Seven Reasons Not to Move in With Your Boyfriend

At the end of my freshman year in college, I made one of the worst mistakes of my life when I moved out of my dorm room and into a house with my boyfriend.

When I think back on those years, I remember longing for intense romance that would sweep me off my feet. I thought that true love does not demand a commitment, it is freely given with no thought for tomorrow. I wanted someone to be at my side without putting my heart at risk. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In the early 1970s, when I moved in with my boyfriend, there were only 520,000 cohabiting couples in the U.S. Today there are almost 4.75 million. Today, more than half of all couples cohabit prior to marriage, making cohabitation the most common way couples in America begin life together.

People say they live together outside of marriage for a number of reasons. Some cite economic reasons–why pay for two apartments, they argue, when we can share one? Others view cohabitation as a form of marriage insurance–a way to test compatibility and screen out undesirable mates before they say “I do.” Those who cite this argument are often the children of divorced parents who suffered untold agony when their parents divorced. Or divorced people still raw from the wounds of their own failed marriages.

Today more and more couples are choosing to live together outside of marriage, causing marriage rates to decline sharply. Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins, says the rapid change is remarkable: “It was scandalous a few generations ago. It was unacceptable a couple of decades ago. It is acceptable now.”3

The dramatic increase in cohabitation means that women today face even more pressure to move in with their boyfriend than I did. Yet research shows that living together is does not help people prepare for marriage nor does it help them avoid divorce. Cohabitation has come under the intense scrutiny of social scientist in the last three decades because the shift from scandalous thirty years ago to widely accepted today occurred so rapidly. Few people know the results of these studies. In this book I talk about the latest research as well as my own experience and the experiences of others.

Reason Number One: Living together clouds your judgment. When I moved in with my boyfriend, I thought I knew him very well. I soon discovered that it is almost impossible to see a person objectively when you are living with them. There just isn’t enough distance.

When choosing a life-long mate, you need to look at the person’s good and bad points objectively. Objective thinking is impossible when you are sexually intimate.

No couple can avoid facing the hard question, “Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this person?” I thought I could avoid the question by moving in with my boyfriend, but ultimately, I couldn’t escape. Once the “pseudo- honeymoon” was over, I wondered, did I want to live with this man for the rest of my life? Tragically, the answer was no. But trying to extricate myself from the relationship was not easy. Breaking up is always hard to do–how much more so when you are sharing your bodies and your home.

Reason Number Two: Living with your boyfriend may break your heart. Sex is a God-given gift intended to bond a man and his wife. Cohabiting couples bond with each other, too. I thought I could avoid a painful divorce by choosing noncommittal cohabitation instead. But I couldn’t change my fundamental nature. When the relationship ended, it hurt every bit as much as a divorce.

“When we broke up, I could not eat or sleep or work,” a woman told Mike McManus, author of Marriage Savers (Zondervan). “I did not want to get up in the morning.” McManus calls this grieving “prenuptial divorce” because the pain is so similar to divorce.

I didn’t realize how much I had bonded with my first live-in boyfriend until I left him to spend a year abroad in Norway. Once I was settled in Norway, I found it hard to function without the emotional intimacy of a live-in lover. I soon met and moved in with another man, this one Norwegian law student.

Reason Number Three: You may conceive with drastic consequences. I was meticulous about birth control, so I assumed I was covered. People who get pregnant aren’t careful , I thought. After all, my method of choice worked 99 percent of the time according to the pamphlet my doctor gave me. Imagine my shock when I found myself pregnant and living in Norway–six thousand miles from my family!

Tragically, I aborted that child, adding more wounds to my already damaged soul. I was too scared to marry my Norwegian boyfriend. Too scared to consider spending the rest of my life in an unfamiliar country far from family and friends.

A study of abortion trends confirms that my situation is not unusual. Twice as many women who live with a man outside of wedlock opt to abort their babies as married woman.4

Reason Number Four: Your decision to cohabit may cause your children a great deal of pain. My promiscuous lifestyle caught up with me when I conceive again in my early twenties. I couldn’t bear the thought of another abortion. This time I turned to God and asked him to help me live a pure life. God was faithful, but I still had to reap the agony of my past.

I still remember the day Mina, age two, asked me, “Where’s my daddy?” It was a knife to my heart. At that moment I would have done anything to go back and undo the mistakes that had led me to unmarried motherhood.

Later, I married a wonderful, godly man and Mina got the daddy she longed for. But the adjustment from family-of-two to family-of-three was painful. Sam struggled to become an instant dad, I struggled to let him parent Mina without my interference, and Mina didn’t like having to share her mommy with the new guy. Those first few years, there were times I wondered if our marriage would survive.

Even now I occasionally face painful reminders. I recently gave my testimony to our church youth group. When I practiced in front of my husband and two oldest children I could see the pain in their eyes. I almost backed out because they were so upset.

At first my oldest daughter refused to speak to me. Then she turned and cried, “Mom, I was a mistake!”

“No!” I insisted, taking her in my arms. “You were not a mistake. Not to God. Not to me. He knew what I needed to bring me back to Him. Having you motivated me to change my life. You were never a mistake.”

Right then she was too upset to listen. She took off through the woods, leaving me standing in the church parking lot.

Later she came back and told me she wanted me to go ahead. Her nine- year-old brother concurred. “I want you to give the testimony,” he said, “but it is hard, Mom, to hear about your past life.”

It was hard to me, too, to see that my past still hurts my kids.

Reason Number Five: Living with your boyfriend may destroy your relationship. A number of recent studies show that couples who cohabit prior to marriage have lower quality marriages, experience greater marital conflict, and have poorer communication that those who do not. The chances of having a successful marriage plummet when you cohabit prior to marriage.

Michael McManus, calls cohabitation “marital cancer,” because cohabiting couples have an 80 percent chance that their relationship will end. Forty percent break up before they marry, the other 40 percent divorce within 10 years of marrying. Even when the relationship endures, those who cohabited prior to marriage say they have lower quality marriages–they have poorer communication, poorer marital adjustment, and they abuse each other more often and more severely– than those who did not.5,6, 7

Why? I believe that living together sets up an unhealthy dynamic that is almost impossible to overcome, because the relationship between a cohabiting couple is based on power and performance. The partner who is unwilling to marry wields power over the more committed partner. I remember thinking, “I’d better hide my fears and insecurities and not be too clingy or he will leave me.”

One man candidly described the first few months of his domestic partnership in an article that appeared in the December 1995 issue of Details: “Neither of us wanted to be overrun by the other and we both made sure that we weren’t..”

According to researchers at Northern State University, a number of studies show that men typically cohabit because of “the convenience” of the relationship (“particularly the availability of sex”), whereas women cohabit with “the expectation that cohabitation will lead to marriage.” This unbalanced situation give men a “position of power” over their female roommates.8

You get close enough to see the person’s flaws, yet you are not committed to persevere in the relationship. We all long for unconditional love. The emphasis on performance is devastating.

Reason Number Six: living with your boyfriend will keep you from finding the husband God has for you. Several years ago, I took a business trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. After the meeting, I spent an evening with three male colleagues. One of them was a young professor I barely knew. When I asked about his family life, he told me he was living with a woman.

I had to challenge him on this issue. “Why don’t you marry her?” I asked. He didn’t marry her, he told me, because he didn’t think she was the one he wanted to marry. “Do you think that is fair?” I asked. “If you’ve decided that you don’t want to marry her why do you stay in the relationship?”

It was comfortable, he told me, and it met his needs for now. Besides, he told me, there is no one else on the horizon. Then looking down, he admitted, I’d be lonely without her.

Do you want to get married some day? I asked. Yes, he replied. How will you ever find your wife when you are living with someone else? We talked and walked around the rainy city until almost midnight. Later, Keith told me that no one had ever challenged him on his living arrangement. After the conference, he went home and moved out. Two years later, I heard through mutual friends that he was getting married.

Even while I was cohabiting, I dreamed of marrying a Christian man and having a godly family but it was only when I realized that I was walking down a road that led away from my dreams, that I found the strength to say no to easy intimacy and to live a pure life.

It hasn’t been easy for me to bare my soul, admit my mistakes, and revisit painful memories. But for the sake of my children–Mina and her little brother and sister– I am determined to face my mistakes. At times I have felt so ashamed that I wrongly thought I had no right to ask them to remain pure, when I didn’t. I have had to bring my shame to Jesus. He is the only one who covers our shame by his sacrifice on the cross and redeems our lives by his unfailing love. To be forgiven and healed, I had to acknowledge that my sexual experience had no redeeming value. I reaped only brokenness and pain.

My husband and I missed out on one of God’s greatest gifts–the joy God intends when a man and woman are physically united for the first time within the covenant of marriage. I hope and dream that my children will treasure that gift, remain pure, and walk in the light of God’s love.

Reason Number Seven: Cohabiting will tear at your relationship with God. Even though attended church in my teens, and knew the Bible, many of the rule seemed old fashioned and too strict. Now years later, I see that God our creator knows what we need better than we know ourselves. There is great wisdom in the Bible. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (NIV).

Living together is sin. Habitual, unconfessed sin eats away at your relationship with God. Living with my boyfriend pulled my heart away from God. Gradually, I stopped attending church and reading the Bible because it reminded me of God’s standards and made me feel guilty.

I am not alone. A study at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and the University of Toledo found that cohabiting weakens any previous religious tie.3

I wish that when I was in my twenties, I had read an article like this. Maybe I would have moved in with my boyfriend anyway. I was so hungry for affection that the desire to trade sex for love was a tsunami that swamped my soul. But at least I would have been forewarned, and perhaps, just perhaps, I would have cried out to God to rescue me and show me another way to feel loved.

My prayer for you is that you will resist the enticement of easy intimacy and wait for the one God has for you. It is a decision I know you will not regret.

FOOTNOTES

1D’Vera Cohn, Cohabiting Couples Are a Settled Bunch, Washington Post, March 20, 1994, “Never before in Western history has it been acceptable for unmarried couples to live together,” says Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University in the Washington Post. “It was scandalous a few generations ago. It was unacceptable a couple of decades ago. It is acceptable now.”

2 William G. Axinn and Arland Thornton, “Mothers, Children, and Cohabitation: the intergenerational effects of Attitudes and Behavior,” American Sociological Review, 58, (1993), p. 233-246 as reported in “The Family In America, New Research, September, 1993.

3 Arland Thornton, William G. Axinn, and Daniel H. Hill, “Reciprocal Effects of Religiosity, Cohabitation , and Marriage,” American Journal of Sociology, v. 98, (1992), p. 628-651; as reported in “The Family In America, New Research, April, 1993.

4 Finn Egil Skjeldestad and Jens-Kristian Borgan, “Trends in Induced Abortions During the 12 Years Since Legalization In Norway,” Family Planning Perspectives, v. 26, (March/April 1994), p. 73-76.

5 Elizabeth Thomson and Ugo Colella, “Cohabitation and Marital Stability: Quality or Commitment” Journal of Marriage and the Family, v. 54 (1992), p. 259-267; as reported in “The Family In America, New Research, October, 1992.

6 Jan E. Stets, “The Link Between Past and Present Intimate Relationships,” Journal of Family Issues, v. 14, (1993), p. 236-260.

7 Danny Wedding, Families, Relationships, and Health, in Behavior and Medicine, Mosby Year Book, p. 143.

8 Terry Huffman et al., “Gender differences and Factors Related to the Disposition Toward Cohabitation,” Family Therapy, v. 21, (1994, p. 171-184. ,

David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Should We Live Together? What Young Adults Need to Know about Cohabitation before Marriage, A Comprehensive Review of Recent Research, published by the National Marriage Project. 1999, 2002.

© EMSTALCUP 2005

Originally published as Redeeming a Broken Legacy, Virtue Magazine, Oct/Nov 1998. Stalcup, cohabitation.

A new book by Elizabeth covering this season of her life is now available at Amazon.

Crossroads Before Me

Crossroads Before Me (A Redeemed Life Book 1)

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302 Responses to Seven Reasons Not to Move in With Your Boyfriend

  1. Gilda Lopez says:

    I have a 40 yr old daughter with two daughters 9 and 15 yrsld old
    My daughter is divorced and has been dating for 4 years the same man – he has two sons 5 and 11. She sold her house last year, rented for 1 year and she could not continue renting because rent went up. Her Boyfriend lives in his father house (his father bought another house with current wife)left the first house to his son -rent free only things he pays is alimony/utility/food. Even though my daughter made a profit from the sale of her house; she considered moving in with boyfriend he has a big house and will wait according to her to move on her own at a later date. I personally, do not believe this is the right move (she has 2 daughters and she will be moving into someone else’s house….I offered her old room back and she said there are three of them and they simply do no fit.Any advice will be welcomed.

    • emstalcup says:

      I think you are right that this is not the right move. Sadly we often let practical matters such as needing a place to live rule our decision making. It would be best if she and her boyfriend live apart until they decide if they are willing to make a life long commitment to each other. They are more likely to make a good decision if they live apart. As a mother, I am not sure what you can do except listen to her, love her and let her know, gently and with love, how you feel. Since she is an adult, she will make her own decision. The most troubling aspect is that I’ve seen children bond with mom or dad’s boyfriend or girl friend and then be deeply hurt if the relationship ends. So in an ideal world parents with children will do all in their power to make good choices when it come to establishing healthy relationships by taking it slow and by not being sexually intimate until marriage. I do understand that many things can drive our cravings. I was once there myself. Many women find it beyond their reach to wait for marriage and in that case, we as parents can only watch and pray.

      We have to trust that God uses it all, even our failures and poor choices. If you tell me your daughter’s name, I will pray for her.

      • cynde says:

        Thank you for writing this article from your heart. Our DD has been living like this and I only pray that she would come to the same place that you did..realizing that she has turned away from God because of guilt and taking her three children with her. Our heart is heavy.

      • emstalcup says:

        This sounds painful. As parents we suffer when our children make bad decisions. We love them but we can’t fix them or live their lives for them. Some close friends asked their son to read my blog and he later decided to move out.

        I would encourage you to continue spending time with her and your grandchildren and to always surrender your cares to God before you interact so that you are sincerely glad to be with her. Smile. Make eye contact. Listen. Love. You can attune to her without agreeing with what she is doing. This will help her connect to you and make it easier for her to move toward you, not away. Many parents make the fatal error of lecturing their adult children every time they are together because they find their choices unbearable.

        God has her and the grandchildren in his hands, so take your anguish to him and pour it out, then listen to what he has to say.

        Be blessed. Thanks for writing.

        Elizabeth

  2. Joss says:

    I am moving in with my boyfriend next week. I hardly know him. I know I dont want to spend the rest of my life with him. It just feels too late because I have already made arrangements. I was engaged before and I dont know what hapened but after being sexually intimate with my fiance he stopped trying to impress me. He is still in the picture and moving in with this other guy is an escape mechanism from this man who for 10 years has caused me such pain. My new boyfriend loves me. I know this is not GOD’s will but I feel so helpless.

    • emstalcup says:

      Oh! I am so sorry that you are in such a tough spot. It sounds like you feel like moving in with your boyfriend is the only way to alleviate the pain from your previous relationship. Is that right? I wish we could sit on a warm sofa with mugs of hot tea and I could hear the whole story. It is very hard to feel hopeless but I believe God sees you, knows you and loves your heart. I would cry out to him to open another door and then see what he does. Is the main concern a place to live? A person to attach to? Someone to protect you from an aggressive ex? When I was in my twenties I had to have a boyfriend because I was too fragile to go it alone, but once I became a single mom, I spent a lot of time alone. I twas painful at first. It seem that a volcano of buried grief was rumbling its way to the surface, but as I let the pain surface, I began to sense the presence of God, soothing me, comforting me. God won’t compete for our attention, and quite honestly, I craved other things, but my circumstances didn’t allow me to find solace in my old familiar ways and when I turned to God I was astonished to find how nourishing and satisfying that interactive relationship can be.

      Don’t give up. You have great value and are meant for more than this. Ask yourself what do I want, deep down inside? What are my dreams? Where would I love to be in five years?

      You say your boyfriend loves you, but I wonder, If he doesn’t know you, who is he loving? Is it you, the real you? Or is it being with you, your body, or how he feels when he is with you? True love takes time to grow. Passion is a hot flame; love a steady simmer.

      Please write back, even if you make what you know is the wrong decision. I want to hear how you are.

      I’ll be praying for you!
      Warmly,
      Elizabeth

  3. Joss says:

    I relate to everything in your article Elizabeth. I just feel like I am slipping away and I do not know how to save myself. Its hard to turn to GOD right now. Like you say, a lot of the wrong decisions we make in our lives tend to cause a rift in our spiritual lives. I do not need a place to stay. I can afford my own place. I think he needs me more than I need him. And that is exactly what appeals to me the most. For once I feel like Im in control of my emotional state, like this man can never hurt me because I expect nothing from him. I do not know if this makes any sense. I have been so hurt in the past that thinking of any future drains me. I feel afraid to dream bigger. I will move in with him, that much I know. But I hate myself and the shame it is causing me. He cant protect me and he cant do anything for me really, but that means he cant take anything from me… Im scared. Im turning against everything I want, against all my dreams and hopes, and I cant stop myself from making this fatale choice. My Fiance… X… asked me to have his baby, he doesnt want to marry me really, so I fugure evryone wants something from me, and this choice is the lesser of two evils. Please keep praying for me. I will be in touch in future. Thank you for your article. Someway somehow, I know it already means much to me.

  4. emstalcup says:

    I wonder, what makes it hard to turn to God right now? Look inside and see if you can figure out what you are believing about Him. About you? Do you think He would be mad at you? Or are you mad at yourself? He is right there with you, and knows it all. It is as easy as saying, Help! I’m stuck! I need you! Forgive me, I’ve muffed it up and now I need your help. Then listen.

    It sounds like you have a lot of unprocessed pain that is weighing you down. Consider Theophostic prayer. We do it here in northern Virginia if you are anywhere near, or you can go to the website: Theophostic.com and read the first three chapters of the book, Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer online.

    Don’t give up. Don’t give in to self-hate and shame. There are more choices than the ones you see.

    I am praying. Keep in touch.

    • Joss says:

      I felt I had no choice, rent was paid, plans had been made, I was trapped. I knew I did not want to do what I was doing, but I did it any way. There was no peace in my decision, no sense of security in my actions. The media makes living in seem like such a casual act. It is not.

      I did move in with this man. The first week, last week was strange… not entirely bad but there was a constant question in my mind on whether I could do this for the rest of my life. Our first two days he was moody and depressed but it was with regards to a friendship that was not going too well… or so I thought. That was Saturday and Sunday. I remember crying when he told me his sad stories and I saw the pain in his eyes. I thought this was love and my tears were a sign that maybe this could work.

      By this past Sunday we had become like best friends. Remember how, in the beginning I said that he loved me so much even before we moved in? I should have paid attention to your words.

      He recieved a message Sunday morning from a woman saying she wanted to take his son to meet his family. I asked him what she meant and he said it was a private joke and the said son was actually his nephew, this womans husband. It did not add up.

      i accepted his words and knew somehow, that this man was lying. ON Monday, the first chance I got, I hacked into his phone and what I found there devastated me. I was heart broken.

      He has a wife back home, who recently (2 weeks to be exact) had a baby. He also has an X wife who he was still communicating with and telling her that he loved her.

      When I moved in with this man he was broke and it was a choice I made not only out of love but compassion. At the same time that I was moving in with him he was telling his first wife that he wanted her to come and join him? He told his sister about me as “some girl I once knew who just gave me transport money and offered to help me whenever I need help”

      Last week he was making a plan to marry me and save money for our marriage. He seemed so sincere. I was so taken.

      The rules governing our conduct in life are there to protect rather than to limit us. I invested so much, financially and emotionally into this relationship.

      I am not hurt, it really is funny. He has three children with three different women, and he is living with another totally different woman. he obviously has issues.

      I know I made my mistakes. I have learned from this that a man who truely loves you will wait on you and hunger after you so much that he will be eager to marry you and take care of you, rather than take a short cut. next time, I will wait for the man that says I’m willing to work and wait for you. It might be a man’s responsibility to love his woman, but it was my responsibility to guard my heart and I let myself down in many ways.

      • Joss says:

        “””I wish that when I was in my twenties, I had read an article like this. Maybe I would have moved in with my boyfriend anyway. I was so hungry for affection that the desire to trade sex for love was a tsunami that swamped my soul. But at least I would have been forewarned, and perhaps, just perhaps, I would have cried out to God to rescue me and show me another way to feel loved.

        My prayer for you is that you will resist the enticement of easy intimacy and wait for the one God has for you. It is a decision I know you will not regret.”””

      • emstalcup says:

        I was sorry to hear what you went through with this man. But I am glad you found out sooner rather than later. We will attach to people when we spend time with them even if we have decided not to, so a quick ending is much better than an ongoing unhealthy relationship.

        Even though you say it did not hurt you, I would encourage you to process what you have been through. It sounds like you have had a number of painful relationships recently and leaving that pain unprocessed tends to keep us on the same tired treadmill where we keep picking the wrong sorts of companions but don’t know why.

        One good way to process is by Theophostic Prayer Ministry which we do at our Healing Center in Fairfax, Virginia. You can find out more at Theophostic.com. A good way to start is to read the first three chapters of the book, Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer, which is available for free at the website.

        God bless you. I’m praying for you.
        May he lead you ever more into his marvelous light.

        Elizabeth

  5. Wonderful article that points out the truth of God’s Word, no matter how progressive we think we’ve become in our thinking. God’s ways are always best and He will and can make a way if we step out and trust him.

  6. alexa says:

    im in a difficult situation.. im 19 and i live with my parents.. i used to live in phoenix,AZ but had to move to Albuquerque,NM… wen i was living in arizona i had i boyfriend that when i moved out we dicited to keep our relationship he would come and visit me to new mexico and i do love him very much.. this july i went to phoenix arizona and he wanted to come and live wit me so he did we lived in albuquerque together for 4months he decicted to go back to see his family for 2months, now heres coming back in a week.. went we were living togetther it went great no major problems.. but since he will be coming back to live with me at my parents house its kind hard becuase my mom is pressuring me to either move out with him and get married or to keep the long distance relationship but i cant do that nomore its really hard lik i want him close to me but then i dont im scared of moving out i think im too young… we dont want kids now and we plan on getting married after we both finish college… idk wat to do or wat to tell my parents i want him here but then i dont.. but if he does come then i dont want to be with him anymore because of the distance

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Alexa,
      It sounds like you want to have him near but don’t feel ready for the commitment that marriage would entail. Is that right? You also say you don’t want kids now. The tricky thing is that when you live with someone you bond, like it or not. It is the way we are made. So if you live with him, you will move heart-wise in to a deeper level of commitment that you probably aren’t ready for–and if you are having sex there is no way to guarantee that you won’t get pregnant. I think I side with you Mom on this: it is better to think it through and either make a full-on commitment or decide to back off a safe distance and guard your heart, acknowledging that you aren’t ready for all the responsibilities and commitments that this relationship will entail. You see, we might want to disconnect our heart and mind. We might tell ourselves, I won’t let myself get too involved. We think we can chose where we will land, but it doesn’t work that way. We are hard-wired to bond and having sex bonds you at the deepest level of your brain, the limbic level. So we end up in an emotional mess because we are not moving in harmony with our heart and mind; instead part of us jerks forward, another part backward, out of sync with ourselves. It is tearing and painful. It might seem good at times but it is ultimately destabilizing. I have friends who are still struggling with this in their forties. They still have unstable relationships that never seem to settle down to a place of peace. Some seem desperate for attachment and have sexualized all intimacy so it is hard for them to receive what they need—true intimacy, to know and be known–from safe friends and family.

      The safest and very best person to connect with is God. How is that connection?

      Praying for you!

      Elizabeth

  7. Spicy says:

    I really appreciate the wisdom and the knowledge.

  8. grumpy says:

    i really need help i really dont noe if i should be movin in with my boyfriend or not weve been togeder for almost two years we really want to live togeder already but da thing is dat im still 17 hes 18 & ill be turnin 18 in a couple more months i noe for sure i love him trust me hes one of a kind but da thing is dat if i move in with him we will be livin with his parents i mean dere really cool he tells me dat his parents ask him wen will i be moving in but im just not so sure i really want to move out of my house its like hell in here my mom says dat if i ever move out i wont be let in her house again she has not been da perfect mom & i hate her for wat shes done to me i really dont noe wat to do…HELP

    • emstalcup says:

      It sounds like you are in a very hard place. Things are tense at home with Mom but you aren’t sure about moving in with your boyfriend and his parents. I remember when I was seventeen and couldn’t wait to get out of the house! My parents had told all of us five Moll children that they expected us to stay home and attend the local junior college and I applied to a four year school so I could leave home. As hard as it is at home, I think I would stay there at least until you are out of college. You see, I think living together pulls part of you in closer while another part of you feels threatened by the closeness and pulls back. It makes the relationship less stable, less likely to endure the long run.

      I pray that God would meet your needs and guide your steps. If you ask him to show you, he will. He is always with you, it is just that we don’t always recognize him. Ask him to open your eyes to his love and to help you connect with him.

      I’ll be praying for you. Keep in touch, no matter what you decide.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      • grumpy says:

        thank you for da reply i really appreciate it & bout da moving out i dont dont noe like i do want to move in with my boyfriend but i think dat da thing dats holding me back is wat oder people will say bout dis cause my family always be talking wen a girl in da family moves out to live with da boyfriend & i dont plan on going to college & bout staying home no once im 18 i wouldnt stand a day in dis house my mom is really mean shes kicked me out so many times shes talked to mcuh shit to me like i really cant take it anymore but do you think moving in with my boyfriend would be okay? i pray every night & ask god to help me i still have 7 more months to go & ive been thinkin bout a second option maybe levin to mexico but i wouldnt dare do dis to my boyfriend hes a one of a kind guy )):

      • emstalcup says:

        Dear Lil Grumpy,

        I believe God has more for you than the choice you have outlined. They are, if I understand them right: 1) stay home with a mom who puts you down and kicks you out when she is angry, 2) move in with your boyfriend and his parents, and 3) moving to Mexico.

        Are you still in school, in high school? Will you graduate in seven more months or is that when you turn 18 and can legally go out on your own?

        I think it is wonderful that you are praying for God to show you what to do. He is with you. He loves you. You are his treasure. I believe there has to be more options. I don’t see what they are, but He knows and He has a plan. Hang in there for now, try to honor your mother even though she is mean. Let’s agree to pray every day for two weeks and see if God doesn’t open another door or make your current situation more tolerable. I don’t have any answers, but I believe God does.

        Jesus, you see this situation better than I do. You see into Lil’Grumpy’s heart and you know that she is struggling. Help her to know your love and care for her. Help her to see beyond her difficult situation and to have a vision for a bring future. Teach her how to hear your voice and follow you and show her how to love her mom when her mom is not very loveable! In Jesus’ name,
        Amen

        Keep me posted!

        Elizabeth

  9. Never Ending LDR says:

    Hi,

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience and making clear, easy-to-understand reasons why people shouldn’t shak up. I have personally experienced a small taste of the beginnings of these things and now I see how they would develop into the problems you have listed.

    Here’s my story:

    I have been in a long distance relationship (LDR) for almost 4 years. I’m American and due to his citizenship restrictions he cannot come to visit until his papers are completed in Canada. So needless to say I have been making countless trips to see him over the years. We’ve had our ups and downs, and we broke up for 6 months but reunited for almost 1.5 years now.

    Up until this point we’ve been separated physically because of school, career, and family obligations. But now I’m 27 and he’s almost 28 and we’re at a very pivotal stage in our relationship. We’re planning on getting married, after he gets his citizenship (should be less than a year) and after my parents come up for a visit so he can ask for my hand.

    For now our ultimate goal is to be in the same place physically. We want to experience “normal life” with each other after so long. So, during a visit, I got offered a job (and I really need one right now) and they are willing to sponsor my work visa. Well everything seems to be falling in place except for the living together part.

    We only lived together for about 6 weeks, but even during that time we experienced a lot of bad things — fighting, yelling, bad habits (eating/drinking), testing each other, conflicting lifestyles. It was a lot. And I don’t have any family there, only a few acquaintances, so it’s very hard with my support system being so far away. This time, I also noticed his controlling attitude and emotional immaturity. I was in a constant guilty state, confused, unable to make clear decisions, and barely able to pray, I knew then living together was NOT AN OPTION. So I went home.

    Now, I’m faced with a dilemma, do I relocate, get an apartment up there, work, and start our life together or should I wait until we’re engaged to do all of that? My fear is not will he marry me; my fear is that I’m being an enabler, making things too easy & comfortable, inconveniencing myself to be with him, when he has very little to adjust. Don’t get me wrong I love the city, love the job offer, and love the possibilities that this new experience has to offer. I just don’t want to prolong our “dating” because I’m now readily available. But then again, we do have some growing to do individually and as a couple.

    Any advice?

    • emstalcup says:

      Let me make sure I understand what you are saying. You’ve been in this relationship for nearly four years and during that time you have made many trips to see him but he has not traveled to see you because he can’t get into the U.S. even for a visit. You’d both like to live closer to each other but living together did not go well. You aren’t sure if you want to do all the giving–to move near him if he is not going to give to you as well and the experience of living together has revealed some unhealthy relationship dynamics.

      As I see it you have the following choices. You can remain in a long distance relationship until his visa comes in and then see if he is willing to come to you. You could marry each other which would eliminate any issues that arose because of the inherent instability of cohabitation (I do not recommend this!) or you can move back to Canada, rent an apartment, get a job (or get your old one back), and see how it goes. Since the relationship sounds like it has some challenges (fighting, yelling, bad habits) that are probably more than just the problems that come from cohabiting, I would not marry him, at least not now. I would either stay put or move back to Canada and build a life for yourself there that includes him but does not revolve around him. Find a church, join a home group, get to know other people. See him but don’t spend all your time with him. In other words, spend time enough time with him to get to know him better, so you can observe his character and work on the unhealthy issues in your relationship while keeping some emotional and physical distance. Draw some clear boundaries around sex. It will bond you, even if you have told yourself you are going to guard your heart.

      I read recently that the typical American man is stuck at childhood maturity and the typical woman has only reached adult maturity. No wonder it is so hard to marry and raise children! We are not mature enough. One option would be to find a program like Restarting (thrivingrecovery.org) and see if he is willing to work on becoming more mature. At a minimum have each of you evaluate your own maturity so you will know where you are weak and what needs to happen for each of you to mature. You are wise to look at all this before you marry.

      Also keep praying. Ask God to direct your steps and make the path forward clear. He will. He loves you more than you can imagine and has wonderful plans for you.

      All the best,

      Elizabeth

  10. Sara says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I have read everything on ur website and comments other ppl had posted and ur replies. I am in a situation where my mom seems very eager for me to move out. Mind you I am currently 26 and turning 27 in February. I’ve had many relationships in the past which when I reflect on right now many were just puppy love. I am currently in a one year relationship with a guy and every once in a while we will fantasize about living together after we get married. I come from a complicated background where my parents divorced when I was 18 and now both of them married someone else (and my stepdad and stepmom both married before). I live with my mom and stepdad for almost 6 yrs now. I know before my mom married my stepdad they cohabited for three yrs before getting married. Lately after I told my mom my bf wanted to move out of the rented place he’s in to another place my mom suggested me and him should live together. Our original plan was the earliest we’ll think of living together is after we are both financially independent (I went back to school for education upgrade and he had changed majors so he had been in school for long time). His parents had a negative impression of my mom and me after my bf told them the plan (it sucks cuz they are in another country and I never seen them they had already have bad impression of me). After the incident I had a talk with my bf and me and my bf had privately talked with my mom about why we dont want to move out together at this time, yet she still tries to look for places for us to move out. My mom’s attitude is becoming very mysterious because I never see her so eager in doing anything for me. Although she said for me to stay with her gives her more convenience to have someone look after the house when she goes to short trips thoughout the year, she still looks very disappointed when we turn down the offer. My bf’s parents felt my mom wanted to give the responsibility of taking care of me to him (which my bf’s parents may not like because it’s another burden to them and my bf would not mind if only he has the capability to do so, and he don’t have at the moment). Both me and my bf felt my mom is undergoing a plan to leave my stepdad because the relationship is not really working and she had to be sure I am in safe hands and out of this house when she leaves him.

    My mom, stepdad and me are Christians (my bf is not), yet my mom and stepdad do not carry a Christian lifestyle. There is no warmth in this house, let alone family prayers in this house. I worry about their spirituality more than my own. Although my bf is not a Christian, he may hold more similar values to Christians more than them, which is scary.

    I know they are going back home in March but my mom will be going for a month and my stepdad will go in the two weeks in between (he has to work), so my bf felt my mom might actually plan to not come back if I successfully move out.

    Since a lot of my friends are Christians and elders I know all know my mom, I couldnt ask for advice. The Christian circle can be so small, sometimes I say sth private to someone they might spill it out and I will get my own news circulate back to me. I learned to no able to trust anyone with my secrets. Although there r some I can trust, there is no way they have the maturity to analyze my problem. I am stuck.

    P.S. After reading ur article it affirms me the negative impact of cohabiting, I am most likely not going to do that. Luckily my bf has the same moral belief (not like those guys that want sexual convenience. He enjoy a relationship with me that do not revolve around sex)

    • emstalcup says:

      Hi Sara,

      What a difficult situation you are in! I felt sad when I heard that your mother is trying to pressure you to move out with your boyfriend and that you suspect she wants to leave her husband and thus finds it inconvinent to have you living there.

      I wouldn’t move in with your boyfriend, I think you already know that that is not a good idea. I am not sure what you should do. Here are some ideas. You are the one who knows what is best in your situation. Can you talk to your mom, ask her if she is indeed planning to leave her husband? I have no idea what their marriage is like but perhaps she would be willing to get some help with her marriage from her pastor or a counselor? If she is determined to leave, can the two of you leave together? Is there a girlfriend you could live with? Or another family in your church? I would not stay with your step-dad if he is unsafe. I do believe God answers prayers. Let’s pray for a good place for you to live. When I was your age, I lived with a widow who had a spare room and we grew to be fast friends despite our decades apart in age.

      Have you considered finding another church? My son has found another church full of people his age and he loves it. Your church should be a safe place to get advice, if it isn’t, something is wrong. People in positions of authority in a church should be able to keep a secret and help you without blabbing to your mom. If they don’t know the importance of confidentiality, I would find a new church.

      Also I have to admit that even though you did not ask for advice about your boyfriend, I feel some concern that he is not a Christian. My dad was not a Christian and I did not know what I was missing until I married one. Our times together in church, worshiping God with our whole hearts are so sweet. We pray together each night before we sleep. There are so many wonderful moments you miss when your mate does not share your faith. And I hear heartbreaking stories from people who married outside their faith.

      The older I get, the more important my faith grows. There is no life as rich as the one surrendered to God. Interacting with him, feeling his love and delight is profoundly healing. I encourage you to press in to God and let him direct your paths.

      Keep me posted, even if you ignore my advice, I still want to know how you are doing!

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  11. Ora-light says:

    Hi,
    I just came across this article accidentally. I guess i was just searching for some support, for the situation im in now makes me feel real sad and helpless..I have a boyfriend whom iv been for one year now..and im also pregnant..this isn’t due to unsafe sex, its actually planed. So now we want to move in together summer 2012. Yes, i do love my boyfriend and he feels the same way about me, but for some reason i know that unprotected love will fade away with time..i do really want to commit this time and get married , i say this time, because i have had a boyfriend before..I lived with him for six years and been hoping that one day he will decide to merry me. We have talked a lot about marriage and what it means to both of us, he would say that one day we will get married , but soon, after a couple of years of living together, i understood that that is not going to happen.. a year ago, while still with my x boyfriend, i met a man that im with today..That was actually the reason why me and my x broke up..now i fear that the story will repeat itself again..That as soon as we move in together there will be no marriage plans..cause it will never be convenient , will always be something that gets in a way..Maybe i have given you an impression that i don’t trust my boyfriend..well, it is actually true, but not because he have given me any reason to feel so, but because of his past..He has a 5 year old son, and couple of previous relationships with women whom he have lived together …and that scares me!! Im afraid that he have “learned how” to brake up, he knows what to expect after a brake up, what lows and hight he will have to go through..and now im terrified..but do want to be with him so very much and i feel he does too, he has even mentioned (before i got pregnant) that he wants children with me and also wants to get married (that was some time ago now) and he had never felt this way about any other woman..I do believe what he says is true, but i also believe that we, humans, are slaves to your feelings..being in love makes you truly blind,real love, according to me, starts after this “in love” period.. im very afraid to say to my boyfriend that i don’t want to move in with him, that i would like to get married before we do so. Just don’t have the courage ..My dad told be that i shouldn’t do it and if i will, then i don’t need to bother to contact him again and that will show that im week and have no respect for myself whatsoever..and moving in before marriage would be the biggest mistake and ticket to unhappy, full of doubt life..Sadly i feel similar way, but im not as extreme. But my question still remains. Should i listen to my heart, my dad and don’t move in together even though im pregnant…How to tell him that this could be for our own good..that this will test our relationship. Do i have the right to say to him that i don’t wanna do this or does he have a say in all this, just because he is the father of my child (unborn) im sooo lost..its torture!! Don’t wanna lose him but don’t wanna lose myself either (talking from experience).

    Ps.
    We both are 28 and live in Norway,and non of us are norwegian, that makes it even more complicated …and i also apologize for “funny” english. Its not my mother tongue:) so sorry

    • emstalcup says:

      My heart goes out to you. I was once in a similar situation and that baby is now 29 years old. I never ended up living with her father. I decided I did not want her to have a mother like me so I needed to change. And I did, with God’s help. When she was three I met a man who married me, adopted her and is still by my side. We celebrated our 25 year anniversary last February. I believe that a major key to our successful marriage was that we put the brakes on sex until we were married.

      I think you are wise to be concerned. Listen to your heart . . . and your dad and wait. This will show if your boyfriend means what he says or is just enticing you toward his agenda with wonderful words. I think that the only hope of a healthy relationship has to start with being honest with him. Have courage, dear friend. When you set limits and stand up for what you want, need, and value it will begin to turn around.

      I was a single mom for nearly four years and it was joyful and the most difficult thing I have ever done.

      I was twenty-eight when I had my daughter. I also lived in Norway in Oslo and Bergen in my early twenties.

      I pray that you will sense the love of God, that you are not alone that there is one who walks beside you, guiding your steps and showing you the way of freedom and love.

      I’ll be praying for you.

      Elizabeth

  12. Lynne says:

    I stumbled upon this article after searching “should my fiance and I move away from our family” – reason being that he has a job offer across the state where he will be making more than double what he is now. He said that, although he’s not too fond of the location, he knows it would be a great career to establish a family on. I completely agree, my only thing is that when I start a family, I want to be close to my family. And I love my job. And yet, if we moved and he took this job, I could pursue my true dreams of art and music and not have worry about the money.

    That all aside – my main point in this reply was to say that this article doesn’t apply to everyone. My fiance and I have been together for 6 years – 2 of those years were long distance and we have been living together for the past 2. From the very beginning, we made sure we communicated, and we still do. It’s the thing we stress the most to each other. He’s my soul mate; we’re still smitten and as in love as we were when we first met. We have the occasional argument (which is healthy – not conflicting at all would cause feelings to bottle up inside), but we always compromise. And we never go to bed mad. I’ve found, cooking dinner together and eating w/out the TV can be very bonding.

    The thing is, I love this man, and maybe it was because of the long distance, but I couldn’t stand NOT living w/ him. We’re both incredibly happy, we’re getting married in ~2 years – but honestly, I don’t feel like there would be much of a difference. I know marriage is sacred, but I feel that if you’re with your soul mate, it shouldn’t matter if you’re married or living together. It should be about how you make each other happy and love each other. Marriage was something created by man, but true love and soul mates were God’s gifts. I don’t see a whole lot in putting so much weight onto marriage. I definitely want to be married before I have kids though – and I want a home to raise them in. But there’s no sense in worrying about every little thing. You should enjoy your life and who you have to share it with.

    So, although I do agree on some parts of this article, I’d have to disagree on a whole. If it’s not meant to be, moving in together before marriage will just end the relationship sooner. If it’s not meant to be, and you marry, and then move in together – you’ll just end up divorcing. I think, instead of trying to figure out what you should and shouldn’t do based of society’s views, you should focus on who’s a good match for you. If they aren’t – don’t move in together, don’t marry, don’t have children. If you’re soul mates, cherish your relationship and let it grow stronger each day. It shouldn’t matter what your relationship’s labeled as – it’s about how you feel towards each other. I saved myself for my fiance, and although we’re not married yet, I feel like our souls are married already. The paper doesn’t matter to me, I don’t care what people view us as because WE are the ones in a relationship. God gave us the opportunity to find each other early in our lives (we’re both 24), so that we could spend the rest of it together, and that’s what we intend to do, even if we are living together before we’re married.

    • emstalcup says:

      I am glad you have found your soul mate but I keep wondering, why haven’t you gotten married? Why live together if you both know this is the one?

      God ordained marriage, not man. When I got married, I was surprised at the remarkable difference between marriage and cohabitation. I am taking about a marriage as God ordained it: Sacred. Loyal. True. Cleaving only to each other for life. I realize that not all marriage are as God intended. I hear heart wrenching stories from women whose husbands are not faithful or who neglect their families to pursue their own interests.

      I hope, for your sake, that you and your boyfriend are one of the very few who cohabit and still maintain a healthy relationship. Forgive me for failing to be impressed with a six year track record. I can’t honestly say that I can only think of one or two couples–our of hundreds–that have an enduring relationship that began with cohabitation.

      Wishing you the best,

      Elizabeth

  13. Lesego says:

    Hi
    Im 23my bf is 36..he’s been in love with me since i was in high school,we only started being in a real relationship last year december 22..he is living in cape town and i have been in johannesburg,i got a job in cape town 2months ago and living with my sister’s friends as still looking for a place.We have been so close since i moved in to cape town and i really do love him as much as i think he does for me.Few weeks ago he asked me to move in with him and i didnt say anything to him about it,now he really wants me to move in with him.I am so tempted to do so but what if it doesnt end up well?
    Please help me i don’t know what to do because i love him so much and always spending time togeth

    • emstalcup says:

      I can understand that it would seem easy to move in with your boyfriend, but I don’t think that is the best strategy if you are wanting a healthy, long-term relationship that will endure the years. It is so easy to form quick attachments and in the intensity of the romance you move to a level of physical commitment that is out of sync with your heart and mind.

