In this blog Dr. Wall continues his series on cohabitation, contrasting the casualness of cohabiting with the seriousness of marriage. He focuses, in particular, on the positive benefit women have on men when the women are worth fighting for and their hearts are won in matrimony. Women, who are willing to cohabit for nothing, are seen instead as busybodies and nags.  For the first in this series click here.

Marriage is to be held in honor among all.

Hebrews 13:4 (NASB)

We’ve been looking at the downsides of men and women cohabiting with each other outside of marriage these last couple of weeks. Starting with “Cavalier About Marriage” I commented on the legal quagmire of this social arrangement. In “The Downsides of Cohabiting Without Marriage” I discussed how cohabitation hurts sexuality and trust. In the third article I looked at how living together without marriage creates a pattern of impatience, while in the next article I explained my theory that money patterns created as a cohabiting couple (me, my, mine) carry into marriage and since we’re all creatures of habit, this is not the best way to manage their resources and borrows trouble from tomorrow.

The last two articles (“Absent Fathers and the Cohabiting Craze” and “Cohabitation and the Immaturity of Young Men and the Desperation of Young Women”) I developed a theory I had after talking in depth with hundreds of cohabiting and formerly cohabiting couples over many years. I suggested that the absence of present fathers, due especially to divorce, but certainly not limited to those circumstances, influences many young men who cohabit to do so because of immaturity, while their live-in girl friends do so out of a desperate need for warm male affirmation. The young men do so because they do not have active dads in their lives challenging them and the young women do so because they do not have active fathers loving them. Let me say it another way: In previous generations, marriage was held in honor by all and if a young man was interested in a certain young women there were courting procedures that had to be maintained. Discussions would take place with their respective fathers and there was a proper protocol to follow. Shame was an important social value and a young man would NEVER even consider besmirching the name of his future bride. She was highly esteemed in his mind. She was worth fighting for and literally dying for.

This chivalrous attitude of men toward women has gone the way of the 8-track tape player. You can find some in antique stores, but most of them have been crushed, when the cars in which they were installed, were recycled. Consider this quote from the 13th century of how women were perceived to affect men:

“Who does not know that without women we can feel no contentment of satisfaction throughout this life of ours, which but for them would be rude and devoid of all sweetness and more savage than that of wild beasts? Who does not know that women alone banish from our hearts all vile and base thoughts, vexations, miseries, and those turbid melancholies that so often are their fellows? And if you will consider well the truth, we shall also see that in our understanding of great matters women do not hamper our wits but rather quicken them, and in war make men fearless and brave beyond measure. And certainly it is impossible for vileness ever again to rule in a man’s heart where once the flame of love has entered; for whoever loves desires always to make himself as lovable as he can, and always fears lest some disgrace befall him that may make him be esteemed lightly with her by whom he desires to be esteemed highly. Nor does he stop at risking his life a thousand times a day to show himself worthy of her love: hence whoever could form an army of lovers and have them fight in the presence of the ladies of their love, would conquer all the world, unless there were opposed to it another, army similarly in love…

Do you not know that the origin of all the graceful exercises that give pleasure in the world is to be ascribed to none other than to women? Who learns to dance and caper gallantly for aught else than to please women? Who studies the sweetness of music for other cause than this? Who tires to compose verse, in the vernacular at least, unless to express those feelings that are inspired by women? Think how many very noble poems we should be deprived of, both in the Greek tongue and in the Latin, if women had been lightly esteemed by the poets.”

Baldesar Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier, quoted in Newell, p. 8-9*

This type of man will do whatever he can to improve himself to win and keep the heart of his beloved. He was willing to do this because the end result was marriage, which was considered THE major milestone in a young woman and young man’s life.

Imagine this kind of affect of women upon men today. Instead she’s a nag, a busybody, and a control freak. Why? Because cohabiting without marriage has demoted her to the role of roommate. She’s not worth fighting for. She’s not worth dying for. She’s not worth waiting for. We’re both going to pay the rent.

That’s it? NO fanfare? NO jubilation? NO celebration or accolades or hugs from grandpa and hearty handshakes and proud back pats from Uncle Bob? No signing of wedding licenses or both names on the bank account and car titles? No leaving of home for the last time, when the couple drives away and mom and dad are waving and dad smiles proudly while mom cries for an hour? NOTHING.

Well, why don’t you move in Saturday?

OK.

Big deal. Big hairy deal.

You’ve heard the saying, “Behind every good man is a good woman?” The good woman in that saying is his WIFE!!! She didn’t have to goad him. She didn’t have to chastise him. She didn’t have to kick his butt. He committed to her for life and he meant it. She did the same and by her willingness to sacrifice herself and his willingness to sacrifice herself FOR REST OF THEIR LIVES we got this built in sense of destiny and a shared identity and a new family that is unique in the history of the world and will be unique for all of history and he kneels before her at a restaurant or near the waterfall or on the shore or under the stars and slips a ring on her finger and tells her he would like to share his life and future and dreams and hopes and aspirations and heart aches and setbacks and successes and grow old together and be at each other’s bedside and eventually the other will stand proudly and sadly before the other’s graveside. And she yells YES! YES! YES! And she jumps up and down and she can’t believe it and she has to call her mom and dad and announcements are made and wedding showers attended and brides’ dresses chosen and ministers consulted and menus pondered and budgets stretched.

Cuz she’s worth it.

Cuz he’s worth it.

Cuz they are worth it.

Pity the couple that sleeps together for nothing.

_____

For the first blog in this series on Cohabitation click here.  For specific blogs see:

Part One On Cohabitation: Cavalier About Marriage

Dr. Wall starts a series on Cohabitation by exposing some of the unintended consequences of living together without marriage.  It’s not the road to happiness.

Part Two On Cohabitation: The Downsides of Cohabiting Without Marriage

Dr. Wall continues his series on Cohabitation by looking at how cohabitation hurts marriage.

Part Three On Cohabitation: Cohabiting and Impatience

Dr. Wall continues his series on Cohabitation by exposing the lack of patience that cohabiting couples have.  You learn patience by waiting; you learn anger by doing what you want when you want it.

Part Four On Cohabitation: Marriage, Money and Cohabiting

Dr. Wall continues his series on Cohabitation by exploring the devastating effect cohabitation has on creating long-term bad habits, particularly keeping their money separate.  Money symbolizes the couple’s relationship.  If the money is separate, well, there you go.

Part Five On Cohabitation: Absent Fathers and the Cohabiting Craze

Dr. Wall continues his series on Cohabitation by exploring his theory that absent fathers, primarily from divorce, have contributed to the proliferation of cohabiting unmarried couples. He suggests that young men, without everyday intact fathers, struggle with immaturity and young women, without everyday intact fathers, struggle with being loved by a male.  Both seek to meet these needs by cohabiting without marriage.

Part Six On Cohabitation: Cohabitation and the Immaturity of Young Men and the Desperation of Young Women

In this blog I explore what happens when immature young men cohabit without marriage with young women who need attention from young men.

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Dr. Bing Wall is a marriage therapist with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa.  To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.  For more information about Dr. Wall click here.


*Newell, W. R. (2000). The Chivalrous Man. What Is A Man? 3000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue. W. R. Newell. New York City, Regan Books: 1-286.

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