Post # 1
I have a bit of a dilemma. My fiance and I have been together for eight years, and have known each other for fifteen years. For the past two years we have been living together. We get along great. He is my best friend in this entire lifetime. We are supportive of each other, a great team and have a high sense of mutual respect. Some people may call this "shacking up" but we have had every intention to get married from the moment we moved in together. It wasn’t just to "test-drive" each other, or to save money.
Anyway, we have both been registered at the same Roman Catholic Church since we were thirteen years old. Throughout the years the priests have come and gone, and we didn’t really get to know any one of them… until we set up a meeting to get prepared for marriage. When the priest interviewed us, he asked us for each of our addresses, he looked in the system and found that we had different addresses. The records haven’t changed since we were thirteen. Anyhow, oblivious to it all, we confirmed that the information in the system was correct, since both our parents still resided at these particular addresses. We didn’t think he was going to ask us if we were living together. And anyway, we felt uncomfortable to tell him that we were living together because of how strict the church is. We thought this information was irrelevant. However, when the topic did come up, we did mention that we had plans in the works about us moving in together before marriage.
I know what most of you are thinking by now… big mistake!!! No priest would condone living together before marriage. Naturally, the two of us received a long two-hour lecture on "Cohabitation" or "Shacking up" and discouraged us from doing it To add to this, the priest preached about it in the Sunday mass homily. I was mortified!!!
Now I’m in a serious bind here… what should we do?? We are already living together. I can’t turn around and say, "By the way, we didn’t tell the whole truth." I also don’t want to continue with the lie. Nor, do I want to change churches. But it looks like we might have to do just that–get married at another church and start anew with the whole truth. It’s not rare that cohabitating couples are permitted to marry in the church by the priest. It’s just the fact that we… kind of… lied.
I seriously don’t know what to do. Any advice, comments or opinons will help. Please don’t judge me. I am not the first person in this world that decided to live with my future-husband before we were officially married. It is not a trend, it is a personal choice to build a good rapport and harmonious system with my other half before we are officially united. Please help!! I am going out of my mind 🙁
Post # 3
Would it be the worst thing in the world to just come clean to him? He already gave you The Lecture. Maybe one of you could move back home until the wedding day, as a peace offering?
Post # 4
Yikes. Did he outright say that he wouldn’t marry you if you moved in together? From what I can tell the Church has kind of turned a blind eye to that for most couples (probably to try and keep young people in the church).
I feel for you. My husband isn’t Catholic and we had a semi-destination wedding, so we didn’t have the we’ve-been-members-for-life issue to deal with, but we were living together.
We kind of didn’t bring it up, and just put the same address on the forms. The priest didn’t seem to notice and we didn’t run into trouble.
When we took pre-cana, they discussed the financial necessity of cohabitation, but encouraged celibacy or one person moving out and staying with friends until after the wedding. We did neither of those things.
I think you should just tell the priest at your next meeting that you have moved in together, you understand his objection, and you hope that won’t pose a problem. If he still objects and would refuse to marry you, perhaps ask him for advice, "At this point, not living together isn’t an option. What can we do to prepare ourselves for the sacrament and make our intentions clear to you?" (Maybe he’ll say celibacy? Extra premarital counseling)
It would stink to have to go to another parish, but it might not solve your problem. You need a letter of freedom and a note from your current parish that you are members in good standing (not to mention the record of your sacraments). So if this priest really is a stickler, going elsewhere may not solve the problem.
I hope that he won’t throw a wrench in the works for you.
Post # 5
The priest may have given you the lecture so forcefully because he thought he had the opportunity to prevent you from moving in together. He may have reacted less harshly (although maybe not) if you had said that you were already doing so.
I see several options:
1. You come clean in the manner that rosychicklet mentioned ("don’t argue with us, help us in any way you can").
2. You don’t bring it up unless it comes up. If it comes up, you can say "we’ve moved in together already" and not be clear on when exactly that happened. This may be the path of least resistance—you’re not lying, but you’re not volunteering the information either (especially when doing so might cause a snafu).