      I would ask myself, why would I be willing to move in with him but not marry him? See if you can identify what would make you hesitate to commit your entire life to each other. In other words, is there is something about yourself, him or the way the two of you interact that makes you hold back from making a life long commitment? If there is something making you hold back then you should not be living together because living together will make you bond more deeply but part of you won’t be ready and it will cause a split between your heart and mind. It is so beneficial to wait and pace yourself so you have the space to think clearly about the decision you are facing so you don’t solve a housing problem at the expense of life-long happiness.

      Does this make sense?

      I’ll be praying.

      Elizabeth

    • emstalcup says:

      Is there any reason that the two of you would not get married? Or begin to move in that direction? I would recommend that you consider Prepare and Enrich. I’ve found a website for South Africa. If this not near you, perhaps they can help you find one that is. http://www.famsawc.org.za/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=cause_dir_news_item&cause_id=1753&news_id=66455&cat_id=0
      This is from their website:

      This programme is designed to help you learn more about yourself, your partners, and your relationship. Couples identify the strengths in their relationships as well as problematic issues for further discussions. This is not intended to predict your chances for marital success or to determine when or whether you should be married. It is not a test and there is no “right” or “wrong” answers.

      Prepare -Enrich is a programme developed by David Olson and colleagues at the University of Minneapolis, USA, to strengthen marriages and family life.

      Is it the same programme for everyone?

      PREPARE is for pre-marital couples wanting to explore and strengthen their growing relationship.
      PREPARE MC is for pre-marital couples focussing on their relationship and on step parenting.
      ENRICH is for married couples or couples living together wanting to enhance their existing relationship.
      MATE is for couples over the age of 50 entering marriage, or going through a life transition such as retirement, or relocation.
      What is the purpose of the programme?

      To enable couples to achieve the potential inherent in their relationships

      Who offers the programme?

      Trained counsellors at FAMSA offer the programme. Counsellors in the community both in private practice as well as those affiliated to a variety of religious institutions offer the programme.

      How does it work?

      The programme involves four counselling sessions of approximately one hour each.

      During the first session couples individually complete a questionnaire. This serves to stimulate each partner’s thinking about the relationship, and about what is important to him or her as individuals.
      The questionnaire also provides the counsellor with a relationship profile highlighting areas of strength and those requiring further growth.

      Using this information as a framework the counsellor is then able to focus the subsequent two sessions on the identified issues.

      Attention is also paid to communication and problem solving skills

      For whom is the programme?

      For all couples wanting to grow in their relationships.

      What is discussed?

      Personal preferences and what gives you satisfaction.
      What you believe is important in your life.
      Your concerns, difficulties and differences.
      What you were accustomed to in your parent’s home.
      How you as a couple share your thoughts and feelings and resolve differences.
      Conclusion

      Prepare-Enrich aims to promote healthy relationships to enhance mutual satisfaction and to maximise potential in couples.

  14. ninasimone says:

    I´m 23 and have been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years. Last summer, my roommate moved out of our apartment and I asked my boyfriend to move in with me. I thought it was a great opportunity and was looking forward to it. Sadly, he said no. He said he thought it was too soon and that he would like to live with me in the future, but that we were too young for such a commitment at the moment. I felt hurt by it and now I wonder if he´ll ever want to live with me! I know he loves me and I love him, but does this mean that he doesn´t ever want to commit to me? I´m worried! thanks and merry christmas! x

  15. Lesego says:

    Dear Elizabeth

    I do understand,im ready to live with with for as long as we shall live so i guess the question is that “is he ready to live with me forever?” i really love him i hope you understand that and never knew anyone so much like i do know him,i think we should sit down and talk about it before i even decide to move in with him,you have no idea how much i love him..

    I keep on praying for us to work out fine

    • emstalcup says:

      I hear that you love him, but your love is not enough to make the relationship work, in fact it may make it more difficult. If you are more committed, more in love that he is, it won’t be good. He has to make up his mind as well, hopefully without pressure. If you are over the top in love and he isn’t and you move in together it will create a huge imbalance which will torpedo any chance of having a healthy relationship.

      I would take a step backwards to give him room to figure out if he wants to commit to you.

      And if he does, is there any reason you would not get married? I know that, sadly, not all marriages work out, but I found great benefit in going through the premarital counseling, the vows, the thinking-it-through that comes with a good marriage. And God is in it. He made us. He made marriage. When we align ourselves to him, we sail; when we don’t we row. We can pray for our agenda, but it is better to surrender to the direction he is blowing us.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  16. Ideee says:

    Thank you for being so attentive and responsive. I have lost several relationships because of abstinence. My last boyfriend had sex with someone who started harassing me and family. His siblings blamed me for not having sex with. He still begs for another opportunity but I ve moved on.

    The new guy also said the only problem he has with me is my refusal. I ll be 32 in february and I hope to still hold on despite some mistakes. I have decided to let go of this new guy. I know God will not forsake me. Though friends and family are beginning to wonder what’s wrong.

    Moral standard have really deteriorated but I still believe if we reach out to God His glory still abounds. Its not being easy I breakdown when its time to let’s go. These guys are usually christians. May God make a way for me soon.

    • emstalcup says:

      This sound brutal. You are doing the right thing and suffering for it. I would have hard time trusting a man who pressures me to have sex. He does not sound very mature.

      I would agree that moral standards have deteriorated, but do not give up hope. A close friend of mine married for the first time recently to a wonderful man who lost his wife to cancer. It was such a joyous occasion for all of us. He is a gem and who would not have been interested in her had she not led a pure life. I think we sisters have got to band together and raise our standards and insist on healthy relationships with men. The average American man is not very mature, and the average American woman is not much better. One of the childhood tasks it to learn to tame your cravings and your boyfriend does not sound like he has mastered this task.

      I would encourage you to find a church where there are people your age and get to know them. I’m visiting my daughter in Sydney right now and her church has a specific group for people 25 to 35. That is a great way to get to know others, to see how they treat other people, to see their lives.

      I pray that God would lead you to the right husband for you, someone who will cherish you, treasure you and love you.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  17. Heather G says:

    Elizabeth,
    I have been sorta living with my fiance now for a few months. I say “sorta” because I never actually “moved in” with him and I still have my own apartment. Instead, I just ended up sleeping over his place a lot until I just didn’t want to go home much anymore. There’s just nothing for me there, it’s just a lonely apartment in an area where I never really had any friends to begin with and my job is in between our two places. We were a long distance relationship (about a two hour drive from each other) and it was so hard finding time to be with each other between work schedules that it just became easier to sleep over his place. We have never had sex together although we have overstepped some boundaries that were wrong to overstep, and we both repented and have mutually committed not to let our cuddling get out of control anymore.
    But since I’ve been with him, I’m finding myself more and more unsure that we should really get married. I started staying here because it felt like I never had enough time to spend with him to get to know each other deep enough, and now that I feel like we’ve really gotten to know each other, now I’m feeling like this relationship may be a big mistake. And now I’m too attached to leave. I’m really, really screwed up.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Heather,
      I am so sorry you are in this hard place. This is why I wrote my article, because I wished someone had given me some good solid reasons to go slow. As I think back on what my made my relationships so toxic, I think my hunger for love and secure attachment made it impossible to take it one day at a time. I was starved for human connection and it seemed like the only way I could get what I needed, was to dive into an all absorbing relationship with a man. I was like a drowning woman grasping for a life ring that kept bobbing out of reach. I am writing an e-book about my journey (hopefully it will be ready soon) that give details of how I got out of the mess I had made of my life, but to summarize, I had to learn to attach to safe friends, in my case a family from Mississippi who attended my church.

      As you probably already know, it is best to give yourself time to get to know someone, to know their heart, their character, before you get very attached because once you are attached it is painful to severe that attachment. The only way to go slow is to limit the time you spend with someone. I encourage you to take a break from living with him, so you can evaluate where you are. Is he the kind of person you want to marry? If not, it is better to end it as soon as you can so you don’t get even more attached. We can tell ourselves that we won’t get attached but if we are spending lots of time with the person we will–it is the way our brain works. We bond with those in close proximity and this is accelerated by physical intimacy.

      I teach Restarting classes which teach that we are made to bond–to God and healthy people. I believe this is true. So one of the best ways to let go is to find others who are willing to be your friend. A church should be a safe place. They aren’t always, but keep praying, keep looking and don’t limit yourself to people your own age. An older woman can be a great friend.

      I’ll be praying for you. Write back and let me know how you are.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  18. sunnyaubree says:

    Elizabeth,

    I am 19 years old, and I have been with my 19 year old boyfriend for three and a bit years. I am proud of us for where we are today, we have a healthy relationship and we both have identified our weaknesses both as individuals and as a couple, and we are supportive of one another and love one another very much.

    Our history got somewhat mucky in our last year of highschool (after being together for over a year) where we went through a period of ups and downs, staying together for as long as a month and then cooling off and separating or being friends. This lasted for 5 months or so, but we have now been together for over a year and a half.

    I am a very intense person, both emotionally and in terms of my thinking. I take things to heart, am very self-aware, and I evaluate my thoughts, feelings and experiences deeply. So therefore, it seems fitting that these episodes of toxic see-sawing in our relationship have greatly impacted me. I have made strides, but I sometimes feel deeply troubled by the past, the other people we both started seeing, the mistakes we both made (our relationship was pretty much over but his ex-girlfriend from when they were 14 drunkenly kissed him, and I once slapped him in a fight) and the sense of failure. I’ll admit that our relationship was too serious when we were in highschool, but that is just my nature and I have always been mature for my age. I have thought so much about this, as I know relationships are such a major part of anyone’s life and these experiences have given me challenges to face as a consequence, but the efforts and counseling we have gotten gives me a strong faith that we both are really committed to growing and improving. We have been talking about marriage and moving in together for some time now, sharing similar goals and hopes, and we financial plans we’ve started working on to achieve these goals.

    There are two things I was hoping for some advice on from an objective source (since the adults and friends that I have talked to about this all have known me for much, if not, my whole life).

    For starters, I once prayed to God that He, who knows what’s in my heart better than myself, would show me what was healthiest for me when if came to being with my boyfriend. This was before we got back together for good. I prayed to Him that if He wanted me to let go of Christopher then I would, I was willing (unlike before) to let go of my dreams for us if that was what was best. But I asked that if there was some plan for us to be together, then when the time was right, I asked for Him to bring us back together again. I felt this weight being lifted off my shoulders, as if the issue was no longer in my hands, and shortly there-after, I started to run into Christopher, and his family members, in the most unusual places. How do I know if the past is something that I can release my firm grip, accept it, forgive it, and move forward putting faith in our relationship? I’m trying to do that.

    And secondly, my father was a youth pastor and a major figure in the Church as a young adult, and a husband to my mother before I was born. Things changed with family life I suppose and I was brought up as a Christian, though not as devote as he was perhaps. Although everyone in my family is close with my boyfriend, my dad is still reluctant to accept the idea that as our relationship progresses, we might live together if we get engaged after I graduate from university in two years. I don’t lie to him, but I have slept at my boyfriend’s in the past, and Christopher has slept at my house as well as coming on the family vacation (staying in separate rooms). I appreciate my father’s morals (my mom is ok with it) and we have always been incredibly close so I see how it is a ‘daddy’s little girl’ issue as well, but I am an adult, I have many responsibilities, I am in a serious long-term relationship, and I wish that he would understand how for me, the sleeping over, is not a major step in our relationship, it feels natural. I do not feel used, overly bonded – I feel like our relationship is healthy and balanced but I don’t want to fight with my dad, who told me that when I was 19 I would be ok to sleep at Chris’s. My parents have always given me (within reason) the opportunity to make choices for myself, which he says he recognizes.

    Thank-you for your time, I’m sorry it is so long!
    Aubree

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Aubree,

      You’ve covered a lot of ground. Let me see if I can touch on a few of the issues you’ve brought up.

      You mentioned being hurt by the past, and wondered if you will be able to move beyond the pain and forgive. All unprocessed pain is trauma, so you need to process your pain to get over the past. It won’t go away; it may go underground, which you don’t want. One of the best ways to process pain is to get Theophostic Prayer Ministry (theophostic.com), where you follow your painful feelings back to a memory that feels the same way, then see what you are believing that makes you feel that way, then hear from God as to what is true. It is powerful. There is a good introduction you can read online by going to the website and reading the first three chapters of Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic prayer.

      I worry that you have slapped your boyfriend in a fight. In my experience trying not to resort to physical violence usually does not work. Even though we feel regret afterwards, when we are upset and angry we tend to act out. Again, processing pain can help because our unprocessed pain gets triggered by current events so that we overreact to present circumstances.

      As to your future plans to live together, I am with your dad on this one. I find your email a little confusing, if you are fully committed to this guy, why would you live with him? Why not marry him? Do you see cohabitation as the natural progression in a relationship, get engaged, cohabit, then marry?

      I keep wondering, what if the relationship does not work out? I see many women whose relationships did not endure. They gave their best years when they were young and beautiful to someone they loved who was not as committed to the relationship as they were, and now they find themselves alone. What are your goals? I always wanted a husband and children. I wanted a Christian home. I wanted to follow God with my whole heart.

      It is wonderful that you surrendered the relationship to God. God loves you more than you know.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  19. Promise David says:

    I am 20yrs old hv bin in a relationship since high skol 5yrs nw.My boyfriend went to college b4 me far away from home didn’t want to attend the same school with him bt did wen i couldn’t get admitted in d several school i applied to. I got admitted into his skol and he suggested we stay together we had our ups and downs bt we still love eachoda after staying 1 yr 2geda bt here is d problem.
    We both want to spend the rest of our lifestyle together he talks abt the kind of family we wld hv bt wants to w8 til he is out of college
    Am from a Christian home and my parents do not no abt this relationship or our staying together. I lost contact wit God afraid of reading d bible and attending services cos i always fill guilty. To cut dis story short i hv rededicated my life to God and hv told him we can’t stay together or hv sex any more and he has agreed bt weneva we r 2geda he wld wnt to hv sex wit me and i can’t resist his touch don’t no hw to get away from dis mess i don’t want to hv sex again until am married. I need your advice

    • emstalcup says:

      In my experience it is very hard to stop having sex with someone with whom you have had a long-term relationship. I admire you wanting to do that. I was in the same situation myself when I was 20. I had been living with a man in Norway and I came back to the States to finish my bachelor’s degree and while I was there I rededicated my life to God and told my boyfriend that I wanted to stop having sex with him until we were married. He did not take this well and when I look back, he was fairly manipulative with me and I was weak. I kept crying out to God and then something happened that made me end the relationship. It made me feel crazy to want to please God and want to please my boyfriend. We were deeply attached and it pulled me in two.

      So my advice for you is to stick to your decision, and draw some boundaries. Good ones might be no lying down together, limiting time together late at night, limiting touching. It will be hard if he is wanting sex and you are wanting purity, but with God’s help, you can do it. He will provide a way of escape if you are determined. I hope for you it works out. When we have sex with someone we bond at the deepest level in our brain, the limbic level and there will be some attachment pain, when you pull back. Expect it. Find ways to fill the hole by developing a nourishing relationship with God and with strong healthy people. This would be a great time to find an older woman who is accepting and can be a good friend to you, mentor you through this.

      I pray that you boyfriend will open his heart to the savior. I wish I had a magic wand that would make people see how much Jesus loves them. His love is beyond anything we can imagine. Deeper, higher, wider. If we saw Jesus clearly, we would all run into his arms.

      Most of all don’t beat yourself up. Confess. Forgive. Forgive yourself. Don’t let guilt erect a barrier to God. He understands. I ask God every night to show me my sins and then wait for him to show me, then I confess it. I posted an article about this on my blog here: http://aredeemedlife.wordpress.com/advice/parenting/family-confession/
      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  20. Brianna says:

    Me and my boyfriend are planning to move in together in a year or 2 he said this and it suprised me a lot. I pray to God to let me know if I’m making a wise decision. We have known eachother for 7 years and I’ve loved him for 5. We plan on having seperate rooms and seperate beds. Would that be a sin as we’ll? We will be planning to get married soon at his church. We go every Sunday faithfully he loves going. We both love God and want to keep him in both our lives.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Brianna,

      You didn’t say how old you were but I am confused. It sounds like you have known each other for a very long time, seven years, and you say that you know you want to get married. Why would you live together first? I would find it very hard to be in a romantic relationship with someone, living in the same house, in separate bedrooms with separate beds. You might have good intentions but I think it would be very hard to remain pure in that situation. Why do it? What would the advantages be? If you are certain, why not marry?

      In my humble opinion, I do not think that living together prior to marriage would be God’s best for you. Sin separates us from the God who loves us more than we can imagine. Don’t put yourself in a no-win situation. Instead focus on building a healthy relationship with your boyfriend, with God, with your community. It is wonderful that you are going to church and that you love God. What would the next step look like? How can you move closer to God? You are as close to God as you want to be. He is always willing to come closer.

      I have a post entitled Seven steps to getting closer to God. See if one of those steps appeals to you and put it into practice.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  21. Fiorella Torres says:

    Fiorella says:
    Hello, i am so blessed to have found this website. I need your advice to guide my life. I am 26 years old, and I have a 2 and a half year relationship. My boyfriend is 32 and he is always talked about getting married, having a family together from day 1. He even spoke to my parents about how much he loves me and how serious he is about this relationship. However, he was looking hard to have a real job where he could start a career and be able to take care of me. On September 2010 he finally got it, but the great offer was to work in Arizona. We live in New Jersey. Well he accepted it but he had to start the training in Georgia for five months before he is sent back to Arizona. So before he left he told me that after he is finally sent to work in Arizona after the training he wants me with him. I said yes because I love him and want to be with him. I believe we both have a good relationship and I never felt so sure of what I wanted in my life. At this very moment he is in Georgia training and his training is done in April. We saw each other for Christmas and New Years, and during that time he thought we both agreed to live together first and not feel pressured to get married just so I could leave my house to go there or for the situation. But I honestly don’t want that because I am afraid that he could get comfortable and not wanting to marry me later on. Besides I feel I am so willing to quit my job, leave my family and friends for him and I don’t get anything in exchange. No commitment at all. Also, he is afraid that I might move in with him and because he was told, he might have to work 16 hour shift sometimes, I might not put up with that, feel depressed and move back to Jersey. Because of this he thinks is better to live together and see how well we get alone and get married. According to him,if I can’t put up with leaving away from my parents I will move back and then we would have to get divorced. He says he only want to get married once and forever. Now that I have told him that I will not move in with him unless we get married, he is asking me to move in with him and to give him a year so he can buy me a ring and get married. He says he will not let me down, to believe in him. So after that, i told him that I will wait a year here in Jersey, but he does not want that because he feels we will loose connection. I honestly want to be with him badly but don’t want to wait a year. At the same time, I am afraid that his promises might never happen. Main problem for him is that he doesn’t have money for a ring and a wedding right now, but I told him that i don’t need a wedding, that we could get married in the city hall, and save up money in a year or two so we can get married in church and have the wedding we both deserve.
    I need help please.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Forella,

      I think you are doing the right thing, but it sounds very hard that the two of you have different ideas on how to move forward with your relationship. You are willing to make a life-time commitment to him, to leave your family and friend to be joined to him. That is a great treasure. Stand by your convictions. If he is the right man he will come around. I am also impressed because you have made it clear that you don’t need a fancy ring or an expensive wedding. When my husband asked me to marry him, he intended to buy me a diamond ring like his brothers had purchased for their wives but he had just gotten out of school and I told him that I didn’t want it if he was going to borrow money to buy it. I jokingly told him he could buy me a diamond ring for me our tenth anniversary, but we couldn’t afford it then either. I still love my simple wedding band and I am thrilled to be debt-free. Sadly, it seems that some couples put more into to preparing for their wedding then they do into preparing for their marriage.

      I wonder if you could find a couple to mentor you two. Someone who could help him understand that living together will not protect him from the hurt you both will feel if the relationship ends. Making such a big commitment can be scary, especially if you have not seen good marriages modeled. My husband and I went through some rough times at first. I am not sure we would have made it without crying out to God to help us. We were committed. We hung in there and now 25 years later, we are so glad we did.

      One way you might proceed is to find a mentor to take you through the Prepare and Enrich material. According to their website PREPARE/ENRICH will help you:
      Identify strength and growth areas
      Explore personality traits
      Strengthen communication skills
      Resolve conflicts and reduce stress
      Compare family backgrounds
      Comfortably discuss financial issues
      Establish personal, couple, and family goals which can help a couple see areas of compatibility as well as areas of where you may struggle in the future.

      At their website they have a place where you can put in your zipcode: https://www.prepare-enrich.com/webapp/pe/couples/template/DisplaySecureContent.vm;pc=1326089965809?id=pe*couples*for_couples.html&emb_org_id=0&emb_sch_id=0&emb_lng_code=ENGLISH

      Know that God loves you and he will lead and guide you, if you are willing to ask him to show you the way.

      I’ll be praying for you two. Let me know how it goes.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  22. Dee says:

    I am stuck in a very stressful situation…for the past year I’ve started to have anxiety that’s only getting worse. I am 22 and still live at home with a very dysfunctional family. Ever since I can remember my parents have hated eachother, all id ever hear from my mother is about my father. I mean I remember being 10 and my mom opening up to me about personal and intimate stuff between her and my father. I remember my dad hitting my mom and giving her a broken nose when she was pregnant with my little sister. Yet my childhood and the pain I endured is a different story…lets go back almost a year from now in March 2011.
    It was the usual thing my mom opening up to me about my dad…being depressed saying she wants him gone and yada yada. They end up arguing one night and as I try to calm them down and work out the situation..my father ends up turning on me. I become ‘a lowlife, a whore’, he then lays his hands on me and punches my head. He ends up going crazy….banging cabinets, opening and shutting them. My mom then tells me to leave the house quick because my mom and siblings thought he really wanted to hurt me. I run barefoot in the cold..my sister (i have 3 sisters im the oldest) promised she was going to call the cops. So I watched the house from a distance in pajamas and barefoot until cops came and my dad left.
    The conclusion was that I wasnt pressing charges and my dad was moving out…but I was always used to him leaving and then shortly coming back..that’s always been my parents relationship. So after a week of being gone he was back and apologetic and things looked like they were gonna be good.
    A week later me and my sister who is a year younger than me were being kicked out because suddenly we were the problem with our parents relationship. Mean things were said that I won’t ever forget from my parents. Me and my sister left for the night and came back the next day begging to work things out. We then came back and in July just four months later we were kicked out again ‘ You’re 21 go start your life’…”But mom what did I do wrong?!” “Nothing just go live your life let us raise the little ones differently” ….left for a night and came back. Then December on Christmas Eve same thing. Theres alot of details im leaving out about how mean and horrible my mom was to me saying the worst things you can ever say to your daughter. And let me mention that I have a curfew 12AM and I never go past it, I respect my parents, I live my life as right as I can yet I still get kicked out for nothing. So after being kicked out on Christmas Eve for leaving tea cups in the sink (no joke)…I left thinking Id never come back again…
    I went back. I swallowed my pride, apologized, begged, and came back home. We promised it’d never happen again, that we’d be a happy family, or try to be. Yet New Years comes and my parents get into a huge fight and now my mom is HATING MY DAD. Wants him out, my dads never home, I never see or talk to him.
    And I’m going crazy on how back and forth everything is…my anxiety is killing me, I just dont know what to do. I want to leave.
    I have a boyfriend who was my best friend for almost 2 years and then we began dating and have been together for a year now…his mom knows of my situation and I’m close with her and she’s told me numerous times that I’m always welcome to stay with her, and my boyfriend has told me that too.
    I just don’t know what to do…someone please help. I just want to be happy, have a peace of mind, and be free from all this pain.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Dee,

      It sounds like you are in a horrendous situation. No wonder you feel anxious! It sounds like life spins out-of-control every few months and you have no power to change things. Both of your parents sound very wounded and they have, in turn, wounded their children, including you. I am so sorry you are going through this. It is a viscous cycle and as you are seeing, good intentions—really wanting to change—does not mean we have the power to actually change. We may want desperately to change but we don’t know how.

      It sounds like you have tried hard to help and it is no better; indeed there is more tension than before. Sadly, you cannot fix your parents, but it is not too late to help yourself. Sometimes helping ourselves is the best we can do for everyone involved. As I became more whole it helped my family because I was able to model other ways to face painful emotions.

      Your job now is to heal from the trauma of growing up in this family so you won’t repeat the mistakes your parents made. Let me give you some ideas to get started.

      1. Connect with God. You didn’t say if you have a relationship with God but he loves you and has been with you every second of your life. I urge you to begin interacting with him. Tell him what you are going through and listen for his voice. A great place to start is to get a Bible in a modern version like The Message or New Living Translation. Or you can read online at Biblegateway.com. I would start in the Psalms (they are in the middle) or in the Gospel of John and just read until something hits you, then talk to God about what you are reading, and listen. He often speaks to us through impressions that come to our mind. My chat sessions with David, which I posted earlier have a lot of good information on how to get started. Interacting with God and surrendering to him, as you are able, is a wonderful source of peace.

      2. I would look for a new living situation. I think it will be very hard to heal where you are because you need a safe place where the pain can begin to surface. I don’t think moving in with your boyfriend is a good idea—it won’t be a good environment to heal either—but I think your life may be in danger so I can’t recommend staying where you are. Is there somewhere else you can go? Somewhere with mature, loving people who understand trauma and can give to you? It won’t necessarily feel comfortable at first because you are used to giving and that feels normal, but you need to receive for a season. You are deeply attached to your family so it will be very hard to leave them. Expect it to be difficult, but know that staying in that dysfunctional system is not a good idea. When I was a little younger than you, I moved in with a Christian family. They weren’t perfect but they were so much more whole than my family that it was a turning point in my life. We learn primarily through modeling. There is also a place in Vermont called The Father’s House or Father’s Mansion I believe. Your help with farming and process you life. One of my nieces spent over a year there and found it very healing.

      3. I would caution you about romance right now. It is a sorry fact of life that without significant healing, you will tend to pick a man that will recreate the environment you grew up in. We tend to marry people who are at our same level of dysfunction. I’ve seen so many times—people are positive they have found someone different and they next thing they know that man who was so sweet and attentive is treating them just like their family did. Put off romance until you have had a few years to recover from your trauma.

      4. Find some kind of emotional, mental support. You might find a group for families of addicts. I am a big fan of Restarting (see thrivingrecovery.org) but it not widely available yet. Al-Anon might be helpful http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/. A good Theophostic prayer ministry facilitator could be helpful (read the first three chapters of Healing Life Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer online at Theophostic.com). Find a good church, one that won’t judge you, but will help you appropriately. If you are in the Washington, D.C. area, let me know. I’d be happy to see you.

      5. Know that we were made to attach to people and God. If your parents motivated you through fear you will be fear-bonded; if they motivated you by love you will be bonded to them in love. Fear bonds can be very strong, and hard to break, what drives them is trying to avoid pain. I know that in my family of origin, we were all deeply fear-bonded to my dad. Our lives were devoted to tip-toeing around him, to keep him from getting into one of his moods where his rage ruled the house. It was a miserable existence. We couldn’t change him, we had no control over his moods and it made us all feel a false responsibility for what was going on. We even blamed each other rather than recognizing that he was bullying us.

      Most of all, don’t give up! God is with you, loving you. Ask him to help you perceive his presence and follow him. He will lead you out of the morasse into a new life that you can only imagine. When I was your age I could not envision the life I am living now, but step by step God brought me to a place of great joy and satisfaction.

      Please let me know how you are doing. My husband and I prayed for you last night as we were going to bed. The internet has been down all morning (Sydney for all its modern technology has terribly unreliable internet) so I will post this when it comes back on.

      God bless you,

      Elizabeth

  23. Fiorella Torres says:

    hello Elizabeth,
    Thank you for you advice, I do really appreciate it.
    It’s me, Fiorella again, I spoke to my boyfriend about our situation again, and he tells me that he is ready to commit but money is an issue right now. That I deserve a nice ring and a nice wedding, Honestly, I would’t like to get married like this, just so I could live with him and move to Arizona. I want to plan it, I want it to be special because I want to marry someone only once. I dont’t want to feel pressured or feel like if I was pregnant, and need to get married soon. So I was thinking, and made it clear to him that we both want to be together and continue our realtionship. That I am not living with him without being married,out of respect to me and my parents. One idea I came out with is that I could find a job over there or get transfered and get my own apartment. I told him that he would have to respect my space and I would do the same. But I dont know how my parents would take this, and honestly I dont want to hurt them. Maybe they might think it will be the same as if I was living with him, but I think that will allow me to grow as a person, and at the same time, see if his intentions are to merry me.
    What do you think?

    pregnant, and need to get married soon.

    • emstalcup says:

      That sounds like a good plan to me, to move there, get a job and your own place. Where in Arizona are you going? My brother lives there. One of my favorite living situations is to live in a group house with others. My husband lived in a house full of guys in the years before we got married and I lived for many years with a group of women in Palo Alto–there were four of us–and almost everyone left to get married so there was turnover, someone left about once a year, but we shared a common life and it was wonderful. I am still close to some of those women. My daughter is doing that now, living with three other women her age in Sydney and my son is living with a group of young men, recent college graduates, who all went to the same university. The give and take that comes from those relationship is very maturing.

      They best way to find a living situation like that is through a church. There is a large church in my area that has a singles group that posts available housing options. Many people use it, not just people who go to that church. Another good option is to live with a family.

      Why am I bringing this up? You don’t want your sole relationship to be with your boyfriend. You need community that will embrace you both, and give you a listening ear so you can process your thought, so that you don’t get too isolated. Your parents might also feel more comfortable if they knew you were going to a secure living situation.

      We learn so much by modeling, by watching the lives of others. I lived with a Christian family for three years while in at the university and it was profoundly healing for me to see how they dealt with conflict and their enduring kindness towards each other. I didn’t adopt everything they did but it opened new options for me to consider.

      You might want to start by finding a church that runs the Prepare and Enrich program and signing up for it. That will give you both a mentor who will walk you through a healthy evaluation of your relationship, so you have common goals and understandings of where you are and where you want to be.

      I am writing about that season of my life now, getting ready to publish an ebook that chronicles my spiritual journey through my twenties when my wounds seemed to continual torpedo my life.

      Let me know how it goes.I’ll be praying for you.

      Elizabeth

  24. Fiorella Torres says:

    Thank you for your help. Could you please help me on how to find more info about those single groups that offer housing options, or if they have a web site?

    Thanks

  25. Yazz says:

    Just want to thank you for posting this…it made me bawl..hysterically. I am 26 and 3 mo pregnant for my boyfriend of 1.5 yrs…he is 31 with 2 children for another woman. My parents are pastors and needless to say are distraught over this situation. They want us to get married and so do I and although weve talked about it b4 the pregnancy I dont want to force my bf into it b/c of this. I do want Gods will for my life and know that Im in this situation b/c i was impatient and want an emotionally intimate relationship. I honestly feel like aborting and starting over. I dont want my child to feel they were a mistake or not have a father around if we never officially commit to each other. Its scary and depressing. Im still happy i read your post…its given me lots to think about

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Yazz,
      I cried as I read your email. I was once in the same situation only I was pregnant from a one night stand and had no ongoing relationship with my baby’s father. I too was tempted to get an abortion and start over. I am writing about this season of my life right now. It going to come out as an e-book in the next week or so but let me give you a chapter that will hopefully encourage you.
      Let me post this and then I will post more.
      Elizabeth

      Chapter Six
      Freefall
      The heart is deceitful above all things
      and beyond cure.
      Who can understand it?

      – Jeremiah 17:9
      We would all like to think we can be children to a heavenly Father who will be lenient with us, who will close at least one eye and let us get away with our mischief. A Father who will never exact the price for our sins, and who will lovingly indulge us as we commit our acts of disobedience.
      If any of you subscribe to this, my advice to you is to forget it.

      – Michael Esses, The Phenomenon of Obedience
      A casual observer watching me the summer before I turned twenty-six would have thought that I was living a charmed life. I had been accepted into the Ph.D. program at Stanford and was spending the summer before I was slated to begin doing fieldwork in the mountainous region between the Yukon River and the tiny Eskimo village of Unalakleet on the shore of Norton Sound. Every day we hiked snow-capped ridges, flew in a Bell 206 helicopter, or zipped down the Yukon in a riverboat. I was living the life of adventure I’d always said I wanted, but my life was about to capsize.
      Our crew was renting the parsonage in Unalakleet, a “dry” village, while the pastor and his family were “outside.” In Alaskan lingo, “outside” means anywhere besides the state of Alaska, while “dry” meant you could not buy liquor in town, though certain members of the community were known to charter small planes to fly them to Nome so they could purchase hard liquor, often returning so inebriated they had to be rolled out of the plane like sacks of potatoes.
      I had signed a rental agreement that stipulated that we would not drink in the good pastor’s home. The crew was not happy about this, but they had obeyed the rule until one night when someone pulled out a bottle of Wild Turkey and began mixing bourbon with orange juice. I was naïve when it came to liquor, not through any virtue, but because feeling light-headed felt out-of-control, so I rarely drank more than half a glass of wine.
      By now I had been seeing my Christian counselor long enough to know that there was a connection between my poor choice of male companions and the two-ton chip I carried on my shoulder toward my dad. In therapy I had made headway on one account: I was now able to see what I was doing —some of the time. Those moments were a blessing because this insight enabled me to stop. At other times it was a curse as I watched myself helplessly slide into disaster, like a baseball player sliding into home plate from sheer momentum even though she sees that the catcher is already holding the ball.
      That night in Unalakleet was one of those nights. Among the crew was a man who seemed impervious to my charms. I was so used to enticing men that when I found one I fancied who showed no interest, it drew me like a lemming to the sea. That night he showed a hint of interest and my gnawing need for approval whispered, One more time won’t matter.
      I couldn’t have been more wrong.
      Looking back I see that I was compelled to see if I could captivate him, and once I started down that well-worn road, the fear of rejection catapulted me forward. Two months later, I was sitting in an open riverboat headed down the Yukon River anxiously cycling through the evidence that I might be pregnant. My breasts are swollen and tender. I am exhausted. I had only felt that way one time before. In the isolation of the boat, it was impossible to silence my suspicions. Not now! I silently screamed. Not now when I’ve finally begun to dig at the roots of my pain. I am bravely trying to face my brokenness. This is too much! The frigid air numbed my bare cheeks as I tugged my wool hat down until it scratched my eyelids. I stared at the swirling gray water of the Yukon, and pictured slipping out of the boat and into its murky depths. The water was a chocolate milkshake of icy water and rock flour, pulverized by distant glaciers —a mixture so thick that you couldn’t see a centimeter beneath the surface. An old-timer had once told me that anyone who fell into the Yukon never surfaced again. The glacial flour filled your clothing, hair, and shoes and pulled you straight to the bottom.
      Irrationally, it was my desire to give my child life that kept me seated in the boat. I couldn’t figure out a way to take my own life while protecting the one growing within me. Our destinies were linked.
      Once we got off the Yukon River, I flew back to Fairbanks to meet up with another man —Paul, a fellow Christian and Californian I had met in Unalakleet. I confided my fears to him, so our first stop was a drugstore where I purchased a home-pregnancy test. You were supposed to wait for morning, but at 4 AM I was sleepless, alone in the bathroom of my hotel room, measuring my urine with scientific precision. The blue vial confirmed my fears. I was pregnant.
      It seemed impossible to contemplate having a baby when I was unmarried, on the verge of a promising, now vanishing, graduate program. My mind flashed to my baby’s father and I wanted to curl into a ball and vanish. Our relationship had dipped beneath the surface in one area only —the physical. Why I had been so enamored with him, I could not now imagine. He had shown no interest in me beyond that one evening. The last thing I wanted was a relationship of obligation.
      God, I thought looking back, how could I have been so hapless? Is there an escape hatch, a way out? Or will I to have to follow this road to its dead end? I prayed that I would miscarry; hoping an act of God would absolve me of my dilemma.
      I wanted absolution without repercussions. The fork in the road loomed so large, I froze at the junction, too stunned to choose either direction. Choose this day whom you will serve, God was whispering to my heart, calling me to turn from my disobedient lifestyle and follow him.
      At night in bed, my frantic mind cycled through solutions. I tried to bargain with God: Just one more abortion, just one more, and then, I promise, after that I WILL FOLLOW YOU! But at my core, I instinctively knew that I would turn my back on God completely and permanently if I terminated this pregnancy. My decision to abort my first child had been heartless, a spineless solution, a selfish sacrifice to placate my panic. I had jettisoned my baby simply because I was unwilling to consider what motherhood might cost me. The fog of relief that had settled on me after the abortion had lifted, exposing a canyon of deep and abiding sorrow. I had promised myself that no matter how dire my circumstances, I would never do that again.
      Standing at that crossroad, I scrutinized my life. Stripped of illusions, I saw that I had taken the easy way out time and time again, all the while telling myself that my compromises hadn’t affected my basic character. Deep down, I thought I was a good person, untainted by a series of minor missteps. Now I saw that I bore the mark of every mistake I had refused to face. Years of fervently wanting to obey God didn’t count, because whenever the moment of decision was upon me, I had no end of excuses for taking the easy way out.
      Now I saw reality. Each choice had taken me by degrees further and further from God. Slowly, imperceptibly at first, my soul had twisted. I didn’t like who I had become.
      It was now or never. All or nothing. Would I decide to go God’s way, no matter how impossible or unreasonable it seemed? Or would I compromise, yet again, searing my conscience until it no longer sought higher ground?
      I wrestled with the magnitude of my decision. Finally, in deep anguish, I surrendered myself at the feet of Jesus and cried out to him to rescue me. I pictured my future: me, raising a child alone, flipping burgers, living in a trailer park with a teenaged son who bad-mouthed me. Isolated and achingly alone. I would forego graduate school, have the child, and watch my dreams and the life that might have been slip, like sand, through my fingers.
      Paul took me to a church in Fairbanks where I asked for prayer. I cried out to God, hoping to hear his whispers of comfort. The woman who prayed for me told me that even though I was bearing a child, God wanted me to remain in school. At the time, I thought she said that because I looked so young that people often thought I was a teenager when I was in my mid-twenties. But part of me wondered, Could she have heard right? Does she realize school is graduate school? I hung onto the words, mulling over them in my mind. Maybe, just maybe that door was still slightly ajar.
      I wanted to rush home to my friends in California; but once I decided to bear my child, I had to think ahead. If there was any hope of getting my Ph.D. I had to have rock samples to analyze. I had already collected samples from two of the volcanic fields I was studying, but was not scheduled to visit the third one until the following summer. I would have to go there now, before I left Alaska. I would not be returning to the Alaska bush next summer, perhaps never.
      I humbled myself and shared my predicament with my boss. He had always been so kindhearted, my mentor and champion, so the disappointment in his expression stung. However, he obligingly agreed to let me join another helicopter party working nearby, extending my field season two weeks, and allowing me to collect the much-needed specimens.
      By the time I got back to California I was several months pregnant. On dark days it felt as if I had pitched myself off a cliff. I was in a free fall now —emotionally, spiritually, and materially. Either God would catch me or I would be completely and utterly destroyed.
      ******
      Do you find yourself thinking, God can’t really expect me to do that! Do you pick and choose what you want to believe from the Bible, or do you try to obey all of God’s rules for living as revealed in his word?
      I don’t think I saw God clearly until I was willing to obey him, no matter what the cost. It isn’t easy, but obedience is the only path to intimacy with God.
      Dear God,
      I am so easily deceived about what is right and wrong. When I want something very badly, I come up with all kinds of reasons to justify my choices. I know that I am hanging onto habits and attitudes that are slowly eating me alive. Strip off my masks and show me myself —as much as I can bear to see. I’m sorry for the times I have excused my behavior or argued with you about your laws. Deep down inside I knew it wasn’t right, but your ways are so different from mine. Forgive me and give me strength to live a life that is pleasing to you.
      In Jesus’ name,
      Amen

      Part two
      As for getting married, I am not a fan of getting married just because you are pregnant. I opted not to even tell my baby’s father that I was pregnant. I relented when she was two months old but because he was not the kind of guy I wanted to spend my life with, I raised my daughter alone, finding support in my church and among my family and friends. It was very hard. There were times I ached to have someone share my life but in those lonely times I came closer to God and began to see him as he really is: far more interested in healing me, far more committed to making me new than I was myself. I would urge you to go to God with your decision. Abortion is heartbreaking and traumatic, not only for the baby who dies but for the mother who does something so counter to her nature. Carrying the child as I did is also hard but can be very healing. There are many families wanting to adopt so you might want to consider that as well.

      My family was ashamed of me. I still remember the Christmas I visited them while 6 months pregnant. I picked up a trash can and two people stepped forward to take it out of my hands, I realized with a rush that they did not want me to go outside to empty it in the garage lest the neighbors see me. But fortunately I did not live in the same town that they did and once my daughter was born they loved her just as they would any grandchild. God can redeem anything we are willing to surrender to him. My daughter is wonderful, a delight. When I think how close I came to not having her I shudder.

      I pray that God would comfort you as only he can and lead you clearly as you walk out your life. That he would give you strength and the peace that passes all understanding. That you will know the plans he has for you, plans to give you a future and a hope.

      Take heart. Do not give up. God has not given up on you.

      I’ll be praying for you,

      Elizabeth

  26. Lizzie says:

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4 years, now, ever since the beginning of our senior year of high school. We both went to college together for 3 years. We’ve been working for about 3 months, now. Me, a full time job and him a part time job. My job has steady hours, his doesn’t. I have a disability that got in the way of getting a job so, after a second surgery, I am just now starting my career at 22. He’s 21 and is just now starting his career. We’re both graduated. We love each other very much and always talk to each other at night. He comes over to my house to spend the weekends I have off of work with me. My family knows him well, while his family (other than his dad, dad’s girlfriend and brother) don’t know me well. We both live away from each other with our families. I pay rent while he doesn’t. He wants to get me out of my house where my parents charge me a lot along with me having to pay loans. EVERY time I bring up marriage, he tells me he’s not ready. Says he will marry me some day, but wants us to move out from our parents and be financially stable. We’re about to get our first car and begin saving up. He wants us to be free of our parents and move out. He gets upset when I ask him why he didn’t ask me to marry him romantically. I kinda had to force him to ask me to marry him. I’m upset cause my sister got married once, divorced, and is now getting married and this has happened in a span of 6 months while it has been 4 years for me now and he still won’t marry me. We don’t want kids cause we’re not ready and don’t have good finances and want to move out. I try to talk about marriage and it always ends in him telling me I complain too much and why can’t I just be happy? I am happy being with him cause he’s my best friend and he keeps me company and we have a lot in common. He constantly mentions that he doesn’t want to marry me while we live with our families and wants us to live together so we don’t end up like my sister who is about to get married a second time and is still living with my parents and doesn’t pay rent while I do. I know he cares about me because he’s buying our first car and signing both of our names on it so I can drive to work and not have my parents jeopardize my career. But, I can’t figure out why he gets so upset when i ask him over and over why he won’t just marry me. Any advice would be really helpful!
    Thank you!
    -Elizabeth k.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Elizabeth,

      It sounds like something is not right. If he doesn’t want to get married after four years of dating what will make him ready? How can he possibly know that he will want to get married later? There is clearly something in the way. If he is willing to look at what that might be then maybe he will be able to move forward, but this has to be something he wants to do, not something you talk him into doing.

