Posts

Before You Live Together

Dear Dr. Bill,

My boyfriend and I are talking about marriage.  We live in different states and would like to save money for our wedding, so we’re thinking about sharing an apartment.  I have a 6-year-old daughter who loves this man dearly.  The plan is for my boyfriend to have his own room and I would share the other with my daughter.  What do you think?

–Jessica

Dear Jessica,

If you and your boyfriend are Christians and are committed to purity, I think this plan is a bad idea.  Although your intentions may be good, you will be subjecting yourselves to a tremendous amount of temptation.  The bible tells us to “flee from sexual immorality” and to live in a way that is “holy and honorable.”

You also need to consider the message that this living arrangement would send to your daughter.  God’s design for sexuality is that it is a beautiful gift, meant be shared between a husband and wife in a life-long, committed marital relationship.

If that is the message you want your daughter to learn, you will be sending her a confusing, mixed message by living with your boyfriend—even if you are able to resist temptation.

If you and your boyfriend are already physically involved, you should know that the research on cohabitation isn’t pretty.  Couples who live together before marriage have a 60-80% higher divorce rate.  They have higher rates of domestic violence and are more likely to be unfaithful.

Also, if a couple lives together and the woman becomes pregnant, there is a high likelihood that the relationship will end within two years, leaving her to raise the child on her own.

Let me recommend an excellent book that will help you make wise decisions in your relationship.  It’s entitled “Before You Live Together” by Dave Gudgel.

Thanks for writing Jessica.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Reconciliation

Dear Dr. Bill,

My ex-husband and I were divorced several years ago because he was not committed to spending time with our son.  He was not a Christian at the time.  But since then, he found the Lord and has changed dramatically.  As a result, we are thinking about getting remarried.  We both feel like our past issues have been sorted out, but we’re a little unsure of how long we should wait before making this new commitment.  What do you suggest?

–Lexi

Dear Lexi,

First of all, let me tell you how encouraged I was to read your e-mail.  In a day when divorce is so rampant and reconciliation is so rare, it was truly a blessing to hear your story.

Regarding your question, it’s hard to give you a specific timeline for remarriage.  You say that your “past issues have been sorted out,” but other than the parenting problem, I’m wondering what other issues you’ve worked through.

Also, you mention that your husband has dramatically changed since his conversion, but you’re a bit unsure about remarriage.  That leads me to believe you may still have some lingering concerns.

Jesus tells us that a “good tree produces good fruit.”  Given your past, it’s important to see the “good fruit” of your husband’s conversion manifested over time before you jump back into marriage.  Your son has already been impacted by your divorce, and you certainly don’t want to make matters worse by remarrying and then splitting up again if things don’t work out.

My advice would be to meet with a family therapist who can help you determine the best course of action.  He or she can help you fully explore whether you are truly ready for remarriage.

Thanks for writing Lexi.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this article.

Student Asks About Marrying In College

Dear Dr. Bill,

I am a 19-year-old college student on a full-ride scholarship. I’ve been dating my girlfriend for about 5 months and I already know this is the woman I want to marry. We were both raised in solid, godly families — and we’ve made a commitment to purity before marriage. After much prayer, we’ve decided we’d like to get married in 2 years.

The good news is that both sets of parents approve of our plans. But my parents disagree about the timing. They think we should wait until after I graduate. I think this issue is about their preference rather than facing the fact that I’m ready to make this decision for myself. What do you think?

–Cody


Dear Cody,

It sounds like you and your girlfriend are starting off with a good foundation. I also admire your decision to pursue sexual purity. However, at 19-years-old, I don’t think it’s wise to make a decision about marriage after dating someone for five months.

Your girlfriend sounds wonderful, and she may be just the person God wants you to marry. But during the first 3-6 months of your relationship, you’re in the “infatuation” stage. Your brains are releasing chemicals called endorphins, which contribute to a heightened sense of happiness and well-being.

