Why Living Together & Sleeping Together Are Not Prerequisites For Marriage

Sex is for marriage.

This statement is contrary to a lot of our culture.

This statement is even frowned upon.

Prude. Square. Boring.

I would substitute those words with something else.

Healthy.  Freeing.  Life-Giving.

I understand this blog post isn’t going to be a popular one.

In my teen years, this view was a joke. No one thought I would really “save myself” for marriage.

In my early 20’s, this view was shocking.  No one could believe I really was trying to “save myself” for marriage.

In my late 20’s, still not married, this view began to be respected. I was surprised when people (people who don’t or didn’t share this view) began to respect and appreciate why I chose not to have sex with someone I wasn’t married to.

One of those people was a dear friend who lived out and expressed the opposite values over our decade-plus of friendship.  On my wedding day, she went to the microphone with a tear in her eye and heartfelt appreciation for “what a beautiful thing we had done.”  Only after multiple kids together, multiple homes together and many years in a relationship before getting married, did she find an appreciation for my decision to honour sex in marriage.  I’ll never forget that.

If you’ve had sex before being married, this isn’t to make you feel bad about that.  If you’re living with someone and are comfortable with that choice, this isn’t to change your mind or make you feel like you’re wrong. Or if you’re not even sure you believe in the commitment of marriage, that’s a different conversation.

I completely understand not everyone shares this value of sex, and I don’t impose this value on others.

I am honoured to share some thoughts that have added so much health and richness to my life.

If you’re someone who has decided you want to honour sex within marriage by not living with and sleeping with your partner until you’ve made that commitment, this is for you. I want you to know it is possible, it can be done, and it’s worth it.

I’m so very very sure not having sex with everyone I dated saved me from a lot of pain and heartache.

I’ve heard all the objections to keeping sex within a marriage.

The two most common objections I hear are;

  • If you don’t live together, you don’t really know everything about someone.  Don’t you need to know them completely?
  • What if they’re terrible in bed? Do you want to be stuck with that person forever?

Should you know someone extremely well before you marry them?  Yes.  I think so, at least.

But do you need to sleep together and live together in order to know someone well enough to marry them?

Those are not prerequisites.

Here’s why.

  1. Objection 1: “If you don’t live together, you don’t really know everything about someone.”

    Counterpoint: Learning to live with someone isn’t about how well you know them. It’s about how well you communicate.

    So the better question to ask is – how well do you communicate?  Living together has become a cultural prerequisite to getting married.

    What’s under that?

    I’ve heard the phrase that you should “try before you buy” and “really get to know the person” pretty often.  Sure, it might feel nice to spend so much time with this person you’re falling in love with, and it might be convenient to share rent and groceries, but is it necessary in order to really know this person?  Is it helpful or healthy before you’ve made a life commitment to one another?  At what risk?

    No matter how long you date, don’t date, live with or don’t live with someone, you’re never going to know everything about them before you marry them. And the person you marry is going to change over time. What you do know about them may very well be different 2, 5 or 10 years from now.

    Should you take your time really getting to know someone before committing to marriage? Definitely!

    But that’s why knowing and pursuing the foundational elements of a relationship are far more valuable than the surface stuff. I write about those foundational elements here.

    Honestly, if they’ve got a habit you don’t like – so what?

    Is how he brushes his teeth a deal breaker?  Is her routine not jiving with yours cause to call it off?  If you can’t agree on how to do the laundry or who takes out the garbage are you going to run?  If he’s grumpy in the morning or she’s a night owl, you don’t need to live together to figure that out.

    Learning to live together and navigate life together is about communication.  Sure, practice over time does make it easier, but it still all comes down to communication. Communication that is built on mutual respect, honesty and the desire to serve one another.

    Those communication skills, that respect and the desire to see the other person succeed can be established and nurtured without sleeping in the same bed every night.

    In fact, if those things aren’t established and flourishing in your relationship, regardless of how long you’ve dated, lived together or known each other, it’s probably not time to get married yet.  Would you agree?

  2. Objection 2: “What if they’re bad in bed, do you want to be stuck with the same person forever?”

    Counterpoint: Sex is far more than a skill or a pleasure.

    While the first time you have sex wasn’t or might not be big-screen worthy, it is a skill that can be developed and practiced! But the important thing is it’s not just a skill.

    If we were to take a survey of people’s “first-time” experiences, they’re not often that awesome. Sure, there are outliers, but let’s be logical here.

    Do you think when John Mayer picked up a guitar rented by his father at the age of 13 he was playing what he is now? No.

    Although sex comes naturally, it doesn’t mean you or your partner are going to be experts right away.  And that’s ok!  You can get good at it. Again, it all comes down to good communication with your partner – see point 1.

    What’s important is that sex isn’t just a skill, it’s an act of unity.  It’s a act of oneness.  It has physiological effects on your heart, mind and soul.  Sound dramatic?  It’s not… check out some evidence.  There are measurable, healthy benefits to honouring sex within marriage.

    I deeply believe that one of the greatest contributors to my personal health was keeping sex for the person I married.  I had breakups, hard breakups. I have been the heartbreaker and the heartbreakee.  But every time, I walked away free.

    While some would describe the act of abstaining from sex before marriage oppressive, it was the opposite. It was incredibly freeing. 

    And I think that’s because sex isn’t just a skill or a pleasure. It’s so much more than that.

I recognize this is a massive subject, with a plethora of opinion and experience.

I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg.

What are your thoughts? What have I missed?





Sarah according to Justin – brings a kindness, compassion and empathy to every conversation she finds herself in. She has a remarkable gift for reaching out and leaving others better than when she met them. She’s also a devoted, patient, and loving wife and mother with a passion for seeing God’s love realized in this world.

1 Comment

  1. Robin

    Yessss!!! It is possible to wait! Even for us who got married later in life!! I hope this post brought hope and perspective and encouragement to those who are waiting and feel like they’re the ONLY one waiting! Don’t lose heart! You will be blessed for waiting!

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