      You are in a hard place where you want more commitment than he is willing to give. Moving in with him would only make this worse. The person who is less committed has the power, and the person who is more committed feels desperate to make it work. We do best, we thrive, in secure attachments and he is not willing to give you one. Instead he is willing to go so far–live together–with a promise that things will be different at some unspecified time. Even he cannot guarantee that his heart will ever change.

      I once put off my live-in boyfriend like that. I lived with him and kept promising I would marry him in six months, but never did. Looking back he was not what I wanted in a husband. I think I knew that at some level but didn’t want to admit it even to myself.

      Some years later I was in a relationship with a man I loved who was willing to sleep with me but not marry me. We even went to counseling together to see if we could pinpoint what was wrong. I was very painful for me. We all want to be desirable, to have man who wants us more than any other women, who loves us deeply and unconditionally. Being in that situation, where there was some degree of commitment but not a full commitment caused all my insecurities to surface. The best advice I got was from the dean of the chapel at Stanford where I was in school. He said simply, “Jeff does not love you.” I argued with him. But he said again, “He does not love you. When I met my wife, I would have done anything to be with her. I felt I could not live without her.” I don’t think every marriage begins that way, but his words helped me. I would remind myself that my boyfriend did not live me, not enough to marry me. I was shocked when he got engaged, then married to someone else within a year. I believe they are still happily married. I was clearly not the right woman for him, nor he for me.

      So there are two possibilities as I see them. He has some belief, some wound, some issue that has nothing to do with you and he needs to face it, to resolve it, before he can move forward. He needs to do this, for your sake, if he really cares about you. A counselor or some Theophostic Prayer Ministry (theophostic.com) may help him get to the root of it, if he is motivated to try. It could also be an issue of immaturity.

      The other possibility is that he does not love you the way you want to be loved, which means he is not the right guy for you. You didn’t say if you were having sex but it sounded as if you were. If so, that may have torpedoed the relationship. Moving too fast in the physical rather than moving in sync with all that you are can cause a sort of pseudo-intimacy which can make it harder to commit to and maintain a life-long marriage.

      Your housing issue is a separate issue. I am a huge fan of living with friends of the same sex post-college. The give and take is so valuable and it is a chance to start afresh and change areas where you feel stuck with your family. Do you have some girlfriends you can live with? From college perhaps? If you don’t have girlfriends that should be telling you something right there.

      Let me know how it goes. It won’t be easy. You have to think ahead, to where you are going and where you want to end up. I wanted a happy Christian home with a man who shared my faith.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  27. Chelsea says:

    So I was wondering, what if you move in with a guy that you have no romantic ties or feelings for in any way, is it still wrong?
    In this age of homosexuality, the line between gender becomes increasingly more blurred. I have a ton of best friends that are guys, and very few that are female.
    Does god say anything about a purely friendship based cohabitation?

    • emstalcup says:

      From a purely theoretical point of view, it shouid be possible for a woman to live with a male roommate and have a pure relationship. In my experience, it makes a mess! We will bond with those we are in close contact with. So it is likely that despite your best intention the relationship will get more complicated over time. The Bible makes it clear that sex is a gift intended for marriage. It bonds you at the deepest level, the limbic level so it is not surprise that having sex outside marriage wreaks havoc. Part of you, your body, is deeply bonded. You heart follows that but your head may not even like the person. I recently got interested in the research by James Lynch who wrote The Broken Heart: The Medical Consequences of Loneliness. His book starts with a quote from a 35-year old steelworker who says, “Man, you must be kidding about love? I think our young college kids must have latched on to something. Why get married when you can simply screw some young chick and nobody gets hurt. In the end you owe her nothing and she owes you nothing.” The first paragraph begins with “There is a widespread belief in our modern culture that love is a word with no meaning.” It goes on to state that a whole generation agrees with the steelworker and also believes that “You can be intimate with someone and then leave, and nothing bad will happen.” Lynch completely refutes this thinking by showing that human relationships are vital to physical and mental health.

      God made you for freedom. It seems that a mixed house would have more tension. During my college years one of my best friends announced he was gay. We had a close friendship for years, we even went through about a year where we cooked dinner together every night because his housing did not have a kitchen. It was a pretty peaceful relationship, he was a great friend. But it would not have worked for me to live with him. Me and my roommates were a Christian community of sorts. We held sternly to Christian morals. I don’t think I would have been comfortable with his boyfriends. That’s me.

      When I got married almost all of my male friends, guys who understood that we were “just friends” disappeared. Some later admitted they were hoping for romance. Do you think a man and a woman can ever have a truly platonic friendship? I was pretty disappointed that my supposed “friends” vanished once I was married. I think living with a man would be complicated. Our feelings can surprise us. We can start out feeling one way and find our heart going in another direction. One of the advantages of not living together is having safe people at home that you can process with, or even having a break from the relationship in which to think. If I lived with a guy, I would forfeit that.

      I had a great time living with women and I’ve seen so many other people love their group homes. My sister lived in one for 30 years and they are very close (she got married last summer). My son lives with four other guys in D.C.; my daughter lives with three other women in Sydney. There is conflict and growth but also a lot of joy.

      Did that answer your question?

      Elizabeth

  28. Ralph says:

    I know the studies are there but i want psychological reasons as to how this affects one’s perceptions about the other person when they cohabit, rather then saying ” living with your boyfriend will keep you from finding the husband God has for you.”. To me this is strictly speaking to someone who believes in God I am not saying that i don’t but i want solutions to the problems, not a “just don’t do it”. My girlfriend and i are considering moving in together but i have been seeing a therapist to work out my own daddy issues as is she. I know the odds are against us but i truly am compassionate with her after 3 years and do cater to her feelings. Am i to destined to fail. Please give me your thoughts!!!!

    • emstalcup says:

      You are not destined to fail. God made you, he has wonderful plans for your life but following Christ is a bit like sailing, you need to line up with the will of God and him blow you where you need to be.

      You asked for psychological reasons. I am not a psychiatrist but I have cohabited before and am married now for 25 years. Marriage is very different. We vowed before God to love each other through thick and thin. We acknowledged before God that as two broken humans we need his help. We can’t love each other as we ought to. We are fully committed. We brought all that we are into the marriage. So I was not looking my husband over, thinking, will this work, is this what I want? I was instead asking God to show me how to love him, how to help him grow, how to help me grow. A godly marriage, with both partners trusting God is more different from cohabitation that you can imagine. I realize not all marriages are centered on Jesus forming a triangle of love and support. We have had our issues–you can read Blaming my Husband on this blog–but it is fundamentally different when you are completely committed and trusting God to bring you through. Marriage is not about someone meeting your needs, it is about letting yourself be transformed by the act of loving another person as much as you love yourself.
      So it is ultimately about letting God heal your heart. We tend to fight him, to not see him clearly.

      I finally finished the book I’ve been writing for ages. It tells part of the story. I thought it might help some of the people who are reading the blog so I put it out as an e-book: Crossroads Before Me, at Amazon.

      I’ve read that the best relationships are where everything moves in sync. That means your body does not get ahead of your heart and mind. That means you refrain from sex until you are fully committed. It keeps you from feeling crazy vulnerable because you have bonded at a deep level before you have decided with your heart and mind that you want to to be deeply attached that person for the rest of your life. Having sex before you are married clouds your ability to think clearly about the person in front of you.

      Jesus can heal your daddy issues. You need to hear what he has to say about you. Everyone needs a warm, loving relationship with a dad. Let him father you. Listen to what he has to say about you. You are his little boy. Take time to develop a relationship with him.

      And now, Lord, come and touch Rafael. Help him to encounter you and to recognize that you have never left him and you will never forsake him, that you love him and want the best for him. Expose the lies and set him free. In Jesus’ name,
      Amen!

  29. Kristy says:

    Hi, I have greatly enjoyed reading your article and wanted to share my story and get some advice and support.

    I am 36 and have two wonderful children ages 17 and 15. I have been a single mom for the past 14 years. I have had many struggles and made many mistakes. I am currently living with my parents due to raising rent and not being able to afford it on my own. I am currently dating a wonderful man and we have been dating for a little over a year. I am now 12 weeks pregnant and am really unsure of what to do. He wants me to move in with him but I told him I would have to wait until June when my kids get out of school. I don’t want to move schools in the middle of the year. However there is no talk of marriage nor has he asked me to marry him. I get this sinking feeling when i think about moving in with him. I feel strongly that we should be making plans to be married before I move in with him, but I don’t know how to tell him. I have mentioned it before and he says that he is not ready but we are closer to it now than we were. I just feel so confused. Any advice would be very much appreciate. thank you for listening.

    Kristy

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Kristy,
      This sound very hard. I would not move in with him. Just picture the potential outcomes: You relocate your kids and move in with this man and he does not marry you. That would make me feel reject, hurt, vulnerable. I would end up fighting with him about it and even if I won the fight and he married me, I am not sure it would help the feeling of not having been completely loved in the first place.
      Listen to your heart, that sinking feeling is telling you something. If he is not ready to marry you, will that change? What will make him ready? How can he be ready to conceive a child and not ready to marry you? I don’t get it. I’ve read that most men in American have not gotten past childhood maturity and this makes me sad. Women are not much better.
      I would try to see if he is willing to do something to grow–perhaps just attending a good church with you, or doing Prepare and Enrich, or Restarting. Something to help both of you connect to God and see a way forward.

      I pray Jesus, that you would draw near to Kristy and comfort her. Being pregnant with an uncertain future is very hard and she needs your wisdom, your guidance and your love. Let her feel your presence. Help her to find her way and meet her every need, for her and her children.
      In Jesus name,
      Amen

  30. christie says:

    I have been with my boyfriend now for 3 years and we came together to NZ to study and start a new life here. We were not living together to start but were living in the same building. Access to each other was easy. Then I was given an opportunity to work in another city which was only an hour drive from where he is. We both decided that I should accept the job and live in the new city because it was more convenient for me. But then I received news that I have a job offer back to the city from where he was. At first, I didn’t like the idea because I have already established a new life for me in a new place. But then he said that it shouldn’t be a matter to question about, I should be in a place where we could be together.
    And so I move back. This time he was already home-staying with a Kiwi family who also invited me to live together with them. I accepted but I clearly said to my BF that I would want to live in a separate house very soon. Months past away and I always tell him this intention. When I finally decided that I found a place which was so convenient again because it was only 2 blocks walk from my work, he suddenly becomes so angry and break off everything between us!
    For weeks I was so afraid to lose him and was compromising never to move out and just stay at his side and be with him. Anyway, we were in a foreign country and we really need each other more than ever. But I couldn’t compromise what I believe in. I knew living together was wrong in ways I could never start to explain to him. It was wrong even if we don’t share the same room and we live with another adult that we call the ‘referee’. In my heart I was holding on to the hope that someday we would get married and become a family. That’s what I am looking forward more than ever. And so I am renting a room now near my work and in a different house from him. But still accessible to him if he wants to. I am keeping all lines of communication between us open and really wanted to work things out. At times I want to run back to his house and ask him to accept me which he would in a heartbeat. But I am just quiet now and give it to God in prayers. We are only starting to talk now which is painful. But that’s okey. It is all in God’s time now.

    • emstalcup says:

      I think you made the right step to move closer to your work. I am sure it is very hard. I remember wanting to run to my baby’s daddy just to have someone care about us, but I knew he was not what I wanted and somehow I refrained.

      Now the ball is in his court and he has a chance to show if he cares enough to respect your deeply held desire for marriage and a family. It may sound callous but if he does not, then he is not the right one for you.

      I would encourage you to find other friends, other means of emotional support so you are not so vulnerable to his anger. It is dangerous to isolate ourselves. I know when I am hurting I want to hide but we need the support of caring friends.

      I pray that God would lead and guide you. That he would make it clear if you should continue to pursue this relationship or let it go and that you would find comfort in God’s love and care for you. Let me know how it goes!

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  31. bby2cute says:

    I really wanted to move in with my bf n leave my family while they ddnt approve but after reading this I don’t think its a gud idea n if he really wanna stay with me he will have to marry me first

  32. viv says:

    Hi, lovely article. My boyfriend and I are planning to move in together this month. 3weeks ago I found out I am pregnant and he accepted responsibility and we are planning on building a family together. Financially we are not so well of right now and it pains me that things din’t go according to my plan. This man loves me to bits and he tries very hard to make me comfortable. I am 23, I just started working and I never thought I would ever get a baby until I turn 27. At times I even blame him silently for getting me pregnant but it has already happened and there is nothing we can do to change it. I know there are alot of challenges we are going to experience while living together and it scares me.
    What advice would you give me?

  33. Nicole says:

    This made me cry – because I think this is what I needed to hear. I have been living with my boyfriend for a year now, dating for 1 year and 9 months. I have a 3 year old daughter from a previous long-term relationship who lives with us half the time (I have half custody). My boyfriend has no kids but was married for a couple years. His divorce took place three months before we got together and maybe we got together too soon. He was madly in love with her but had to divorce due to her being unfaithful, twice.
    I am getting mixed signals from him. He tells me he will love me forever. When I said to him once, “Prove it”, he says he will, but doesn’t think we should be getting married anytime soon as it’s too soon in our relationship? He obviously has a bitter taste towards marriage, and although no kids, he does have his baggage. The problem is, I want to get married. I want a family, but he thinks we ARE a family. He calls himself my daughter’s step dad. For some reason, and maybe I’m being hard headed, but family to me is confirmed through marriage. I love him a lot and I see myself spending the rest of my life with him. He takes great care of me, he pays for all the bills (I don’t make very much money) and I knew he loves me. Another sad insecurity is I don’t think that there are other men who feel the way I do about marriage that would be willing to accept the fact that I have a daughter and have never been married. It’s hard because I feel really alone. Your article inspired me, but I’m stuck in the middle because he’s a great guy and I know he will make a great husband. Maybe I’m just being overly emotional. It felt really good to write this all down, thank you for your listening/reading.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Nicole,

      I am afraid that is one of the problems with living together–it can make you feel overly emotional. You sense at some level that all is not right but have a hard time explaining it logically. You are deeply attached at the limbic level of your brain yet that attachment is not secure.

      Is he willing to work with someone to help him heal of the pain of his wife’s betrayal? One of the sad facts of our culture is that infidelity is shockingly common, but the fact that it is common doesn’t take away the tremendous hurt. But he does not have to stay stuck there, he can heal if he is open. I know I keep saying this but we have loved Theophostic Prayer. I learned to do it back in 2004 and used it right away with my then 16 year old son who was grieving the loss of a friend who had committed suicide. Sammy felt that it was his fault. He knew logically that was not true but the right side of our brain can still believe something and since the right side responds faster than the left, logical side, it was making it hard to sleep. I will never forget. It was the middle of the night and in my half-awake state I helped him get to the place where he could hear directly from God and her heard in his mind: “It is not your fault. Everyone has choices.” In that moment he was set free. He even saw his friend with Jesus and was comforted.

      How I wish would would all bring our pain to Jesus. He is so different that we imagine.

      I later begged my husband to train so he could work with me, and now he co-leads a group of men who have been meeting together for 16 months, learning and ministering to each other. We are seeing amazing results.

      I suspect that you also are believing some lies (we all are at some level) that make you feel that you will have to settle for less than your dreams because you are damaged goods because you had a daughter out-of-wedlock. This you can also take to God and ask him to show you how he sees you. I had the same fears when I was a single mom. I felt I was forever tainted, but God began to heal my heart, one day at a time. You can read about it in my e-book on Amazon–Crossroads Before Me. I wrote this book for people like you. I hope you will read it and find hope in the ways God brought me through a painful season in my life.

      God’s forgiveness is poured out on everyone who is willing to admit that were wrong. He is the redeemer and he can redeem your life too.

      Once again, I keep recommending Prepare and Enrich. You two might want to find someone in your area who can walk you through the program which involves some online testing which is followed up by meeting with a counselor or trained facilitator to discuss the results. The program can help you see where you are, potential pitfalls in your relationship, and what you need to do to grow. It is very helpful to get someone else involved when you are stuck so that you don’t keep hammering away at the same issue.

      I hope this helps.

      I do pray for all who write in. The problems are more than I can fix but God has unlimited capacity and loves us all.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  34. Tom says:

    I have a situation where I can not talk my fiancee out of wanting to move in with me 4 weeks before our wedding.

    I have explained to her that 85% of couples that move in before marriage divorce, but yet she is insistent on wanting to move in since her lease expires 4 weeks prior to our wedding. She just doesn’t understand what the big problem I have with it is.

    I have attempted to convince her to get a 1 month extension – but since we will not get back from our honeymoon until a week after the first of the next month, it would have to be a 2 month extension at $900 / month. She doesn’t want to shell out $1800 to stay 2 extra months. I for sure am not going to add her to the title of my house or make her pay “rent” for those 4 weeks, but I am just very worried that this is a suicide note for our marriage.

    I love her very much, want to do everything I can to make our marriage-to-be work, and she is the same – so it’s not like we are “testing the waters” or stuff – but I fear that makes no difference and we are doomed to divorce if we live together for those 4 weeks being unmarried.

    Any suggestions to talk her out of this? Everything else between us is perfect – this is pretty much the only thing that we have gotten into disagreements over during our past 2 years together – and past 7 months of being engaged.

    • emstalcup says:

      Are you getting some kind of premarital counseling prior to the wedding? I wonder if the person you are seeing would intervene. You may have to just say no, this is important to me and I don’t think I can yield on this. Kindly, with love. It is very hard in any relationship when two people disagree. I remember when my husband wanted to move back to Virginia and I was happily settled in California. We fought and fought. And moved to Virginia. It really came down to my will or his will and this is where a relationship with God is so valuable. We prayed and prayed and it seemed that God opened the doors for Virginia. Sam got no job offers in California (he had been laid off) and four job offers in Virginia and Pennsylvania. So we moved. I was pretty ticked at God. It felt like he had chosen my husband over me. Now, 20 years later, I love our life in Virginia but I had to wrestle with God about that for some time before I came to place of peace.

      If you aren’t getting counseling before your marriage I would highly recommend doing Prepare and Enrich. It is offered nationwide.

      Surely there are other options–moving in with a friend for four weeks, staying with an older couple whose kids have grown and left the nest.

      Another option is to get some Theophostic for both of you to see what root cause is driving this. Even though this is your first disagreement, it won’t be your last. If you let me know where you live, I might know someone who can see you.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  35. Micayla says:

    Hi Elizabeth.

    I am struggling very much and am in DESPERATE need of a reply and help. I am undergoing a very complicated decision and I MUST make a decision today. I have been prayin over the last few weeks but I’m afraid God hasn’t answered me clearly because I have turned my back on him over the last few years.

    I went traveling with a girlfriend And met a boy from overseas. He’s fun, compassionate, passionate, loving, successful, handsome, generous, the whole kit and caboodle! I’m 24 and went to live with him for about a year. Things were pretty good but I could never get myself to feel really comfortable in his home country. Although I was working, I was still reliant on him financially (somewhat), emotionally and socially. It just didn’t feel that right and I feel like I was always looking at the negative and trying to “sabotage” the relationship. A few months ago, we decided the distance was too hard (me from my family) and we mutually decided I should come home. Only thing is, we are now considering I go back. The boy is certain he wants to marry me. I am not entirely sure. My visa expires next week and my flight is scheduled a few days from now. I either get on the flight an give it a chance, or let go of him forever. I am so afraid of making the wrong decision. :( Please HELP!!! Thanks so much in advance.

    • emstalcup says:

      I honestly think that they only way you will know is to hear from God. Can you quiet yourself and remember a time you felt connected to God and let him speak to you?
      It is a huge step getting married. It is a huge step leaving your family and country to live somewhere else.
      Do you really have to decide right this minute? You might have to renew your visa. You might have to buy a new ticket. But I would take a bit more time to be sure this is what you are supposed to do.
      Have you read my book? I think I would have gone back to Norway but my Norwegian boyfriend did some things that were over the top and it was like I woke up from a daze and left him. My husband and I had an interesting courtship and we married after fasting and asking God to speak to us. He did but not in the way I was expecting. I think these stories might help you.
      Please know that God doesn’t hold out on speaking to us because we turn our back on him, he is always there. He never leaves us. It is our guilt that keeps us from recognizing that he is right there. Ask him to forgive you for turning your back on him, begin following him, and ask him to show you what you should do.

      I will pray for you.

      Dear God, I know that you see Christina right now. You know what she has been through. You see clearly the situation before her. Make it clear to her. Help her to hear you and connect to you. I don’t know what she should do, but you do. You know if this is the right guy for her, if this is the right time or if she should stay here. I know you made things obvious for me, so I ask you to do that for her as well.
      In Jesus’ name,
      Amen!

      One last thought. If you decide not to go, it will hurt. After living together for a year, you will feel deeply attached and you will have to grieve that loss. Grief is sadly part of life. But you will get through it and be stronger for it.

      Let me know how it goes!

      Elizabeth

  36. Julia K. says:

    Thank you so much for your courage, humility, wisdom, and compassion, Betsy. I’m honored to have read your story.

    Could I ask for your thoughts on a situation where a couple becomes engaged and then begins living together (chastely)? I don’t see any moral problem, but it could still be a bad idea – do you know if the study you cite in reason Five separately analyzes couples who began living together after engagement? And there’s also reason One, perhaps.

    I know Mary and Joseph traveled and lodged together during their engagement period, but do you know if there is a broader historical tradition of fiancees living together?

    I ask because this will probably be an option in my future.

    The pros include the wishes of my partner as well as money. The cons include my sense that it would be nice to have a physical change such as moving in, not just an increased level of sexual intimacy and commitment, mark the transition to marriage. On the other hand, this engagement would prompt me to move cross-country whether or not we cohabit, so too much change at once could be bad – I don’t want to get even more distracted from appreciating my new marriage by having to deal with a new living space as well as a completely foreign location.

    If I do decide to cohabit once engaged, what should I keep in mind (other than not having sex, obviously) so that it turns out the best way possible?

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Julia,
      I would agree that in a strict sense one could argue that it is morally acceptable to an engaged couple to cohabit if they refrain from sexual immorality but I would not advise it.
      Here are my reasons:

      1. I think it may be harder than you think to refrain from sexual intimacy. I would hope that you would be filled with love and desire for your fiancée. I often find that many couples who are pure in their engagement period are filled with incredibly intense longing for the day when they will truly belong to each other. As the passion and longing increases it can be very hard physically and emotionally. It can be hard to sleep at night. If one of you has to go home it helps. You break apart, agree you want to stay pure and one of goes out into the cool evening air and everyone has a break. I honestly believe this helps us mature, as learning to tame your cravings is one of the childhood maturity tasks that we seem to find particularly challenging. And this carries forward into our marriages. The fact is that there are times, even in a great marriage when we need to refrain from sexual intimacy. Perhaps one partner is ill. I hear many sad, sad stories of men (or women) who are unfaithful when their wife is in the hospital with cancer. They haven’t learned how to tame their cravings; they believe they must have sex to survive. This is very sad.

      2. On the flip side I think the sexual intimacy in marriage goes a long way toward covering a multitude of irritations. My husband and I talked about your comment last night and we agreed that the joy of our union made us feel more loving and charitable toward each other that petty annoyances take a bad seat. I guess that is why couples who remain pure used to experience what we called “the honeymoon phase” where is seemed that your spouse could do no wrong. If you live together but are not joined in marriage or sexually intimate (don’t read me wrong here, I am not suggesting sexual intimacy before marriage is a good idea), you have instead sexual tension coupled with learning all those things about your mate that are so incredibly annoying. Like the fact that they drop their wet towel on the floor each morning.

      3. You don’t know for sure you will marry until you do. In fact I think reason two, above, might make it less likely that you will marry.

      4. In your case especially, I would want to use that engagement period to develop community so that you are not isolated once you marry. This is the perfect time for you to live with a group of women your age or a family where you can develop loving caring bonds outside your marriage. If you move from one part of the country to another and move in with him it will be all too easy to have his life, his circle of friend, become your circle of friends. I am astonished at the degree of isolation in our culture. It is not healthy. We are made to attach to each other. We need community.

      5. There is a very real blessing that God confers on marriage. I would want that on my side before we lived together.

      6. As I respond to your comment and the comments of others, I think I am coming to a theory that what I believe may be fundamentally wrong with your typical relationship today: couples are moving out of sync with each other and with themselves. In other words, I am desperate for attachment. Maybe I did not get what I needed from my family. So I get sexually intimate very fast, which makes me feel close, attached. I am attached, I am bonded at the limbic level, but I haven’t actually taken the time to get to know this person. And I am not fully committed to them. The jury is still out on if I want to love them unconditionally. I know their body and maybe a little bit about their heart, mind and soul. Then I get to know them but there isn’t a chance to mull things over, to take a break and think it through because if I back up at all it throws us both into intense attachment pain because we are deeply attached at one level and insecurely attached at other levels. It makes for a very painful, sticky situation.

      I would not want to take a chance on muffing up such an important relationship as what you hope will be a life-long marriage.

      If you are interested, you can download the list of needs and task for each stage of maturity here: http://www.lifemodel.org/download.php?type=assessment&rn=59
      Too many of us are stuck in infant and childhood maturity. It is very good to identify your deficits so you can know what you are up against and get unstuck so you can be the adult, parent or elder you were meant to be.

      Bless you,
      Elizabeth

  37. Petunia says:

    My daughter is about to move in with her bf for the financial practicality. We are still paying for her to go to college. We are going to meet this week to talk about her decision. I’m praying for guidance, and want to be able to hear her out without any judgement on my part.

    This article has been very helpful and each of your comments are insightful and helpful to me. Our daughter is a christian and unfortunately has turned away right now. I would like to offer for her to come home, ( we live in the same area) but, she would have to follow the house rules. Which are just keeping a clean room, bathroom, laundry and help around the house once in awhile. We have a midnight curfew. Just don’t know what is right at this time. Praying for her and I to have a good chat that will be helpful to her. Praying for my speech to be loving and supportive.

  38. Jess says:

    hi Elizabeth….i’m sure my story will sound repetative…as i think everyone here is in the same boat….just different circumstances…I dont usually do this but I think I am ripping to shreds emotionally. almost 10 years ago, I got married and had a baby at 19…what u call a shotgun wedding. I loved my daughter’s father but found that we were two different ppl and had grown apart and got married for all the wrong reasons. There was just too much pressure in that relationship. 2 years after we married, i left him and never looked back. almost 8 years later, after dating and trying to find out what i really want in a partner, i found my current bf. He is a quiet but very driven individual. he’s always wanted the better things in life and i admired that…plus he accepted my daughter with open arms. at first their relationship was shy but after some time they grew to really love each other. after ONE year of dating, we ended up deciding to move in together. HE bought a house in March of 2010. My name is not on the house as my credit wasn’t the greatest at the time but we agreed it was for us. We had a year to save and get prepared as the house was done construcion in march of 2011. prior to that, we were ok..but then the PRESSURE began killing me. I felt like i was stuck in the commitment of a house but our relationship had slowly started falling apart. I found out some things that till now have hurt me and can’t seem to let go of. I have found girls’ numbers in his email (an ex of his and another one i will never know of) ..and a female friend of his has confessed to me that in the summer of 2010, after Him and I had fought, he had gone out with her and tried to kiss her and would flirt with her and such….well sure nothing too serious (like sleeping with anyone) has happened THAT I KNOW of. but the lies i’ve had to discover till now has completely killed any sort of trust i had in him….well after that incident with this girl, we talked it out and he promised to change (although never admitting that what she said was true). March 2011 came and KNOWING our relationship was on the rocks, we moved in. deep inside i had hoped things would fix themselves once cohabiting. In the past year, our fights have gotten worse, more frequent and even very violent. Both him and I have put our hands on each other. something we never did prior to living together. Never in front of my daughter thankfully…but i’m scared and really emotionally scarred. We fight about his past lies, we fight about finances, about the ownership of the house, about everything…this past summer i remember crying every night and prayin for a sign of whether to leave or to fight it out. a week later i found out i was pregnant….and a week after that i miscarried. I was a wreck because I’m 28 now and he’s 27 and i really want a child…just not sure i want one with HIM.So, I took that as a sign from God that it just was not meant to be for us. Regardless, i stayed…I don’t think i’ve ever really loved him the way a person should love someone else. I’ve stayed because i feel like i owe it to my daughter cuz I left her father so easily and i didn’t even consider reconciliation…i don’t wanna put myself or her thru the heartbreak and uncertainty again. i dont want to meet someone new or have to introduce her to anyone else, but i also don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life….i am scared to leave but i know that this is not for me. THere’s no respect, no love, no trust. nothing is good enough, the sight of him, the sound of his voice…it just annoys me. I have prayed night after night for God to give me a sign again…. and now have decided to go back to church. I need guidance, i need healing….I am so confused and extremely depressed. finding myself crying uncontrollably, even at work. I need to leave i just dont know if it’s just one of those stumps that we need to get over. I feel bad that i’ve hurt him with my words and actions of rejection and hatred. truth is, we are both hurting and in a very bad place. He thinks and tries to convince me that we can get through it and he will change and I can trust him….but I know i can’t. Or could it be that I just have too much hate inside me that i dont love myself and therefore cannot love him the way I want to? I don’t kno…i’m SO STUCK and i’m sooo confused. I’m sure this is not the way God wants me to live my life. I need a solution!!! :'(

    • emstalcup says:

      This does not sound good as I am sure you already know. I am especially concerned that your relationship has turned “very violent.”
      Read your own words: I don’t think I’ve ever really loved him the way a person should love someone else.”
      “I am scared to leave but I know that this is not for me.”
      “I’m confused and depressed.”
      “could it be that I have so much hate inside me that I don’t love myself and therefore cannot love him the way I want to.”

      You do need healing (actually we all do!). You need to know that God loves you. It is very common that people hate themselves at some level. Often we hate the more need vulnerable parts of ourselves. But God loves us all. He made us and you are a treasure to him. You can learn to recognize his voice so you can interact with him and not have to pray for signs that can be hard to interpret. There is hope. You don’t have to stay stuck like this.

      Get help. From a church, from a therapist, from a Theophostic prayer minister. For your sake, for the sake of your daughter get out of any situation that is violent so you can begin to heal. Good intentions are not enough. We often mean well but if we haven’t dealt with the root it comes up again, and again. You may find my story helpful, inspirational–Crossroads Before Me. I know when I was at the bottom, I found reading very helpful.

      You sound very fearful. We are bonded to people by fear or love. A quick description is this: When we are bonded by love we are motivated by desire. We are with the person because we want to be with them. When we are bonded by fear we are with the person because we are trying to avoid pain. We are afraid to be alone, we are afraid of how they will react. In your case, you are afraid also of the way that your daughter may be affected.
      With a love bond we become more and more who we were meant to be, with a fear bond we don’t act like ourselves because we aren’t able to express what we want, red and value. With a love bond we know we are created for a purpose; with a fear bond we feel that we have no impact.

      Ask yourself, Am I bonded to this man by love or fear–or a bit of both?

      Get help, don’t give up.

      You’ll find a short teaching on hearing from God in this earlier post. I hope it will help you connect to him.

      I am praying for all of you.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      Hearing the Voice of God

      of God
      From Is that Really You, God?

      By Loren Cunningham with Janice Rogers

      If you know the Lord, you have already heard His voice—it is that inner leading that brought you to Him in the first place. Jesus always checked with His Father (John 8:26-29) and so should we; hearing the voice of the heavenly Father is a basic right of every child of God. In this book we have tried to describe a few of many ways of fine-tuning this experience. The discoveries are never just theory, they come out of our own adventures:

      1. Don’t make guidance complicated. It’s actually hard not to hear God if you really want to please and obey Him! If you stay humble, He promises to guide you (Proverbs 16:9).

      Here are three simple steps that have helped us to hear God’s voice:

      Submit to his Lordship. Ask Him to help you silence your own thoughts, desires, and the opinions of others, which may be filling your mind (Proverbs 3:5-6).
      Resist the enemy, in case he is trying to deceive you at this moment. Use the authority which Jesus Christ has given you to silence the voice of the enemy (James 4:7; Ephesians 6:10-20).
      Expect an answer. After asking the question that is on your mind, wait for Him to answer. Expect your loving heavenly Father to speak to you. He will (John 10:27; Psalm 69:13; Exodus 33:11).
      2. Allow God to speak to you in the way he chooses. Don’t try to dictate to Him concerning the guidance methods you prefer. He is Lord—you are His servant (1 Samuel 3:9). So listen with a yielded heart; there is a direct link between yieldedness and hearing. He may choose to speak to you;

      Through His Word: this could come in your daily reading, or
      Through an audible voice (Exodus 3:4).
      Through dreams (Matthew 2) and visions (Isaiah 6:1, Revelation 1:12-17).
      But probably the most common of all means is through the quiet, inner voice (Isaiah 30:21).
      3. Confess any unforgiven sin. A clean heart is necessary if you want to hear God (Psalm 66:18).

      4: Use the Axehead Principle—a term coined from the story in 11 Kings 6. If you seem to have lost your way, go back to the last time you knew the sharp, cutting edge of God’s voice. Then obey. The key question is, Have you obeyed the last thing God told you to do?

      5. Get your own leading. God will use others to confirm your guidance but you should also hear from Him directly. It can be dangerous to rely on others to get the word of the Lord for you (I Kings 13).

      6. Don’t talk about your guidance until God gives you permission to do so. Sometimes this happens immediately; at other times there is a delay. The main purpose of waiting is to avoid four pitfalls of guidance: (A) pride, because God has spoken something to you; (B) presumption, by speaking before you have full understanding; (C) missing God’s timing and methods; (D) bringing confusion to others; they too need prepared hearts (Luke 9:36; Ecclesiastes 3:7; Mark 5:19).

      7. Use the Wise Men Principle. Just as the Three Wise Men individually followed the star and in doing so were all led to the same Christ, so God will often use two or more spiritually sensitive people to confirm what He is telling you. (2 Corinthians 13:1).

      8. Beware of counterfeits. Have you ever heard of a counterfeit dollar bill? Yes, of course. But have you ever heard of a counterfeit paper bag? No. The reason is, only things of value are worth counterfeiting.

      Satan has a counterfeit for everything of God that is possible for him to copy (Acts 8:9-11; Exodus 7:22). Counterfeit guidance comes, for example, through ouija boards, seances, fortunetelling and astrology (Leviticus 20:6; 19:26; II Kings 21:6). The guidance of the Holy Spirit leads you closer to Jesus and into true freedom. Satan’s guidance leads you away from God into bondage.

      One key test for true guidance: does your leading follow principles of the Bible? The Holy Spirit never contradicts the Word of God.

      9. Opposition of man is sometimes guidance from God (Acts 21:10-14). In our own story, re recognized much later that what seemed like blockage from our denomination was in fact God leading us into a broader scope of ministry. The important thing here, again, is yieldedness to the Lord (Daniel 6:6-23; Acts 4:18-21). Rebellion is never of God, but sometimes He asks you to step away from your elders in a way that is not rebellious but part of His plan. Trust that He will show your heart the difference.

      10. Every follower of Jesus has a unique ministry (I Corinthians 12; I Peter 4:10; Romans 12; Ephesians 4). The more you seek to hear God’s voice in detail, the more effective you will be in your own calling. Guidance is not a game—it is serious business where we learn what God wants us to do in ministry and how He wants us to do it. The will of God is doing and saying the right thing in the right place, with the right people, at the right time and in the right sequence, under the right leadership using the right method with the right attitude of heart.

      11. Practice hearing God’s voice and it becomes easier. It’s like picking up the phone and recognizing the voice of your best friend . . . you know his voice because you have heard it so much. Compare young Samuel with the older man Samuel (I Samuel 3:4-7; 8:7-10; 12:11-18).

      12. Relationship is the most important reason for hearing the voice of the Lord. God is not only infinite but personal. If you don’t have communication, you don’t have a personal relationship with Him. True guidance, as Darlene pointed out, is getting closer to the Guide. We grow to know the Lord better as He speaks to us and, as we listen to Him and obey, we make His heart glad (Exodus 33:11, Matthew 7:24-27).

      • Jess says:

        thank you. I can’t say that enough. After reading your response, i re-read my comment and I realize that everything i wrote is pretty much negative and you can pretty much feel the fear I have…You’re absolutely right….and the part in which u say that we are bonded to people by fear or love. Wow, that makes so much sense. I realize i am definitely not in the right mind. And i do need and will seek help and just keep praying. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I knew all this, it’s just good to hear it from someone else. God Bless you.

      • emstalcup says:

        Thank you, Jess. Your post was encouraging to me, so thanks for writing back.
        May God make his face shine on you.
        Elizabeth

  39. MissyB says:

    Hello,

    I think your article is absolutely lovely. And you’re taking the time to also give so many people advice, which is above and beyond wonderful! If you have the time, I’d very much appreciate your advice on living arrangements, since I’m currently deciding whether or not to move in with my boyfriend.

    Currently, I am going to college and will be a senior next year (which is when we’re looking at getting an apartment together). Orginally, I had plans to move into a campus apartment with a current roommate but these fell through when she decided to go on a year-long study abroad program (and I’m very happy for her!). I do live in a major college town so finding apartments isn’t an issue.

    Though I have many casual friends, at college I have only a couple close ones. At this point in the semester, everyone has already begun signing leases and solidifying their plans for living next year. I was fairly blindsided to learn so late in the game that my roommate cannot commit to living together next year.

    Currently, my options are limited. Since I’ve never lived off campus or even in an apartment (have lived in the dorms every year), I’m pretty uncomfortable with the idea of living alone. Also, I have a tendency to get very lonely and depressed, so I feel like it would be extremely unhealthy for me to live on my own.

    So the two options I’m considering for next fall are an on-campus apartment on my own (so I at least have the comfort level of being close to campus) or moving in with my boyfriend (we’ve been together 3 years. have done long distance with the military. plan on being engaged before this summer!)

    Like I said, I don’t want to live alone. My boyfriend and I have already begun looking at two-bedroom apartments (we are both Christian and are saving ourselves for marraige). However, my parents aren’t thrilled with the idea. Since I have a very close relationship with both my parents, I feel terrible about this. Also, more in order to please them than for myself, I have been asking just about everyone if they have roommates for next year. But, as I said, it’s a too late in the game and everyone has made their plans.

    I’m just torn at this point. I feel very stuck. I do feel ready to move in with my boyfriend (who will be my fiance at that point) and we do have plans for marraige. Yet, I hate hurting/disappointing my parents. And my other option of living alone terrifies me.

    I’m sorry this is so long! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and answer this.

    • emstalcup says:

      Is this for fall of 2012? That is still a long way off. I have to believe that something, perhaps something completely unexpected, will come up. I would not move in with your boyfriend. You have so much to lose and so little to gain.

      I would consider getting help with the fear. I know I am always talking about Theophostic Prayer but it is exactly the kind of help that will get you to the root of the fear. If you go to Theophostic.com you can read the first three chapters of Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer at the website.

      I believe God will open a door for you to find housing. I’ve had this happen so many times for me and those I love. Trust him. Tell him all you need and believe that he is a loving father who knows what you need and has wonderful plans for you.

      Let me know how it all turns out!

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  40. Keiana says:

    Hi im 19 years old and i have been with my boyfriend who if 21 for a year and he is now pressuring me to marry and move in with him. I do love him and want to be with him but Im just not sure if this is the right time for me to be making these transitions. We are both college student, he works full time but i only work part time And in order for us to be able to move in together i would have to get a full time job. School is my first priority and i don’t want to jeopardize my future for a possible “for the time being” transition,. The main reason behind the idea of the move is because he is currently living with his mother and as you can imagine the only time we can be together is at his mothers house.Things have began to get a little tensed other there because sometimes I do spend the night.I;m just really confused because I know that if I tell my bf that im not ready to move in with him he will think that I don’t want to be with him, which is not true. Im really just need some help and advise.

    • emstalcup says:

      This sound like another situation where you are motivated by fear instead of love. (look a few comments down to see a short description of this). If you don’t feel ready then he shouldn’t pressure you. It is as simple as that.

      Perhaps it would be less tense if you refrained from having sex. I know it is hard to stop once you’ve started, but it would lessen the intensity of the relationship, make the situation with his mother less tense, and give you both some breathing room.

      I know some people get married young and it works out beautifully but many regret it.

      A few years ago a group of young mothers used to come to my house once a week to go through Experiencing God. One of them had gotten married during her senior year in college. I asked her if she regretted it and she said, “I don’t know why we were in such a hurry. I wish we had waited until I graduated.” She had several reasons. They felt isolated as a couple, she got pregnant right away even on birth control, and she was sick much of her early pregnancy.

      All together it made one of the most fulfilling times of her life, her last semester in college, very difficult.

      College is a special season of life. I have encouraged my kids to go to a great school, and put in the full four years even if they could have graduated earlier. I urged them to study hard and enjoy themselves. It is a wonder time of life that you won’t have again.

      Working full-time during college sounds stressful. Why do it if you don’t have to?

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  41. blessing says:

    I need more advise on cohabitation

    • emstalcup says:

      There is lots of advice here in the comments. Is there something specific you want advice about that I haven’t covered?

      • darlene feezell says:

        My daughter lives with her boyfriend. Also her 7 yr. old son. They have been living with him for 9 mos. She is disabled and was recently diagnosed as bipolar. Since her diagnosis her boyfriend has acted different to her. He wants them to move out now. I have applied for a government apt. but it takes time. Her son is in school in her boyfriends school district and will have to change schools. My question is this. Can he force them to leave before she finds a place? They have no other place to go except the street if he does. They will move as soon as an apt is available. We live in Tennessee

      • emstalcup says:

        I am so sorry that your daughter is in such a difficult situation. I am afraid I am not a legal expert so I can’t answer your question about whether or not he can force them out before they find a place to live. You might want to talk to your grandson’s school to see if they can help. Meanwhile, I’ll be praying.