During that time, we’re basically “in love with being in love,” and we’re unlikely to view our dating partner or our relationship realistically. That’s why I advise couples to date for at least a year before getting engaged. I believe it’s better to have a longer courtship and a shorter engagement, rather than vice versa.

Also, most people don’t know this, but research shows that people who wait until they’re at least 23 to get married, have a much lower divorce rate than those who marry younger.

You didn’t mention how old your girlfriend is, but I’m assuming she’s around 18 or 19. Although your marriage might work out fine if you marry during college, your chances for success will greatly increase if you give your relationship an extra year or two.

Thanks for writing Cody. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this article.

12-12-12 is Tomorrow

Tomorrow is 12-12-12, which means an increase in weddings. They say that 7500 couple will get married tomorrow. Seems strange since it is a Wednesday and who really wants to get married in the middle of the work week. Most brides consider it lucky to get married on a day like 12-12-12. Grooms also consider it lucky because it will be easier to remember their anniversary! @ShineBMac

A Mom Facing Divorce Struggles with Some Tough Choices

Dear Dr. Bill,

In the middle of marital struggles with my husband, we became pregnant. Despite this, my husband announced that he wants a divorce. Since I am originally from Europe, I’m considering a move back home rather than staying in this country where I have friends but no family. But I wonder if this is the best decision for my child.

–Heide


Dear Heide,

My heart goes out to you in this very difficult situation. But I would encourage you not to give up hope. Because you are under such a great deal of stress, now is not the time to making major decisions. Give yourself some time and space to think through all of the alternatives available to you.

The research on divorce shows that if couples will slow down the process and seek outside professional help, many marriages can be saved. Although it may feel to you or your husband that divorce is the only option, in reality it’s not.

The fact is that children do better on every measure of well-being if they grow up in a home with a married mother and father. Even if a marriage is less than perfect, staying together is always better for your kids than getting a divorce.

If your husband has no desire to reconcile but is willing to take an active role in your child’s life, I would encourage not to you not to move back to Europe. Fatherlessness has profoundly negative impacts on children, and your son needs his dad.

On the other hand, your husband refuses to take responsibility for parenting his son, moving back to Europe to live with your extended family may be the best option. A loving grandfather or uncle can’t replace your son’s father, but they can certainly give him the male attention and affirmation he so desperately needs.

Thanks for writing Heide. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

CLICK HERE for the audio version of this post.

Discouraged, Trapped, & Burned Out

Dear Dr. Bill,

My husband and I have four children, ages 9, 6, 4 and 2. He’s a full-time faculty member at a Bible college where I’m a part-time student. We’re both in full-time ministry and love working with the students at the college.

But we’re having a problem over expectations about our home — and I’m struggling with resentment toward my husband.

He loves to have a neat and orderly house and has a tendency to go a little crazy when things are in disarray. I’ll admit that cleaning and organization are not my gifts — I’m much more interested in relationships.

I’m very hospitable and want to use our home as an outreach to the students we work with. But my definition of what’s presentable and my husband’s differ. I feel discouraged, trapped, burned out, and that none of my efforts are ever good enough! What should I do?


Lisa, let’s review here. You have four kids under ten years old, including a toddler. You are working in ministry full-time and going to school part-time. Your husband wants a neat and orderly house and feels it your responsibility to keep it that way. What’s wrong with this picture?

You need to sit down for a major pow-wow session with your husband and discuss your priorities and expectations. Basically, you are working the equivalent of two full-time jobs and going to school. If he wants a cleaner, more organized house, he should contribute 50% to the housework and do it with a cheerful heart.

There’s bigger issue at stake here. Somehow you’ve bought into the notion that you can “do it all”—be a wife, mother, student, and be committed to full-time ministry to college students. It’s time to take a hard look at your life and decide what’s really important.

I’d suggest you take a break from ministry, limit yourself to one class per semester, and focus on your children and your marriage. If you don’t, your stress, resentment and frustration is only going to get worse and your family is going to suffer.

Thanks for writing Lisa. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” tab on the Family Expert page.