For couples planning a Catholic wedding

Catholic Wedding Q&A

Together in God's Love Catholic marriage preparation program

Can we get married in the Catholic Church if we are living together (cohabiting)?

If you and your fiancé are cohabiting (living together), you will probably be expected to address some of the difficulties and complications that can arise from that situation. Although premarital sexual activity does not "disqualify" you from the sacrament of marriage, it raises several concerns. For instance, couples who cohabit prior to marriage are more likely to experience difficulties during their marriage, according to "Marriage Preparation and cohabiting Couples" (see link, below). And as the Diocese of Rapid City points out, "If there is not sufficient awareness on the couple's part of the essential elements of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of marriage and sexual relations and of the commitment, fidelity, and permanence needed in marriage, then the marriage should be postponed until such awareness has developed" (Preparing for Marriage). Church guidelines urge pastors to approach cohabiting couples with respect, charity, and patience; if you are cohabiting, you can expect your pastor to raise concerns, but hopefully these concerns will be discussed in a friendly way.

For more information

Marriage Preparation and Cohabiting Couples: An Informational Report: This report from the U.S. Catholic bishops contains information on the growing trend toward couples cohabiting (living together) before marriage; it also describes how many priests are approaching this issue with couples. This is important reading for engaged couples who are living together.

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