        Bless you all,

        Elizabeth

        Lord Jesus, you see this situation and I know it breaks your heart. Have mercy, Lord, on this little family and help them to find safe shelter. Give them wisdom to know what to do and heal the hurt that comes when we form attachments that do not endure. Help them to find safe people who will love them as they walk this difficult road. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  42. Jessica says:

    I am pregnant and feel an obligation to move in with my boyfriend even though all my sences tell me it is not the right thing to do. I am living at home and my parents are happy for me to stay with my baby. I have never moved out of home
    Things that worry me are:
    -I will have nothing ‘special’ left to share with the person i do marry
    -He doesnt actually love me in a marriage sence and a move will be a relationship convinience
    I am certainly not trying to manipulate him into marrying me, the subject has been delicately avoided.
    I just need the courage to face what issues are mine but im so confused as to wether i love him and if there is any point in wasting each others time staying in a relationship where niether of us have spoken about our longterm future. Im not sure what is my hormones and what isnt. I appreciate your advice please

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Jessica,

      Being pregnant and single is rough. I remember it so well. It is very hard to know what is hormonal and what was reality. But I also felt that in some ways the hormones made me face problems I had glossed over because problems were magnified. Every woman deserves to be loved and cherished during her pregnancy but sadly this is not the case for so many. I would think hard about this man. Is this what you want for yourself? Is he a man you want to spend your life with? If not, moving in with him will only bond you more deeply to him. Bonding is automatic and subconscious–you can’t control it. You bond with those you spend time with. Eye contact, touch, and sexual intimacy are all bonding. So ask yourself, do I want to be more deeply bonded to this man? From what you said in your comment, it sounds like you do not. If you don’t, then don’t move in. Getting closer to someone who does not fully love you, who is not committed to you, is crazy-making. The closer you get, the more vulnerable you feel.

      I hope you will read my account of this season of my life and how God brought me through. In my case, the man had no interest in me so I was completely alone. I wrote this book for people exactly like you, hoping that sharing my story would give you courage and hope. If you click on the link or the book cover to the right, Crossroads Before Me, it will take you to where you can buy it.

      You said yourself that you feel obligated to move in with your boyfriend even though all your senses tell you it is not the right thing to do. You are not obligated. You don’t have to go against that inner sense of what is right for you. Think of what you have to gain by staying home with your parents who can help you, who love you, and who can support you through this difficult time. Think of the anguish you will feel knowing you are not fully loved by this man.

      You made a mistake but God still loves you. Simply ask Him to forgive you and then ask Him to help you forgive yourself. Ask Him to help you heal. You may have to grieve, as I did. It was hard but I came through stronger, more peaceful. You still have a future and a hope. If you let God walk you through, He will guide you every step of the way. I was shocked to discover how much I loved being a mom even though I bore my daughter in less than ideal circumstances. So don’t give up. God is in the business of redeeming our lives.

      If you stay home with your parents, it will give you and your boyfriend time to see where the relationship goes. Either he will keep coming around and in time become more committed or he will not. It will give you time away from him to consider, to ponder, to decide. You won’t be in an impossible situation where you heart is unprotected.

      Please let me know how you are doing.
      I’ll be praying!
      If you live near DC and want a Theophostic appointment, email my appointment line, Theophostic5@gmail.com.

      Elizabeth

  43. Esther says:

    I lived wit my boyfriend for some months now and we have been dating for over four years now. We had a fight about 3weeks now, i had been preganat for him twice and the last one was for keep. He said he needed space and i was not ready to give him that space, he had to pack my things and throw them out and beat me up. But just four days now he is texting and calling for us to meet. What do i do? I am 34yrs old he is 35yrs old, i know he is the one because i have prayed and fasted for God to bring my husband to me and at day 7 of my fasting he started texting. What do say?

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Esther,

      My heart is heavy when I think about your situation. You’re 34, pregnant and were recently beaten up and tossed out because your boyfriend wants space. It sounds like you may have had an abortion with this same man, or am I reading between the lines?

      And you believe God is calling to to be with this man because he started texting you after you fasted for seven days.

      I admire your desire to do the right thing. Fasting is often a good way to hear from God, but it isn’t the only way and I would not put too much stock into the fact that your abusive boyfriend started texting you on the seventh day. Also please don’t fast while pregnant. Your baby needs the nourishment and so do you.

      Anything God says to us should agree with the Bible and what the Bible says about God and his love for us. God says that a man should love his wife as God loves the church. That is huge love. Trust me, God does not want you to be in a relationship where you get beaten up and tossed out. Don’t go back to this man. This is not God’s will.

      Even though you are pregnant and unmarried, I would surrender your desire for a husband to God and get help recovering from the trauma that has brought you to this place. Find a Restarting group near you, make an appointment for Theophostic Prayer, or find a therapist or group that will help abused women like you.

      Let me explain how Theophostic works in a nutshell. It seems counterintuitive because instead of pushing painful emotions away, you focus on them. So earlier yesterday I felt fear. For me, I felt a tightness in my chest. I focused on that bodily sensation, the tightness in my chest and then, because my brain works by association, within a few seconds a memory that felt the same way surfaced. In the memory I was about five years old and felt afraid of my dad, because I never knew when he would erupt. I was trying as hard as I could to keep it from happening. As I sat in that memory, I realized I believed I felt unprotected, exposed, and trapped. I wanted to get away. As I let myself feel those feelings, I realized that I believed that it was all up to me. I was responsible for my dad’s mood swings, they were my fault, and I had to be perfect to be safe. At the time I was running late, so I was not being perfect, so I was in danger (this kind of lie-based thinking is at the root of much perfectionism). As I let myself feel the pain, I went deeper to the core lies. I did not deserve to be protected. I was alone. No one care. No one cared about me or understood me. I should have never been born. and finally, the core lie, I am despicable. Ouch. That belief was very painful. Then I asked Jesus to speak to me, Lord, is this how you see me? Instantly, I saw him scoop me up into his arms and hold me tight. I heard him say to my mind, I love you. I created you. It was awful back then, but I brought you through. I protected you. You didn’t see me but I was always there. I felt his comfort, his love. I knew I had value.

      In this way, we work through the lies that drive our lives. One lie at a time, we face what we believe and hear from God. The very fact that you are thinking of going back to an abusive man tells me that you are believing lies about yourself–your value, your worth. You need healing from the trauma that caused you to believe this, or you will find another abuser. We can know at some level what is true but our hearts are divided and part of us believes we don’t have value. This is why I so often suggest Theophostic because recovery is much faster than with traditional therapy, though therapy will help if that is all you have in your area.

      Please know that after four years of being together you will be attached to this man. Bonding is invisible and unconscious, which means that simply by spending that much time with him you will be bonded by fear or love. So severing the relationship will be hard and you will need to grieve. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because it hurts and is difficult that you should go back to him. Ask yourself, Do I want this to happen again? Do I want to live with a man who wants space instead of commitment? Who beats me up and throws me out? No matter what he says, most people don’t understand what they need to do to change. They think that being motivated to change, will result in change, but wanting to change is not the same as being able to change. Men will say all kinds of things when they want you back but real change is often slow and usually involves facing our pain. We have to process our wounds. We have to face our issues.

      This is a better way to hear from God than to make guesses as to what he is saying.

      You can have a bright future. You can change if you persevere. I did and I am still changing, still in process. For your sake and the sake of your unborn child, I hope you do, too.

      Let me know how you do. I am praying.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  44. Lindsay says:

    I would like to thank you for this post because this is something I am currently struggling with.
    My boyfriend and I have been together for the past three and a half years, we started dating when I was a sophomore in college. Last year we both graduated, he was his masters and I with my bachelors. He accepted a job offer in Indianapolis and i moved back home with my parents in Columbus. We visit each other about once a month because of his hectic work schedule. At this point we have decided to move to Columbus or Cincinnati, both of our hometowns. We have been job searching in both these locations and hope to be in the same city by the summer of this year.
    This past week I mentioned moving in together and my parents immediately shut that idea down. the funny thing about this is that my parents lived together three years before they got married, and are still married 26 years later. They do not know that I know this, but seeing as how I do I feel as though it is extremely hypocritical for them to tell me no.
    I am 22 and my boyfriend is 24. We both have graduated, have decent jobs in our field of study and just believe that moving in together is the next logical step. We have talked about marriage, we both do want to be married and have a family one day. We do want to wait a few more years for that just to establish ourselves in our careers and financially. Moving in together, after we both find jobs in the same city, seems to just make sense so I just would like your opinion on this situation. Thank you for any advice you can give and for writing this.
    PS- we did not live together while in college. We just were constatnly at one another’s apartment, not too much during the week though. And both our families approve of the other.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Lindsay,

      I think my best arguments against living together are in the article, but I assume you are looking for something more. It sounds like you have a fairly stable relationship and that you believe the “next logical step” is to move in together. To be honest I don’t understand why cohabiting is the next logical step–it seems to me that if you have done taken a hard look at the relationship, then marriage would be the next logical step.

      Let me test what you might be thinking. I am guessing here.

      Marriage is a big commitment. Cohabiting is less of a commitment. By living together, I’ll be able to see if we are a good match, try it out, so to speak, and see if we belong together. A bit like jumping into the shallow end of the pool instead of the deep end. By living together I am less likely to be disappointed and hurt.

      My view can be distilled down to this. By living together you will bond deeply but will be much more vulnerable to hurt and disappointment because you won’t have the strength of the commitment, the security of knowing you are committed for life. You are more likely to be hurt and disappointed and much less able to back off if you find something distressing than if you take that hard evaluation now. Are there aspects of the relationship that make you uncomfortable and not quite ready to commit?

      We aren’t meant to be alone. The Bible clearly states that it is not good for people to be alone. From a psychological perspective this would be described as attachment. We are made to live in secure attachment to people and God. Marriage and family life is the place where you should experience the strongest, most secure attachment. It is meant to be deep, fulfilling, bring you great joy and last a lifetime. The kind of bonding that leads to secure attachment should progress in stages with heart, mind and body moving in sync so that your heart, mind and body are drawn more and more deeply toward the person. In the early stages, it should be easy to withdraw as you get to you know them, their character, and their person. You are free to back out if you find something that is a show stopper for you. Maybe a difference in values, maybe a gap in maturity. The culmination is making the commitment to be with that person for a lifetime, not to fulfill you needs, but to love and cherish them. So for the body the gradual progression would look like this: eyes meeting, then holding hands, then being shoulder to shoulder, face to face hugs, kissing, and so on. For the mind it would be attraction, getting to know someone gradually, seeing how the interact with their family and friend, seeing how the deal with upset and disappointment, becoming more and more certain this is the person you want to love the rest of your life.

      When you have sex with someone you automatically bond at the limbic level of your brain. So you have a deep connection that ideally should not be ruptured but, opps, you have bonded in this way with someone you aren’t entirely sure you want to marry. I still remember when my live-in boyfriend suggested we swap for a night with his brother and his brother’s wife. I was overcome by a wave of naseua. That was the last thing I wanted, so of course we didn’t, but I wondered, is this what I am in for? The relationship did not last, thankfully, but I should have never been in the spot where I was deeply bonded to someone whose values were so far flung from mine.

      Modern music is almost entirely about attachment pain. “I can’t get over you.” “I can’t stop loving you.” God never intended for us to be caught in such painful quagmires, where we are attached to partners we don’t really like, people who treat us badly, or don’t care about the things that matter most to us.

      I am realizing more and more than by addressing cohabitation I am trying to intervene too late. The real issue is relationships moving forward out of sync with the natural rhythms of bonding and attachment. Having sex outside of marriage is moving out of sync. Sex should go with commitment. It is only in that way that it becomes the safe, fulfilling gift God meant it to be. But then we have to go back even further because people of all ages are claiming they are not having sex because they give sex a narrowly defined definition to assuage their guilt! And we have to go even further because it is perhaps the lack of a secure attachment between parents and children that cause such heartbreaking desperation to attach–to anyone, to people we barely know, and who turn out to be unsafe.

      I know this is not your case, I am ranting here. It sounds like you and your boyfriend are two of the fortunate ones who have secure attachment to your families so perhaps the dangers of moving out of sync with ideal patterns is not so obvious to you, but if you are like me, moving in without the emotional and physical security of marriage will bring out your jittery altar ego and destabilize the relationship. There is no going back. It sets up painful dynamics that are difficult to change.

      Your parents may know that. Saying that they are hypocritical to say you can’t cohabit when they did is a little like saying, they drove recklessly and survived so why can’t I? Cohabiting is not a perk that you should get if they did, if was something damaging and dangerous. Thank God they were one of the few that emerged with their relationship intact. Do you want to take such a chance with yours?

      There is one last factor I haven’t mentioned. You mentioned that you go to church. Marriage was ordained by God. When you stand before God in marriage there is a very real, tangible blessing he confers on the marriage. It doesn’t guarantee a desire outcome but it is an invitation for him to work in the relationship to cause you both to grow, to help sustain your love. Like sailing you have to align yourself, your heart, to catch the breeze of his spirit by listening to his voice and walking in his ways. When you cohabit you are stepping out of the path God ordained for us, and although he will never leave you or forsake you, and will never stop loving you, will always forgive you if you ask him to, you are out of alignment and will have to row.

      I hope this helps!

      Elizabeth

  45. nicole van wyk says:

    Hi my name is Nicole I’m 23 years old I have a two year old child by my boyfriend of six and half years we not the perfect couple we have our off and on moments or bad and good years with each other by this I mean we fight we break up things that normal couples go through. We spoke about marriage and that is one thing we want to do but we are still planning on it. The problem is me and my son still live with my mother. me and my boyfriend work tight shift s so we are rarely at home or see each other my bf don’t stay with us, so when he is off he would come to us and wants to spend some time with us and this is only during the week coz he works weekends as well the problem is my mother don’t like it when is there she will always say bad things to him I dnt know why she is like this and she won’t tell me why I feel so bad for him because he wants to be with us and I can see he don’t like being there if she is there he is also at that stage that he say he won’t come there any more and I’m afraid this is going to affect our relationship me and my son’s with him. I feel like moving out and go live with my bf. Can someone pls give me advise and I know talking won’t help because I tried that.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Nichole,
      Sounds like you are in a very hard spot. It must be painful to hear you mom say bad things to your boyfriend and be helpless to make it stop.
      I don’t have any answers but I do have some questions to think about.
      What will happen if you fight and break up while living together? Will you go back home to your mom? Will that make the break up more turmultous, more traumatic?
      Is there any way you can become financially independent? Get more schooling, more training? Is there anywhere else you can live?
      Is your two year old son close to your mother? Would it adveresly impact him to have you leave? Does she help you with his care? Does she watch him while you work? He will always be in your life and those first few years are very important to his development.
      What keeps you two from getting married? You’ve been together for six years and even have a child. Could you commit to say, six months of working hard on the relationship to improve it to where it is more stable? I could teach you some relationship building exercises that might help. I see you are from South Africa–I don’t know what resources there are there. Can you get counseling?
      It may seem like moving in with him is the answer, but I wonder if ultimately he will treat you worse than your mother treats him. I wonder why she doesn’t like him. Is it her or does she see something you don’t? I wonder if anyone else watching the scene could answer that question. For example, is he is unfaithful to you, does he abuse drugs or alcohol? Does your mom dislike him because of character flaws, then maybe there is something there you want to carefully consider. But she may just get trigger by him, be angry at men, who knows?
      I can understand that your boyfriend would not want to come over. It must be a little scary to think you may lose this man because of your mother’s anger.
      When I don’t know what to do, I read the Bible and pray. I talk to God and listen, often throughout the day sometimes for many days and things begin to shift, maybe not all at once, but over time. I get a sense of what I should do, doors open. I’ve written up my story in my book, so if you have a computer you can download a kindle app by going to http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771, and then buy the book, and read it on your computer. I hope it will help inspire you not to give up but to believe that God loves you, sees you and your child and will help you if you ask him to.
      Meanwhile, I will be praying for you. Let me know how it goes.
      Elizabeth

  46. AG says:

    I come from a strong Christian family with Christian parents who love eachother, and a strong Christian upbringing. Up until about two years ago, my faith was also strong. I taught Bible studies, had a close 1-on-1 relationship with God, but then I experienced heartache that shattered my world. I was in an immoral relationship with a guy I loved with my whole heart, but he chose other things over marrying me and starting a life together.
    I am now 25, and recently moved in with my boyfriend. We’ve been together 7 months now, and I find it hard to keep a pure relationship once you’ve already crossed that line. I was in a bad roommate situation before, he was living with his sister and needed to get out, and everywhere I looked (for four months) to live was too expensive for either of us to afford alone. The place we’re in now was the most affordable, and makes the most sense.
    Not only that, but he is everything I want in a husband. He, too, is a Christian–our lives have just had some upsets that led us to be together. I want nothing more than to honor God, but I don’t see how we’d be able to get married right now… It’s hard enough affording a new place and moving fees. We’re still crossing those bridges. However, I’ve hurt my family and know that God wants us to have a pure relationship… but it’s just not the case for me. I know that God can use all things together for good. I understand every verse that is commanding me otherwise… But I also see that God used David who didn’t have a moral life. David in my opinion was one of the best writers in the Old Testament. I know he suffered for his sins, but God still used him. Also, Jacob. He married Leah but his heart was with Rachel and he was decieved, so he married her too. He suffered with wives and concubines fighting for his attention, but God still blessed him. I feel like we will get married eventually… I just hate hurting my parents. They’ve raised me to honor God in all of my choices, and I want to be an example to others to live for Him. Is it possible to still live for God in this situation?
    I also understand what you said that if you live in sin, it dulls your heart to God’s desires for your life. You become accustomed to it, and it changes your relationship with Him. I don’t want that, but right now, for me, there’s really no other way. He could move out and I could struggle to afford the place myself, but it’s not what I want.
    Any thoughts?

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear AJ,

      Since we share a common faith, I will speak to you as one sister to another. I too lived with my boyfriend while trying to be a Christ follower, but found that it pulled me far from God.

      My advice to you would be that you find a way to get alone for an extended period of time, say a weekend, and wrestle with God about the heartache that shattered your world. Where I live there are a surprising number of retreat houses where for little or no money you can stay for a day or two. That would be ideal.

      When you are alone, go back to the place where you were disappointed with God. Honestly share with him, with as much intensity as you can muster, what this disappointment felt like. Do it out loud so you engage both hemispheres of your brain. Let the pain surface. Pay attention to what you are feeling in your body. If you are angry tell him why but stay engaged with him, look at his face. Be brutally honest and see how he responds. When you have aired your complaint, then listen to him.

      Ask God to show you how he sees you in this situation. Then look at the situation with him and let him show you how he sees it.

      Lastly when you have completely aired your complaint and seen the situation from God’s perspective, express gratitude to God. Tell him what you long for. Let him speak to your heart. He loves you. He understands why you are where you are. Reconnect with him heart to heart. Surrender to him.*

      When I was pregnant, I was strongly tempted to have an abortion. I even told God, Just let me terminate this pregnancy, then I will live for you,” but I then I sensed that if I aborted my child it would do something to my heart that would turn me even further away from God. I was at a crossroads, my choice would determine my destiny. The more I resisted God, the more my heart would harden.

      God is a jealous God. He is merciful but he, in the words of Bonheoffer, “God bids a woman come and die, and then give her the only life worth living. “ (I’ve changed to the feminine). I know I struggled with obeying God for years, and I hope you will read my story, Crossroads Before Me, which can be downloaded from Amazon and read on any computer, phone, pad. (If you don’t have the Kindle app, you can download that for free). It will give you more detail, more depth about how God redeemed the mess I had made of my life.

      You mentioned David, how he sinned and was forgiven. We do sin. We are saved but we still blow it, often over and over again, but what distinguished David is that when the prophet Nathan confronted him he repented. Psalm 51 expresses his sorrow over his sin so beautifully: “Have mercy on me, O God,
      According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
      Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when you judge.”

      You know God’s standards. They are law of love intended by your maker to guide you into a full, rich life. But also know this: he is not standing at a distance, looking for black marks on your soul. He is closer than you skin, holding out his hand, waiting for you to take it. Even now he is seeing you with great compassion and love.

      I really think the most important step is to reconnect with him at a heart level. If you do that, everything else will fall into place.

      Let me know how it goes. I’ve already asked a number of intercessors to pray for you.

      Elizabeth

  47. Ashleigh says:

    This was an interesting article to read, thought I am not religious, my boyfriend has been brought up in a very Christian family.
    We are planning on moving in together in 2 months, as my lease is running out and he and his housemate want to move into another place. We spend 7 nights a week together and I am uncomfortable around my housemates because I feel like they don’t like how much he is there. Moving in together for us is not about sex, we have a sexual relationship but we enjoy just being close with each other just as much, convenience is a significant factor but we have discussed the pros and cons and believe we have a strong enough relationship to do it.
    I am only 20 and don’t feel that I need to rush into marriage (yes i have divorced parents) we have talked about it in the long term but it is not something I see as a priority at this time and something I have always expected to be more of issue in my late 20’s, my boyfriend is 25 and is much closer to that stage of life and I have accepted that getting married and having kids would most likely happen sooner then I had previously planned, but still not within the next 2-3 years. We have talked about if I got pregnant and agreed that we would keep it as he has strong feelings on abortion and I couldn’t bare to give up something that was half of him.
    When we are planning on moving in together we will have be together close to a year, we love each other alot, communicate well and respect each other. I know that by the bible we are doing the wrong thing and he fears that he will go to hell for his sins, but would god really punish people for loving each other? I realise this is against your beliefs but do you have advice on how to prepare our selves for this? particularly with his parents, we are considering getting a place with a spare bedroom, in the hopes that it would make them more comfortable and to help us maintain personal space when we need it. What advice would you give?

    • emstalcup says:

      I am sorry it has taken so long to reply. I injured my right arm hiking two weeks ago, trying to break a fall by grabbing a branch and wrenched my arm. So I can’t type much.
      I was struck by your comment, “I know that by the bible we are doing the wrong thing and he fears that he will go to hell for his sins, but would god really punish people for loving each other?” I think you misunderstand God here. He’s not “rule happy” making a lot of prohibitions to make you unhappy. He made you, and your boyfriend, he designed you and he loves you. The rules are guidelines for life. You will be happier, more fulfilled if you follow them. The studies simply verify what the Bible says, that you will have the most satisfying relationship if you make a life long commitment, stay faithful to each other and keep working on maturing together. Having said that sinning does cause a rifted in the relationship with God. It is basically thumbing your nose at God, saying, “I may only be 20 but I know what is best for me–you don’t.”
      I wish you could sit in on some of my ministry appointments and here the anguish. You don’t know where this relationship will end up.
      In my experience is is never a good idea to violate someone conscious. Never. It diminishes the person. If your boyfriend feels guilty, I would not move in with him. It is not a good basis for a long-term relationship and it will hurt badly if it ends because you do care for each other.
      I am glad to hear your been realistic about the fact that sex produces babies. I was so unrealistic about this and when I ended up pregnant the first time I was shocked and made a horrible decision to abort my baby.
      So it is not that God will send you to hell for having sex, or for loving each other, it is just that sinning will eventually harden your heart toward Him so that eventually you won’t want to connect with God. Ultimately what God wants is a love relationship with both of you, where He changes you from the inside out so that you want to do what is right, you recognize that he is only trying to love you and protect you.
      Probably not what you wanted to hear.
      Bless you both,
      Elizabeth

  48. Tammi says:

    I’ve been “dating” my best friend for 3 years who is finalizing his divorce this month. I know infedility is a sin and I have repeatedly asked God for forgiveness. When we began a romantic relationship my best friends marriage was not salvagable according to him. They tried counseling and even had a child to try and make the marriage grow. Unfortunately after 2 children, many sessions of counseling, mismatched personalities and dreams, 5 years of dating, 15 years of marriage and this last year making it 1 year of separation…. His wife concluded she wanted a divorce. I feel guilty that I had a part in the ending of their marriage. My best friend dealt with a lot of guilt and uncertainty too…
    While separated he lived with his sister while his wife stayed in their house with the kids. He stayed at their house 3 days a week on his days it was his time with the kids. This went on for a year and recently they sold their house and the wife moved into an apartment with the kids in the city. My best friends sister lives in the country side where I also reside in my own apartment.
    Now that he has no place to physically call his own home he is lost. I haven’t offered for him to move into my place as I feel he needs to finish up his divorce. I feel bad for him but I don’t think him moving in with me would solve things.
    He has been staying at his sisters but has also been rushing to find a place of his own. I just found out he is looking for a home in the city near his kids…..across the street to e exact. I felt sad and scared as tho I wouldn’t see him as much since the drive is about 30-40 min an where I’m from that’s considered a long drive. I want him to be near his kids but Im afraid that I wouldn’t fit in living with him across the street from his kids and his soon to be ex.
    At first I thought it would be easy and that we would find a place together when the time was right. Now I just don’t know when or if that time will ever be right. We both care deeply for one another and have talked about a future together. But now I feel like he has to do whatever it is he has to do to be close to his kids and now I just feel like our plans to have a future together are going to be more complex.
    As of now I have no plans of him moving into my place. I have no plans of moving into his place once he gets one. I guess right now I feel like he needs to settle his priorities(kids and home) first and then see where and if a future together fit in. Right now we see one another 2-3 times a week but we are in constant contact with eachother on the phone. I feel secure in our relationship but I am not sure how him moving away will affect me. I will miss him even tho he will only be 40 min away. He hasn’t suggested I move towards him or with him yet. If he does I know I will say no. Right now I just don’t know how the pieces to our puzzle are fitting. I just know that he is a great fit for me spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I pray everyday to God and ask that he guide me and my best friend in life with a postively attitude. I pray that God will fill us both with his love and Holy Spirit and that he will take our burdens of worry and stress from us and that everything will work out for us. I know God has a plan for us both. Whether it be together in the city or not at all. I leave it all up to God at this point and just pray continually for him to shine his light upon us both during this period of overwhelming confusion.

  49. Kristy Renazile says:

    This article is amazing. I’ve been looking for an article just like this for a very long time. I’m a 20 year old Chrisyian and so is my 22 year old friend. She’s 7 months pregnant. I was very disappointed when I founs out but not surprised. Anyways, she’s decided to move in with her boyfriend. I’ve advised her against it but she says y

  50. Kristy Renazile says:

    (Continuation)

    She says that it’s what’s bedt for the baby. I’ve been struggling with how to deal with this ussue for a very long time. Maybe you can email me at kristiizhott@yahoo.com.. Thanks :)

  51. Lacey says:

    What’s really interesting about this sort of thing, to me, are the statistics. It’s really easy to look at divorce rates of cohabiting couples and to say, “Look! Cohabitation causes divorce!” when it makes more sense to say, “There seems to be a trend between cohabiting and divorce, perhaps not caused by the act of cohabitation itself but rather the types of people who decide to cohabit before marriage.” Those types are less likely to be sure of their relationship or marriage in general, therefore making them a more likely candidate for divorce anyway, even without the actual living together first. I’ve been collecting various studies on this, and most of them seem to show that while couples that live together before engagement are more likely to divorce than couples who did not live together first, couple who are engaged before living together (where marriage is seriously and not just vaguely planned) have just about the same divorce rates as the couples that didn’t live together first. While this doesn’t address any religious or spiritual concerns, I think it makes a very valid point in the way people think about marriage. There’s seems to be a point where both parties have decided to be in it forever for a relationship to work, and that decision is made before the marriage itself ever takes place. Therefore, it’s that mentality of being married that’s more likely to dictate some of the varying divorce rates, like a mental marriage that happens before the legal one. Where would the spiritual marriage lie on that timeline? Almost everyone would put it with the legal one, but wouldn’t it be possible for a couple to be spiritually joined before filling out the paperwork? And if a couple feels they are married in God’s eyes, even if not in the legal framework, does anyone else’s eyes really matter? (Speaking hypothetically, of course. When I get married, I want the legality of it, too.)

    In my personal life, the man I am with right now is the man I want to marry, and I’ve known this for some time. The whole reason I’m looking into this is that due to the fact that we are both about to be moving around the country, we might find ourselves in a situation where becoming roomies is the only financially viable option. And if it actually came down to living with him someplace where I could have a job and a home of my own or moving back in with my parents where I would have virtually no opportunities in my field of study, I’d choose him. However, I am hoping that it will never come to that, and that when I decide to move in with him (or him with me), it will be because we’re married.

    I know this article focuses a lot on cohabitation being related to sex, making the assumption that if a couple lives together, they’re also sexually active together. But what’s your feelings about couple who live together and do act like roommates without having engaging in that? I know, I know: temptation will strike. But I always wondered what people did about moving in after a wedding….or is that something they’ll do right before to have on less hassle after the wedding? Seems to me that a bride and groom don’t need even more things on their plate to worry about, so moving in before all the wedding fuss isn’t a bad idea.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Lacey,
      You asked about living together without being sexually active together. I wrote a response to that a few weeks back. I’ll post it again in case you missed it. Look for a post to Julia.

      As for moving in after the wedding, most of the couples I know have one of them move into the place where they will live together as man and wife. As the wedding date draws near they begin to move the other person’s belongings in but still live apart. Before they marry they pack suitcases for the honeymoon, then when they return they finish moving in together, or friends do it for them while they are gone. It does presuppose that they can afford to rent a place of their own and that there is somewhere else one of them can stay until the wedding. When you assume that this is the way it happens, the details fall into place. My daughter lived at home; her husband-to-be lived in the townhouse they later occupied. I lived in student housing at Stanford; my husband drove his car loaded with stuff to Los Angeles where we were married, then friends of mine drove a car loaded with his belongings north to Stanford while we went on our honeymoon.

      There are far more options than you are envisioning now. If you are committed to staying pure, to saving sexual intimacy for marriage, you will find ways to make it work. Within the community of faith, I believe there are people who would be glad to help. I lived with families, female roommates, and on my own–in all kinds of situations, some cheap some not so much.

      As for the concept of “mental marriage”–I am not so sure. I look back on my own history and see that part of me felt married, felt committed, but I really wasn’t, not at all levels, not all the way through. So much of what is going on in our hearts and minds happens at a subcortical level. Commitment is important. But why not marry? If you are committed why not tie the knot? For most of us that will test our level of commitment. It will force us to take a hard look at the relationship. Actions are different than words and intentions and reveal what we fundamentally believe.
      There are no doubt people who are legally married but not committed to the relationship. I hear many sad stories of unfaithfulness in marriage. My friend Jim Wilder says that the studies show “The closer to monogamy we get the more sexual activity and bonding line up. However, if you start having sexual contact all around it keeps you from bonding with any one person.” So the closer we get to a monogamous relationship, the deeper we bond. So married people who are unfaithful (and this includes porn) are not going to form a deep bond.

      Instead of dicing different kinds of marriage, why not marry the man you are committed to and be connected at every level, so you can begin building a love relationship that will last a lifetime.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      • emstalcup says:

        Here’s thr earlier post to Julia covering the topic of a couple living together while refraining from sexual immorality. Sounds like torture to me, but here are my thoughts.
        E.

        Dear Julia,
        I would agree that in a strict sense one could argue that it is morally acceptable to an engaged couple to cohabit if they refrain from sexual immorality but I would not advise it.
        Here are my reasons:

        1. I think it may be harder than you think to refrain from sexual intimacy. I would hope that you would be filled with love and desire for your fiancée. I often find that many couples who are pure in their engagement period are filled with incredibly intense longing for the day when they will truly belong to each other. As the passion and longing increases it can be very hard physically and emotionally. It can be hard to sleep at night. If one of you has to go home it helps. You break apart, agree you want to stay pure and one of goes out into the cool evening air and everyone has a break. I honestly believe this helps us mature, as learning to tame your cravings is one of the childhood maturity tasks that we seem to find particularly challenging. And this carries forward into our marriages. The fact is that there are times, even in a great marriage when we need to refrain from sexual intimacy. Perhaps one partner is ill. I hear many sad, sad stories of men (or women) who are unfaithful when their wife is in the hospital with cancer. They haven’t learned how to tame their cravings; they believe they must have sex to survive. This is very sad.

        2. On the flip side I think the sexual intimacy in marriage goes a long way toward covering a multitude of irritations. My husband and I talked about your comment last night and we agreed that the joy of our union made us feel more loving and charitable toward each other that petty annoyances take a bad seat. I guess that is why couples who remain pure used to experience what we called “the honeymoon phase” where is seemed that your spouse could do no wrong. If you live together but are not joined in marriage or sexually intimate (don’t read me wrong here, I am not suggesting sexual intimacy before marriage is a good idea), you have instead sexual tension coupled with learning all those things about your mate that are so incredibly annoying. Like the fact that they drop their wet towel on the floor each morning.

        3. You don’t know for sure you will marry until you do. In fact I think reason two, above, might make it less likely that you will marry.

        4. In your case especially, I would want to use that engagement period to develop community so that you are not isolated once you marry. This is the perfect time for you to live with a group of women your age or a family where you can develop loving caring bonds outside your marriage. If you move from one part of the country to another and move in with him it will be all too easy to have his life, his circle of friend, become your circle of friends. I am astonished at the degree of isolation in our culture. It is not healthy. We are made to attach to each other. We need community.

        5. There is a very real blessing that God confers on marriage. I would want that on my side before we lived together.

        6. As I respond to your comment and the comments of others, I think I am coming to a theory that what I believe may be fundamentally wrong with your typical relationship today: couples are moving out of sync with each other and with themselves. In other words, I am desperate for attachment. Maybe I did not get what I needed from my family. So I get sexually intimate very fast, which makes me feel close, attached. I am attached, I am bonded at the limbic level, but I haven’t actually taken the time to get to know this person. And I am not fully committed to them. The jury is still out on if I want to love them unconditionally. I know their body and maybe a little bit about their heart, mind and soul. Then I get to know them but there isn’t a chance to mull things over, to take a break and think it through because if I back up at all it throws us both into intense attachment pain because we are deeply attached at one level and insecurely attached at other levels. It makes for a very painful, sticky situation.

        I would not want to take a chance on muffing up such an important relationship as what you hope will be a life-long marriage.

        If you are interested, you can download the list of needs and task for each stage of maturity here: http://www.lifemodel.org/download.php?type=assessment&rn=59
        Too many of us are stuck in infant and childhood maturity. It is very good to identify your deficits so you can know what you are up against and get unstuck so you can be the adult, parent or elder you were meant to be.

        Bless you,
        Elizabeth

  52. I have been with my boyfriend for two years now. We met in high school and are high school sweethearts. I am 18 and he is 21. I used to have a strong relationship with God but then my boyfriend and I started doing more sexual things and that has led me farther and farther away. I want to be close to God but I know that I would have to either stop having sex (which is really hard to do) or break up with my boyfriend (Which I really do not want to do. He’s my best friend, why would I want to lose him?) I am in my second year of college and he is in his third year and we have started talking about moving in together. I was already having doubts about it because financially we aren’t ready, and even my mom was saying we should wait until later on in our lives instead of rushing our relationship. You’re article makes a lot of sense too but now I don’t know what to do. I do not want to lose my best friend.

    If I was your daughter, what would you advise me to do?

    -Ana

    • emstalcup says:

      I have a daughter who is 20, but the two of you are in such different places! She is in a serious relationship with a man who is 24 but their relationship is chaste. That is very important to both of them. They are both at Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney Australia where they have had a lot of training in how to have a healthy relationship. It seems that the place is a marriage incubator because so many young people go there and find the love of their life. I think if you were my daughter, you would know my story and would hopefully not be where you are today.

      Your story is more like my story than my daughter’s story. I feel sad because it almost feels that our conversation is happening too late. You are already involved with your boyfriend. You are already having sex. It has already affected your relationship with God in a negative way. What can I say that will help? I know it is not hopeless because God still loves you, and still has a plan. His is always with you, loving you. But the first step has to be surrender to God, complete surrender and that means at a minimum you need to stop having sex. You need to ask him to forgive you and ask him to show you the way out of the tangle. This will be hard to do and it may torpedo the relationship. I know when I was your age it seemed that nothing was more important than a relationship with a man, but when I look back I realize nothing satisfies the heart like a love relationship with God. From infancy we look for unconditional love from our parents and even the best parents disappoint us. Then we look for unconditional love in romance and that lets us down. Hopefully somewhere along the way we discover that God is crazy in love with us, understands our deep heart like no one else, and like nothing more than to be with us. For me, once that relationship was strong, I stop expecting my parents to love me the way I needed–I see them with compassion and recognize that they did they best they could. They were wounded too. They could not give me the love and acceptance I craved. As I connect to God I am also able to see that my husband is a great man, but not perfect and his love will never fill the hole in my heart. Only God can. I would encourage you to connect with God. I have some exercises, call Immanuel, on the blog which can help you learn how. Let God love you. Let him help you. He has a plan and it is good.
      I will be praying for you. Let me know how it goes!
      Be blessed!
      Elizabeth

  53. Katie says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    My name is Katie and I was raised in a Christian home but have never really witnessed a good, strong, marriage relationship from my parents. They used to fight all the time and I hoped that would never happen to me. I don’t think I can really call myself a Christian anymore, because I guess I don’t have morals. So when people ask, I tell them to look for a better example. Sad but that’s how my life has always been. I was always the doubtful one especially when it came to anything to do with morals and Christian doctrine. I always have had self esteem issues seek affection from anyone who will give it to me. I allow people to walk all over me and my mom and grandma are the same way. I just found out after all these years my grandma married my grandpa just because she didn’t want to be lonely and she was unequally yoked to him. I have been dating my current boyfriend for six months now, and I basically live with him at college. I am 18 years old, and he is 20. I was a virgin, but he wasn’t, and we had sex two months after we started dating especially after I told myself no over and over. In high school I was never even tempted to have sex with them but for some reason in college I just didn’t care anymore. I was told by a person in my church that I am basically already tainted because I had sex before marriage and that a man will have a hard time accepting me now. Well, then what is the point of dating after me and my current bf break up? Am I just ruined now? I don’t get it. I still have no regrets, and I am wondering even though I accepted Jesus as my Savior why he is not putting convictions on my heart. I don’t feel guilty at all, even when I go to church and attend my Christian theology class. I feel too comfortable in my situation with my boyfriend to just pick up and leave because it’s wrong. I know that sounds bad but I don’t really know what to do anymore. I would really appreciate your advice, thanks!
    P.S., sorry for ranting!

    • emstalcup says:

      You sound just like me when I was your age. Can I talk you into reading my book and then we can talk again? Crossroads Before Me, at Amazon. You can click on the book cover on the right and it will take you to Amazon. The book describes the mess I made of my life and how God began to woo me back right in the middle of it. I wrote it for people just like you. It is draining to obey the rules if that is all they are–a bunch of rules. And it is nearly impossible to know how to have a healthy relationship when all you’ve had is terrible examples.

      Is it hopeless? No. Are you tainted? Was the woman at the well tainted? Jesus loved her and saw her as someone in need. You sound weary, hopeless and sad. I am sorry you haven’t seen a good, strong marriage.

      Being a Christian is about being in a love relationship with Jesus. As you fall in love with him you want to please him just like any lover, so doing what pleases him, what draws his presence comes naturally. What Bonheoffer wrote so long ago is still true: Only those who obey believe and only those who believe obey. If you don’t obey, you won’t see how it works and you won’t believe, it won’t make sense to you. But if you don’t believe, you will wonder why you should bother.

      You ask why you don’t feel convicted of your sin–I didn’t either. Most of the time, then it would well up and I would feel miserable. I started to find my way back by degrees. It didn’t happen overnight. I resisted because I thought that Christianity was a warp, shallow life where I would be judged for being needy. I do understand what it feels like to not be able to make the grade, to be too tired of trying and failing to ever want to try again.

      God sees you with love and compassion. Change has to come from the inside and we can’t do it. We have to surrender and let him take the wheel, to plant in our hearts the seeds of new beginnings. I am sure if you begin to talk to him, he will begin to interact with you and show you the way.

      I’ll be praying.

      Take care,

      Elizabeth

  54. Anonymous says:

    Hey i just really wanted to talk to someone about this lol its not a real biggy just wanted to no your thoughts :)
    I have had a few boyfriends and ive slept with more than a couple of guys but that was before i gave my life to the lord. I then met this boy at a christian uni, we kissed on our first date. He’s amazing, so much different from the other jerks ive dated. We both dont want to have sex before marriage, it even took us 5 months to begin to go out. Me and my boy friend arnt living together but when we alone at each others places we tend to get up to stuff; but never going as far as sex. I guess sometimes i would rather just kiss him but then i get lost in the moment and we sometimes go further. He also stays over sometimes but again we never have sex. We are both christians. During our second year at uni after going out for about 4 months, we were spending everyday together which was a real blessing; but we began fighting heaps just anguring and dissagreeing, just over little silly things. We are both quiet different, strongly opinonatied and alot of times dnt see eye to eye; sometimes this is because of our totally different back grounds. The teachers and stuff noticed and they made us go on a break because this year we need to focus on God and doing his will insead of spending as much time as we did with each other. We still like each other heaps, and i guess it was too hard to stop the relationship altogether so we have been continuing to have our relationship but in secretish. we dont spend as much time as we did with each other, we still see each other every day and text all the time. We are both comented to each other and have admitted theat we dont want to be with anyone else. but coming up we have a holiday, its a week off and my boy friend asked if i wanted to stay with him for the week. I straight away said yes because i do really want to, spend more time with him, feels like we havent been getting alone time lately. so i was thinking about going then i thought that i ddnt really want to do anything sexual with him these holidays, i just wanted to spend the week with him. He’s not gonna take the “no Sexual” stuff very lightly but he has no choice lol maybe i shouldnt go at all but i really want too. and wen i think that the teachers at school told us to break up, i didnt no if that was God speaking or just them not wanting us to distract the other classmates anymore. They said that in the bible somewhere it says something like if you put relationships or thing on hold for him he will bless you for doing so. so maybe i should respect and honour god. but i still really wanna hold his hand and kiss him and stuff. hmmmmmmmmmm i dont no wat to do. i dont wanna loose him and yes one day i want to marry him. We both still have growing to do spiritually and metionally before we do so. i know part of me knows if hes the one then putting this relationship off for a year wont hurt, becuase we could be together forever. But it hurts both of us to spend time away from each other. we miss each other all the time lol any advice?

    • Anonymous says:

      And im 19 and so is he. We were thinking about living together after uni but now i dnt really no if thats good idea :) we will see . ill keep praying about everything too though. thanks

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Jessica,

      I think you already know that spending a week alone with him is not a good idea, even though you really want to. You want to pay attention to your heart because your emotions are giving There is a great book by Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity that talks about this.

      It also sounds like both of you are in attachment pain–which is often subcortical, under the radar–you aren’t aware of it. Attachment pain starts in childhood and manifests itself in our romantic relationships. If we were securely attached to our parents, knew we were loved, cherished and valued–not for anything we did but for just being us–we have a healthy sense of self and we expect to be treated well and to have our needs met. If we were insecurely attached then we can be so hungry for attachment that we will attach to anyone who wants to attach to us. It can have an addictive quality to it, hence the sneakiness and hiding. Attachment does not equal love and it is not necessarily healthy.

