendship. It's an emotional connection is that filial love yeah and it's so critical and it's you know it doesn't shock me that data science is backing with the Bible talking about, you know that we are built for commitment, relationship, etc. that Dave let's address the spiritual ramifications that last of the three you met a woman named Nicole who lived with her husband before they got married and you say her experiences a pretty common among Christians who cohabitate what took place there.

Yes, so we did not have a long talk about this.

I got to hear a little bit about the story and I think she shared the story with you all, but it has not turned out well and and I'm not surprised because like I said when the relationship often times is built on the physical. The emotional is stunted and the spiritual is almost like nonexistent, and that's what took place in this relationship and as you mentioned Dave and Nicole did share her story with us and we have a clip of her describing her thought process before she started living together with the man who would eventually become her husband and I when she and dismember dating. Here's what Nicole said she was thinking about about them living together relationship at that point by point of God like not to think of it wrong or I knew it was wrong and I felt deeply convicted even tormented some kind of topic it out if anything went wrong and have that stinking thinking and without it been a red flag and now that I felt really can make it in you getting excited obviously rare angle you tell thinking about moving in together very think if Eric feeling me about not really getting share we can move forward. I get shut down and I get it because I really want to and unfortunately I completely get an about-face from God. Now Dave you hear that her clip.

Even the equally yoked. She says it in such a way of shame absolutely had thought that through, why do so many young Christians ignore that conviction of the spirit.

Yeah, I don't know what happens there, other than I think Satan does a good work. You know he's a liar and the deceiver in the destroyer and he will cause people to think that they could be the exception to the rule, so you know the Scripture says so righteousness so it that means is something that you have to do repeatedly over and over and continue to make really good choices.

Here's the problem. When the couples living together before marriage often times is going pretty good I mean in the immediate it's look really looking really good. But you know are talking about the law of the harvest, which is a law of sowing and reaping.

You don't see the results of that for a while, you do not get to see it in the same season so often.

Right now everything will look good and this is another way I try to help parents help their children. You know, honey, this isn't the law Pinocchio's law Pinocchio. What if you do some wrong will show up on your face right now with this is the law of the harvest and that is the result of God's work in you and what you want to do is you want to. So righteousness what's righteousness, it's knowing what's right doing what's right, no matter what and if you know what's right and you walk down that road. That's where you're going to see God's greatest work in you and I think of you often and of wedding I'll say hey listen, if you had these qualities in your marriage.

Would you be happy, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and of course there like a plotting yes of course it's the man I'm looking for at me I'm looking for but that is the result of sowing righteousness is of walking in the spirit and that's what we want to help our kids do. That's we want to help couples see if they were coming right in for the landing on this and I know people are saying I wish you would ask this question. Somebody just take a stab at it, you know, one of the things that you mentioned was being kind of stuck it sound like even the data stuck in a bad marriage and I made this mistake. I lived with them.

Maybe there the three and four that are on the road and not making it, and how do we as Christians together as a community improve that statistic.

How do we try to save more than 25% of those marriages that started in a bad place and have you had those couples come back to you for help to say were in trouble. I feel like I'm stuck because we were on equally yoked. We had lived together. We didn't set this up properly.

But what I do dried divorce and now or do I stick with it yet.

I would encourage them to stick with it and continue to work on that relationship. But of course work on your relationship with God and the relationship that you share with God as a couple sold. I think about a triangle. Okay, just a simple triangle three layers.

The bottom the foundational era spiritual. The middle is emotional and the top is the physical so often times what happens is the spiritual and emotional neglect neglected. You gotta work on the spiritual commitment that you share the love a sacrifice of copies right there and then you gotta work on that emotional connection.

The number one reason women in America get a divorce is a lack of emotional intimacy, a lack of an emotional connection so work on your emotional connection from most men are going to say that again what is right, but you gotta work on and will save that for another is definitely Dave. This is so good that thank you for your willingness to dive into this tough topic.

We don't cover this very often. But we do hear from a lot of parents are struggling with their young adult children who are living together, let me turn to the listener. If you feel powerless in this area. As a parent and maybe you're even worried you're going to lose your relationship with your child over the issue of cohabiting get a copy of Dave's book before you lived together. It's the biblical advice you need to tackle this in a loving and truthful way. If you can give a gift of any amount to focus.

I'll send this to you as our way of saying thank you or if you can afford it. Call us anyway. I trust others will cover that cost into those of you who are able to give to our ministry. I want to say thank you you are the reason were able to continue standing for biblical values in a society where truth is more and more popular.

Your gift is bringing real hope to parents needing help couples considering divorce, and families who are struggling. So thank you for being on the team and keeping our ministry going strong. We can join the support team and get a copy of Dave's book when you call 800 a family or stop by the episode notes and the link will be right there for you Dave, thank you again for being with us. All my privilege. Thank you. Will be sure to have a great weekend with your family and your church family as well and then join us on Monday. Dr. Gary Chapman and Arlene fell again be sharing some inspiration for how you can stay off your phone and spend more time your children will have the same amount of time every day. This is how we don't invest and I like to parents think in terms of what is the time to market a single screen. What is teaching one of the come away with. And how is it impacting them because it is impacting on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team.

Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back once more help you and your family thrive in Christ you've read accounts in the Bible how Christ so many people, but we really know very little about the lives of those early followers of Jesus chose and I've called you by name imagines what life was like for those who followed Christ based on the widely acclaimed TV series. The chosen this Focus on the Family book by best-selling author Jerry Jenkins rings color and depth to the people surrounding Christ. You can find out

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