Finally, as you stated, you are hardly the first person to be in this situation. My fiance and I moved in together shortly before the wedding too and we got married in the catholic church. Like rosychicklet, we just put the same address on the forms and nothing was said of it (but we were in a very liberal parish). My inclination would be toward door #2.
Post # 6
Unfortunately I have been in the same situation. My fiance and I have known each other for almost 8 years and have been dating for over 3, but soon after my Fiance proposed I had to move for grad school and he moved (and moved in) with me. We were upfront about this with our pastor and discussed at length our reasons. He suggested one of us move out until the wedding, but with really high tuition, less than a year before the wedding, and both of us being in an unfimiliar city that just made no sense to us at all. Our pastor argued that studies have been done that show cohabitation before marriage leads to higher divorce rates, but we argued that these studies did not distinguish between those just "testing the waters" and those who were already engaged and had definate plans to marry, which we feel is a big difference and would play a big role when considering such statistics. We also told him that we’ve never had sex and don’t plan to until our wedding night. Anyway, after about 3 weeks of back and forth discussions on the matter he told us he would not marry us. It was a huge letdown for us, but it’s important for him to stand firm in his beliefs and we respect that so in the end we had to find another pastor.
I would suggest you be upfront with your priest and tell him the whole situation and your reasoning. I know it could result in you having to find another priest to marry you, but at least for myself, I wouldn’t feel right keeping this from him. I agree with <span class=”postby”>rosychicklet that you should ask him if there is anything you can do. In the event that he does say no do you know any other local couples that were in the same situation? Maybe you could ask them what they did and what preist married them. Good luck!
Post # 7
I agree with rosy, come clean, you’re going to have to at confession any right? ;e)
We also live together and told the priest this. We’re weren’t first nor the last. If you go to an engagement encounter retreat, you will see you are not alone and the catholic church does recognize this, even the books they gave us talked about it without making us feel bad.
You might just have yourself an old fashioned priest.
Is there another priest or deacon you feel more comfortable talking to? Deacons can marry and be married so its much easier to talk to them. If you go the whole nine yards with the church (we did) you will have frequent meetings with your priest/deacon, take a focus test (which is absolutely critical that you are honest on) have a mentor couple to go over the results of the test, go on a engagment retreat (out here in LA its called engagement encounter, I highly recommend it) and then finally get married. So having a priest you’re comfortable with is important.
Post # 8
I was in the same situation! Due to unfortunate circumstances, I moved in with my then boyfriend and his parents. The entire family went to church and it became our parish. Few years later a new parish was being established closer to home and we started to attend mass there. The priest that started the building of the new parish was the one who baptized me in my old Catholic school. So we always agreed to get married in the new parish because we loved Fr. G. By the time we were ready to get married, Fr. G moved. With this church aside from the cohabitation issue was charging us $750!! Not even just a donation but a fee! This new priest, I thought he was nice, very gentle and soft spoken. So we proceeded with the marriage prep and when we filled out the parishioner forms he noticed our addresses were the same. We didn’t think anything of it because we’ve been living with each other for so long now. He lectured us and yadi, yadi, yadi, yah… My Fiance and I did not have a say at all! I felt like he just looked down on us. He was being very firm and rude at the same time. Second meeting came and I told him we wanted to push back the wedding date due to our financials. Well, that made it worse! He kept saying why can’t you just get married now and have a small celebration. It doesn’t have to be a big party like everyone else. Each night we left the meeting he said to us I pray for your soul because you are living a mortal sin. Geee, are you putting a hex on us. That was the reason why he wanted to marry us ASAP. He also said we should not be receiving communion on Sundays until we practice abstinence by living like brothers and sisters or either one of us move out. We haven’t been receiving communion but still attending mass. My Fiance agreed to moving out about 2 months before the wedding. He even offered us to pick another parish or bring in another priest to perform the ceremony.