      The cure is to attach to God. Sadly, many Christians don’t know how. They don’t actually know how to interact with God, so they guess as to his intentions toward them. They think, I feel very strongly about this guy, he must be in my life for a reason, God must have brought us together. You may be in a Christian university but that does not mean you know how to interact with God. There is a new workbook out called Forming, Changed by Grave by David Tackle. I would suggest you get one, and work through it. He teaches you how to connect with God in practical ways so you build a nourishing relationship that fills your heart and helps you to know that you are loved and cherished by God.

      If your boyfriend doesn’t want to help you remain pure and even protests against it, he is not really loving you. He is not serving you, he is serving himself. (this last bit from Chris Rothgeb, youth pastor at Church of the Apostles, who is sitting next to me on the sofa–we are on retreat).

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  55. Carissa says:

    I have four girl-friends who claim to be Christians who have decided to move in with their boyfriends in the past month. I’m really struggling with what my response should be as a sister in Christ. I’ve already told them I don’t agree with their decisions, but I’m starting to feel worn out honestly with the stress of the situation. I don’t have a boyfriend, so my opinion isn’t completely “valid” in their opinion I think, and I just…don’t know what to do anymore. Is it ok to go to their house? Should I continue to press the issue? What if it scares them away from Christianity? Why would they decide to do that when they know it’s wrong? So many questions.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Carissa,

      It can be quite painful to watch people make terrible decisions, but I have good news for you. You’ve shared your views with them and now you can let it go. You aren’t responsible for their choices. Some of your friends may go on to marry and regret the choices they made while others may not. They may turn away from God. Even so, you can trust them to God, pray for them and love them. Yes, I would go to their house–if you want to, if you enjoy being with them. They are friend’s right? But you don’t go if you don’t want to. Don’t feel you have to save them. You don’t have to fix them. As hard as it might be, I would work through your sadness and anger with God. This is what I do, I tell God (out loud) why I am angry or sad, then I tell him it is too much for me, I don’t want it any more and ask him to lift it off of me. He will take whatever I am willing to let go.

      I would not continue to press the issue unless they ask.

      People decide to do all kinds of things that they know are wrong, often because they don’t know how to stop. Maybe they are afraid to lose the relationship. Maybe they think this is the only guy who will ever love them. Knowing something is wrong (left brain) does not equate with having the ability to stop (right brain). I honestly think a lot of relationships are based on insecure attachment, which is very sad. It means whatever happened with mom and dad is repeated in romantic relationships. It is driven at a subconscious level. We don’t recognize what we are doing yet we unerringly chose people who will treat us as our parents did. We can heal through programs like Restarting and by connecting deeply to God, but many people, even Christians don’t know how.

      I would do your best to love your friends. Ask God to show you how he sees them (and you!). Listen to what he has to say. Let him comfort you in your sorrow.

      My two sisters struggled when I turned away and moved in with my boyfriend. They fasted and prayed and I got pregnant. This was not what they wanted but it drew me back to God in a dramatic way and changed my life for the better.

      You are a good friend to be concerned, but each of us is given the right, by God, to make our own choices and ultimately we all make some pretty bad ones! I am grateful that God redeems our messes, our arrogance, our sense the we know better, and loves us through the whole journey.

      I hope this helps!

      Elizabeth

  56. Sunny says:

    I am glad I came upon this site, and I am impressed how you take the time to replay to each person.

    I lived an abusive childhood, and I was in a series of bad relationships until I became a Christian as a senior in College. I stayed pure for 8 years. I met a christian guy and we got married six months after meeting. I did everything right. We did not live together or sleep together until we were married. I waited for him.

    3 months into the marriage he started to cheat on me. Granted, he did not sleep with any of them but he took them out to expensive dates and left me at home alone. He was also abusive. It took me almost 5 years to get the courage to end my marriage; I am lucky we did not have kids.

    I would like to find and marry a wonderful christian guy and have kids… But….When most christians hear the word “Divorce” they cringe. There was one guy who seemed interested in me until he learned I was divorced, and now he is ignoring me like I have plague.

    So… I have accepted that I just might stay single the rest of my life.
    Yeah, yeah.. “With GOD all things are possible..” but man still has free will.

    I am stuck with a dilemma. There is very sweet and cute guy who is not a christian interested in me. He knows I am divorced and he does not care.

    I know he is not interested in getting married and right now neither am I because of what I went through with my ex.

    So…Would it be wrong for me to allow him to move in with me?

    Feel free to e-mail me if you would like..

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Sunny,

      I am so sorry that your husband betrayed you in such a devastating way. You did all you knew to do to follow God but did not get the happy ending you were longing for. It sounds like you have suffered in many ways, first from an abusive childhood and later from an abusive marriage. Sadly, we tend to carry our childhood forward. If we were abused, or did not get the nurture we needed, our brains are set to an abusive “climate,” so to speak, and we tend to chose romantic partners who will treat us the same way. We aren’t aware that we are doing so, but what feels familiar, what feels like a genuine connection, will be someone who will treat us like our parents.

      So your admirable goal is to find a wonderful Christian guy and have kids, but you feel like you have ruined your chances because you are now tainted by divorce. It seems you are asking if you should settle for a “sweet and cute guy who is not a christian.” My advice is to take time to pursue healing so you can recover from the trauma of your childhood and marriage. If not, I suspect you will pick the same type of guy again. I think letting your cute guy move in would be a big mistake. Instead I would find help in processing your pain so you can heal. It will be hard work, a difficult journey but you can do it, and as you do, you will change. You will be drawn to different people. The best way to do this is to enroll in a program such as Restarting which trains your brain to attach to healthy people and God. Help can also come from connecting to healthy people. It is painful to be isolated and alone. Tragically the church often punishes those who are in pain, but there are good churches out there. Perhaps it is time to find one that has support groups to help you recover.

      May God bless and keep you and make his face shine on you.

      Elizabeth

  57. meow says:

    So all of you really believe in God? I guess I did as a child, but now, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t believe it. It’s just a book to me. Stories passed down, and put into writing. I’ve tried, but I just can’t put all that stock and faith into a book. Everything has been invented by man socially, marriage wasn’t created by a god, it was created by man, just as politics were. It doesn’t logically follow that God created marriage to me. I live with my boyfriend of 3 years, and we are both about to get our undergraduate degrees, and we don’t want to marry until we both have our masters degrees. I don’t want to be a trophy wife, and I don’t want to follow the misogynistic rules of the bible, if they are to be taken literally. I can’t agree with this article. I didn’t come looking for it, I was actually looking for support on having an out of town boyfriend.
    That is another point that is unclear, not necessarily in the article, but in the English language in general. The word “boyfriend” implies that you have not been with them very long, that they are interchangeable, and that you will eventually break up. There is a large space between the words boyfriend, fiance, and husband. There should be something to fill the gap in between boyfriend and fiance. This is just me ranting on and on now, but I had to comment on this article because I just can’t agree with it. You all probably think I’m ungodly, but I don’t care! I do all the things a “christian” should do, minus go to church, although I do work at one! Its hard for me to understand this mentality. Well, I guess I’ll get my liberal ass out of here now! au revoir!

    • emstalcup says:

      If you want to explore the posiblities of faith, perhaps you need to start interacting with God. Invite him to love you. Simply say, “Love me today. Show me your love.” See what happens.
      Let me know.
      E.
      I

  58. vankelia says:

    My boyfriend and I has been dating for 7yrs but staying together for 2yrs. We have two boys a 3yr old and a 7mo old. For the past 1yr and a half we have not been getting along, everytime i stress to him that i want to do right by god by not having sex anymore asking god for forgivness and getting married he always get a little uneasy and talks about not rushing into things. I can be honest and say that we have not had sex in about 9mo but im still not sure how things will work now that we have kids and i dont want to stay under the same roof until he’s ready to commit. Sometimes i feel like he’s now trying to hold me back from the world and find that guy who is really ready to have a real family.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Vankelia,

      This sounds like a very hard place to be in, to be with a man, to have children with him, and not be sure if the relationship has a future. You can’t make him want to marry you and you don’t want to guilt him into doing so. Unless he has a change of heart it is difficult to imagine a happy ending from this situation. Your options as I see them are: One, move out and start over. This could give you a fresh start and more control over your own life, but you will have to share custody of the children. They will undoubtedly be attached to their dad and need to spent time with him.
      Two, get some counseling or prayer ministry. If he won’t go with you, go alone. As you change, he will change in response to the new you. This might help resolve the places you are stuck. It may also end the relationship or cause good growth.
      Three, stay where you are but I suspect this option will only lead to a slow and painful deterioration. My daughter’s father was not the kind of man I wanted to marry.
      When I was pregnant out-of-wedlock I opted to go it alone. With the help of crisis pregnancy center I found an older woman who took me in. The rent was cheap and Mildred was a wonderful support to me and my baby during the year and a half we lived in her home. I married my husband when my daughter was nearly four and he adopted her. She just turned 30 on Friday and is a lovely young woman.
      Don’t lose heart. God loves you and he will guide you. I will be praying for you, for clear leading, for wisdom.
      Bless you,
      Elizabeth

  59. Bob says:

    Really? This article had to bring religion into it?

    • emstalcup says:

      Yes, it may be hard for you to imagine, but for some of us, our relationship with God is very real and nourishing. Our life springs our of that relationship.
      Elizabeth

  60. Vina says:

    Im hurting a lot right now and I cant stop the tears from flowing. I dont live with my boyfried, because he’s my best friend. We recently (a month ago) crossed the line of friendship and were intimate. Ive known him for 12years. we were venturing into trying to give us (a boyfriend/girlfriend) different relationsip. I was told I could not conceive and he has also known this as he helped me through some very hard times regarding my female health (6 yrs ago).

    However, while staying with him for a week, our intimacy has resulted in a pregnancy, in which my doctors are calling a miracle. I didnt want to tell him, because he has a child out of wedlock already and he and cholds mother do not get along, she is very manipulative with their son because they did not work out after tyring 3 yrs. ( i stood by him through this).

    At first he was excited because he wanted another child, but something changed between us; I’ve been emotional and distant at one point for a couple of days, we had a horrible dissagreement and he stated “he knew where this was going and he was worried because he is already dealing with a full load and now I’m stressing him out (we currtently live in different states)”. He stated we must have Christian counseling and he needed to tell his mother, he needed her help ( I had orginally asked that he tell no one for 6-8weeks, thinking it would be a stable pregnancy by then). I told him I understood and was hoping his mother would help. Well he texted me today that his mother is NOT HAPPY (she had always thought of me highly in the past, (I guess I’m no good in her eyes now) because she is never happy if he is not happy. He has not phoned me for three days (he used to call every day). He texts every morning to say Good Morning and how am i and he hopes I have a good day BUT will NOT CALL ME. He also stated we need to have counseling ASAP. I’m fine with this so I said ok, we are trying to do this next week when i get there.

    I’m devastated and hurt, how can he think he is the only one concerned, this is our childs life, our lives. I dont want to cause any more stress. He hasnt told me he loved me in days and he always told me this, even after the pregnancy news, now nothing.

    • emstalcup says:

      This sound so difficult. It sounds like everyone involved is overwhelmed and in a lot of pain. As much as you can I would try to work through the sadness you are feeling over the way your friend and his mother are responding. In an ideal world he would be happy to become a dad, but it sounds like he is not dealing with this very well. And emotions run high when you are pregnant. You can’t control how he will respond and you don’t want to back him into a corner. You only have limited control over yourself. I would let yourself cry, talk to God out loud, then listen to what he has to say. No matter what happens with your boyfriend, God will never leave you or forsake you. That may seem trite but it is major because he really is there, his power is amazing, and he is a very real source of help that can redeem even the worst muddle.

      Try for now to take one day at a time and give everyone involved a little room. If you can, give him some time and space for a few days, and find other ways to meet your own very real needs by connecting with loving friends and family.

      I am sure this hurts. But I don’t think anything good will come from pressuring him to resume the level of closeness you had before he got the news. If he has some space, he will hopefully have time to think it through, cool off and realize what he will miss by not being with you at this most amazing time. It sounds like you have enjoyed a long and close friendship which should endure if no ultimatums are issued in a state of high emotion.

      I’ll be praying for you.

      My story may help you. It helped me a great deal to read stories of how people got through hard times when I was suffering. Crossroads Before You at Amazon.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  61. zach says:

    Elizabeth,
    Let me clarify one thing I think I should mention. My intent isn’t to question your credibility and I don’t want to give the impression that I am attempting to advertise myself as being an expert in this matter. It also isn’t my place to question anyone’s conscious contact with God which was not my intention either but I would understand if it appeared that way. I felt my remarks were a little bumptious and I should not assume that you are still hanging on to the past based on this alone, besides the entry was written over a year ago.
    Honestly, I felt threatened by your statements and I realized this after the fact. The reasons for this have to do with my parents divorcing when I was 8 years old and the fact I have a live-in girlfriend right now. That being said, of all the ghosts of my past, my relationship with my father, or lack of thereof, is a work in progress that brought a lot of bitterness in my past and eventually to the destructive downward spiral of alcoholism. If anything, my reaction reminded me that I still have a lot of comparing inward to do about this. 3 years later since my last drink has helped me confront these issues and reconnect with God. But I guess this was a reminder that life is a journey and not a destination.

  62. Stephen Chu says:

    Thanks for your honest and warmly disclosure. I dated my girl friend for seven years and we went to bed after married. It’s unbelievable that such a relationship can survive in a hard time, immune from any extra marital affair temptation.

    Marriage is the last chance which makes us mature, and dating is the last chance to train a man to be responsible for his husbandship and fatherhood for the future.

    Now I am a marriage educator and developed a program that is based on the Creation, scientific studies on the male and female brains, and researched on marriages and families.

    Since males and females were made by God. and their roles and functions were mentioned in the Scriptures. A couple of years ago, after a period of time to tried to explained chicken or egg first, I then I delved into the idea that How God Made the Difference of Male and Females, and compared to male and female brains with what a man and woman is, unbelievably, we can matched. I believed this is the first course which connected the Bible, Design, Brain functions, and researches. May be one day I can translate into English.

    Nice to know you.

  63. Kite says:

    Your article resonated with me. My girldfriend and I moved in together after we found out she was pregnant, especially since her family is out of state. We have been together for a year and have a 4 mo old daughter. I am a believer, and she was raised in a christian home–her parents are believers. I recently chose to re-dedicate my heart to the Lord and honor him in all my affairs. I told her we could no longer be intimate until we came together as a married couple. We have been working on communicating better with a counselor and working through a few relational issues between us–and my taking away physical intimacy with her was a serious problem. She is a very emotional person whose primary way of receiving love is physical (hugs, cuddling, sex etc) She infact has a lot of anger at God (claims to have rejected him, but wants us to go to church as a family, wants nothing to do with God but sings Jesus loves me to our daughter to put her to bed etc etc) and much of this is rooted in the strict home she grew up in, and sexual abuse from her older brother) So, needless to say, we are on the road to separating over this, and while I am choosing to honor God in my life, at the risk of forcing her into the arms of another man, I don’t know what to do. I trust the Father, but wonder if I could have handled it better, given the complicated nature of her past. She became very promiscious after leaving home and simply sees my actions as another instance in which pain is being brought to her in the name of God–or religion as she likes to say. Thank you for sharing your story.I hope I stay resolute, no matter what the outcome of this present conflict may be. Thank you.

    • emstalcup says:

      The wounds from our childhood can go deep and drive our lives–and we can be completely unaware. Before you separate, consider getting some Theophostic prayer–for both of you, or just you if she is not open to the idea. You might be able to get to what triggers you, which would make it easier to work things out. One of the basic premises of TPM is that the present situation is not the primary source of our pain. Lies implanted during childhood trauma are at the root of the pain because we feel what we believe. Try reading the first three chapters of Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer at Theophostic.com and let me know what you think.
      There is a directory at the IATM website which lists prayer ministers by state.
      Do you think she would read my book? I was once so much like her! Crossroads Before Me at Amazon.
      I’ll be praying for wisdom for you. It can be very hard to love someone who is resisting God, but I see her as wounded and in need of people who will love her unconditionally, something that we can only do as God gives us strength.
      I pray that God would strengthen you in your inner man that you would be transformed into his likeness and know his all surpassing love!
      Be Blessed!
      Elizabeth

  64. Karla says:

    hi my name is Karla and im in a similar situation with my boyfriend who is 42 years old and i im 31 i recently move in with him and after 5month one night i pack my stuff with my kids and left just like that he was hurting me so much by saying things like i dont bring nothing to the relationship that my kids didn’t like him ,i have 2 girls 12 and 10 that he wasn’t carrying with that burden of me and my two girls ,to fined an apartment were he can came to and he was gonna help but the living arrangements was not good with us. that night i just couldn’t take no more and i left ,he say that he didnt love me that much..and much more that i dont even want to remember ,,than he try to say that i was fighting to much thats why he say the things he say to me …i left that friday night to my moms house and found a apartment the same night move in on sunday and after that he never call never try to look for me i call him on tuesday because i have left couple of stuff at his apartment and he say to me..tha i have kill him that nobody ever did that to him i told him that he was putting me down and i have to run from him.i dont know why i love this man i think is compation some times because he was rase with a abused mom he also was in homes since a kid mom never fight for him he has a upgrowing problem hes relation ship never last that long hes never been married he has two kids but never raise then ,,or was around that much he believes that he is that best ,, any woman can have i love him but i still asking my self what can i love about this man…he has alots of female friend not that many guys but his bestfriend love him and knows that he is hard to work with they both work together and he knows him really well,,im heart broken confused i want to go back to God but im been so weak ..me and him been in this relationship for 5 years we broke up in 2008and didnt see each other untill 2010 when we got more serious he say he dosent want any other woman but me and that he really loves me ….dont know what to do …i know just by typing this that i should let go but how …sorry my english is not that good im hispanic from Honduras and hes from harlem new york …

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Karla,
      I sounds like you already know what to do. It sounds heartbreaking to be with a man off and on and then have it end with painful words. And yet you still hope. I think you are attached to him as anyone would be after five years together off and on. But I think you know that this is a tumultuous relationship that won’t change any time soon.
      Think of your daughters. Focus on connecting to God and healing. Remember why you packed up and left the night that you couldn’t take it anymore. If you go back it won’t be different. Let yourself feel your sadness because this is very sad and then tell God it is too much for you and ask him to lift it off of you.
      I think we stay in a lot of terrible relationships because we believe we love the men who treat us badly. And they say they love us too, but love is not like that. I remember a priest who told me once,”He doesn’t love you. If he did he would not treat you like that.” It hurt but it was what I needed to hear. Maybe he is too wounded to love. Too immature to love. Either way you want to steer clear and focus on your own growth and recovery.
      I pray that you will find a community that will help you know what a treasure you are and find your way back to the God who adores you.
      Bless you,
      Elizabeth

  65. LH says:

    My fiance and I plan to move in together a month or two before our wedding. If we sleep in the same bed but resist having sex, are we still sinning? Thanks for your article and God bless!

    • emstalcup says:

      I am trying but am having a hard time understanding why you would want to do this. It sounds like torture. I would not be able to sleep! It feels that you have a faulty concept of sin, as if something is a sin because it fits a particular criteria but is not sin if you, say, move it over an inch. God loves you and wants you to have an abundant life. He is not picky or petty but sin will separate you from him because he is set apart, holy. I would not advise you to do this.
      Find another place to stay, then come together when you are married and enjoy the rapture of marital intimacy with freedom and abandon the way it was intended to be.
      Bless you,
      Elizabeth

  66. where did I go wrong says:

    My 18 year old daughter wants to move in with her boyfriend of 2 years out of state. We really like her boyfriend and his family; in fact we called his mother and step dad over when they were discussing their move. At first I asked them how, why and what his intentions were. I told this young man that I wanted the fairy tale for my daughter, and moving in with him was not that. I asked what their plans were for marriage and why they would do this before getting married.
    Now my daughter informs me that he is feeling so much pressure to purpose not only from us but his as well. She thinks if her is to ask her to marry him it will be because he feels forced too :( I have told her that I do not agree with their decision to move in together, and cannot support them. I feel if I support this decision then I am telling them I agree with it. I did express that I will always love her but cannot help in the decision making process. Such as were they will live, helping them figure out all the little details…..Is this wrong of me?? I just feel that by doing that I am sending the wrong message.
    I truly don’t know how they will be able to do this on their own, as of now we pay her phone and car insurance and she never seems to have any money….as for him, I am not sure of his financial status, but considering he did not go to college and works for not much more than min wage; it can’t be great.
    I told her all I can do is pray and love her…….. I don’t feel I should help pay her bills when she doesn’t live at home. It is not a threat, its just that I believe if you want to make adult decisions then you have to take everything that comes with it.

    • emstalcup says:

      What a good dad! I agree with you that if she wants to go out on her own, she should support herself. Having a parent who loves you and prays for you is a great gift. Just one word of caution: It is very easy to let situations such as this create distance. Do all that you can to stay emotionally connected with her. Keep the relationship more important than the problem. Ask yourself, Am I glad to be with her? And if not what is at the root of it? When I am disappointed and upset it helps me if I tell God about it, out loud, saying why it feels upsetting to me, then. when I have gotten it all out, I asks him to show me the situation from his perspective. He always is glad to be with us. He is not waiting for us to try harder or to fix something before he will love us. This is one of the greatest challenges of parenting!
      As for the young man, he needs to decide if he is ready to be committed to your daughter! To do less is irresponsible. So let him decide for his own sake. What does he want? If he is not ready–and it sounds like he is not–then let him wait until he is. He should not propose under pressure.
      I pray that the God who sees you all and loves you beyond measure will guard your hearts and minds.
      Elizabeth

  67. where did I go wrong says:

    Thank you for the great advice. It is easy to let the situation take over my emotions….I only want the best for her. It is just so hard to see kids today make the decision to move in together. Where have they ever gotten the idea that it is moraly ok? I feel very guilty that maybe I haven’t shown her whats right. I would almost rather see them get married at a young age, than just move in with each other; is that terrible of me??

    • emstalcup says:

      I understand. It is painful. I agree that I would rather see a couple marry young, but only if God is calling them to marry and they are ready. Getting married won’t fix a bad relationship. I am not sure how we got here as a culture but I do think that part of the problem is that we as parents have been very performance based–we want our kids to behave certain ways rather than receiving the child God gave us. I am not saying you have done this, but as a general observation, I see a lot of teenagers that are under so much pressure–there is not a lot of joy in their relationship with their parents. The parents are so stirred up emotionally that the can’t help nagging their child whenever they are together. So the child then meets someone who seems to love them unconditionally (we all crave unconditional love) and they see this as their one chance to get the unconditional love they have been craving so they throw caution to the wind and do whatever it takes to maintain that relationship. I have some friends who were upset because their college-age son had dropped out of college and was using drugs. They dad was obsessed with wanting his son to go back to school. I urged him to focus on being glad to be with his son, to enjoy him. The husband and wife both worked on this. Let me clarify, this is not about stuffing your emotions and exerting your will power to change, this is about crying out to God with all you heart and working it through to where you see your child the way God does. Emotions tell us so much–what we believe and where we are wounded. Let yourself feel your sadness, anguish and pain and pour it all out to God. Ask him to show you where this started and what you are believing that makes you feel that way. Let him change your heart. Don’t beat yourself up. Even God’s son Adam made some pretty terrible choices! I hope this helps! E.

      • where did I go wrong says:

        Thanks, all very true, she knows her parents will love her no matter what. It is so hard to step back and let her make this choice and move without helping, She knows we will not support her financially. Should we help with packing and planning?? It is hard not getting excited for her during such a major change in her life, but if we help or show excitement I think she will take that as a sign of our approval.

        Again, thanks for your time.

      • emstalcup says:

        This is tricky. I recall asking my daughter to wear a sweater oh so many years ago when we lived in California where days were warm and evenings brisk and she refused. She was, I think, eight. So I let her go bare armed to the ice cream shop. She was literally running up and down the sidewalk in front of the store saying, “I’m cold. I’m cold.” and I said, “I bet you are. You look cold.” I did not say, “I told you so.” I was kind and sympathetic but I did not rescue her, not did I offer her my sweater or give it to her when she asked for it. I simply acknowledged her pain and let her be cold.

        I am not always this wise!

        Are you familiar with the concept of Relational Circuits? The idea is to stay relational just as Jesus did, while not necessarily agreeing with the person. I posted a short article on RC here Eating-crow-on-good-friday but there is lots more detail in Karl Lehmann’s book and website Outsmarting Yourself . If you learn about Relational Circuits it will be a great help to you in keeping yours on with your daughter while letting her live with the consequences of her choices.

        I was a wayward daughter myself and now my entire life has turned around so don’t despair. This may be just as season, though heartbreaking as it is, it may pass quickly. You can mine these times of suffering–the Bible says that even Jesus learned from the things he suffered and he was God! You may also want to read my book Crossroads Before Me and maybe she will read it too.

        I pray that God would give you wisdom, would comfort you as you suffer (he suffers too and is right there with you), and cause such amazing growth that one day you will be able to look back and be grateful for all you learned during this season.

        Bless you,

        Elizabeth

  68. Dori says:

    Hi,I am currently faced with wanting to live with my sons dad.I am very emotionally attached to him and can’t let go. He submitted an application for an apartment yesterday and now he’s saying he doesn’t have half the securiy. I feel this is the last time I will take him back to try and make it work. However, I feel if he wants the apartment as much as I do he would have the other half. He currently lives home with his parents. I’ve been on my own for 15 years.

    • emstalcup says:

      Are you saying that you are attached to him but he had come to you because he needs money and sees you as someone who might give him the money he needs? That is what I am hearing. You can discern if this is the man for you, and save yourself some money, without moving in with him. A relationship based on money will not work. I would look at why you are so attached to him. Do you believe that no one else will want you? That you have to settle for a relationship that is not based on love and respect? There is something that is driving you to him and it does not sound like love, rather it sound like fear, were we connect with someone because we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t. Get some help working this through. Don’t beat yourself up for being where you are, let God minister to the parts of you that are hurting until you can see what a treasure you are! For your own sake, but also for the sake of your son.
      Bless you,
      E.

  69. Nicole says:

    Hi,
    This was nice for me to read as it is very relevant to me at the moment. I wonder if anyone would like to offer me some advice. My story is long but to summarise my husband heartlessly left me a year ago because he thought I was more attached to God than to him. He is almost an athiest while I am deeply religious but somehow we found each other and loved each other and married. Being dumped out of the blue was a devastating thing that I still havent recovered from, and sometimes I still think of him as my husband. Anyway, I decided to move overseas to recover and be open to what God had planned for me. Since my dedication to God was what caused this disruption, surely He would provide a better situation for me that would be favourable for me to develop my love for Him. I wanted to find my ‘real’ husband, who also wanted love of God, so we could care for each other and try to love God together. I prayed and cried for it. So I met this wonderful, bright, kind man. He took me to Paris and cared for me so well. He didnt want get straight into a physical connection either because he thought there was no beauty in sex without love and love takes time. He had not slept with anyone for over 10 years because of this moral standard. He was looking for his future wife as well. So I thought it was meant to be. We had been talking online for many months before meeting, and I had actually met him many years ago when he first became religious, when I saw him I spontaneously thought, he will be my husband. 10 years later, this seemed to be happening. Our meeting seemed perfect and destined. So we did end up becoming intimate because he said he could really see a future with me, and I felt the same. It seemed so beautiful and natural. We parted and met several times as I travelled Europe. When I was away we would talk almost everyday and he would profess his love and talk of marriage. When I was there he would express his doubts about how I’m too quiet and how there needs to be more of a chemistry on many levels, and how he doesnt feel deeply committed yet, that he’s not sure about me, he can only know over time and didnt want to get carried away imagining being in love. It hurt a little, after I had given myself to him on the basis of love and commitment and talk of marriage. I had already given my heart. So I tried to find a job in London, I tried so hard to get a life so that I could simultaneously recover from my divorce and keep a nice long distance relationship with my potential husband. But things happened beyond my control that left me shelterless. I was abused and kicked out of a place that should have been a shelter. I moved around to various friends places, trying to find a job and a house, but nothing worked. I felt incredibly insecure. My beloved offered that I could go there any time but I didnt want to move in and depend on him so soon. Finally, I was left with no choice, I had run out of options in London where I was miserable anyway. So I took the next bus to see him. It seemed like such a blessed start. The first thing I saw that morning was the sun rising behind a huge cathedral which I saw as an auspicious sign, and a great relief to my heart after a dark, difficult time in England. It was so beautiful to see him again. He was like a golden ray of sun in my life. Now it has been less than a week and I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable, being here, dependant on him, living with him, sleeping with him, when there is no real commitment. At the same time I cant expect a proposal after such a short time, I wouldnt even say yes yet after being married and hurt recently. And I want to know if he would continue treating me with respect and love after marriage. Im already interpreting some behaviour negatively, possibly after being treated so cruely by my ex husband so I have alot of fear. I really dont know how he would become. Im feeling fearful and stressed about the relationship and not having my own space. I wonder if I should continue being here with him, being the best, loving person I can, try and have a healthy relationship and see how he treats me over time but stop sleeping with him. I feel that destiny pulled me here, and it would be heartbreaking if it fizzled out, I prayed for.a loving, respectful, god loving husband, and he came along. But Im upset and conflicted, afraid of being discarded again.

    • emstalcup says:

      It honestly sounds like you are all mixed up. I would take a step back, find a safe, secure place where you can recover from the divorce first before you wade into another relationship. You expressed many feeling: insecurity, fear, hurt. I know if may seem that those painful feelings are the result of what has happened to you recently but I suspect they go much deeper, probably back to childhood. For you to go forward and have a healthy relationship you need to face the pain and what you are believing at the core level that makes you feel that way.

      I also question how much you two love each other. It sounds like both of you were swept up in the romance of the moment which is quite different than true love. Now he is critical, you feel insecure and it is a mess. I don’t know a way to fix it. Sex is supposed to be in marriage and when it isn’t it often makes one partner feel trapped while the other feels insecure.

      I would back off. You are in more pain that you know. You need to process the pain. I hear a lot of sadness.

      I also see a lot of fatalistic thinking. It was meant to be. Destiny brought us together. This will only keep you stuck. Engage with God. Don’t just cry out, listen. There are reasons he says sex is for marriage.

      If you are in the DC area, we can help you at the Healing Center but we have quite a waiting list so give us fair warning by emailing us at tpm@churchoftheapostles.org

      Bless you,

      Betsy

  70. Sofie says:

    Hi,
    I’ve been up for the past few hours reading this article and the stories people have posted. Yesterday and the day before were extremely hard and painful for me. Monday afternoon I came home early from spending Memorial Day with myboyfriend’s dad and brother. My mom came to me wanting to sit down and talk to try and make up a contract to spend more time with her. I’m 18 and just graduated from high school, I work full time in the summer and I just want to spend time with my friends after work or be around my boyfriend. I donkt want to spend my free time at home anymore. I calmy told my mom that I did not want to talk. I wanted to pacl for a mission trip to honduras that I will be leaving for this Sunday. She didn’t listen to me and continued to insist that I sit down and talk, that I had all week to pack. But I just want my space and some quiet. She walked away and I locked my door, hoping she’d take the hont and just leave things be. But of course, she tried to force her way in, ordering me to open the door for her and yelling at me. All I wanted was to be left alone for a few minutes. My mom forced her way into my room and I ended up running out of the house in total emotional overload and frustration. I stayed with a friend that night because going back would not have been the best idea. I wnet back home yesterday to pick up my things from my room because I can NOT live there anymore. There is always fighting either between my parents or my sibling and me being the oldest usually get blamed for a lot of what happens. I’m currently staying with a friwnd these next two days, but after that I have no other option but to go to my parents home unless I move in with my boyfriend and his grandmother, and that caused a huge riot at my house. My family refused to keep it as a family matter. Originally, moving in with my boyfriend is what I wanted to to. We have plans to be married in the future and we’ve made many plans. Now I don’t know what to do anymore. My parents are angry with me because I won’t stay there, and I won’t get an apartment on my own (something I cankt afford) my grandmother was talking to me and to my parents about me like I wa the scum of the earth. My boyfriend isn’t trying to pressure me into moving in with him, he wants me to do what makes me happy and of that’s not moving in with him now as we’d planned, he;kll support me and my choice. I don’t know what to do. I found this article by chance after praying and typing into my search bar “is it wrong to move in with my boufriend” I am a girl in turmoil and in need of prayer. If there’s any advice you can give, please give it. I need any and all help I can get.

    • emstalcup says:

      Your home sounds like the one I grew up in!
      It is very hard when everyone is on emotional overload. I remember I just wanted to get away, so I applied to a college a few hours south, by the beach and left. I was only 17.
      My advice would be to find a healthy family and ask if you can live with them after you graduate. Respectfully tell you parents that you love them but that they are overwhelming you and you need a little space. Explain that you know this may be hard for them but you will keep in touch.

      Moving in with your boyfriend might seem like a good solution but given the family you have grown up with, you will struggle to have a healthy relationship and living with him will make the unhealthy stuff more intense and painful.

      We need healthy role models. Most of what we need to know to be healthy is picked up, not taught. So if you find the healthiest family you know, and live with them you will become more healthy. I did this when I move back to the states from Norway. I lived with a Christian family and their four kids. We ate dinner together every night. I watched the husband and wife fight but it was nothing like my own dear parents. It was pretty tame. I learned so much.

      One childhood task is to find someone whose personality we like that we can model ourselves after. If we didn’t have that as a child, we can still do it.

      You are looking for:
      People who are honest and mature. Who know how to rest. Who have joyful relationship. Who stay connected to each other in conflict and work it through. Who share your values. Who are bonded by love not by fear.

      I pray that God would show you who this might be. It could just be one person. I have a Ugandan friend living with me now. When she was only 20 she took in a 13 year old who had been promised in marriage to a 50 year old man as his third wife (her parents wanted the dowry). Her brother got her out of the village and Sally took her in. That was the start of Kings Daughters Ministries. Sally has now raised 45 young women, some of whom are at the university now. There are 29 ladies from age 7 to 22 living together in Kampala, creating a family. Loving and supporting each other.

      I am praying for you. Let me know how it goes.

      God has a good plan, but it may not be easy.

      Elizabeth

  71. Stephen Chu says:

    1. Don’t move in with your boyfriend.
    2. Stop sexual relations with him.
    3. Go get this book–The Female Brain-Dr. Luann, Bridzeding, it explains a teen age girl’s brain in trumoil, or just want to to their own way. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK to understand who you are, why you act this way. buy one or from library, hurry
    4. Go find an mature adult, church aunty, pastor’s wife, talk with them about your situation, may be they can be a mediator to help easy your relstionship.
    5. Finish your university. As you look back, you will never regret to make this decision.
    6. WARNING. Stop sex relations with boys or coho. Man cohabit for sex and next girl friend, though girl for marriage

    Be sure to know, if you made mistake this time, it will take a long time to recover from it, or never.

    • emstalcup says:

      I do want to add one more thing. Your parents probably love you! We are all doing our best but sometimes it isn’t enough. We need healing. As a culture we aren’t very mature so we don’t raise children who aren’t very mature. You can learn what it takes to mature and begin moving forward.

      Check out the Life model website and learn what it means to mature. See how you line up against the infant and child checklists and begin to tackle your deficits.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      • Sofie says:

        Hello again
        I really appreciate the advice you gave me and I’m taking it to heart. After I return from my trip, I plan to go stay with one of my close friends aand her family. It will not be easy at all. The house is completely full, yet they still find it in their hearts to open their home to me while I search for a better, permanent alternative to moving in with my boyfriend. They are a family who love each other even though they do fight and have their differences, but it’s definitely not the same as what goes on in my parents house. I feel that this may be a healthy option. I am also considering my boyfriend’s parents home as an “if all else fails” option. My boyfriend respect the decision I’ve made in not moving in together and he does not plan on going back to his parents home. I was wondering what kind of advice you could give me on these possible options. Thank you so much.

      • emstalcup says:

        From the little I know, I think your friend’s home is probably a better option. I wouldn’t want to tie my living situation to a relationship with my boyfriend because if that relationship got shaky I would feel that I had to move–which would compound the stress of attachment pain. Even when one is married it can be awkward to live with parents. But so much depends on the quality of everyone’s relationships.

        I hope this helps!

        Elizabeth

  72. elizabeth says:

    Your article on not living together changed my llife…I am 50 and diivorced and dependent on alimony and my boyfriend who I love says he will not sleep over…contininues to sleep here 90%of the time. It has indeed put a dent in my church attendance. The thing is he wants to marry me and has many great qualities but financially it is impossible…he has child support to pay

    • emstalcup says:

      I know it may seem impossible, but I would urge you to do what you are longing to do and trust God to provide for you. He will. I am not saying it will be easy but trusting God means we believe that when we honor him, he will take care of us.
      All the best,
      Elizabeth

  73. Mark says:

    The problem is that its not just women that get pressured. 9 out of 10 guys are being pressured to move in with their girlfriends. I am from experiences. I have dated roughly 10 women that I thought to have a serious relationship with. All were asking about moving in together within the first month or two. I was married for seven years and it was bad, so I’m not in any rush to move in with any other girls. A lot of women just are not very independant or expect guys to take care of them. I guess from what I have seen it goes the other way too. I say be your own person and learn who you are before moving in with someone else.

  74. emstalcup says:

    This is a comment that came to me by email. I have the author’s permission to post it. I have changed her name.
    EMS

    Hello Elizabeth,

    First I would like to say that I am very impressed that you responded to everyone who commented on your article about why people should not live together until they are married. Also I really enjoyed your story, am able to relate to it and thank you for sharing something so personal.

    The main question that I have and why I am sending this email is to ask is it ever okay to live with your boyfriend or can there be a situation or certain place that two people can be in where it is more acceptable?

    I am 20 and my boyfriend is 22. We have been together for a little over a year and a half and truly believe that we will some day get married and live happily ever after. He has just graduated from college and has a stable job and just bought a house and I still have two more years left. We have not lived together but I have spent significant time with him when he had an apartment so we do know each others living habits so if we were actually living together I wouldn’t be in for any surprises. When the summer break is over, we plan on finding a church to attend together. When we met, both of us were virgins and it does make me a little sad that we didn’t wait, but I do not want to tear myself apart and feel terrible and try to focus on that neither of us want or plan on being with anyone else. Since he has bought a house, my boyfriend and his parents both expect me to move in with him once I graduate. This came as somewhat of a shock to me, especially since his parents expect this as well. I think that all of them believe that we will get married and for that reason see no reason for me to not move in with him which would allow both of us to save money as well as already have a home for once we are married.

    I am worried that once I graduate from college, that this will be the best option for me since I probably will not have enough money for my own apartment. I don’t think living with my boyfriend would be the worse thing ever, but I also feel that I do not want to be in a big house all by myself or stuck waiting for him to come home. My boyfriend is extremely mature for a 22 year old, he does not drink or do drugs and I know that if I tell him that I do not want to live with him that he would be hurt but also understanding and accepting. Main arguments for why unmarried couples should not live together are what happens if the couple breaks up or faith based, besides reasons such as these why else should couples not live together and how can living together now destroy a future marriage or lower the quality of your marriage?

    Thank you!

    Bethany

  75. emstalcup says:

    Here is my reply to Bethany:

    Dear Bethany,
    You are talking about the difference between a couple being sexually intimate, spending a lot of time together and intending to get married one day and that same couple moving in together. Given where you are in this particular relationship, there may not be much difference. In theory. But we are not made by God to live that way and the research bears this out. Poosible reasons for why this is true include that you may find it harder to be objective about the relationship, you may find yourself feeling more insecure (commitment and intimacy are meant to go together so you are going against the way God made you to be intimate without commitment). Ultimately we are all seeking life-long commitment and to be unconditionally love.

    I am espousing a fundamentally different sort of relationship than either of the scenarios you are considering where you spend sufficient time with a person to know their heart without becoming sexually intimate. This allows for more objectivity and is much less painful while you are still trying to find the person you want to spend you life with. What I am suggesting is not about rules, and there are no guarantees, sadly you still might end up divorces or betrayed. But you are much more likely to make a good choice if you refrain from sexual intimacy before marriage because joining yourself to each other in that way will cloud your judgement. A strong, committed marriage is fundamentally different than cohabitation. I have a friend who is living with a guy and was surprised to learn that he intends to spend the summer at a vacation home with his parents–without her! I can’t imagine that happening in a marriage because there is more commitment (it might but it would be outside the norm, whereas in cohabitation the expectations are less clear).

    The million dollar question for you is, what do I do now that I am sleeping with this man? You can’t unscramble eggs but you can get to know God more intimately and ask him what to do. One option is to back off and stop having sex. This is very hard to do but not impossible and it will cause you to mature in ways that will be life-giving the rest of your life. One of the childhood tasks that needs to mastered to be a fully mature adult is to learn to tame your cravings so you would be working on this big-time. I am not talking about still having sex but saying you aren’t because you are having oral sex instead or messing with each other with your clothes on, I am talking about refraining from arousing your bodies out of respect for each other. I am talking about learning to quiet yourself out of respect. I am talking about refraining from sexual intimacy so you can objectively see who are are connected to. What are they like. Is there still a strong connection between us without sex? This won’t be something you can do through will power but something you will have to let God do through you by surrendering to him and asking him to give you his supernatural power to love in a new way.

    I would definitely not move in with him when you graduate. I would not let material needs drive that decision despite everyone’s expectations.

    I hope this helps you understand. We don’t always know why things work but when we follow God’s laws we experience his blessings because he is our maker and the lover of our souls.

    Can I post this on the blog so that others can benefit from our conversation? I can change your name so no one will know who posted the initial question.

    Bless you,

    Elizabeth

  76. Anita says:

    I am in a dilemma, I am in my 20’s and I just recently moved in with my boyfriend, it was a hasty decision, He lost his job and I make more money so I moved out of my place and rented a place for us. its been 5 months, hes been looking for a job but nothing concrete is showing up, he is trying to build his own business also. I really do not want to live with him because it just doesn’t feel right but he has no where to go if I move out. He is so sensitive. He wants to get married and spend the rest of his life with me and I just don’t know what I want, I am to close to be objective to see what is in front of me, I am very independent and some part of me don’t feel stable and he is very very attached, he has a 4 year old who is incredible, we get her a couple of times a week. I want to live apart but I am afraid he will see this as a negative and be so hurt and I do not want to hurt him, I have pulled away from all my friends and it hurts me deeply, I feel like this relationship is consuming me and I feel lost, not that i was feeling that great before this relationship. I just don’t know what to do, I am becoming snappy and insensitive and easily annoyed. We have been fighting alot because he doesn’t think my heart is in the relationship as much or as committed as him. I think I am depressed I just don’t know.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Anita,
      As hard as it seems, I think you need to move out. This won’t get better or easier. The two of you are in different places and at this point you are bonding to him in fear–staying with him because you want to avoid pain rather than staying with him out of desire. I can see there are many reasons to stay–to help him, to help his four year old daughter–but you aren’t doing anyone any favors if you are not ready to make a life long commitment to him.

