Dear Father Angelo,
As the mother of a man who lives with his girlfriend every day, beside praying and entrusting this situation to the Heart of Jesus, I wonder how can I make my son understand the importance of the marital choice.
My son has been living with his Filipino girlfriend for three months now. Both of them claim they are believers and practicing Christians, that there is no sexuality between them and, because of her faith, she insistently asks to get married first, so that their relationship is blessed by God.
On the other hand, he does not consider this matter to be urgent, preferring a “trial year”, even though he says that he is certain of his love for her.
I ask you an answer for the couple, with whom I intend to share it.
Thank you for your helpfulness.
I always remember you in my prayer.
The priest’s answer
- Ten months have passed since your email. Both because it got buried and also because I have the feeling that the minds of those who decide to live together are so clouded that they do not listen to advice.
Unfortunately, it seems that the only thing to do in most cases is to wait for the unavoidable end of this experience, where the strength to overcome the inevitable difficulties is lacking, even from a human point of view.
Let’s not hit the nerve of sexuality, which is also important and crucial, so that we do not think that all the problems lie in it and also because your son guarantees you that he lives in chastity.
- In my pastoral experience, I have discovered that the biggest regret of the people who lived together and then took a step back is the loss of their freedom. When you are together, there are moments when you spend time with one another, and other moments when you are alone at your house, or somewhere else with friends or participating in associations.
Instead, when you decide to live together, you take on yourself the duties of a married person: you have to be at home, or report about where you are going; you cannot say: I’m going for a walk, I’m meeting my friends, I’m going to play the fool (in a good way) around other girls.
The return home is timed, it is often followed by sulking, arguing, and the dragging of a situation of which – even though disappointing – you fear the end, because you are scared to admit that you failed, that you were careless…
It is even worse when both you two and your families have invested money to make it possible.
- When you then decide that you cannot carry on, because you do not want to punish yourself to a hellish life, you are left with the bitterness of having wasted your time (especially on the girl’s side), your youth and your energies, increasing the uncertainty towards the future even more.
- About your situation now, if your son is certain to love his girlfriend while still living in perfect chastity, what is the harm in waiting the moment of marriage?
If he cares about chastity and so does she, why then live together and sleep in the same bed, when it is sure that chastity would be severely tempted?
If a person cares about his purity, as your son states, he will protect it, he will not expose it to the risk or the certainty of losing it.
- Not to mention that if a person cares about his purity, he wants to defend it even from other people’s eyes. He avoids that they could think ill of him.
Particularly when a person is involved within the parish or some ecclesial association.
You believe in your son and his girlfriend’s chastity, because he says so.
But other people, rest assured, do not believe it at all.
Rather, they wouldn’t want to believe it even if those two were pure as Angels.
- Two young people who love each other and are well-intentioned for their future know that living together is like testing each other.
Now, isn’t considering the other person on probation an act of distrust?
Your son says that he is certain of loving that girl.
Why then test her? Doesn’t he trust her?
Or she is the one not trusting him?
What kind of honesty could there be between two people when they feel like on a probation period?
- Every person wishes, or rather demands, to be loved in an unconditional way and not for a test.
You cannot try a person as you would do with an object, a dress.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” implies this, too: not to treat other people as you would not want to be treated, meaning “loved on probation” or “for a test”.
- As you see, I did not directly mention the issue of sexuality, out of respect for what your son said.
Although living together with a partner, unlike other kinds of cohabitation, like the one of students in an apartment, is associated with sexual life.
This according to the very definition of premarital cohabitation and to common understanding.
Anyway, regardless of sexual life, I think there are a lot of reasons why two young people should avoid making a wrong move.
I will remember you, your son and his girlfriend in my prayer and during Mass.
I bless you.
Translated by: Francesca