Enough about my story, we had so many issues with them about the unity candle, Filipino or Roman Catholic traditions and it was just so hard to get in touch with them all the time. They even retained $50 from us for doing the compatibility test! HE WAS JUST GETTING PLAIN OL’ NASTY WITH US!!! I felt uncomfortable and didn’t want someone like that to marry us. So we went back to the old church and they accepted us for who we are! The old church even accepted my FI’s cousin who got married while she was pregnant.
I can’t believe he even spoke about it in the homily. Tell him the truth! No one will judge you, well, maybe he might. ours did! When you do tell him he will probably give you some options. You can live like brothers and sisters. Change parishes. Have another priest marry you. A few months before the wedding one of you move back to your parents for abstinence so you can prepare for your communion on your wedding day. Your best bet is to tell him so he can help you with what you need to do as a Catholic to prepare for your marriage. I hear that it all depends on the church. As you can see the parish I am not (the old one) isn’t so strict and the new one is because of the new priest and this is his first time running the parish.
Post # 9
Most couples I know in this situation just don’t mention it, and the priest doesn’t ask. It’s kind of a "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy. Priests aren’t stupid; they know how things work in the real world.
But clearly this is weighing heavy on your conscience. You should tell him, but be prepared for potential consequences. Once you’ve brought it up directly, he will be obligated to deter you from living together and has the right to refuse to marry you if one of you doesn’t move. BUT most priests will prefer to "rectify" the situation by marrying you. If he refuses, then he should be able to recommend you to a priest who will. I can’t imagine him leaving you stranded since you’ve already started marriage prep.
Post # 10
I don’t know of anyone who has been turned away by the Catholic church for living together before marriage. My sister had a Catholic service, and she had been living with my Brother-In-Law for about six months. In their case, they live in a very small area with really limited housing available, and it could have taken them months to find a place if they had waited until after the wedding. So they started looking early, and just moved in together when they bought the house. They were already engaged at the time, but still.
The biggest problem your priest will probably have is with the fact that you deceived him, but I’m sure it’s not the first time that has happened.
Post # 11
Wow, this sounds very extreme. My priest didn’t care. No one should be so old fashioned and I truly doubt you’ll be denied a ceremony over this…if he did that I would complain to the bishop.
Simply don’t bring it up…I personally think the ‘guilt’ is all in your head (don’t mean to sound rude)..that’s how catholics are raised to be…very fearful
If he asks, just come clean. Like someone said, he was probably trying to scare you into NOT living together.
Post # 12
I’m sorry you had such an uncomfortable situation with your priest. And the Homily…yikes, I’d be shrinking in my pew. Hopefully the priest gave you his lecture about cohabitation and he feels that he did his Catholic duty. I grew up in a conservative Irish Catholic church, so I understand that some parishes look down and vocally state their opposition to it. However, rarely priests or parishes will absolutely refuse to marry a couple if they are living together, usually the lecture (and it can happen more then once) is usually all they feel like they need to do. Hopefully you can build a relationship with this priest and he can learn to respect your situation. I would definitely come clean, but thats just my good old new england catholic guilt kicking in. Do what is best for the two of you. I would approach the subject first rather then waiting him out to see if it comes up again, that way you are being proactive and upfront. Better to come to an understand (and know if the church will still marry you or not) then wait for him to bring it up or find out a week before the wedding and cause a situation,
Good luck hon! (I’m totally cohabitating too) I wish you all the best!
Post # 13
We decided to be up front about our living situation. We will be moving in together a few months before the wedding. Our priest was totally cool with it and said that if anyone else gives us a hard time (Mr. Geek also works for the Catholic Church), to let him know.
There was also a good article about this subject recently in a Catholic magazine. I know you are not looking to pick a fight with your church, but this might offer you some back-up and provide some good information for both you and your priest.
Post # 14
I realise you grew up attending church, and it sounds like it’s a very central part of your life, but frankly… Weddingbee is a diverse community, full of various different religions and beliefs. No one here is going to judge you! It sounds more like you’re afraid of judging yourself.