      It is hard to hurt someone you care for, but I am almost certain that if your heart is not in the relationship now, it is not going to change. It would be different if you once made a lifelong commitment to him because people who fall out of love but are committed can get back to that place but if it was never there . . . it is another story.

      Praying for you all!

      Elizabeth

  77. Yaqui says:

    Hi!

    I’ve just read your post and I found it very interesting. I live in Guatemala City, and I’m facing a situation in which I need a really good advice. I’m 22 years old and I’m about to graduate from college, I still live with my parents.I’m dating a guy who’s also 22. However, he has a son from a previous relationship, that’s something that I really don’t see as an issue, I love his son, and respect him.

    The problem is, my mom does not like him because of his son, she thinks if I date him I will leave behind all my goals or get pregant. I understand her worries, but would like her to trust me a little bit more, and to understand that he having a son, doesn’t make him a bad person nor a criminal. However, she just don’t approve him and has asked me to choose between him and my family. She doesn’t know him. She refuses to meet him. I want her to give him a chance.

    …Lately he has been asking me to move in with him, since we hardly see each other (sometimes because our work schedules and sometimes because my mom don’t let me go out with him). He says he intends to marry me in the near future.

    I honestly don’t want to move with him just yet, I feel that’s a big step on our lives, And I just don’t feel like this is a good moment for doing so.

    The other thing is that he does not believe in God anymore which hurts me. I’m not gonna lie, I haven’t been that close to God (my parents never cared about me going to Church or anything). However, I love God, and i trust him and believe in him. My boyfriend used to predicate, after the conflicts he had with his ex, and the pain of going thru divorce and separating from his son, he stopped believing, he thinks it is worthless. I wish there was something I could do to make him believe again, and accept God in his heart.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Yaqui,
      I would trust your instincts and not move in with him. You should never let anyone pressure you to make a major step like that when you are not ready. It is sad that your mom won’t meet him or give his a chance because he has a child, but think about what he wants: For you to move in with him. For him to marry you someday. It doesn’t sound like he has your best interests at heart. A man who loves you will wait. A man who loves you will respect your hesitancy and not press you to live with him.

      I also think his lack of faith is a huge issue. My father was not a believer. I cannot describe to you the anguish we experienced over his anger at God.

      For you, I hope you will wait until you find a man who loves all you, your family included, and shares your faith.
      For your mom, I hope she will trust God with her little girl, and be open to meeting the men you date.
      For your boyfriend, I hope he will engage with God again. I would encourage him to tell God just how angry he is, just how disappointed he felt, just how much it hurt and then be willing to listen to God and hear his perspective.

      Press into God and let his love enfold you. You are a treasure.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  78. Mel says:

    When I am old enough, I plan on moving in with my current boyfriend. There is no doubt that we love each other the way married couples do. He would do anything for me and me, him. I’m currently in an emotionally abusive home, and when I’m old enough to leave, he promises to be there for me in which I know he will.

    He’s working now to have enough money to buy us a place and get me away from the pain here. I personally think this is the best move for me because if I don’t leave home as soon as I can, I know I won’t be mentally stable as an active adult or mother (when the time comes). I don’t ever plan on leaving him, and we plan on getting married as soon as we get out of college and are able to support ourselves financially.

    There’s honestly no other place for me to go whenever I’m able to leave from home. Getting my own place or finding the funds to room with someone will prove to take too long whenever I begin working, as I need to leave my home as soon as I can. I will need all the time I can get, emotionally trying to rebuild with therepy and such. I know of no relatives who would take me in, and living on a college campus would prove to be difficult, as I wouldn’t be able to drive my freshman year. This would only make seeing each other a hassel.

    We have a tremendous amount of love for each other. In fact, I would go to say we’re in love. How can living with him be so wrong if he’s taking me away from my abusive home, working to create a life for us whenever I can leave, and still manages to be a wonderful boyfriend?

  79. Teresa says:

    I’m currently living with my boyfriend and am planning to move out of state with him in a week to go live with his mom. We have both hit a dead end job wise and are both in a rut living where we are currently, and everytime I think of moving out of state by where his mom lives it feels like a breath of fresh air.Now I know living with a boyfriend is a sin, but I love my boyfriend very much and if it wasnt for him I wouldnt have been reintroduced to God and His love. We have been through some difficult times, which truly all relationships regardless of cohabitiual living arrangements experience, and through out it all I leaned on God to show me the way and each time he has brought me back to my boyfriend. Now I know God does not bring him back to me to continue to live in sin but I truly believe my boyfriend and I entered each others lives at the time we did for a reason and remain in them for a reason. Not only that but my boyfriend is very wise about God and the coming day of the end of the world and what it really is going to come down to and be like (its going to be ugly) and it provides me great comfort knowing I’m with someone who understands the war that is ultimately going to occurr sooner than later, and I feel God has brought him into my life as a way to prepare myself for that day. I know its hard to understand but I know God strategically puts people into your life and takes them out for a reason and I truly believe God put my boyfriend into my life for a reason. No relationship is perfect and each one is going to have its trials and tribulations but love conquers all and I have learned the power of forgiveness in my relationship. Also, Ive always felt growing up deep down that where I grew up and where I remain today, is not where I’m meant to be and I feel my boyfriend is providing me the exit out of this state that I need regardless of if we end up staying together; now don’t take my last statement wrong I have no intentions of leaving him or living a life without him but in all reality only God knows my true plan for my life and I truly believe He will guide me down my path I need to be on even if I happen to take a couple of my own detours a long the way. I mean think about it even through your previous relationships you ultimately ended up where God intended you to go even though sometimes you endured some pain, and honestly if it wasnt for your experiences, granted they were hard you wouldnt have this story or this webpage etc. so my point is that sometimes we can make choices that go against God but God is almighty and if you trust in Him He will always lead you back to where you are meant to be even if you have to endure some tough trials and tribulations a long the way. Sometimes I believe He allows you to make the mistakes just to prove how Merciful and Loving he really is, you just cannot lose Faith. And that is one thing I have yet to lose if anything my Faith has grown since being with my boyfriend.

  80. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Blessings to you.

  81. Kelly Short says:

    Mel, try to find another option. You may have to wait a bit–realizing you must get out also. No one should stand for abuse. I know this is tough to be at your age and actually have options—you’ll need help. It is commendable that he wants to be there for you—help can be had at Women’s Helping Battered Women, help can be had at a church–if the church says no, then they are the wrong church and you don’t have to be a member for them to help- try another one – you are very very young!! If you are underaged, try your school—you are precious and special and your heart and body was meant for your husband. I’m sorry—I’ve been where you are and my young actions set a pattern I followed and struggled to break for a long time. It’s called bondage. I know a lot to hear for young ears and likely you feel helpless right now, but you are not!! Jesus is right next to you.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for the advice. I still find that I’m undecided, I’m looking for the right opprotunity to make itself known. Nothing in my life right now points to why I shouldn’t move in with him. In due time I guess I will know. I just hope everything works out in the end and for the best.

  82. Amanda says:

    I actually was going to really consider moving in with my boyfriend after a heated argument with my mom… I stayed overnight for a day sick as a dog. He took care of me almost all night. The next morning at work I wanted to mend things with my mom and family. It really isn’t healthy when your that close to your boyfriend for that long… but two days later my mom and I came to an understanding and I came back. I now know I’m not ready emotionally to live with my boyfriend because the last bf I lived with left scars emotionally… I hope one day that will change after I’m married but I’m not too certain on marriage either given my age.

  83. Jess says:

    Wow, after reading this article, it was almost as if you were in my brain right after my last 3-year disaster of a relationship. I truly wish I’d seen this before, but I’m actually glad I went through that drama because I know EXACTLY what I want and don’t want from a relationship. I went through all of these issues, but the reason that hit me the hardest was how cohabiting pulls us away from God. I struggled with that so much during those 3 years that I can’t even begin to explain it to you (I had to deal with the “I feel rejected when we don’t have sex” type of crap and yes it came from a man…….well, a male since men don’t need those type of validations). I’ve bookmarked this page so I have a constant reminder of why cohabiting truly sucks if you’re not married. I’m still picking up the pieces of my emotional psyche and honestly don’t trust men at this point, but hopefully this article will become embedded in my mental capacity and will guide me to a man with the qualities I desire in a husband rather than the pitfalls I despise in a live-in guy. Thanks for your words/experience of wisdom and may God continue to bless you in your journey.

    • emstalcup says:

      I pray that God will lead you to the man he made for you. It won’t be perfect but you will be designed to sharpen each other in such a way that you will become more of who you are in the relationship. I love the verse, As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. I like to think it applies to marriage, too. The marital relationship is not always easy but after 26 years of marriage, I can see that Sam has been a great blessing to me. He rubbed off my perfectionistic ways, he taught me the great value of humor and helped me lighten up, he has been unerringly committed at those moments when I was in so much anguish that I wanted to walk away. He is kind when my father would have been mean, demonstrating that not all men have mean streaks. We are enjoying each other more and more. I know that being married to me has cause him to grow too. God is good and he does have wonderful plans for you. I trust he will unveil them one at a time as you journey with him.
      Bless you,
      E.

  84. dreamer says:

    Hi, I was hoping maybe to get some positive advice. I’m 20 and still live with my parents but recently things have just been getting out of hand. Me and my parents don’t see eye to eye anymore. They have recently told me that they want to move to another state, I honestly don’t know what to do because I do not want to move. I have a boyfriend I’ve been dating for quite some time and his family has offered to take me in. He lives with his mother for now while he saves up for later. His grandmother who lives close has offered for me to stay at her house if I did not want to stay in his with him and his mom. She is such an amazing christian women of God. I feel I have the right to decide what I want to do at this point of my life, but for so long i’ve never done anything more than do what my parents want me to do. They do not agree with the fact that I don’t want to move (they are leaders in my church). However since the news and since I half-decided (basically because I feel stuck right now in my thinking and I have been praying really hard lately because it has not been easy) , my parents have been telling me over and over how ungrateful I am for wanting to stay and not wanting to go with them after they’ve sacrificed everything for me. All this has just been really difficult and honestly right now I don’t know what to do. This might not be the same as living with the boyfriend to be exact but close since I would be staying with relatives. Please if you have some advice I would greatly appreciate it.

    • emstalcup says:

      It sounds like you are in a hard spot. I can understand that you might not want to move to another state simply because your family is relocating. It is never easy to pull up roots and leave the people and places you love. You didn’t say if you are in school or have a job or if your parents are supporing you. I can understand that your parents might feel you are ungrateful if they are supporting you and you expect them to continue doing so in your home town after they leave. If you are supporting yourself then it seems that you should be able to make your own decision as to where you will live. If they are supporting you then I think they should have some say in your decision.

      I do think that living with your boyfriend’s grandmother is different than living with him. It gives you time apart, you can keep the relationship chaste. His grandmother may be an amazing person with great boundaries, but before you move in ask yourself, What will my relationship with her be like if I stop dating her grandson? Will I find myself opening up to her so that she ends up in the middle of our conflicts? Am I likely to be booted out if we break up? Is this a high drama family?

      Consider asking your parents, What is your major concern? It sounds like you had a good relationship at one point but that feelings escalated when they announced that they wanted to relocate. It is often difficult for parents to let go of their children. That may or may not be a factor here. Maybe they don’t think you are ready to be on your own. Perhaps now is the time to step out and support yourself so you have the freedom to make your own choices but I hope that if you expect them to pay for your food and gas that you will respect their desire to keep costs down by keeping you under their roof.

      I hope this gave you some food for thought. As for praying, trying to quiet yourself by getting as relaxed as you can. Stay still and quiet for several minutes, breathe slowly and deeply, think of something you are grateful for, then ask God what he wants you to know here. If you can’t hear him, try telling him how your body feels then ask him to show you his perspective.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      • dreamer says:

        Thank you for that, I’m sorry I didn’t think of putting more on here when I first asked. I have the means to support myself and I do not expect them to support me at all when I leave. To be honest, I feel like these problems have been going on for a while but I guess they did escalate more recently. I honestly just feel like either way I’m going to loose something or someone. I feel like my relationship with Christ has been greatly improving, yet I feel like every time I am at peace the enemy has been attacking constantly. My mom no longer looks or wants to talk to me unless shes showing me a bible verse that ‘shows how wrong I am about everything’ and I feel it’s okay to show someone a bible verse as an example but shes been doing this constantly and constantly yet she never even speaks to me and when I try to talk to her she just walks away. Recently my boyfriend posted something on Facebook (you know someone corny and lovey-dovey), I have my mother on my Facebook and when I got home one day–I guess she did not like that he had said that at all– and said some really mean things about how stupid it was and some other things and blocked me on her Facebook. I know that was probably too much info but it wasn’t anything bad that was posted and usually we post bible verses and such so I didn’t see how wrong it could possibly be to drive her to that. I love watching spoken words on you tube and reading sermons online and praying in my room but she keeps putting me down saying I don’t have a relationship with God and telling me i’m doing everything wrong. I honestly feel like my relationship with God is improving and just growing stronger but how is it possible that my own mother can’t see that and can just keep yelling and ignoring me :(

      • emstalcup says:

        It sounds like you mom is upset. So often when we get triggered it has little to do with the present circumstances. Instead beliefs from our past cause us to feel a lot of pain. It isn’t logical but it is powerful. I would try reading the first three chapters of the book Healing Life Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer at Theophostic.com. You can read it online for free.

        You can talk to you mom, tell her you know she is upset, that you want to have a good relationship with her but that it hurts when she adopts an accusatory tone.

        And maybe it is time to move out. I know my relationship with my kids is a lot better now that they are on their own. A wise pediatrician told me when I was pregnant with my first child that I was about to go through the second hardest adjustment in my life as a parent–adjusting to being the mother of an infant. “The hardest adjustment,” he added, “will be letting that child go in 20 years.”

        God wants us to always be relational, to make relationships more important than problems, to love each other from the heart. It is amazing that Jesus was always relational. He did not make excuses for his behavior. But it is not so easy for us. Once our relational circuits go off it is hard to get them back online.

        Keep praying. Keep listening to God. We need him more than we know.

        I’ll be praying, too.

        Bless you,

        E.

  85. Zach says:

    First of all, thank you for putting your thoughts and expiriences into words so that others can either relate to what you had expirienced or consider such expiriences before making decisions that could potentially have lifelong implications. People need to hear this especially those suffering from the lonliness and dispare of having a relationship end as a result of betrayal and infidelity. The shattered pieces of yesterday’s life can make anyone feel alone in their anguish which I myself had expirienced many years ago and was the final act of incomprehensible demoralization that lead me to 12 years of drinking seething with bitterness. I had commented on this thread around 6 months ago with a defensive posture that, if anything, reminded me that I should reconsider why I reacted in such a manner as opposed to harboring an unhealthy resentment over what was discussed in your commentary. With that being said, I considered what some of the expiriences people close to me had and my situation now.

    I have expirienced from the outside looking in, the devastation wrought from abortion and the failed relationships of cohabitation some of my friends had endured. I am not here to advocate any political or moral position on abortion. I can only say that three people I know who did go through with it have carried the weight of guilt and shame with them, even today. One of my friends even cohabitated with her boyfriend for two years only to have an about face turn around with her husband’s attitude not long after they were married. They are divorced today.

    I look at what you have said and I find it curious that these types of relationships are predominately formed from children of divorced parents. Ironically, me and my girlfriend both are children of divorced parents and have been living together for almost a year. We have had our ups and downs but so far have not neglected to communicate with each other what our needs, boundaries, and how to raise our daughter together so that she can have a happy and fulfilled life. Even though I am not her biological father, I am blessed with what I see as a gift from God to be the father that she, as of this writing, has never met. I can however, totally relate to having a rocky relationship with her daughter in the beggining. I was getting in the way in her eyes and she had the perception that I was taking too much time away between her and her mother. Coupled with what I believed to be a general distrust in men made for some pretty uncomfortable moments early in our relationship. I understood this and was cognizant that that kind of adjustment for her would not be an overnight change. Only the passage of time, setting a good example, and not engaging in behaviors that would violate her trust has changed this and it is still a work in progress. I will do my best and hopefully my actions are in accordance with whatever God’s will is. I can’t say for sure what His will is for me but I can say what is not. I have found joy in living for people other than myself and cannot think of a better gift than that. I any event, I hope I never expirience the despair of isolation, hatred, and oblivian that 12 years of continuous drinking did for me nor do I want to be disconnected from God as I understand Him like I was back then.

    I cannot say for sure we are the exception, I would be arrogant to dismiss possibilities, especially since you had already expirienced what researchers are better understanding in terms of cause and effect relationships. I can say however that we don’t intend to substitute this for marriage, which she will find out for sure here in the near future :-) We won’t have any children together unless we marry and she is also self-sufficient in making her own decisions. I don’t want her to depend on me nor do I seek power and control over her life. Perhaps it may have to do with the fact that we are in our mid-30’s and have had time in our lives to better understand who we are and what we want? I can’t say for sure, I don’t know what will happen in the future. I can say for sure however that this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.

    My life changing expirience began when I chose to stop drinking, let God back into my life, took a personal inventory of myself, and accepted responsibility for my actions instead of assigning blame. It was a brutal and painful tribulation, but it changed my outlook on life and I found joy in things I didn’t think possible during my drinking days. My relationship with my beloved girlfriend (soon to be wife I hope) and our wonderful daughter has brought happiness in my life I cannot describe in words. I want to be a part of their lives not because I have to, but because I want to be. With that being said, my question to you is this: Is it a universal fact that an evolving relationship during cohabitation is doomed to fail? Could other factors play into a decision to coinhabit prior to marriage? What are your thoughts on this? I am open minded and do not have any intent to be disrespectful. If anything, I have found I learn so much more in life by listening to what others have to say, even if whatever is said falls outside of my comfort zone and challenges what I think is true, so please don’t hesitate to give your honest feedback. Thank you Elizabeth especially for those you have helped to ease the crushing feeling of isolation that comes with what you have expirienced.

  86. emstalcup says:

    I am profoundly touched by your story. God can redeem anything we are willing to surrender to him. That is my life story. God is not bound by statistics but sees into each heart and treasures us. I am so glad that you were able stop drinking, let God back in your life and took that fearless and searching inventory of your life. We are all so broken! We need God to restore our broken parts.

    In your love for your wife-to-be and daughter I hear great hope. I pray that your relationship will endure and that the little girl who has learned to trust you will not be disappointed. The Bible says that God takes the lonely and places them in families. He has done that for you now.

    I would urge you to look hard at what would make you hesitate to marry now. Examine your doubts. Let them surface and face them. Cohabiting is poor protection for the heart. Marriage is also not free of heartache but taking a fearless inventory of what holds you back may help you heal.

    I pray that Jesus would be ever present to you heart and mind and that you will sense his love and care.

    Bless you,

    Elizabeth

  87. MITCH says:

    hi! I am hoping to get some advices from you, I am living with my norwegian fiancee now here in the philippnes, it happen so quick, we met, we date, he ask to know and meet my family… and then we live together, he live with me in my house that i rent with my children, i am 6 years separated from my ex husband,..
    I am seeking good advices cause i am now starting to feel some difficulties with my fiancee, at first his so kind, gentle making promisses, his kind to my kids, we plan many things for our future for my children etc….he told me to quit my job, i hesitate cos i have so many” WHAT IF” who knows what happen in the future and i need to priorities my kids,,, he is always saying something to degrade me and my family… now i dont know what to do cos i already lost my job cos i choose him,,, and he want me to absorb all the norwegian culture that he been before and he is very perfectionist i tried to separate with him cos i want to start again a new life with my children cos i want to finish what is really not to me, he is very nice man but lots of complain, he loves me but i am suppocate pls help what will be your advices…

    ms. MITCH 1979

    • emstalcup says:

      I am so sorry you are in this difficult situation. Men and women often put their best foot forward when they are dating–the can be so kind and loving for a short time–but over time their character emerges. Your boyfriend sounds critical and controlling. It sounds like you have already decided that you “want to start again a new life” with your children. Here are the options as I see them: Get some help with your boyfriend to see if the two of you are willing to work on having a love (not fear) based relationship where both of you can be who you are without needing to control each other. What you have now is a fear-based pseudo relationship. I would watch the Thriving recovery webinar on codependency. The second option is to ask him to move out, since it was your house to begin with, find a new job and begin to rebuild your life.

      I strongly urge you to work toward greater healing in your life. There is a reason you chose someone who is abusive. When we are broken we chose people who aren’t good for us. If you end this relationship, but don’t get help, you will chose another man like him. This is very hard on children who bond easily but don’t have the capacity to detach. Ask yourself, why did I chose him? Don’t make excuses. There are reasons why we choose the men we choose.

      No matter what you decide, know that God loves you and cares about you and your children. In the Bible he promises that if we lack wisdom we can ask him what to do and he will lead us. I pray that you will ask him for help and then pay attention to the little, often quiet ways he communicates with us and learn to trust him.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      • emstalcup says:

        It is very hard to end a relationship, especially one where you have shared your body and your home. It sounds like you are grieving and it also sounds like you have a lot of wounds that need healing. I would cry out to God. Tell him how you feel, especially how your body feels, then when you have it all out, ask God to show you his perspective. Let him speak to your heart. Ask him to forgive you and redeem your life. You may find the ebook I wrote helpful as it describes how I got free and began to follow God.

        We aren’t made to be alone. Make sure you spend time with those who love you. Find good community that will help you process all you have been through. Talking to a sympathetic person helps.

        You have formed a strong attachment. You are in attachment pain which is the worst kind of pain. This is why I caution men and women to not form an attachment with someone until you know the person and are sure you are meant to be together. This is not just an emotional decision but a clear-headed look at the person to see if you are a good fit, you bring out the best in each other, there is a sense that God is calling you to be together.

        Sadly, in today’s culture, we do things backwards and it results in a lot of pain.

        Now you need to grieve your losses and cling to God. Ask God to comfort you. It will get better. The pain will subside. It does not happen overnight.

        I pray that you will be able to sense God’s presence and his love for you. That you will find comfort in reading his word, the Bible (try the Psalms right in the middle of the book), and that he will lead you forward to a new life full of joy.

        Bless you,

        Elizabeth

  88. mitch says:

    hello again, thank you for the advice,,, Now here i am again,trying to find my self, we separate 2 days ago he packed all of his things and get away from my house,,, so hard for me so difficult and hurting seems I am dying but i need to be strong, for now its my fault because i am so emotional i think so much and seems i am gonna explode that’s the reason i make fight that time but that’s the first time i saw him that he is calm not like the previous time we fight that he is so fiery,,, Now i know it is my fault i am blaming my self cos that time we separate i felt tearing in my heart, HE CRIED IN FRONT OF ME saying that he loves me so much but he feel that i am not the woman that he met before…I am so touch i pushed him away, he has is nothing to go here in the Philippines, he make a web developer office for me he establish here in my place and now it seems that i ignore him to much, Please help me how to replace my attitude of being so emotional even on a little thing… He always said that i need to grow up… please help me how can i apologize to him.. not to accept me or to come back to me…. but only to forgive … I broke his heart … now he cries for me… we fight many times and he keep on always packing up all his things and then he comeback after we are good again,but now it happen again and it is very different cos i saw his tears i feel pity to him, and I saw him very depress and walking and walking and he don’t know where else place to go he looks shock and keep thinking,,,please what can i do to make him not to think that i hurt him…and what way i can do to talk to him just to clarify all things and to have a forgive from him…i am depress now i cant eat cant sleep i lost weight i am so exhausted now…

    again mitch,,,,

  89. mitch says:

    what will i do i am crying for almost 1 week, he decide not to talk for me now for 1 week he said we talk after,,, he texted me that i really broke his heart and asking him to give a space for a while,,, what i wish is he will forgive me,, not to accept but to clean his heart for forgiveness thats all,, I am in so much pain now and crying all the time everywhere… I feel so weak now

  90. mitch says:

    pls response

  91. KayDee says:

    Wow, I ‘m glad I found your blog! I can relate to all of the stories above. I’ve been living with my “boyfriend” for over 5 years now with no plans to marry. He moved into my house. I knew it was a mistake from the very beginning, to where I hid it from my parents. Now, I’m not a teenager, I was in my mid-40s at the time trying to hide stuff from my parents! LOL! I was so down on myself and desperate for love, companionship, my own family, etc., that I let him move in. At the time, he was just coming out of rehab, had moved out of the house he was living in with his chidren’s mother, and I thought – Great! Now I get to have him, and help him get on his feet, and mold him to meet his highest level of potential, and at the end of all this he will love me even more for all the wonderful things I have done for him! What a load of crap! This guy is a lazy, unmotivated, manipulative, emotionally immature, verbally abusive mess, but it has been so hard for me to let go of him, ask him to move out, end the relationship. I am actually selling my house in order to get away from him, but because he plays victim so much, I’m feeling sorry for him and am sometimes tempted to continue this living arrangement in a new place. I need help! He won’t get a job, won’t keep a job, he has 2 young kids who come to my house EVERY weekend, their mother doesn’t have a job, the financial and emotional burden keeps falling on me. I can barely keep up with the bills with just one income. I need to end this but why can’t I?

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Kay,

      Let me ask you one question: Does this feel at all familiar? It sounds like you are struggling with co-dependency where we are afraid of what might happen if we stepped back and let those we love face the consequences of their decisions. It can be crazy making.

      I recently found a great two-part webinar on co-dependency. I reccomnend you watch it and and see if it sounds familiar.

      As adults we often reproduce situations we experienced as children in an attempt to fix what was unfixable.

      Let me know your thoughts after watching the webinar.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      • KayDee says:

        Elizabeth,

        I wasn’t able to view the webinar, but I have been reading up on co-dependency. Interestingly, a friend of mine who is a former crack addict told me a long time ago I was co-dependent when I described the relationship to her. I realize I have unresolved issues from when I was a kid and I used to buy candy and stuff to get this girl to like me as a friend. She treated me like a dog no matter how much I did for her, but I was so desperate for her to like me, I just kept coming back rejection after rejection hoping to get it right! And she wasn’t a good person to have as a friend anyway. I guess I’m still doing this, this need to please, trying to get it right, if I just do one more thing…because I feel unworthy or not good enough. I know in my head this relationship isn’t good, but for some reason I would panic at the thought of ending it. I realized I was needing validation for all the things I was doing for him, but yesterday we had another argument and he discounted and denied what I’ve done for him yet again, and this time the light bulb went on!!! I finally got it! I finally saw that I’m doing all this for nothing, he will never give me what I want or need. Only God can. That I am more important than this need I have to be in this toxic relationship. And instead of praying to God to fix him or change him or remove him from my life, I know my prayer needs to focus on God fix me, change me.

        Thank you for replying to my previous post.

      • emstalcup says:

        I am glad the comment was helpful and that you are taking steps to get free. Recovery from codependency usually takes more than just head knowledge, or Ah-ha moments so I would encourage you to get help in one form or another. We offer
        Theophostic
        prayer at our church in northern Virgina and it is offered at various locations in other states and countries. Life Model classes are also very helpful, especially Restarting.

        Codependency is a fear-based relationship. We want all our relationships (with God too) to be motivated by love, not fear.

        I am praying for you!
        Bless you,
        Elizabeth

      • emstalcup says:

        By the way that is just the right prayer, Fix me, change me.

  92. patricia says:

    Thank you very much for this article. Im a little undecided on what I want for my life. My boyfriend of three years recently had to move to orlando for school and I live in miami fl. Its just 4 hours away butIs still very difficult cause I barely see him now. He suggested for me to move over there and continue school there. It didnt sound like such a bad idea but im still a bit confused since I am christian and I have my morals. I dont want to make a mistake but I love him very much. But id never know unless I try. Its not like id be gone forever, id move back home ones we are both done with college. You said in your article thatbl if you move in with your boyfriend youd never have the chance of meeting the one God has for you but what if he IS the right one? What if I just have to give it a chance to see what happens? Its not like i would have lived with him just because we want to..this is cause we dont want to have a long distance relationship and I wouldnt be loosing anything if I left.

    • patricia says:

      Btw, im a strong christian but being with him, I admit, has drawn me a little farther from my faith. I love God and I know he has an amazing plan for my life. I just really dont want to loose my boyfriend. Or at least I just really dont want to have to wonder “what if” I am a 20 year old girl, very undecided and in search of a solution and good advice.

      • emstalcup says:

        Once again, I would ask yourself, why don’t you want to lose your boyfriend? What would you feel if you lost him? What are you believing about this relationship? This is my only chance? Also ask, What is keeping me from coming closer to God?

        We weren’t meant to be alone. We were created for intimacy with God and people. Even Adam in the Garden of Eden, the garden of pleasure, needed Eve. God in a sinless world said, It is not good for man to be alone. But we want both connection–the one to God and the one to people to be strong.

        The ideal relationship draws you closer to God and to those you love.

        Bless you,

        Elizabeth

    • emstalcup says:

      I still think that moving together sets up an unhealthy dynamic where neither of you are fully committed to the relationship and will tend to be self-protective. It is hard to overcome those kinds of relationship dynamics. Yes, it would be more conveient to live near each other, but one of your statements worries me: “I won’t be losing anything if I left.” Ask yourself, “why?” Why don’t I have community, friendships, family that I would miss if I left? Am I putting all my eggs in one basket? I believe life is made to be lived in healthy community–meaning a multi-generational network of friends and family that helps each other grow and thrive. If you don’t have that you are at risk and need to make your number one task developing that kind of community around you.

      • patricia says:

        Thank you for this advice. Im sorry, i didnt make myself clear. Of course id miss my mom and my friends. But I already have a few friends in Orlando which I would enjoy spending time with. and as well with my boyfriend. My mom is still a little undecided about me going but i have her full support in whatever i want to do. But you are right..i need to pray and think about those things. Id be starting school over there if i end up moving which would mean new envirotment..meeting new people and experiencing a new place of living/school. At least thats how I see it.

      • emstalcup says:

        Why don’t you move there but not move in with him? You would have more time together and it would be healthier for the relationship?

  93. patricia says:

    If I lost my boyfriend id feel very sad, of course. Weve been through so much together and for so long. I love him and I see my self with him in the future. We click so well. Its not our fault circumstances showed in our life that led him to have to go to school in Orlando. We are trying to work this relationship out by bringing up ideas like moving in together. I wouldnt want him to drop school and work just to come back because hes family already paid for the tuition and he already has a lease in an apartment which cannot be broken. I on the other hand dont have to pay for school and dont risk any of my credits being lost by moving over there and transfering to a new school.

  94. Elizabeth says:

    Hi. I have been struggling with many issues over the past 5 months after breaking up with the man I was going to marry. My ex (of 2 years) and I split up 5 months ago and we had bought a house together last winter. Last month he told me I officially needed to be out of the house and he paid me my half of what I had put into the house.
    I started dating a new guy a month after me and my ex broke up (we have been together 4 months now). He always talked about me moving into his house with him and his 2 kids (age 20 months and 4years), but I was always hesitant because I had just gotten out of a relationship and he was recently divorced and I was afraid of the rebound factor.
    2 weeks ago I finally moved out of the house I had bought with my ex and moved in with my new boyfriend. I didnt want to do it because I dont feel like I really know him and I don’t even know if I want to be part of his kids lives right now, but I did it anyway because I was afraid he would be offended if I got my own place and not want to date me anymore.
    I can’t stop thinking about it all. I dont know if I want to date a guy with kids (or spend the rest of my life) and I wish a lot of times that I had gotten my own place to space myself from the situation at hand to see if its really what I want to pursue. I fear he wants me here to make his house feel “whole” again.
    My mom is extremely upset at my decision because she did the same thing at my age and wishes she had gone about things differently. I honestly don’t know how to sort out my emotions right now or my thoughts. Some days I am ok with my decision and others I just cry and question why I made this decision. This morning I woke up crying missing my ex and wanting to be back in my own house. I pray everyday to seek answers or atleast get pointed in the right direction and I always feel like I’m always in the same spot with the same worries and questions. I would love some advice or comments that might could help me through this – I’m so stressed from the anxiety.

    • emstalcup says:

      Your situation sounds painful. I hear you saying that you did not want to move in with your boyfriend and his children yet you did so because you were afraid to lose him. Listen to your own words: “I didnt want to do it because I dont feel like I really know him and I don’t even know if I want to be part of his kids lives right now, but I did it anyway because I was afraid he would be offended if I got my own place and not want to date me anymore.”

      What I am hearing is that you are in a relationship where fear is making you do what you do not want to do. That is not a healthy relationship! You want a relationship based on love, desire, not fear. I am not taking about passion but a relationship where you do what you do because you are motivated by desire not motivated by trying to avoid pain.
      I am also concerned about the children. Young children will bond, will attach to their caregivers and if your relationship with their father is unstable, it will ultimately hurt them deeply. I hear from women who love the children but can’t get along with the father. They lose contact with the dad and his kids which is agonizing for everyone.

      I urge you to find your own place and move out. Back up a bit, listen closely to your heart, believe you have a God who loves you and wants what is best for you, and move slowly as you are ready and not a bit faster.

      I suspect you need to grieve your losses–the loss of your five-year-long relationship and your home. It is so easy when we are in attachment pain to find someone else to fill that spot. Go ahead and let yourself feel the anguish of that loss and grieve until you come to terms with it and are ready to let it go. God hears our honest cries.

      I pray you will find the comfort only he can give.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  95. ashley says:

    Hello,
    First, I would like to thank you for all the advise you’ve given on this page. I am in a bit of a predicament. I am 21 and a college student. My parents decided to move our family out of state and I decided to stay. It was a hard decision because my parents made it clear that if I stayed, I would be on my own as far as a place to stay and paying for college. I know that with the job I have, I will not be able to pay all my bills, school, and rent. My boyfriend of over 3 years is the best boyfriend I’ve ever had and could ever dream of. He’s always respected me and had never done any wrong. He just doesn’t have a very good job and still lives with his parents. This new guy that came along has really helped my situation as far as helping me pay for things bc he really likes me and wants to be with me and I’ve also developed feelings for him. He’s totally different than my ex. He’s way more controlling. The predicament is the new guy is willing to let me move in with him. The plus to that is I’ll be able to stay in school because he would help with my expenses. The downside is I would be losing my boyfriend and this new guy also wants me to have his kid. I was hoping to get on birth control to stop that but I know it;s not 100% I know getting with this new guy is taking the easy way out. I’m just so confused. Everyone tells me to run away from this new guy bc of how controlling he is. But I just keep thinking about staying with my bf and getting my own place or renting a room for a couple hundred a month then my car breaking down and not being able to buy a new car, or getting sick and not being able to work then I cannot pay rent in both instances. Whereas with the new guy, I wouldn’t have to worry about any of that. I just do not know what to do.

    • emstalcup says:

      There is an old saying that if your worst problems are money problems then you don’t really have problems. I know that is not entirely true. We’ve had our share of money problems, but I would not let money factor in to a decision like this. Think down the road a bit. You have a baby with a controlling man. Controlling. He separates you from your family and yet you have a child with him so you are forever tied to him in some way. Even if you split up you still have a child who calls him father. And you will have to interact with him.

      I would run, not walk away from him. It is not worth the money. Talk to the financial aid office at your school and see what it will take to be declared financially independent so you can get aid based on your income and not your parents. Then do the best you can and trust God to provide for you. You will make it. I nearly dropped out of my Ph.D. program at Stanford because I was so worried about money, but as I prayed I sensed God reassuring me that he would provide. And he did. I had to take a semester off and work and then resume school but I got through and the last year a married a wonderful man.

      I’ll be praying for you,

      Elizabeth

  96. ashley says:

    Thank you so much for your reply. Your words really helped out a lot. It was hard, but the next day I broke things off with the controlling guy. It was hard because I believe he tried to manipulate his way back by going back on his words and saying I had him all wrong. It’s funny, it now being a couple weeks later and having cut him off that I can look at the situation realistically and objectively like in the first place after I had met him before my feelings got involved. I can see how crazy this story sounds and how naive I was being. Even re reading what I had wrote to you makes no sense. It was obvious what I needed to do but I was so blinded by his money and security that he most likely falsely promised that I quit paying attention to the daily red flags he would show. I remember when I first met him thinking how crazy he was and never gave him the time of day until I began having financial problems and my college career was in jeopardy. I will most likely just have short term financial problems without being with him but being with him I would gain lifelong problems (creating a family with him.)I cannot believe I was even contemplating moving in with him when that is not the type of person I am. I want to be married before I live with a man. I have been reading up on abusive and controlling men and almost every site he fits the description almost perfectly. I am very grateful that I got out of that situation before he had anymore control over me. I’m sure that is one of the reasons he was so quick to move me in with him even though he only knew me a couple months, so he could have more control. He even said one of the reasons he wanted me to have his child so soon is that we would have each other forever, I thought that was one of that craziest things I had heard someone say in my life.

    After reading your reply, I decided once and for all to cut everything off with him and I’m happy. I am now in the process of looking for a place. Sometimes I catch myself wondering if I really was wrong about him or what things would have like but that’s probably what he wants me to think about. I feel like I have my whole life ahead of me and I don’t think I would have had that if I would have continued to see him. Thank you for your time and words, I really appreciate it! :)

  97. Maria says:

    I am a 40 year old twice divorcee with two grown children and twin grandsons who are three years old now. My boyfriend is 32 and has two small boys – 6 and 7. We have dated on and off for about three years and this time around it seems more serious than ever before. I want to marry him, but he wants to wait and live together before we get married. I have been researching living with someone before marriage and not one article that I have found has had a positive remark to say about it. I still have my apartment but stay more often then not at his place. I have taken on the wife and step mother role without a commitment from him. Remember he is younger than I am. He likes to sleep A LOT and just “relax”. I am a very spirited 40 year old and like to do fun things which includes dancing and having fun. Last night was new years eve and we were already asleep by 10:30pm. He then informs me that he has to go to work on New Years day, leaving me with his kids to watch all day when I had already made other plans to see my good friend and spend the day with her. I woke up this morning so sad and depressed but mostly mad at him. The whole time though I knew that it really wasn’t his fault. He was doing exactly what I have allowed him to do. Today I was searching for a way to tell him that I would not be moving in with him and that we need to continue to date each other. Things have gotten way to comfortable for such a short period of time and I am starting to resent him. I am going to tell him tonight because putting it off is not an option. I didn’t know that this article was Christian based but I am thankful for God leading me to this because I too am a Christian woman and the more I stay here the further away from God I will be. I want marriage, but I don’t want to force myself on anyone. Who knows if he is even the one for me? I love the part in here when the one gentleman asks his friend, “how do you expect to find your wife when you are living with someone else?”

    Thank you for sharing this with us. God bless.

  98. KayDee says:

    Hi Maria, you are making a wise choice to back off. I am in a situation very similar to yours. He’s younger and has two young children, I have no children. He lives in my house and he has his children the majority of the time. I’m a social person, he’s not. I allowed myself to be put into the “wife/stepmom” role with no commitment or talk of marriage, etc. I’m resentful, angry, and I’ve wasted too much time putting up with this “relationship”. I was afraid to end the relationship and let him go and it’s been going on way too long now! But through lots of prayer and action, I am finally taking courageous steps to let him go, end the relationship, and accept God’s blessings for me of either a good man or a contented life of being single.

    Good luck to you!

    • emstalcup says:

      May God give you strength and courage.

      I do think we can experience rich lives as single women. My younger sister lived with three other women for more than 25 years; they are family to one another. She married last year for the first time at the age of 53 to a widowed man with grown children, but she is still close to her single-women family.

      We need intimacy. To be known and loved, accepted and cherished. We often think this can only come from a man but we can develop friendships that satisfy much of our desire for close community.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  99. Cynthia says:

    Thank you for your words…I was asked by my boyfriend to move in and well at 43, twice divorced and a single mother of a child of a man I dated… I have been there and done that….and here is this wonderful man standing before me saying what he offers is not good enough and he was hurt, but I had to admit it isn’t/wasn’t, I told him I just couldn’t do it, and I explained to him much the reasons you gave in your article…I had asked God for confirmation that I was doing the right thing, though I knew but HE is so loving…and here you are. :) Thank you and praise the Lord.

  100. Rebecca Balli says:

    Today I was searching the web inquiring on places for my boyfriend so he could move out of his house and he had asked me and I joked about moving in with him. It then came an idea in my head so I began to search more for places near where he wanted. After all the intense looking around it came to my attention that “Hey, wait a minute is it right for me to move in with him being that I’m only a first year college student, no job, I live with my parents, I’m much more religious than him and he has no intention of becoming religious?” I then googled, “Is it a good idea to move in with my boyfriend?” There are so many misleading answers of, “Yes, because you can ‘test out your partner.'” I’m very very glad that I came upon your article in that it has really opened my eyes. I am not as close to Jesus as I want seeing as I never really had a great role model for it prior to a few years ago, so reading your story has really put things in perceptive through a religious aspect that many people now don’t see. I only wish that I’d seen this article many many years ago when I was a young teenager not doing God’s will. I thank you for sharing your story and your pain, you’re changing the world by being in the image of Christ.

    Thank you,
    Becky Balli, 18

    • emstalcup says:

      Thank you Becky, for your encouraging words. I am home in bed with the flu so your kind words lifted my heart. Always remember you can be as close to Jesus as you want to be. He is always with you, is crazy in love with you and willing to lead and guide you all of your life.

      I pray God would bless you today and show you his love.

      IHL,

      Elizabeth

  101. Angie says:

    This was so interesting to read :o I am experiencing this major urge to move in with him. He wanted that too… a few months ago, but suddenly changed his mind into “I don’t know when I would want that”.

    After reading this… I’m a bit scared if this is “easy intimacy” for him, for me or maybe even both of us… how do you know, right?

    And if something like that is going on: how can I make it right again? And how do I fight against this URGE to move in together… do you have tips?

    Thanks!

