When you think you’re doing right, but maybe you’re just screwing things up
I have very few convictions, a few opinions, and everything else is all “gray area” to me. One of those convictions is “spend less than you earn”, while a gray area is “Is living together before marriage a sin?” (because that gets into even bigger questions about God, heaven, hell, faith, etc.).
When I thought I knew the answer
About 10 years ago, my wife (fiance at the time) got an UNPAID internship in Montgomery County, MD, while I lived and worked in Virginia. Since cost of living in DC can be insane, and I knew we were going to get married without a doubt, I opted to move to Rockville, MD and have her move in with me to save her mucho amounts of money. While some members of her family was a bit uncertain of this arrangement due to some religious values (mine probably could have cared less), it was working out. Well, except for some people we met on our move-in day.
A friendly fellow from the next apartment building saw us moving in (it was just the two of us and my old roommate I think), so he offered to help and we accepted. We became friends, but, to make a long story short, he started preaching his brand of evangelical Christianity to us Catholics. I’ll say that I’m a “fringe Catholic” (even though I am pretty active in my church…but that’s because I like charitable acts, not for the spiritual part), but my wife at the time was a very traditional Catholic.
We started doing Bible studies together, then they split out the men from the women. While I was feeling the love and enjoyed the new outlook on Christianity compared to my upbringing (aka parochial school), my fiance was feeling like her traditions and beliefs were being attacked. We had many a discussion and argument about the teachings and everything came to a head when our “friends” made a suggestion one day. Living together is a sin and to have a strong marriage, one of us should move out immediately.
Again, long story short, we (I) decided to give it a shot and another set of “friends” from this church were welcoming my fiance into their home. Again, she felt pressured by the women in the church to change who she was completely when she felt no need to change and living there was hellish for her. We then did a secret move to one of her actual friend’s apartments, where she had to pay rent ($300/mth plus some bills), but she was living in a room without a door, right by the living room. Her commute extended by double, she had no privacy, but at least she was living with someone she knew.
But in the end, my fiance was draining all her savings to do this “experiment”, our engagement and relationship was severely strained, and I started to question whether these “friends” knew any better than I did about right and wrong. Sure, even our own church condemned living together before marriage, but like I said, I was only a fringe Catholic.
In the end, we called off the experiment, disassociated from this new church, moved my fiance back in and continued our wedding planning. But the damage had been done both emotionally and financially, not to mention trust-wise. My fiance, now my wife, had lost trust in my decision-making; that I would put her first over strangers, but I got caught up in whether we were doing right vs wrong, what the consequences were (in our earthly world and especially beyond).
Why am I bringing this up now? Well, that last friend who charged my wife hundreds a month for a room without a door, and then kicked her out without warning because her dad was coming to visit for a week and needed a room (actually, that’s why my wife moved back in…no other options), decided that after 8 years of them not really talking, it was time to come and pay a visit. Why? Because she wants to lose weight and my wife is a registered dietitian. Oh, and she’s coming to swim today in our pool and decided to invite her husband and child.
I told my wife to charge them $300 for every 15 minutes, don’t allow swimsuits and kick them out after an hour saying her dad was coming down for the day and wanted to swim. I’m not bitter 🙂
Anywho, I was an idiot and thought I was doing right by God, but I was really doing wrong by my wife. Whether I’m judged on us living together before marriage negatively above all the awesome things I’ve done for others since then (if there is a judgement) is a question none of us can answer, and that is now in my “gray area”.
When it comes to religion, I now have no convictions, only some opinions and accept that almost everything is really just gray area where NO ONE knows the answers….until MAYBE when you die. It cost a lot of money (back then), wasted time and, most importantly, the trust of my future wife to learn that.