For one reason or another, I have always just assumed that I would personally know the pastor that would stand before God and pronounce me married to the man of my dreams. However, when Freesia Dude proposed we had only recently found what I would call our “church home”. I felt immediately at home there but had not gotten to know many of the members yet and had not met the pastor. So after our engagement we decided that we would ask the Elders of our church if any of them might be able to marry us. The day we decided to do this, we met Paul, one of the pastor’s at our church. We learned that he often does weddings and is usually the go-to guy for pre-marital counseling. It turned out he was our guy and we set a date to meet with him for lunch to discuss more.
To back up a bit, Freesia Dude and I had been dating for about 4 years when we got engaged. About 3 years into it, we moved in together. I had resisted this decision earlier on, as I had grown up knowing I would not move in until married. When we made the decision to move in together, we did not take it lightly, especially since I knew my parents would not be fond of the idea. We lived together for almost exactly a year when we got engaged, and met Paul soon thereafter. During our first lunch with Paul he learned that we were currently living together, and God decided to rock our world a little bit.
As I mentioned, I had grown up believing that living together before marriage was a bad idea, though I realized that I was not very certain of the reasons why. This may sound a bit silly, but I had not spent much time contemplating why this was a bad decision past that it was simply “wrong”! It was against what I believed in and thus I would not do it. This held up great until I hit the real world of paying rent and being in a committed relationship. In the case that anyone else might have been, or be, in a similar situation, Paul reminded Freesia Dud and I of the reasons why a couple should not live together until married (firmly, but completely without judging us, this was truly God’s doing…not to discredit Paul’s skills!) and requested that, if possible, we move apart until we get married.
Paul reminded us that the way we were living put us in this ill-defined gray zone of relationship status. Our lives were combined but our hearts were not united. We were living as a married couple, but we had a safe out. No matter how much we said we were in it for good, we still had an out. This living with an “out” mindset would be difficult to change since there was no concrete difference in our getting married. We were living with this “out” option without being married, how would we be sure that we could get rid of that “out” when we become truly committed for life? In addition, the beginning of marriage is a time for new life together, not the continuation of the same old thing.
We began to think about how our lives are so meshed together and how we have both thought of that “out”. Paul was exactly right. Laundry, groceries, cleaning, schedules, finances, all meshed in one. Sure, there is a difference in actually being married, but we had a decision to make that difference more visible to each other or less. We chose more.
I found a great apartment between Freesia Dude’s place and my work. I settled in and felt right at home. I explained the situation to my landlord and she was so helpful working out a lease with me to fit our timing. She even mentioned she knew a couple that did the same thing, but the bride had to move back with her parents, overseas! Immediately, I realized this would be an opportunity to find things that we had been taking for granted from each other. We began working on addressing those things, which not only helped those things but helped our communication.
Though it is not an inexpensive experience, it has been worth every penny to do everything we can to make sure that our marriage starts out the best it can. We both have lots of things to work on, but we are so pleased with the strength God gave us to make this decision and pull through with it. Every situation is unique, and definitely for some couples our decision would not have worked, but we found the way to make our situation work. We are so excited to move in together again in a few months. I hope that I will be able to share this experience with someone that will be inspired to make a similar decision. Make this a new chapter of your lives, not just a run-on of the last. Best wishes to you all!