It’s a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” collusion between two people that ultimately leaves both of them hungry, malnourished, and for the most part pathetically looking for the next hook-up high hoping that one day they will finally discover something nourishing.Somehow cohabitation—the halfway house to commitment—is now viewed as real commitment.Sitting on the side and dipping one toe into the water to test the temperature isn’t swimming!A more recent trend on the rise is stay-over relationships.The combination of Caleb’s passion for his new girlfriend and simultaneous fear of being hurt again found expression in a stayover arrangement. Americans prize our national and economic independence, but now that mentality has dramatically invaded our social psyche about marriage, and it’s confusing us. Typical arrangements The dark hole inside independent togetherness is fear.A few nights a week he would stay at her apartment, and occasionally she would stay at his, but both kept their separate residences, separate rent responsibilities, and ultimately separate lives. Sex becomes the hiding place, an external behavior that gives the appearance of intimacy, but is really striving for self-protection.In a blind act of self-sabotage, sexuality in dating is not viewed by today’s culture as something that contributes to vulnerability, rather, the assumption is that you can enjoy it while maintaining your separateness. There are, of course, no guarantees of long-term marital success. But without the courage to take risks, love will remain a distant dream.
These arrangements have varying degrees of vulnerability and commitment, but each seeks an independent togetherness.
“We didn’t realize how much it means to ourselves.” Despite the popularity of cohabitation, and eagerness of pop culture to glamorize it, marriage is still the ultimate “you’ve arrived” relationship.
And yet to many in our divorce-fearful society, it is better to have “less filling” than more vulnerability to rejection, sadness, and heartbreak. I frequently tell cohabiting couples, who justify their trial marriage as a process to help them decide if a real marriage would work, that “trial marriages have trial commitments.” You really don’t know how much you could love or what you would be willing to give (read ), and therefore, how intimate your relationship could be unless both of you jump into the deep end of the commitment pool with both feet.
After being tossed aside by his wife and the mother of their two children, Caleb declared to friends in his divorce recovery group, “Never again will I be hurt like that.
Never again will I fall in love.” Bitterness and fear built 20-foot walls of self-protection.
From within the safety of permanence, the couple is free to engage in sexual touch that sustains and reinforces the specialness and safety of their relationship.