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Angie,

      To answer your question, How do I fight the urge to move in together, you are going to have to look inside and see what is driving it. It is never too late to make things right though all of our choices lead us down new paths and result in a new set of circumstances that we may regret.
      I would ask yourself, What would it feel like to not move in? What are you believing? This is my one chance to find love?
      We are made to attach to each other. The more time we spend with someone, especially if sex is involved, the more attached we become. There is a natural God-given drive to bond and connect. Problems arise when we let this drive our lives, overriding any sort of distance or perspective that might make us ask, Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this man? Having sex before you are married puts the cart before the horse because you are attaching to someone before you have done the hard work of seeing him objectively in many types of situations. Everyone can mind their manners on a date, but how does he treat his mom? His sister? What is he like when he is tired or can’t get his way? How does he treat salespeople? Is he a hard worker or does he make excuses? Is he addicted to some behavior, experience, or substance? By the time we learn the answers to these questions we are have been sleeping with him for months and our attachement clouds our judgement. Now we just want to make it work . . . at any cost because it will hurt if the relationship ends. I get many sad comments–you can read them all here–from women in relationships with men who do not sound very loving or mature, which makes the women miserable. They were hoping for unconditional love, for sacrificial love, for faithfulness, for life-long love but instead they have a man who wants to sit on the sofa while the woman cooks, who is not faithful or indulges his appetites, cravings and anger. People who are stuck in infant or child maturity do not make good partners!
      So I am going to assume that you are sexually intimate with this man (let me know if I got it wrong), so you are already attached at some level, it is normal to want to move closer to bond more deeply. That is perfectly understandable. Now you have to do the hard work of asking yourself, What would happen if you stopped? What would it feel like to not have him? What are you believing? If you are believing that you will be alone and that feels unbearable, or that you will never find anyone else, then it will be very hard to let him go. But if you believe that God is always with you, loves you and will guide you and that he has a rich life for you, it will be easier, not necessarily easy but easier in the long run. But it is so vital to get at those root issues because they are what drive your life. In Theophostic Prayer Ministry we call those core lies. They are lies such as:
      You are less than others.
      You are a failure.
      You will always be alone.
      No one will ever really love you.
      No one will ever care about what matters most to you.

      Don’t be surprized if pulling back is hard. We are made to bond. In Genesis, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” We aren’t made to be alone, it just seems that today it is hard to find a mature mate. I am continually encouraging women to find a good friend, to be a good friend and to let that friendship meet much of your need for intimacy because you don’t want to have the lack of connection in your life leave you in such desolation that any old man will do.
      I hope this helps,
      E.

  102. Sweetsam says:

    Hi.. I found this article when searching “is living with your boyfriend a sin?”… I knew/know deep down that it’s wrong, but was somehow looking for a way to soothe my conscience into believing it’s ok and i wont be punished by God for making this decision….

    My story in summary is this :

    I’ll be 24yrs in a few months, finished college last year with 2 degrees. I’ve been living on my own since i was 19, finished high school at 17 and have been basically taking care of the home and younger sisters (ages 11 and 7(now), 4 and 2 (then) ) at that time because our parents are divorced and mom moved overseas because of her job (temporarily) and dad lived with his girlfriend…. Before moving away for school, I met my boyfriend 5 yrs ago, and we’ve been together for about 4yrs. He invited me to his church and i eventually got baptized there. He lived with his family while i lived on my own. I moved 3 times and the 3rd move he paid my rent or else i would have to move back with my mother, because i am currently unemployed… Eventually his mom disrespected me on many levels, and he stood up for me and moved out of her home on his own, but because of how expensive it would’ve been for him to be paying two rents it seemed practical to move in together…. He has respected my beliefs and our religion for as long as we’ve been together before, but in this case it seemed inevitable to do otherwise…. Although we knew we would face people talking because of appearances of evil and also temptation of fornication, this was the only option. I agreed with hesitation. My family and i on either side are not close at all, my mother and i have a very strained relationship, my father and i barely have a relationship, no friends close enough to move in with… He is my family. …… But it’s been a little over 2 months we’ve been living together and I’ve been getting increasingly agitated and depressed. My spiritual relationship with God is weakening; scarcely reading my bible, missing church frequently, mostly because i’ve been feeling guilty/ashamed…. And my boyfriend has not been really supportive or encouraging, infact, i feels that he is helping worsen the situation because he somewhat “expects” sex now…. and tends to make me feel inferior because he I am financially dependent on him (mayb not intentionally)…. I want out… not from my relationship with my boyfriend, but from this living situation… The ideal situation for me would be if i was employed, and could afford to live on my own and him on his own and move in only as a married couple with God as our first love… I dont want to end my relationship, because i love him and if i do, i will be alone; i’d have to start all over; 4yrs gone… Im always praying… I’m just growing weary of this situation…

  103. Sweetsam says:

    My life has been a really difficult one.. Betrayal and abandonment by loved ones, hurt galore, instability, health issues, family issues… And being with my boyfriend for so long has been the only stability, and i hv grown attached to him..Think im just afraid of being alone…. Should i move back with mom in a hostile environment? should i wait till i get a job? what if it takes too long and d situation worsens? Any advice?

  104. Kassidy says:

    I’m 19 years old, and going to college. I’ve been dating my current Fiance for 3 months and we are wanting to rent a house in town. Its 200 dollars cheaper than the dorms, 2 bed/3 bath, laundry room and etc. and we really want this house. Its so beautiful. I really want a place of my own that I can decorate. I love him very much, and he loves me. My parents are highly against it, saying he will pressure me into sex, when we have already consummated (even though that is bad) They think he will break up with me and we’ll be stuck in a house together where he will bring home all these girls and have sex with them and hurt me. I’m so confused and I’m not sure what to do. But thing is, how am I supposed to tell if we’re compatible? What if living with him is like living in hell? If hes dirty? I mean things that could be unbearable when we get married? My parents approve of our marriage but not our wanting to live together. I want this house more than anything, but I need someone to pay the other half of rent. But theyd have to be okay with Jon over all the time. I dont know. I prayed God would send me someone like him while I was with another man for over a year and he sent me Jon, I asked him if this was the man he meant for me and I feel like he is. The only thing is, hes nonreligious. he used to be very religious but his dad is athiest and tells him and me that christiananity is wrong and we’re stupid. And I believe when you’ve been told over and over your wrong after someone your supposed to trust and believe, it kinda changes things. Hes been through so much in his life and my mother is afraid he wont be a good match unless he converts back. I’m trying so hard to get him back so we’ll have a good christian lifestyle.

    I need advice, please.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Kara,

      I just want to reflect back what I hear you saying:

      What you want more than anything is a place of your own that you can decorate.

      You need someone to pay the other half of the rent.

      You have been with this man for three months.

      You are afraid. One of your primary fears is that you two are not compatible or that he is dirty.

      Your family does not support this relationship.

      You are already having sex with him though you parents do not know this.

      He is not a believer. Your are trying to change him, make him convert.

      You are making excuses for his lack of faith (he has heard this message from his dad, that is why is does not believe)

      You think that you will begin to be a good Christian tomorrow, when your boyfriend converts.

      You believe God may have brought this man to you because you prayed and there he was.

      I want you to read through this list (above) and ask yourself, if someone else was saying this to me, what would I recommend?

      Here is my advice:

      Stop trying to convert him. Only God can save a man. No one should come to faith under pressure. He is who is he. It is not healthy to say, he is perfect. . . but. YOu have to accept him as he is. Do you still want him if there is no hope of changing him? So many of us are trying to fix someone. It is unhealthy and codependent. Say to yourself, he is an atheist. His father is an atheist who is disrespectful to Christians (calling them stupid). Do I want this?

      Stop having sex with him. Nothing will cloud your judgement more than having sex with him. You will bond at the limbic level in your brain so that you will be subconsciously telling yourself that you can’t live without him, which will make it impossible to think clearly about his positive and negative attributes.

      Do not move in with him. You don’t know him well enough to either move in or marry. How you will know if you are compatible is to get a little distance between you two (stop having sex) and spend enough time together to observe each other in a wide variety of situations. How does he treat his mom? How does he act when tired or stressed or hungry? How does he treat children? Do I find myself making excuses for his behavior?

      Recognize that just because you prayed and Jon appeared does not nescessariy mean God intended him for you. You have have to use your brain. You’ve reduced God to a distant power who grants wishes like a fairy godmother. He is your heavenly father who wants an intimate relationship with you. Begin to read scripture, be still before Him and listen, and find a healthy group where you can begin to process and heal. We are all broken. We all have a tendency to see what we want to see. Get some friends together and work through The Emotionally Healthy Woman or Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You. Find a Restarting group that will you understand the power of fear-based relationship and the need to find someone to quell the pain. As you deepen your relationship with God you will become less fearful. There is a great codependency webinar that you can watch here:http://www.lifemodel.org/event.php?type=webinar&rn=187

      You sound terribly lonely. That has got to hurt. I pray God will lead you to safe people of all ages who will love you and whom you can love in return.

      Be blessed. Thanks for writing,

      Elizabeth

  105. Stephen chu says:

    If a man has free sex, why does he need for a marriage? Though you haven’t move in, but it’s the same meaning if you have sex with him. Coha-man wait for another younger ones while they stayed with current woman. If you really want a man of commitment, then you shouldn’t have sex with him up to, at least, one year’s dating. For you have to avoid sexual pheromone’s attraction. Don’t be trapped by animal’s instinct.

    Since you are 40 and he is much younger than you, if you are not wisdom enough to make a decision, I’ll predict you will be discarded by him just in a couple of years.

    You need to consult a Christian counselor to get the wisdom, or you will be surely regret in the future. I am a marriage educator, I speak to yo in truth and Love. Don’t wast your life. YOU are 40, no time to waste. I am a man, I know man.

    Find a reliable man, train him by not giving him sex, observe him if he is honest, sincere. Since you already failed two times. write me: familykeepers.ca@gmail.com

    • Valencia says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      I’d firstly like to say THANK YOU so so so so much for this article, I was honestly googling “the dangers of letting your boyfriend move in” and this pag showed with the results, I read it and I felt like WOW!! This is exactly what I needed!!

      I’m a 22yr old lady, I’ve been dating a guy that I met from church since July 2011. I’m doing my 2nd last year and he’s just finished his studies. I made the mistake of letting my boyfriend move in around 2011, he doesn’t exactly stay here with me full time, he goes home for weekends and will stay by me a few days. He has to lie to his mother when coming to because she’s a Pastor and would never allow this arrangement, my family has strong Christian morals and standards and would also never allow this. My boyfriend and I have sex regularly and it feels so wrong afterwards because I know truth. My boyfriend also knows truth, he’d been staying in at the church we met at for about 6yrs when we met in preparation and training for his calling, he was released last year September by our Prophet to go help at his mother’s church. I’ve now been put in leadership at church and it feels all the more wrong because I’m basically being a hypocrite! … How can I lead others in prayer and faith when I myself I’m living in such aweful fornication and all… :(

      My boyfriend and I have spoken about marriage, he’s fresh out of college, we can’t get married before he gets a job and a place of his own. We’ve had so many issues already, he has a baby from his previous relationship which I’m still battling to openly digest because of wounds from my previous relationship. Because of some of those issues my aunt has suggested that he sees our Prophet or another Man or Woman of God to talk about his intentions and possibly counsel, but my boyfriend says seeing the Prophet is not a good idea because we won’t entertain issues of relationship but of marriage.
      Although my boyfriend isn’t living right, I know he’s got the qualities of a good and godly man, but right now I feel like I’ve compromised my salvation too much in fear of losing him… If I set standards to say that we no longer spend nights together and I lose him, will I have missed out on the man God had for me or will it be a good thing? I’m so confused. I want to be with him, but I want to live in righteouness and purity more.

      Please help me Woman of God, I need your advise.

      • emstalcup says:

        What a tangled web we weave when we fashion to deceive! My heart goes out to you. I remember being pulled by passion and guilt in the same way when I was in college. The guilt was crazy making. It sounds like your life is a great tangle of guilt and fear. I would let this man go. You say he has the qualities of a good godly man but what are you basing that assessment on? You say you are afraid of losing him and fear that he will not stay with you if you stop having sex with him. If I were you, I would want a man who respected my values and was willing to sacrifice his own desires to respect my faith. It is never good to have a friendship or romance that you have to hide from your family. I would encourage you to be the kind of woman you would want your future husband to marry. It is not to late to begin again. God is always willing to forgive though we can hardly blame if he does not believe us if we say we are sorry and then immediately sin again. I would consider coming clean, getting help with the attachment pain because ending this relationship will hurt and you want to fully grieve that loss. You will not miss out on the man God has for you by letting your boyfriend go. You say you want to live in righteousness and purity more than you want your boyfriend. I say, then do it.
        A great book for you is Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. I commend it to you.

        Be blessed,

        Elizabeth

  106. Tracy says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I live with my boyfriend and I have been waiting for him to propose to me for 5 years. I agree with you. This article has really helped me. Thank you

  107. kerry says:

    I never grew up in a christain home there was a belief in God. My mum was a single parent. I still struggle to understand the true meaning of marriage set out by the bible. I was baptised 9 months ago. I was able to leave my boyfriend and not have sex for 6 months, because I knew him before the baptism it was so difficult to cut all ties and not want him in my life. Now we are back together I had a miscarriage 4 weeks ago, the strange thing is after the baptism he said that I should promise to marry him. He was shocked about the pregnancy but after he started preparing to be a dad. I put the miscarriage down to the fact we were not married. Anyway I really find comfort in your story. It’s like I am trying to live a life that pleases God but I just can’t meet the standards. I am thankful that I am not going to move in with him, but get a place of my own I currently live with my dad that is sick. I don’t have the emotional resources to help with dad he has dementia. I have been praying on this situation for many years, I know I am able to succeed in my own strength. Again I dream of a marriage and relationship that pleases the Lord. I know that I have things that I need healing and acceptance on a personal level. God has worked with me, and I know I am still a work in process. Your story teaches me to keep the faith, that I will be able to live the life that I am called to eventually.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Kerry,

      It sounds like you are in a rough place right now. I am glad my story has given you hope. I hope you will read my e-book, Crossroads Before You because it give so much more detail as to how I cried out to God and began to heal. Please don’t think that you have to live (on your own) up to a certain standard to have a relationship with God. The relationship comes first, then the change. He changes us. The Bible says he make us new creatures. It is as radical a change as a caterpiller becoming a butterfly. So the key is to engage with God. Tell him what is on your heart, obey his still small voice, and wait on him. Read his word and let it sink into your heart. Give him all your sorrow–from the miscarriage to your dad’s dementia and learn to trust Him. He loves you love. His intentions are good and kind. We heal as are honest with God and begin to see ourselves and all of life from His perspective.
      Bless you, my dear,
      Elizabeth

  108. Amandinette says:

    Dear Elizabeth,

    I thought that I should finally thank-you for writing this article, sharing your own story and your redemption through Christ. It has been encouraging me and it has stuck in the back of my mind for over a year. I had been in a French civil union, which is similar to a common law marriage in the US, with a French man. We were both 22 at the time, I’m now 25. We had sexual relations prior, which as you said, really screws you up emotionally, and now looking back I felt like I tried to solve my problem by having a quasi-marriage with the guy. He was not a Christian which made it very difficult at times besides the fact that I lived in doubt the whole time, as to the validity of the PACS, as the union is called in France. I wanted to honor that commitment nonetheless, even though I was hurting inside and my relationship with God was waning; this man did not want to have a formal marriage with me. God intervened and gave me a reason to end the PACS (my “husband” cheated on me with several women while living abroad, after several months of being separated physically). Despite the hurt, I feel such a sense of relief, such a sense of freedom, that God has given me. I feel that I can now clearly see how wrong my decisions were and that my desire for a godly, Christian marriage has increased 10 fold, although I am worried now about how this past will effect the man that I will one day meet and marry. Nevertheless, I wanted to thank-you for sharing and for helping me think in the right direction. I definitely want to find the man God has planned for me and I want to do great things for Him with the help of this man! It is inspiring to know that there are godly men out there, who will one day forgive m past like God has already done.
    Kindly,
    Amandinette

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Amandinette,

      Your kind letter brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for taking time to write. I trust that the God who knows your heart will bring you a godly husband in his time and way. I read your letter out loud to my husband and our friend Steve who is single and was sitting in my living room and Steve said he wanted to reassure you that there are good men out there who won’t hold your past against you but will love you for who you are.

      I hope you will give yourself time to grieve the hurt and betrayal you must feel. Don’t forget to surrender, when ready, your sorrow to God.

      You are his treasure!

      All the best,

      Elizabeth

  109. Amandinette says:

    Dear Elizabeth,

    Thank-you again for your encouraging words. Isn’t it interesting how God can take the bad from our lives and turn it into good? I hope that God can use even the few years that I was in that family, to open their eyes towards Him. In the meantime I feel confident in the new road ahead. I thought I may like to add that there are many nice and godly people in France! I know that there is still a sort of negative connotation in regards to the Franco-American relationship, so I thought I would just clarify that they really are lovely people, although unfortunately there are many who have turned away from God and call themselves atheists. Regardless, tell Steve I give him my thanks. He made me feel like a million bucks! Whenever I feel gloomy or under the weather, I will turn back to your kind message.

    Merci!
    Amandinette

  110. emstalcup says:

    Dear Amandinette,

    I forwarded your response to Steve who writes back:

    *:) happyI am HUMBLED….actually STUNNED…by HER gracious and tender response…I will write down HER beautiful FRENCH name..and keep for regular prayer throughout the day….THE LORD DEARLY …..DEARLY LOVES the FRENCH people…I know that..absolutely….”THE WOMAN AT THE WELL” was probably co dependent and continually made bad decisions…IN a world after the fall dominated by sin women are often subjected to a lesser existence…When she went to get water that day…SHE was going about HER business as was the LORD HIMSELF….The shorter route that took HIM through SAMARIA HE was guided by the SPIRIT to travel and sIt down there to rest. IT WAS EMPHATIC THAT THE FATHER SENT HIM THERE ALONE …absent HIS disciples…absent the men….INDEED unexpected to both of them…HE was to cross paths with HER…IN that DEVINE appointment. The FATHER came upon HIM and HE AFFIRMED HER ..INDEED THE POWER OF THE WHOLE UNIVERSE CAME DOWN UPON HER AND…AFFIRMED HER IN HER WOMANHOOD….ALONE SHE WAS THERE IN PROXIMITY TO HIM …..NEVER TOUCHING HIM AT ALL….HE CUT THROUGH the social order of the day and freed HER from that opression…HE SAW YOU….. AMANDINETTE ….AS HE SAW HER….HE SAW YOU …ELIZABETH STALCUP AS HE SAW HER..HE WAS INDEED IN YOUR PRESENSE THEN…THOUGH YOU WERE NOT YET BORN……..YOUR BROTHER….STEVE……

  111. Amandinette says:

    Dear Elizabeth, Steve (& Sam),

    Thank-you once again for your kindness and encouragement! It is all very helpful and I’m taking the initiative to sit down with some women from my church in the U.S. and relearn the definition of marriage, some of whom had once been married to unbelievers who had either left them or died, before their second, more profitable Christian marriages. What a great online ministry you have for women Elizabeth!

    Best,
    Amandinette

  112. Carmen says:

    I love how you treat marriage like it’s the ultimate goal in life. How living with a man will ruin your chances of “marrying him” or your chances of having a successful marriage with him. What about the rest of your life? If it ruins your chances of marrying him, I’d say living with him was a good choice because you found out how things would have been had you actually signed the papers and made it legal. I find it hilarious that you say that living together prevents marriages but does nothing to diminish the number of divorces. Divorces are 100% avoidable if you don’t get married. This is a very ignorant article. Cohabitation is logical for those evolved enough to realize that you weren’t brought to this earth to get married and produce children.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Carmen,

      I used to sound just like you. I honestly don’t believe that marriage is the ultimate goal in live. I think most of us idealize marriage. We are made for unconditional love. We seek it as infants from our mothers and hopefully our mother loved us, but mothers are also human and fail us in many ways. Then we look for it in romance. We hope we will find a partner to know us, flaws and all, and love us anyway. But romance often disappoints. The only one who will love us unconditionally is God, but we run from him! At the same time, even an intimate, interactive relationship with God is not enough. We were not made to be alone. That doesn’t mean marriage for everyone but many want to marry. In reality, we were made to be part of a family. Most of us had families of origin that did not meet our needs so we harden our hearts, said we didn’t care or kept searching. We need authentic, healing community–spiritual families. Mothers (more than one!) those who are more mature than us who will draw out the best in who we are and help us mature. We desperately need dad who will love and protect our weaknesses and help us recover and mature. And we need those who are less mature than us who we help along the way.

      You can believe that living together is a good way to test a relationship but what if living together actually harms the relationship? What if intense intimacy before you have taken time to build a solid commitment culminating in marriage actually causes things to crumble?

      You sound hurt and disappointed to me. Want to talk about that?

      Thanks for writing!

      Elizabeth

  113. Danielle says:

    Maybe you can help me out. My situation is quite complicated. I dated my current boyfriend previously for a year. We got along beautifully. I loved him like I had never loved anyone . I was twenty six when we met and he was two years my junior . Despite the fact that things were going well, I chose to end things because I was wanting marriage and a family in my near future and he had big plans that would get in the way of my own. We stayed friends and I moved away. I met someone, that was completely wrong for m , and I knew it from day one, but i continued the relationship anyway. I’m now almost 30. I have a child with mr. Wrong. Our relationship didn’t even last throughout my pregnancy. After I had my daughter I began talking to my ex boyfriend on a regular basis. He was very supportive and encouraging like he had always been. In all honesty had it not been for him there’s a good chance I would have gotten sucked back into that awful, abusive relationship with my daughters father. Not because Istill have feeling for him, but because single parenting is so hard and lonely. In spring of 2012 my ex and I decided that we wanted tto be together again and we would work towards making that happen. Over the summer he spent a month here and I spent a month with him in the fall. 1600 miles between us.. we are both christian and knew what we were doing was wrong, but we were sleeping together anyway. We made plans for myself and my 1 year old ter to move back and move in with my boyfriend, but two weeks before my scheduled move my daughters father decided he wanted to be a part of her life, and so I was forced to staylonger and handle custody matters. we have finally come to an agreement and its time to start making moving plans again, but I’m worried. My boyfriend and I have both come to the same conclusion, that sleeping together and trying to build a solid relationship with God don’t go hand in hand. So the plan is to abstain , this is awesome. Something that I had really been praying about, because I knew we were in the wrong and I felt like holding on to that part of our relationship was destroying my relationship with God, like I couldn’t move forward. My boyfriend is the one who brought up the subject. Now I’m just worried that this could be a mistake. I would be living in with just him but his mother and his sister. Part of why I thought this would be a good idea is because his family offered to help me with the baby so I could finish a year of school, and I don’t have that kind of support here . And a chance to be able to actually be able to finish school without worrying about supporting myself and my child, sounds wonderful. Could this work? Will this ruin everything? Is it still sinful if we aren’t sleeping together? I feel like I need this, but I don’t want to destroy our relationship or either of our relationships with Christ. Thanks.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Danielle,

      I can well remember how lonely and desperate I felt when I was a single mom. I craved companionship and support. Sometimes our attachment pain is so great that we mistake anything that alleviates that pain for love. I am not sure how to advise you. Probably you should not move in together. If your goal is to get to know each other better while growing in your relationship to Jesus and maintaining sexual purity, then I would do so from a distance. I would have found it very hard to live in the same house with someone I was attracted to and not end up sleeping with them. I think the danger point, the tipping point is way before we want to acknowledge it. For alcoholics just the sound of ice tinkling in a glass can be enough to cause a relapse.

      For me, I had to develop such a nourishing relationship with God that I cared more about pleasing him that I did about my own pleasure. I know an engaged couple who lived with her parents for two months before they got married. The house was large so they agreed that he would stay on the top floor, she would stay in the basement and they would only be together on the main floor where the rooms had no doors and everyone else was going in and out. I think that worked, because it had clear boundaries and they were about to be married so they did not have to endure the tension for long. As for sexual purity, you need to honestly consider what makes you feel aroused and draw the line well before that. For example, many find that deep kissing is too much. Learning to quiet your body through deep breathing, yawning, and progressive muscle relaxation is also important. Relax and ask God to help you sense his presence, then recall a time when you felt close to God and focus on that.

      I am curious, if you love each other, why don’t you marry? You are 30, he is 28. I would strongly consider marriage. You could take the Prepare and Enrich test with a skilled facilitator which would help you identify where you might have issues. You could do this from a distance. If the program shows that you are a good match, you could move forward.

      I would encourage you to find Christian community, read the word and spend time in conversation with God. Very few take the time to develop an intimate relationship with God. Don’t just talk, quiet and listen. He will lead you through his word and his still small voice.

      I am praying for you.

      Elizabeth

  114. heather says:

    I dont know how to form words to thank you for this. It changed my life.

  115. HKka says:

    Can i tell my terrible story? :(
    Two month ago meet a man, older then me in 6 years (im 32), he ask me live with him. we stay together until one day he told me – we should stop living togetehr and start dating… Ok, im not girl and want normal relationships. But dating for me means not be ready to share your life with someone. So what to do now? Let him go and tell that man in his age probably crazy if he never before live with someone, or try to date with him and see what will be….
    for me, dating, is easy opportunity which peoples have to meet someone without responsibility. For me living together even without marriage is more serious ..

    • emstalcup says:

      Ouch! So he wants to back off and be less serious, less committed. What do you do? You don’t need me to tell you that you don’t know each other very well after only two months but if what have seen in him–his character, his kindness, his thoughtfulness–makes you think you could love and respect this man the rest of your life then you should back off and try dating him with no sex between the two of you. That will help you see who he is more objectively. But if he is not the kind of man you can respect and love then I would let him go.

      We often fear being alone so we latch on to whoever comes along even though they hurt us, betray us and do not treat us well. It is time for us to start seeing ourselves as beloved children of God. He is does not want his daughters treated this way. The answer is to cultivate a close, intimate relationship with God so that we begin to realize that He is always with us, is crazy about us, ready to forgive us (just for the asking) and is willing to guide into a fabulous life that is beyond anything we can imagine. So buy an easy-to-read Bible, a book like Jesus Calling and start interacting with God. Listen to what he says, as best you can follow the ten commandments, tell God you surrender your life to him and ask him to help you. Then listen to those thoughts that pop into your head, use the Bible to see if they are on track (is this the kind of thing God says and does?) and journal what is happening in your heart.

      May God richly bless you,

      Elizabeth

      • HKka says:

        Thank you for so fast answer. But maybe main problem is we are from two different cultures, two different country. In my country dating is what peoples doing for meet each other, but when they starting having sex its more then dating – so we living together. Then married… But now situation for me look like he wanna more easy way – not care about me , just get me when he wants this..:( I know him very well for that time, love him and respect. Sure i will move out and live alone, but now i feel some disagreement between all things that i learned before – two peoples should live together if they are once decide to do that…hard or not – we all different and should learn how to communicate..
        Sure i read Bible, im also christian but Orthodox, so for us God also part of life..maybe even more strict with borders:)
        And its wonderful to find your site and talk with you:)
        Thank you!

      • emstalcup says:

        I have also had cross-cultural relationships and I would agree that the expectations can vary widely. In Norway, for example, where I lived in the 1970s, cohabitation was much more common but looking back I think the average Norwegian took the relationship much more seriously.

        I pray that God would guide you as you walk with him and help you discover the depths of his love for you.

        E.

  116. Pualina says:

    Hi,

    I’m in situation where I don’t know if I should move in with my boy-friend too. I’m turning 21 year-old, going to be in third year of college. I’m a very hard working woman. My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 months. It’s about time for me to find a new place to live in for the next school year. Because I’m an international students, and my boy-friend speaks the same language as me, we share the same culture. We have never fight or have big argument yet. There are many reason that I want to move in with him, we can take care of each other, I feel safe, and also it is cheaper. My parents doesn’t know about this. I talk to my sisters they both think it’s not a bad idea. Because right now my boyfriend and I aren’t going to the same school, we won’t see each other if he doesn’t make time to come see me. But For now we see each other about 3 times a week. He would spend the night at my place and would drive me to school if it’s on weekdays. We spend a lot of time together. The only reason I’m worried about it is because I’m a very hard working person, I don’t really want to be in the position that I have to miss the opportunities about jobs in the future, that I have to stop myself from going somewhere because of him. We kinda already agree that we will live together for a year. For now, I don’t really see any problems between us. He’s a sweet person. But I’m also worried because we both are still young.

    • Pualina says:

      Also, We will have 2 roommates living in the same apartment. 3rooms for 4people.

    • emstalcup says:

      It sounds to me that you are thinking of rooming with him out of convenience rather than a sense of commitment. It also sounds like you are already sexually intimate. This reminds me so much of myself at your age! I did not realize how deeply bonded I would become and when the time came to part ways it tore at my soul. So of course, I would like to spare you that pain by urging you to back off a bit, enjoy the relationship but with less intensity and intimacy. This is true love–to want the best for the other person, to guard your hear–and their–until you are ready to make a life-long commitment. Sex is a lot more than just a pleasurable exchange of bodily fluids; it is meant to enhance the bond you are forming with someone who you will spend the rest of your life with. If you aren’t ready to commit (and it sounds like you aren’t) then don’t get so intimate. Wait until you are ready to marry. If your major concern is missing future job opportunities you aren’t ready for a committed relationship. The various aspects of the relationship to by in sync; that means the level of commitment should match the level of physical and emotional intimacy. A sign of adult maturity is being able to take another person’s needs into account. Right now you are thinking primarily about yourself–the comfort and conveniene and support you might get versus the limits it may put on your future career. I don’t hear you voicing any concern about him. Or any child you might bear as a result of your union. I would take that as a clear sign that you are not ready for this relationship.

      I rather doubt you will take my advice, but whether you do or don’t, I will still care and be here if you want more advice. And prayers!

      Warmly,

      Elizabeth

  117. Anaïs says:

    This article is very misleading. Your advice is very personal and emotional rather than objective and factual. There’s no advice on how to make it work, why it would even be a good idea, or even how living with him would send any “red flags” that he’s not “the one”. It’s a biased point of view. I would’ve liked to hear what you’ve learned from the situation and what you would have done differently. Like maybe waiting a few years before moving in, writing a list of long-term and short-term goals with your partner, possibly trying a “trial” period where u learn about each other before you completely committ. I’ve done the live-in with my boyfriend before, who is now an ex, but it hasn’t stopped me from considering to live with my next love interest. It’s just not logical. We need to know and understand the person as much as we can before we say “ok this is going to work.” I know with my first experience I didn’t think anything through. I never questioned any “what-ifs”… And that’s what I should’ve done. If i prepared myself for the inevitable tough situations of sharing a household, things would’ve gone smoother. That’s what I was expecting this article to be about. I wasn’t expecting it to be opposing cohabitation.

  118. j.o says:

    I need some advice. I am 20 years old and I just moved back home from living with my boyfriend for a year. We decided to move back home because of financial reason. He says that we will move back in together in 4-6 months once he can pay off some debt. My mom was ok with me moving back in but she says if I do move out again I should get married. He is 26 and was previously engaged but it didnt work out. I feel like because of that he is scared of commitment. I really wouldnt mind moving back in with him without getting married but at the same time I want to get married. When we lived together we were fine, we didnt argue much and if we did we sat and talked about it. Its only been about a week that I have been back at my moms house and I miss my boyfriend so much, I feel really alone. Im really not sure what I should do

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear J.O.

      I would take one day at a time. It is understandable that you would miss your boyfriend since you have formed quite an attachment to him. Life is full of losses that we have to grieve, so for now you both have to grieve being apart. But consider your choices. If he pays off the debt and you move in with him again you may very well end up in a situation where he never has to face his committment phobias and makes the commitment to marry you. If you tell him to want to marry before you move back in, he is more likely to consider his options, face his fears, and chose to marry you.

      This isn’t exactely the same but a wise therapist once wrote that the worst thing a woman whose husband is having an affair can do is to tolerate the affair because in his experience the women he counseled who did that found their husbands got more attached to their mistresses. Instead he urged to women to make a stand, to say, “I love you but I will not tolerate this, you have to choose.” In the experience of the therapist, if men were forced to chose early on in the affair, they were more likely to choose their wife.

      It sounds like the two of you have a warm relationship. Let’s pray that he is sufficiently motivated by what he has enjoyed with you to face his fears and marry.

      I hope this helps. I pray that God will open all the doors you are meant to walk through.

      Bless you,

      Betsy

  119. Alissa says:

    I have been living with my boyfriend for three years now, and need to go back home (live with my parents) to attend school. I am so torn apart. I feel like I would leave him alone and he will be lonely, I feel that he will find someone else, and I feel that I will be lonely and not be able to go out and do fun activities. He isn’t the greatest guy. He has a bad temper and doesn’t make me feel beautiful nor do I feel that I will Marry him. I want to go to school and make life long friends but in also afraid I will start to “fall” for another man. I don’t want to break my boyfriends heart. I am stuck between returning home or staying with him because my parents are controlling. They do not let me dress the way I want or go out when I want.. This is why I left in the beginning to live with my boyfriend. What do I do? I feel guilty. I didn’t work and he paid for all my items while I went to college. Please help me. I need advice.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Alissa,
      It sounds like you are very attached to your boyfriend but don’t think you want to marry him. I am afraid that staying with him will probably caused your attachment to deeper making it harder to end a relationship that does not have a future. I am assuming here that you want to be married some day. If you moved in with him to get away from controlling parents, you’ve traded one problem for another. Sometimes we feel guilty when we are not; other times it is legitimate. I suspect this is a time when you are feeling legitimate guilt. The only solution for that is to ask God to forgive you and show you the way forward. You have to let him forgive you and forgive yourself which can be much harder. You may feel that you “owe” him because he supported you while you went to college.

      It is a little hard for me to advise you on so little info but if you are out of school I would try to find some girlfriends, move in with them, and get a job. I’ve seen lots of great group homes over the years where you share rent, food, and life together. My youngest daughter just got married a week ago but she has been living in Sydney with various female flatmates for the last three years and some of them have become friends for life. I am still friends with old roommate from my 20s. It is good to experience life with friends before you married. It makes you aware of all that it takes to manage on your own.

      I hope this helps. I pray you will sense the love of God and begin to trust him to guide you.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  120. Brittney says:

    My oh my does this sound familiar! I’m from California and I moved to St. Louis 9 months ago to live with my boyfriend and boy has it been rough. Honestly, we started the relationship as two broken people and there were signs of us failing then. We are very different in many ways, particularly in the faith department. He’s not much of a church-goer and has exempt himself from “Christian rules” although he says he believes in God and Christ. For instance, premarital sex does not phase him. In other relationships it didn’t phase me either, but recently I’ve felt a tug on my spiritual morale strings to resort back to abstinence. Needless to say, my boyfriend didn’t like this but he has made an effort to respect it. Unfortunately, our inability to communicate well (as predicted in the article) allows for much discord and tension to build between us which always leads to an argument of some sort. I’ve tried to ignore the issues until I can’t, and when I attempt to approach him to talk it out he feels attacked and retaliates by blaming our issues on me somehow. It gets messy.
    The saddest part is that my mother has been against the whole thing from the get go. I wanted to prove that I could make decisions for myself and that this could turn out well for me. I’m beginning to realize that she may be right. Unfortunately, my relationship with her has taken a turn for the worst because of my decision. Some of it has to do with her passive aggression but I take responsibility for my end.
    Lately, my boyfriend and I have realized that perhaps we weren’t as ready for this as we thought. We have seriously discussed getting married within the next few years, but since things have gone so poorly, I starting to reconsider that. Now, I believe the best thing for the both of us is for me to move out, and get my own apartment and be truthful with myself. I know I don’t want to return home to my family just yet if at all because I still yearn for independence, but I can see now that staying here is not doing me or my boyfriend any good.
    I’m glad I came across this article today. It has confirmed a lot for me.

  121. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it
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  122. Jess says:

    Half of the things you mentioned have nothing to do with God. In fact, marriages never worked BEFORE this increase in cohabitation. The main change in our society has been that divorce is not taboo and heavily frowned upon. Marriage used to be an inescapable hell that got a lot of women abused and killed, speaking as one of the main foundations of marriage in all cultures has been to have the bride as property. Marriage has a very long, pathetic, misogynistic, and violent history. Try a study in ancient history, specifically iron age Greek marriage practices. I am very glad for the rising divorce rate.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Jess,
      I would agree that there are some terrible marriages out there and that in some cultures (both present and historic) the practice of marriage has been oppressive to women. But that was not God’s intent. Marriage was intended to be a picture of the love the Father, Son and Holy Spirit share for each other. In Biblical marriage men are commanded to love their wives as they love themselves. All relationships were meant to be live giving, but so frequently they are not. We aren’t very mature as a culture and this affects more than just marriage.

      But this sounds like more than theoretical knowledge. It sounds like you have personal experience with marital pain and dysfunction, either as a child or an adult. I want you to know that that was not God’s plan for you, that he was with you in it, and that he can redeem that pain you have experienced. I hope you will consider reading my e-book, Crossroads Before Me. It describes the pain of my childhood and how God brought me through it. I am still quite broken and wounded but I experience great joy in my marriage. It as been a journey and continues to be one.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  123. David says:

    Thank you for this article. I will be sharing this with my kids, 2 girls and 1 boy. I have experienced many things that you wrote personally. I had lived with someone and had a child with her. We later broke up, and since I have married my wife.
    It is not an easy road to travel, of course some days are better than others(in dealing with the childs mother) . I could go into to a lot of details, but I won’t because it hurts.
    So my advice to young and older people thinking about living with someone before they marry or even having sex before marriage , don’t. While marriage doesn’t mean that you will live happily ever after, there is proof that being married before living together and sex will help in the odds of it going south.

  124. Ade bode says:

    infact, this write up ministered to my soul, this is because i’m presently in this situation even though i pray and read bible and know that this is not Godly i find it difficult to break away and i’m planning to marry her by next year. Pls pray for me, we’ve been together for over five years now please help me. Although i cannot leave her. I even pray to seek God before we started the courtship

  125. Ashlee says:

    I just want to say thank you. I was looking for a sign and I came across this. I am going to stop cohabiting with my boyfriend and choose a pure lifestyle, I am terrified he will leave me as a result of this but I’m sure God will help me through this whatever the result may be. Once again, thank you. And God Bless.

  126. Leslie says:

    Thank you for writing this . I am 24 my boyfriend is 25 , we both are college graduates . We have been together for 2years.I was planning on moving in with him soon, a part of me wants to because I want to be by his side 24/7 , yet another part feels like We should be married first. We talked about marriage before and just the other day he told me he’s not going anywhere , but he does not plan on asking me any time soon. I must admit that was like a dagger to my heart . He then asked me why is marriage so important anyway . I never got to answer him because he was called away by his mother , and when he came back he just sat down and started watching tv , I later just told him randomly I loved him and that it doesn’t matter ( while saying it I wanted to cry because it matters so much to me ) . I’m scared to bring up the marriage talk again to him , I don’t want to pressure him , but it had been bothering me for awhile. Help please

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Leslie,

      My heart goes out to you. What I hear is that you want to be valued and treasured enough to have the man that you love want to marry you. You don’t want to pressure him but the longing of your heart is for him to want a close committed relationship as much as you do. This is a very hard place to be.

      It sounds like you two are in different places. You are ready to commit, he is not. Yes, he may be willing to be with you but not make a commitment in front of everyone that says, “This is it. I am making a life long commitment to you. Nothing held back. I will stand before God and vow to love you the rest of my days.”

      So what do you do? I am afraid if you move in with him the imbalance in your hearts will only intensify your pain. It may quiet at times but it will be there under the surface, eroding your sense of security. You will have to guard your heart, something none of us want.

      I see you in a place of fear. I see you thinking, If I share my true heart, my true desires, will I be rejected? If I am honest about what I want, will he leave me? Relationships are bonded by love or fear. Love is the better way. I do not see how you can be true to your own heart and move in with this man. I would pull back. In a healthy relationship you do not have to hide your heart. If he is mature enough he will be able to think of you and decide if he is also willing to the precious gift you are offering him.

      Always remember that you are treasured by your heavenly Father who loves your heart and made you to naturally desire healthy love relationships. He is always with you ready to comfort in sorrow, bring peace in the place of pain and lead you as you are willing to be led. I pray you will inch closer to him and begin to trust him.

      Bless you, Leslie!

      Elizabeth

  127. swan says:

    Haha, I’m laughing right now at the grace of God. His timing is so impeccable it’s comical! I have been really torn the past week as my boyfriend has been hinting around at moving in together. Living in a big city I felt that this might be a nice sense of support and place for me. Something that would keep me grounded and aware of other people, aware of him. I recently went through a really rough . . . I was almost about to say “divorce” but I was only engaged. It’s been 18 months since it was broken off, but it still feels hard sometimes. I have a tendency to become self-absorbed, to lose myself, to slip into depression. I could feel it coming on, but when I feel another person I can regain my sense of equilibrium. Just touching someone can put me back in place, in the real world, of here and now, of other people. Lately I could feel it starting, that’s when I met this guy and just seeing him and talking to him and doing new things with him helped me to stay grounded, to not lose myself in the past and move forward with my plans and dreams. His hugs and kisses, and little affections felt so calming to me, reminding me that other people exist, and not just in my head or heart. And for a while I thought that if sleeping next to (and with) him and hugging him was so good, what would having that everyday do? It was enticing, it still is. But I know that I can’t keep my distance forever, eventually our paths will veer away from each other. Do I want to be living with him, day in and day out when that happens? No.
    Can I ask you? You talk about spending time alone when you were a single mom. I’ve never been afraid of that. I have been a loner my whole life, done alot of things alone that most people don’t. I have friends and enjoy them too. But when I find that I really crave intimacy, people tell me to turn to God. To pray, to meditate, to praise, that He is all-sufficient.
    But where are His arms?
    Where is His skin?
    What is the color of His hair?
    Does He have freckles or moles?
    What does He smell like?
    What does His hug feel like?
    These are important things, subtle things, indefinable things, that mean the world to me, that keep me from turning inward, that keep me grounded in the world, in other human beings. That I will NEVER experience no matter how closely I walk with God.
    Is it wrong that I want these things? That I desire to be with him because I can know these things about him, more definitely than I can know anything else about him?
    These questions have been the source of so much sin in my life, but I still have no answer for them that satisfies me.

    • emstalcup says:

      I too was told that if I craved intimacy I should turn to God. In reality I think we were meant to have intimate relationships with God AND people. We need both. We need to be securely attached to both. It is hard to live in a culture but puts so little value on community and so much value on being independent. It was not until I was a single mom in my late twenties that I was received and loved by a family so deeply that I experienced intimacy that was uncoupled from romance for the first time. For most of us romance and intimacy go hand in hand and we often trade sex for intimacy even if the sense of being loved and desired is fleeting and leaves us wanting more. We all want people whose eyes light up when they see us, who want to know us through and through, with whom we can be out true selves, who bring out the best in us, who see our weaknesses with compassion. This is so rare in our culture where we all wish we were stronger than we actually are and feel like we have to hide our weaknesses to be loved and accepted.
      I now have a relationship with God that is stronger and more nourishing than I once thought possible. I’ve learn how to make room for him in my life and how to connect with him more deeply so it is not just theoretical but also experiential. A great new book to read is Forming
      But back to your question, yes, you need people too. Ideally people of all ages. People upstream and downstream. By this we mean people who nurture and give to us as well as people we nurture and give to. It is messy business finding close relationships in a culture that does not value them but I pray that God would show you where to invest your heart.
      You are probably still grieving the lost of the earlier relationship. It is important to work that through, not just push it aside. Unprocessed sadness can lead to depression so make sure you find someone to help you look at the pain–a therapist or friend who can let you talk without trying to fix you. I find Theophostic Prayer Ministry or Karl Lehman’s Immanual approach very helpful.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  128. Ewansiha vicky says:

    U guys are wounderful

  129. Chad says:

    I appreciate the lessons taught through your experience. Even those who aren’t very religious can understand the concept of letting down your future partner or children (when they learn about your past), and also underlines the lack of thought when it comes to living with someone who you don’t think you’ll marry because it’s ‘convenient.’