Frankly, the priest is in the wrong. He’s in the wrong not only for telling you how to live your life, but for assuming his word is law, and especially for taking your conversation and turning it into a sermon. How deeply embarassing for you – it sounds like he has no respect for the privacy of your meetings.
While I applaud you living your life as you want, and I think living together before marriage isn’t just acceptable, it’s necessary – to get used to one another and ease into that phase in life – I also think that maybe you could’ve handled the priest situation better. You are in quite a bind, I agree. But this is the church you grew up with, and you have every right to be married there. I know how you feel: it wouldn’t be right to get married anywhere else.
So, I think you should confront the priest. Tell him you weren’t entirely honest, but explain why. Don’t just apologise and leave it at that. Then, you’re giving in to his opinion and showing him that you’re unsure of yourself. Show him resolve: 9 times out of 10, preists and rabbis are looking for one thing out of couples who wish to be married: resolve. They want to know that YOU are certain in your decision to be married, and that all the choices you’ve made (especially the ones they don’t agree with) were well thought-out. The biggest way to show them that is to disagree with them. You were misleading because you were afraid of his judgement. And he proved your actions correct! Not only did he judge you, but he lectured you, made you feel small, and then embarassed you in front of your community. At this point, HE is the one who should be apologising. Tell him the truth, and tell him you’re doing it because it’s your life, and his word is not law to you. Show him strength, show him resolve, and he may be (cautiously) accepting. Or at the very least, he may begrudgingly marry you. Frankly, who cares what he thinks? It’s your life.
Post # 15
I would like to offer some support without being too self-serving… I have just released the first book to take a serious & non-judgmental look at helping cohabitating couples improve the fitness of their relationships, "Happily Un-Married: Living Together & Loving It!" Please go to this link to learn more… http://www.wecohabitate.com/ IF you find the information on the website of value to address your situation, please contact me and I will gladly send you a complimentary copy of the book. Thanks! ___________________ John Curtis, Ph.D. 1.828.246.0459 http://www.wecohabitate.com ___________________
Post # 16
- Wedding: October 2010 - The Pearl S. Buck House
I too was raised Catholic, although my family is definitely classified under "lazy Catholics," or "pick and choose what we agree with and still call ourselves Catholic." Anyway, I understand the guilt that goes along with not following through with the ideals we once had when we were younger, before we met "the one." I fell in love with my fiance when we were 18. He’s Jewish (Reconstructionist, not Orthodox), and whether it was how he was raised or his own beliefs, he didn’t share mine that we had to wait until marriage to live together, sleep together, etc. Don’t get me wrong, he was very patient and understanding, and when we were dating for a year, I went to confession for the first time in about 7 years, and cried about the guilt I felt that I wanted to have sex with my boyfriend. I was at a retreat for freshmen at my Catholic college, and the Priests there are Oblates of Saint Francis DeSales. These priests are pretty darn cool. So anyway, although I’m sure it was uncomfortable for him, Father calmed me down by putting things into perspective and said that, for instance, talking about a friend behind her back is far greater a sin than a "sin of the flesh." It doesn’t hurt any one else, it isn’t malicious, especially if it’s born out of love. That was more than 5 years ago, and it has given me comfort through every similar decision that makes sense for a young couple in modern day society. Now we’re engaged and we’ve been living together for over 2 years. We are not, however getting married in a Church- we’re going to have an interfaith ceremony. If we were, we’d have many challenges ahead of us to convince a priest to marry us 🙂
I don’t know if this is helpful at all, but priests are human too, and they have different interpretations and philosophies for ministering to us. If you are uncomfortable, or feel he is unsupportive of your decisions and the health of your relationship, you can find some one else. (I’m going to have to "shop around" for some one to co-officiate a Catholic-Jewish ceremony) Or, maybe you can breathe easier with the little tiny white lie believing in your hearts that cohabitaion is certainly not the biggest problem in the world, and hopefully God understands.