  130. sadandsighing says:

    I feel as though I need to move in with my boyfriend. We were both living overseas and he recently got deported for accidentally bringing marijuana into the country. I know he smokes occasionally, but not to the point where it’s harmful to his daily life (minus the short stint in jail). I don’t smoke.
    So we’ve both moved to our home country and are trying to make a life together. I’ve recently told him I want to stop having sex and save it for marriage and I feel like our relationship is falling apart. He enjoys sex a lot, and I did too, but I felt like I needed to start leading a purer life.

    We’ve now committed to a 6-month lease, which he shouldn’t have to pay for alone as we’ve been splitting all the bills. I can’t leave him alone. He’ll drink and smoke himself silly. I love him, but I won’t marry him if things keep going the way they are. I don’t know what to do.

    • emstalcup says:

      I would urge you to read what you wrote me. Slowly. And ask yourself is this what I want in life?
      Here is what I hear: I have a boyfriend who smokes marijuana and was recently jailed for smuggling it into the country where we both were living. He was jailed for this (so the judge did not think he was innocent). I believe he will drink and smoke himself silly if I am not there to rescue him.
      Is this the life you want? You are not obligated to save this man. He sounds like an addict which means he has not reached adult maturity. You cannot save him and if you are not careful you will wear yourself out taking on tasks for which he is responsible.
      Ask yourself, what am I believing that makes me want to stay in this relationship? What does it say about me that I continue to be with someone like this.
      I would not move in with him. I would not be in a relationship with him. Find some healthy people and bond with them so your need for loving relationships is met. It doesn’t have to be a man. You can live without sex for a season; but you can’t thrive alone or in unhealthy relationships. And don’t forget God. You can interact with him and develop a nourishing relationship with the Almighty who is the best dad ever. He’s a great mentor too. Ask Him to guide you and show you the way.
      All the best!
      Elizabeth

      • sadandsighing says:

        Well, he didn’t smuggle it, he forgot about it.. It was literally a minuscule amount in one of his pockets, in his suitcase, unlucky that the country in question is very, very strict (a western country wouldn’t have even noticed it). His drinking and smoking has been reduced to special occasions since we’ve been together, I’ve heard that it was verging on pretty bad before we met. This is why I’m scared if I leave he’ll regress to an addict or an alcoholic; he’s not one at the moment.

        He’s had an extremely tough life (and when I say this, I mean tougher than your general struggles, I’m talking extremes, no exaggeration, it has been really hard for him) and his father is… well, not much of a father, really, not to mention a million miles away. I am all he has.

        I often call on God for help. I often talk to my boyfriend about God and I can see he gets more and more intrigued, he’s lost and doesn’t know what he believes in, though he often agrees with most my points on religion. I want nothing more than to bring him closer to God and pray for it daily.

        I know that to anyone looking outside my situation seems simple enough to just walk away from. My boyfriend deserves some slack and I want him to be happy.

        Although he’d rather continue the way things were, he’s completely respected my views and my want to abstain until I get married and I do love him. I just wish that it hadn’t reached the point that we had no choice but to move in together. Both of our parents live overseas. I have no job nor qualification, we have no friends in this part of the world we’ve just moved to. We couldn’t get separate places if we wanted to.

      • emstalcup says:

        Honestly your comments sound codependent. You might want to attend Al-Anon to learn more. To find a meeting near you go to: http://www.al-anon. alateen.org/how-to-find-a-meeting

        When you’ve had a tough life, you don’t mature fully. The trauma blocks maturity. You have work hard to overcome that trauma by connecting to God and processing the terrible loss you experienced as a child. I wish I could say it is easy and pain-free by it is not. It is a lot of work but it is so worthwhile because you do recover, mature, and begin to live a life of peace and joy. The best way is to connect with people who are more mature. We learn mostly through modeling. Sounds like he had a terrible model in his dad and I suspect maturity was not modeled for his father either.

        A painful childhood does not excuse bad behavior. Your boyfriend does not need you to make excuses for him, he needs help growing up. Here is a short clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEsVYsuMLs0

        Remember that trauma is anything that exceeded your capacity. So it can be something relatively minor if you are young and no adult helps you through. That trauma gets triggered by present life events and causes you to make terrible decisions.

        You do have a choice. You don’t have to move in.

        Bless you,

        Elizabeth

  131. Lisa says:

    Your article really made my day. My only issue now is getting him out of my home. :(

  132. Alanna says:

    I just came across this article looking for a way to move back to my home state with my daughter. I recently stopped co-habitating with my boyfriend (both in college), we have a daughter together (3 months old) and I cant help but feel lost in my relationship issues. Everything you said here is absolutely correct and just my luck I’ve ended up with a child by the most difficult man that I have ever met. My faith has dwindled a bit but God led me to this article and it has definitely encouraged me back down the right path.

    Thank you so much for sharing your testimony!

  133. kate says:

    My heart is breaking as i read this. It’s exactly what i needed to see. My bf has been staying with me for a month and i have felt awful because i know he shouldn’t be here, but the thought of being away from him scares me and then i see him when i come home and i forget how bad i feel. Tonight I’m going to talk to him. We both want to get married, it’s just the circumstances right now make this more convenient. I’m scared to do this. But i know it’s the right thing and he has to go :( Any pain i feel after this is well deserved.

    • emstalcup says:

      I am praying for God to give you strength and guide you. I pray that he will open the door for you to get married. God has his arms wide open and although we all deserve to suffer his death means that we are freely, lavishly forgiven. I hope you can forgive yourself. God wants you to take care of yourself, not beat up on yourself. So be gentle with yourself. We all have weaknesses. The Bible is full of stories of how God treats weakness–the woman at the well, the woman who had been bleeding for years, Zachiahs–he treated all of their weaknesses with compassion.

      May he bless you both,

      Elizabeth

  134. kgomotso says:

    Im really touched after reading dis…..im leaving with a guy n he got me pregnant but he is qlways chasing me out of his house and i dnt really know wht.to.do cos im far from home.i leave with heartpain n tears daily

    • emstalcup says:

      I am so sorry! This sounds very painful to be pregnant and be chased from the house. The mother in me wants to rescue you. Is there a crisis pregnancy place near you? I went to one when I was pregnant out-of-wedlock and they helped me find a place to live with a widowed woman who became a great friend to me. My baby and I lived with her for 18 months.

      This kind of abuse is very damaging and can become a pattern if we subconsciously believe it is what we deserve.

      I pray that God would lead you safely out of this relationship, which sounds abusive, that he would heal your heart and show you how precious you are to him. Let me know how you are doing!

      Love,

      Elizabeth

  135. mina says:

    Hi. I like your article.. there is just some things you say near the end that maybe you want to rethink!!!

    “I have had to bring my shame to Jesus. He is the only one who covers our shame by his sacrifice on the cross and redeems our lives by his unfailing love. To be forgiven and healed, I had to acknowledge that my sexual experience had no redeeming value. I reaped only brokenness and pain.”

    This is a major flaw in your perception of yourself and your experiences..

    1. You should NEVER feel shame for anything you have ever done as it was all part of your learning process. you should not feel shame for not having known something ahead of time as no one is psychic!

    Your family is wrong any moment they are ashamed of you and you are wrong any moment you are ashamed of yourself.

    Jesus should NOT be the only one who covers for your shame but YOU should be the one to forgive yourself for “not knowing” which is not even a sin. And your family (not just Jesus) should be the once to realize you have done nothing wrong!

    2. Saying your experince had NO redeeming value.. is not true.. EVERY experience good or bad can have a redeeming value. It is in what you take away from it.

    If you change your thinking a bit you will feel much better.

    p.s. I have the same name as your daughter… and I felt I had to comment. :)

    Wish you the best.

  136. Truly Blessed says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    God sent you to answer my prayer today. I have been struggling in an on and off relationship with a non-Christian. I was raised Christian and God has consistenly blessed me. I am 26 and have finished my biggest goals in life, left my home state, finished graduate school, and traveled Europe. There is one milestone left, finding the man for me. Like most women that grow up without a father, I have struggled with men and settled for men that have not met my standards for the sake of having someone and not being alone. This last relationship has been hard, I can’t place him whether it’s right for me or not. However, the fact that I am still undecided after we have dated for a year should tell me something. Abandoning my upbringing and common sense, I agreed to move in with him. After I said yes, I had a bad feeling. I tried to think of every possible thing that could go wrong and I planned for it. I said I will get on the IUD and not tell him while still using condoms. I said if things get hard I can put him out and he can live with a friend close by. I said that I will keep it from my church and family. Then I decided, to stop running, hiding, scheming, planning, and pray about it….when I prayed about it, a nice gentleman from church messaged me out of the blue saying that he hadnt seen me for a while at church and was checking up on me. We decided to go for a hike and the company was so pleasant. We laughed, we talked about God, we shared our past and things we want to accomplish with our lives. He bought me home and walked me up to the door of my house just like a gentlemen does. That was yesterday…today I was still debating the decision and prayed again…something told me to get online and search and I swear the first article that came up was yours! After reading this article, I called my current boyfriend and I told him, I don’t expect you to understand but I have comprised my Christian values long enough and this is one thing I am not compromising on. I am sorry, I know we made a plan and agreement to move in mid-January but this is wrong and it is not what I want. I am sorry. Of course, we was upset and even manipulative! It’s so amazing how God opened my eyes when I just asked for his loving guidance. I NEVER write on websites like this, actually this is my first time, but I had to write and tell you THANK YOU. THANK YOU or humbling yourself enough to write this brutally honest article about your past. Through your pain and honesty, you have helped me avoid one of the biggest mistakes I would probably make in my life up to this point. You demonstrated the domino effect of this one decision and how it can spiral out of control. And you are completely right- moving in- at least in my particular circumstance is a control issue for my BF. The power dynamic will drastically shift in his favor because he knows I want to get married. When I mentioned it to him that I would be moving in with that intention, he brushed it off and said we weren’t ready for marriage. I told him then how in the world are we ready to move in and SHARE EVERYTHING EVERYDAY? I know this article was meant for me because you touched on every possible issue that ran through my mind and how it will play out. It is not everyday that God answers our prayer requests so quickly and clearly. Thank you again. God Bless You.

  137. Truly Blessed says:

    Oh yes, one more thing. I told you the story of the nice gentleman from church because I believe God sent him to me to show me the kind of intimacy I am missing out on and to remind me never to give up on it because it is still out there and does exist. I am not saying that gentleman is the one for me, but God sent him to show me something. And it confirms what you said, “I didn’t know what I was missing out on until I married a christian man and experienced the true intimacy God intended.” I had a young woman who got married at my church recently tell me the same thing. She is my age and dated non-christians but married a young man at my church. God is really using you to touch people’s lives Elizabeth. Thank you for touching mine.

    • emstalcup says:

      Thank you so much for writing. Comments like yours bless my heart. May God clearly lead you all your days and give you the desires of your heart.
      Merry Christmas,

      Elizabeth

  138. Maria says:

    So ive been dating this guy for 2 years hes a good guy we met at this wedding and started talking his intentions with me were just to have sex and leave me and we started dating i fell in love and so did he and he moved 18 hours away from me this summmer havent seen him in 5 months ive been loyal and we promised to respect each other and that i would move in after my senior year in may and im just so confused i dont know what to do i love him so much but hes cheated more than once he hasnt done it again but i dont know what to do bc i want to go to college and be someone in life someone ans he doesnt want me to go he said you choose me or college and im so confused i dont want to regret it later or lose him now knowing i still love him

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Maria,

      I want you to think about what you wrote. You said he is a good guy but . . . he has cheated on you. He admitted that he just wanted to have sex and leave you. He has left. He insists that you chose college or him.

      I know he has broken your heart. I would grieve your loss–let yourself feel sad and move on. Go to college. The man does not love you or he is terribly immature–either way he is not capable of a healthy mature relationship. If he was, he would stay in touch. He would want a relationship, not just sex, he would honor your heart by keeping in touch, he would not cheat and he certainly wouldn’t ask you to give up going to college. Don’t confuse passion for love.

      I pray that God would comfort you. Quiet yourself and let him speak to your heart. You are a treasure, don’t throw God’s treasure away.

      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

      • Maria says:

        We have been threw so much and before he left for his new job he was so sweet we spent more time tg and he changed but ever since he left he has changed as how he use to be he ignores me sometimes he doesnt talk to me like he use and its hard bc i still love him and i want that same guy as he was before he left and im not sure why he is acting like that ive been so stressed out and confused what can i do i dont want to make a mistake

      • emstalcup says:

        It can be very hard to let go of what we had. We become strongly attached with an emotional bond that insists that only that person can fill that spot in our heart. But the way he is acting now is the way he is. I don’t think it can go back to the way it was at the beginning, so you have to ask yourself, do I want what I have now? Distance, silence. We let go by facing the pain that is in front of us. It is hard. I remember once trying to work out a relationship and a priest told me, he doesn’t love you. If he did, he wouldn’t be so distance. He then told me about meeting his wife and how he would do anything to be with her. I listened to him. It hurt very badly but when I was tempted to go back I would remember his words and tell myself, he doesn’t love me. Then I would let myself cry hard and then force myself to go do something I enjoy. That helped me grieve and let go. If you let yourself feel the sadness of your loss and talk to God about it, it will get better. Ask God to love you. Ask him to help you recognize his love for you. I know it hurts but you will recover and go on to have better relationships.

        Bless you,

        Elizabeth

      • Maria says:

        Thank you so much those words helped a lot on my decision now i know whats best even if it hurts I dont know what i would of done if it wasnt for asking you bc i was so scared to tell anyone and now i feel so relieved and calm now i can focus on finding a college to go to and not have to worry about someone like him in my life thanks again so much God bless you!!!

      • emstalcup says:

        I am so glad that helped. I think you will love college. I did!

        God bless!

        Elizabeth

  139. Ray says:

    Hello my name is Raylyn. I just want to say thank you for writing this article. You have unknowingly opened my eyes to my situation. I am 20 years old now but I moved in with my boyfriend at 19. My parents had been on and off and my sister and I decided to get an apartment together. Well that situation had it’s good and bad moments. With all the crud that had gone on while living with her I didn’t want to be there anymore. My boyfriend that I am currently living with now saw what was going on and he didn’t want me there either. And because I felt that my parents 1) needed to work on their relationship without us kids being there and 2) lived further away that moving in with my boyfriend and his family was the best option. My mother however was very hurt by situation and we barely communicated for about a month. I have now been living with him for 11months exactly today and have been together for 1 year & 5 months. We have had our ups & downs during this time. Because have redirected my life towards God I wanted him to as well. We’ll that’s easier said than done. That’s just one of the struggles. There are many more but my fingers are getting tired. All in all I have made a decision to move back home so that we can have time for ourselves and reevaluate where we want to go together without the added pressure of living together. He is very supportive with th iis decision, after all he just didn’t want me living with my sister at that time. Luckily I have parents that are so supportive and welcoming me home anytime. I did cry as I read your article but it was a good cry! I can’t thank you enough :)

    PS I am currently reading your book and I am starting Ch. 10 today. I LOVE IT!

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Raylyn,
      I am so glad you are enjoying the book and found the article helpful. I pray that God would clearly lead you and your boyfriend into a healthy and enduring relationship. It is not easy to have your family situation unsettled to the point where you feel that you need to move out because your parent’s relationship is not solid. I pray that God would help all of you find the help you need to heal and begin to love each other as he does. I’ve been reading a book lately called Joy Starts Here. It’s about having joyful relationships where we see each other’s weaknesses with compassion. It might be a good place to start.
      Bless you!
      Elizabeth

  140. Very wise advice and beautiful vulnerability. Soon, very soon, I hope to share about my promiscuous life style and how it has resulted in me having two former husbands. The blessing is that we, along with our children, are a community, and we are working on healing our past. But oh how much pain could have been avoided if I had read an article like yours, or had a mentor such as you. Thank you for your beautiful article.

  141. Aaliyah Marshall says:

    Hi, I’m about to turn 19 in a couple of days and I’m still a virgin because I have very strong morals and my father is a pastor. I have no problem with boys but I am worried about me and my best friend of 5 years who I’ve started seriously talking to for awhile now and I’ve been in love with him for a long time and he’s told me he’s in love with me too but since I’m a virgin and plan on waiting until marriage I feel that it won’t last even though he said he will wait for me. Me being a virgin has been a big reason why some of my relationships didn’t last, but I really believe he’s the one because through all of my boyfriends he has always been there to support me and I know he has always wanted to talk to me but I didn’t want to ruin our friendship; but I just so happen to fall in love with him. I also really admire this article because it gives me a lot of advice that I will definitely use about moving in with a significant other.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Aaliyah,
      I am proud of you. There aren’t many women, myself included, who have the strength to remain sexually pure. You mentioned that you don’t think it will last. It is important to look at what you are feeling there, as it may not be true. Are you thinking, no man can wait? Let me assure you that there are mature men out there, men of character who are able to put their desire aside out of love. I remember reading in Joy Starts Here how Jim Wilder told his wife Kitty when they were dating, if I ever press you to sleep with me before we are married then you will know that I don’t really love you. This is because any man who does that is too immature to tame his cravings which is a childhood task. It spills over in many other areas of life. I pray that if you are meant to be with this man that you love that God would bring you together in his time and his way.
      Hang in there, you are on the right track.

  142. Aaliyah Marshall says:

    Thank you for the advice I really did think that he could not wait for me because he is not a virgin and I am, even though we talked about my belief of being celibate until I’m married. I feel like I should talk to him about it again because I know his friends have been pressuring him to have sexual relations with me.

  143. CC says:

    Hello,

    Thank you so much for sharing this article. I having been considering the option of moving in with my ¨boyfriend¨ and was so happy to come across this message beforehand. I can relate to you so much it’s not even funny. I say ¨boyfriend¨ because this man is someone who I have known and had an on/off relationship with for 10 years. We were also high school sweethearts, so you can imagine that he has a special place in my heart.
    Current situation: We are both 26 years old. In October 2013 I left for Spain to pursue my graduate studies. This time away from him (and family/friends in general) has taught me a lot about myself and what I am expecting from my future partner. My program ends in July 2014 and he has asked me to move in with him when I return. At first, I was hesistant since I know that my family would not approve of us living together before marriage. I also know that it is a sin. I told him that I did not want to ¨play house¨ and that I needed marriage before moving in. He basically mentioned that we would get married but that sharing his home with me should show how commited he would be to me. I suddenly started to feel bad and think ¨Well, maybe this is true. Maybe I should be thrilled that he is willing to share his space with me. That surely means he is serious about marriage.¨ So for a couple of weeks, I have been trying to make myself feel content with the idea of moving in with him. Obviously, God is speaking to me. This would not be right and I have known it all along!! Hence the reason why I am also googling the downsides of living with a boyfriend!! I really enjoyed reading your article because you brought religion into the equation, particularly the one that I agreee with. I commend you for including your previous experiences and sharing how you learned to move on from them. I have had some past issues (similar to yours) that I have had to deal with here in Europe, since I have so much alone time when I am not with my classmates. I have been reading Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind and one of the things she mentions is that even though we have sinned, once we repent, we must not continue to condemn ourselves. This is probably the hardest thing not to do when you know you may not have closure from the past. I look forward to finding the one that God truly has for me!!

    Thank you soo much for writing this article. You have no idea how much this message has blessed me all the way in Spain!! God Bless :-) Much love to you and your family.

  144. Amandinette says:

    Dear Elizabeth,

    It’s now been a year since I’ve last wrote to you, and I’ve been amazed at how your story continues to impact a number of young women attempting or partaking in similar journeys. How very cool! I try to say a prayer for the young women whose stories pass through my inbox as well. Since I last wrote, I have had many months to absorb God’s word, communicate with him, learn more about marriage according to the Bible, speak with more mentors, and even join a new church with a good number of young people in it.

    I had a follow-up question, that I felt compelled to ask you even though we have never met in person. I’ve met a young man (definitely a Christian, yay for learnt lessons!) who I am interested in at my new church. In addition to still wrestling with doubts of feeling worthy enough to even end up with a Christian man who would consider being in a relationship with someone once been married, I’ve just found out that my civil marriage has not been legally ended although I filed the appropriate paperwork months ago, and can’t be ended until I return to France (it holds no legal value in America and if I were to remarry in America, it would essentially dissolve- I’m not returning to France anytime soon). A Christian friend advised me to show my interest all the same towards this said young man since it holds not legal value in America. Things of the heart do tend to be tricky, especially at this stage, but I do not in anyway want to hurt this person by showing him interest if it is not morally right to do so. Perhaps nothing would come to fruition with this person, all the same, I do not want to hurt anyone as a result of my past. Perhaps I am overanalyzing the situation (as women do tend to do), as my friend suggested. How did you get past such feelings, besides the obvious of prayer and understanding God’s grace (I know God forgives me)? Would it be, in your opinion, wrong to show interest in someone at this stage? I’ve been trying to find ways to end the civil union, but French bureaucracy is notoriously unorganized and slow! I appreciate any advice and input that you have. Thank-you again for your dedication to this very active post!

    Best,

    Amandinette

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Amamdinette,
      I am glad to hear that you are doing well and have found a good church. As for the young man, can you be friends, get to know him and when the time seems right at some point explain your situation? I think friendship is under rated. If you get to know each other as friends it will take the pressure off your difficult situation and if down the road, both of you fall in love, he will know your complicated legal status. I am always encouraging young people to form groups of friends where the whole group can enjoy life together and get to know each other. There is so much you can learn about people that way without the hurt the accompanies broken hearts. But everyone seems to want a romance. A young man who is struggling in his romance just told me, “I wish we had never dated. We were friends, and we should have kept it that way!”
      It sounds like you are legally married in France but not the U.S. Can the French Embassy help you?
      Let’s take it to God. He knows what to do. Dear God, you know Amandinette’s heart and you love her. Please give her wisdom and strategy to get her civil union dissolved in France and heal her heart so that she knows that you care about every detail of her life.
      In Jesus’ name,
      Amen!
      Thanks for keeping in touch!
      Elizabeth

  145. Kyla says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Im very new your blog and I found this post to be a very interesting one.

    Im currently gearing up to move in with my boyfriend (my 1st love & relationship. He’s 33 & I’m 25). Well he’ll be living with me in my new apartment. I have been with my bf for coming up to a year. We have been through so many ups and downs its unreal and most if not all the issues are created by him. He has insecurity issues, paranoia, manipulative and controlling tendencies. He has caused me a lot of hurt and pain and has said and done some unforgivable things. BUT despite this, I still love him and can’t seem to leave him or give up. He wanted to walk away from this relationship SO many times because he knew he had issues and didn’t want to make me unhappy etc and we “broke up”(a couple of days) so many times I lost count. I might add that it was ALWAYS me that went running back to him to “fix things” even when it was HIS fault. Apart from the one time I left him when I couldn’t take it when I was in hospital. There have been times I wondered why he was treating me this way if he claimed to love me but I just chalked it down to the fact “hurt people, hurt people”. Ive talked to his sister and she told me she’s seen a major change in him, that he’s normally not this way. He smokes weed by the way and I feel that its majorly affecting his mental state and he doesn’t realise.

    As of late the break ups have been longer (a week; our longest) but during the last break up, he had time to think and realised some of the hurt he caused me. Its complicated, it really is. He has been hurt by other women in the past and I think he’s still dealing with that. He’s relationship with his folks aren’t the best and he has a lot of resentment towards them. Father left him and mother abused him. He lives with his mother at the moment and she is really a drain on his happiness and mental well being. He basically needs to be away from her. This is a major reason I want to move in with him but another is the my deep feeling that he is a good person – he really is, he’s just battling with himself. My family don’t really care for him as they have witnessed the hurt he’s caused me and are more reluctant to forgive him and give him another chance. I have my doubts but a part of me wants to help him as i love him so much. I don’t think he should move in straight away and I have given him this impression and I’m growing to regret it. I will tell him that we should start off with him staying over and see how that goes. But I know its not the right time as I’m still building up my trust towards him and l still have doubts.

    Everthing and everyone tells me to give up on him but I don’t want to. Maybe its because he’s my 1st for a lot of things, including love a relationship. I believe in him when others doubt, its not a totally blind love, I see his faults but I see the good and the great he can become with my love. I just don’t know what the right thing is to do?

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Kyla,
      I would like you to go back and reread what you wrote me. Pretend someone else wrote this letter to you, perhaps a younger sister. How would you advise her?
      I heard many things including:
      Most if not all the issues are created by him.
      He has insecurity issues, paranoia, manipulative and controlling tendencies.
      He has caused me a lot of hurt and pain and has said and done some unforgivable things.
      My family don’t really care for him as they have witnessed the hurt he’s caused me.

      Then the scariest statement of all: BUT despite this, I still love him and can’t seem to leave him or give up. And
      I believe in him when others doubt, its not a totally blind love, I see his faults but I see the good and the great he can become with my love.
      What I am hearing is this: I believe I can fix him! You can’t. Only God can fix us. Human love is needed but it is not enough to heal our brokeness.
      It is wonderful to see his potential and to see his weaknesses with compassion but something is driving you to want to fix him. You can’t be his savior. So your job is to look at what is driving you to want to rescue him. You are wounded too, it just may not be as obvious. We really do pick partners that are as broken as we are. You’ve got to look inside, what happened to you as a child that made you want to rescue him? For me it was watching my dad verbally and emotionally abuse my dad. I didn’t want anyone to ever suffer like she did so I found people to rescue. It felt good to be needed but ultimately it was a trap because we can’t fix anyone, not even ourselves. We have a part, we have to surrender to God but he is the surgeon, we are the patient.

      I hope this helps!
      Bless you,

      Elizabeth

  146. Renee says:

    I started dating my now ex-husband when I was 16 and he was 18. I was insecure and had been molested growing up. I thought that he was the best that I could do. I felt that no one else would want me. I grew up in church and my family is amazing. I tried to stay pure and held him off for 2 years. He would argue with me often about having sex and I would resist. Then one day when I was 18 years old I gave up fighting and I did not resist. It was painful for a long time after that if we did have sex. I would try to explain that to him, but he did not seem to really care. I think part of the pain was my body was reacting to my heart really not wanting to do it, but I did not want to argue with him anymore. We dated for 6 years before we were married.I look back on it now and I realize I should have left the relationship, but I was young and I honestly thought no one else would want me. I was not a virgin anymore and I had failed myself. My exes health drastically deterioated. He gained over 200 pounds and began drinking heavily. His family moved in with us due to physical abuse from his step dad and his older sister who did not live with his mother moved in with us after she attempted to commit suicide. Then my then husband lost his job due to his health. There was a period of time that I was the only income in the household, and I was going to school full time. His family drank heavily accept for his younger sister who was around 14 at the time. But they would let her have boys stay over and they would let her smoke. This broke my heart. I eventually decided to move out of the house we were renting to get away. I gave my then husband the option to come with me and he did. Eventually he started to excercise and drink less. I then decided it was time to have a baby. I became pregnant less than 2 months after we started trying. As soon as he found out I was pregnant his drinkiing became so much worse than it had ever been. When my son was a year old I told my then husband he had to stop doing the things he was doing or I was done. He was drinking heavily, his health was declining rapidly. He was hospitilized several times. He was not reliable, he was not active in our sons life, he did not have stable employment, and he would not help around the house at all. I was miserable and my sweet baby boy could tell. He would yell at my son and get so easily frustrated with him. My ex grew up in an abusive family and was horribly abused. I tried to get my husband to go to counseling a few times, and he would go, but he would not really participate. We would fight after every session, because he did not want me telling someone else what was happening. Like I said before I grew up in a very religious stable household. I wanted my family to stay intact so bad. My friends and family begged me to leave him and that was before they found out how he was drinking. My body began failing. My doctor told me he would give me pain meds, but it was my situation making me hurt. My then husband was diagnosed with depression. They put him on depression meds, sleepling pills, and he developed adult onset asthma. Even with all of that he still drank excessivly, I eventually left him and divorced him. This was a difficult time. I sold my house and moved in with my family to start over and so I would have a support system. My family has been amazing. It is easier now on me than when I was married raising my son. My ex has not seen his son in 11 months and it is his choice. My son who was 2.5 years when we moved in with my parents. He is 5 years old now. He has seen his dad 8 times (about 8 hours time wise) in the last 2.5 years. My son has had issues due to the fact his misses his dad. He has an amazing memory too and remembers certain things. He questions why his dad will not come see him. He has told me his dad is dead. I tell my son his dad is not dead, and that his dad makes his own decisions. It is his dads decision if he sees him or not, and that I can not make decisions for his dad. There of course is so much more to the story than this. The whole reason I described this situation is to tell you about my current situation.

    I am dating a man that is sweet and great with my son. The problem is that he lives about 35 minutes away with roomates. He has a very supportive family. I do not trust his roomates due to use of illegal drugs that they try to hide from my boyfriend. My boyfriend cannot smell and they think he does not know they have done it at the house they all live at. I have smelt it 2 times when I was there and he said he has addressed it with them. I refuse to bring my son to his house due to this. My boyfriend has asked me to move in with him so we can see each other more and get to see how living in same house would be. He says he wants to get married, but is scared of divorce. He is worried that since I have been divorced before it will be easier for me to do it again. He has researched it and knows this is a statistic. My boyfriend has never been married and does not have children. I am worried about getting married to a man that does not have children. He does not fully understand what life with a child is like. I dont know if he is ready for it. He thinks he is. Another factor is that my family is strongly against people living together before they are married. I do not want to break my families heart. I just dont know how I can ever trust any man with my son especially enough to marry them without knowing how they are on a daily basis with my son. I have seen his own dad not want to be involved in his life and what this has done to him. I understand that moving in with my boyfriend would allow me to see how they are together on a daily, but if it does not work then he will lose another person in his life.

    I know the answer to this question is to not move in with him. For so many reasons. Number one it is not right. It will set a bad example for my son. My boyfriend should be willing to get to know me without having to live together. It would break my parents hearts, and my parents have always been there for me no matter what.

    I am scared that I will never fully trust another man with my heart or my sons heart, but I want my son to see that a loving and healthy marriage is attainable and worth it. I want to break up with my boyfriend to avoid the hurt I have experienced in the past. I feel that maybe it would be better to be alone and not have the possibility again of being hurt.

    I am just at a point in my life that I am so confused. I just want to run away from any relationship.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Renee,
      Your story is heartbreaking. I think you know what to do. You have to let you and your son heal and recover from the trauma you have experienced with your first husband before you will have the capacity to recognize a good man. I know this seems harsh. We want romance but sadly we tend to repeat our mistakes until we heal and I worry that this new boyfriend is not the kind of man you want to father your son. The fact that he is pressuring you means he is not thinking of your or your son. I would encourage you to find some in-depth prayer ministry–Theophostic Prayer Ministry, SOZO, Heart Sync or Immanuel. You didn’t say where you live but perhaps I can recommend something if you tell me. You need help and support to process what you have gone through. I would also recommend Al-Anon since your ex-husband used to drink.
      I pray that God would open just the right doors for you and give you the strength to walk through them. I was once in a similar spot in my life and my life has been transformed (I describe this in my e-book, Crossroads Before Me).
      You and your son are loved and cherished by God!
      Love,
      Elizabeth

  147. Renee says:

    I live In Oklahoma. I have attended divorce care, and tried Alanon. It’s just hard to find the time to do extra activities. My ex had a very addictive personality. He was addicted to drinking, sex, and video games. I know it’s an addiction, but it makes me question my worth since he chose those things over me and my son.

    I know what I need to do. I just hate breaking peoples hearts. I know that the timing with my boyfriend is off. We have had this discussion. I have a great job and supportive family and I do not need to live with my boyfriend. I know that if I do move in with him that it will destroy my family and I know that I am uncomfortable with it, and moving my son in with a man I am not married too. I have thought about ending a lot, and even wrote him a letter. I am just avoiding the confrontation. I fear that no one will truly want a single mother. I fear that no one will treat my son the way he deserves, and that I will be treated the way I deserve.

    My friends adore and family really like my boyfriend. They feel that I am looking for the perfect man that does not exist. I just know what I do want and for sure what I do not want.

    I want a godly man. I want a family oriented man that loves his family and will accept me and my son both as family. I want man that will chose us over wordly things. I want to feel safe and secure. I want someone that will be active in church and in our daily lives. I want a dependable man with good ethics. I know nobody is perfect and that I am being picky. I want someone that wants to settle down and raise a family. I would actually like another child if I do not have to do it alone. I would love my son to have a sibling.

    I appreciate your quick response. I know what I need to do. I prayed about it at church yesterday. I just need the courage and strength to follow thru with it.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Renee,
      It sounds like you are headed in the right direction. I know you have been through a lot but I hope you will hang on to your dream of a man who will love you and your son, who will be dependable and have good ethics. When I was a single mom I believed that the kind of man I was looking for would not want to marry someone like me because I had lived a promiscious lifestyle and had a small child. But my now husband loved me and my little girl. I am so grateful.
      Relationships can be so wounding. We need God to give us a new identity, one based on how he sees us. I’d like to recommend trying Theophostic prayer. You can read the first three chapters of the book, Healing Life’s Hurts Through Theophostic Prayer online, and I went to the Theophostic directory and found these people who offer ministry in Oklahoma. I don’t know any of these people so I can’t vouch for them. The best thing is to educate yourself as to what should be happening in the session and then find someone who is able to work with you to help you connect to God in the midst of your pain so that the lies are dispelled and you are set free. Here’s the list:

      Jill Kieschnick Edmond Oklahoma 405-216-5764
      shadow boxi Oklahoma City Oklahoma 405 205-0751
      Kitty McGregor Norman Oklahoma 405-760-6394
      Vicki Frydrych Midwest City Oklahoma 405-517-9213
      Suzanne Honeyman Mounds Oklahoma
      Elise Damaris Midwest City Oklahoma 405-595-7557

      I hope this helps!
      Bless you,
      Elizabeth

  148. tt says:

    Hi,
    I agree with you in every reason that you said about living together except the part of ‘its a sin to live together’
    Love knows no Religion. Am in a difficult spot where my boyfriend feels offended that I don’t want to live with him in his country…its so frustrating. I feel am not ready to settle with him and he is angry. Not because he isn’t the right guy but coz of his new personality that I don’t like. God knows how I hate egotistical bastards…..he is one of them. He also says that he is right about everything and companies pay a fortune for his advice in Business. How many CEO do you know who run successful relationships? I don’t have time for that.
    I am only glad that I know him early enough to realize that he is different and I hope that he changes but if he doesn’t then, I will have to let go.
    Am happy that I read this. I now feel that am not obligated to make a hasty decision. I will wait till am ready….until then. Am in my own house.

  149. Olivia says:

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years now. Moving to a new town for college. We are 18 and even though we are young he proposed. We aren’t getting married for another year but would it be bad to move in together? We are both serious followers of God and grew up in the church together. So I’d really love to hear you’re opinion.
    Thanks

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Olivia,
      I would not move in together. Engagement should be a time of testing the waters, discussing serious topics and enjoying each other. It will add pressure and stress if you move in together. I would encourage you to do Prepare and Enrich together with a train counselor, which will help you see if you are well suited to each other. It is clear in the Bible that sex before marriage is wrong, not because God is an orge who likes to make rules but because he made us, loves us, and knows us better than we know ourselves. You want to bond emotionally and spiritually and save sex for when you are fully committed to each other. Just read the sad comments I get from woman who thought he was the one . . .I would urge you to use this time learn about each other and discern if this really is the man for you.

  150. Olivia says:

    Thankyou very much it was nice to hear someone’s opinion who didn’t bring up the cons of marrying young.

  151. Rose says:

    Well I got engaged a couple of months ago with my boyfriend of 2 years and I am planning to move in with him soon.it is more practical for us, as we leave about one hour away and I have lost my job and have no family around. the odd thing is that everytime I think of giving my landlord the final notice that I am leaving next month, I feel very unsettled. I do not know why.. I just don’t feel good about it. It is not only the fact that I like my place better than his, but I almost feel afraid of moving in there and having to find a place on my own after if things do not work out. I think we know each other well but there are some things about him that still takes me back and makes me wonder… he is a great guy do not take me wrong or I would not even consider it..but at times I find him too self centered and irresponsible. I wonder if moving in together might be beneficial as I might see more of him and it might help me to see if it will work out in the long run or not.. I have been married before too I was I really young,and so has my fiancé also been previously married …so I am also afraid of making a mistake, another mistake… For me, this is the time to get marry for life, I want to have children and I do want to feel blessed by God on my decisions. He would not talk so much about getting married before and I have always talked about it, in the sense that I would never move in unless married or at least engaged. But due to the change of circumstances, I might have to go ahead and move in before married.

    • emstalcup says:

      Dear Rose,
      It sounds like you believe that you don’t have other options. But I want to encourage you to keep an open mind. If you could have anything you wish what would you want? What is your heart’s desire?
      I’m hearing a lot of uncertainty. I’m hearing that you’re not sure this guy is as mature as you would like. That would not be surprising since the average man in the U.S. is at a child’s maturity level. It also sounds like he is not as keen to get married as you are.
      Why don’t you give God a chance to open another door? So you don’t have to move in with someone when you aren’t sure about them and you’d really rather be married first.
      God is very good at opening doors that we didn’t recognize at first.
      I will commit to pray for you for the next two weeks every day. I’d like you to consider applying for jobs where you currently live so you could stay where you are. I would also encourage you to look for very cheap housing closer to your boyfriend and to apply for jobs there as well. See if God doesn’t open an unusual door for you. Often older couples whose children are grown and gone are willing to take in a young woman who can live in a spare bedroom for very little. If you tell me where you live I might even know someone. :)
      I’ve heard from so many women who move in with a man when they have doubts and when he’s not fully committed to marriage. Some of them get pregnant and bear children with these men. Almost all of them later report how incredibly unhappy they are in the relationship because they become more firmly attached to someone who is not what they really wanted in a husband and they feel trapped.
      I’m convinced that it is far better to be single than to be in an unhappy relationship whether married or cohabiting.
      The best situation is to marry someone who is truly willing to grow with you. To engage with God. We’re not able to change ourselves even when we try hard. our abilities are so limited but when we engage with God he can change us from the inside. The life model has great programs to evaluate maturity that help you understand where you’re stuck so you can target those areas and grow. A good place to start is the book Forming a work of grace by David Tackle. The last chapter is all about maturity.
      Let me know how it all turns out.
      Bless you,
      Elizabeth

  152. Rose says:

    Thank you Elizabeth, so I have decided to stay a bit longer at my place and continue to apply for jobs. I have also prayed about and in my heart I just do not feel comfortable leaving at all.. I also talked to my family and said to stay as long as I can. I am sure as you said God will open a window for me. I give you an example of an issue I currently have with my fiancé..he is 36 and he is now in debt due to his financial lost on his previous relationships and even though he has debt he is not taking the essential steps to save money and pay it off… he is living life in denial by not taking in consideration that he would have to make a lot of more money if it was to him to pay his debt even in the next 5 years… I have got into so many arguments with him like he was going to a casino or entertaining friends at his place when he is 40 K in debt. He is not stressed at all about it but I am ? that is what worries me, that in the long run I will be worrying about the children and their needs while he will leave his life without a care. Another reason I am not moving in also is his friends.. even when I had a job and I had to be up really early cause his town is 1 hour from mine and if I was to sleep over there I would have to be up earlier to make it back to town and my my job on time, his friends would come over to watch sport games until passed 12:30 in the morning…and they would have no concern to leave even after I would said I was going to bed cause I needed to be up at 5:40 in the morning the next day. His place is small and the living room is right beside the bedroom. The main game was over and they were there just wasting time and I had to be up in 5 hours and nobody had a concern to leave? I felt like they had no consideration towards me whatsoever. So I actually got up and I left at 1 in the morning to drive back to my own town. I am afraid that if I am moving in I will not have a place to go back to when things like that happen again. He tells me that his friends are important to him and I get that. But for me if you have a job and you need to be up next morning it is not right to have people 3 times a week staying until 1:30 in the morning…His friends do not have steady jobs and that is why they do not care.. but this is not about his friends is about my fiancé.. He could tell them hey guys lets end the night early. I told him after left and drove back to my down that he was very inconsiderate and he was like: why you did not tell me.. (really…) cause now I am telling him and explaining that this is the reason also why I am not moving in, cause if his friends are to come once a week it is fine but 3 times and staying up to 1 in the morning if I have to work next morning I will not be ok with it. He says to me the beauty of life is that I do not have to. it is up to me, and he was very frustrated telling me what’s up with me already giving him rules….like telling him he only have his friends once a week.
    I told him I feel that his concerns are still very juvenal, as it was a priority to me to have my friends over everyday when I was a teenager but now I see my friends but not everyday and that is not a priority to me. and other I told him he is very irresponsible financially… he is not facing the reality of this debt… even when his friends were coming over he was buying them take out food everytime… I was the one tell him, it is ok to be generous when you have money but when you do not, and they come 3 times a week … he is already telling me that he thinks he has made a mistake…honestly Elizabeth I am not going to take role of his mother and spend my life worrying about him… I will pray to God that He helps me to find a job so I can stay here and hopefully if my fiancé is not the guy for me, the right guy might show up. Cause I am ready to be a good wife and mother. I live in Toronto, Canada btw! Thank you so much and sorry for the long post! But I really felt like I could talk to you and u would give me right advice, God bless

    • emstalcup says:

      You are very welcome. I’m still going to pray for you for two weeks and trust that God’s going to do something wonderful. I was just in Toronto two weeks ago!
      I pray for good community. Healthy relationships. A great job. And that you would recognize the love of God through and through.
      Bless you,
      E.

    • emstalcup says:

      How are you Rosemarie?

  153. Amandinette says:

    Dear Elizabeth,

    Please do excuse my very untimely response. I wanted to thank-you for taking the time to respond in April, a very thoughtful response at that. I agree whole-heartedly with you, friendship is underrated, especially in the church. Since you wrote, this is (and has been) something I’ve been trying to pursue with a number of people. I’ve been finding though that most men (at least at my church/surrounding region) either want a romantic relationship or nothing at all! Nevertheless, perseverance in this direction of friendship is something important to me at this stage, so I shall persevere all the same and trust God for the rest of the eventualities. Thank-you once again for your wisdom via this blog to mostly young women like myself.

    All my very best,

    Amandinette

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