Is it ok to Break an Engagement?

Breaking up is difficult.  It’s supposed to be that way because there should be some sort of bond in a relationship or else it wasn’t much of a relationship to begin with.  So obviously breaking an engagement is a hundred times more difficult.

It is not only ok to break an engagement, it is often a smart and necessary thing to do.  And it happens far more often than most people realize.  Approximately 20% of all engagements are broken before the wedding.  Judging by the 50% divorce rate, many more engagements should have been broken.

When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, she was engaged to be married to Joseph.  At that time an engagement was a binding contract and to break the engagement Joseph would have had to divorce her as he contemplated doing before Gabriel spoke to him.  There is no such binding agreement with an engagement today.

Even if a couple has had sex in anticipation that they would be married, this should not be reason to get married.  While sex before marriage is a mistake, it should not be compounded by going into a bad marriage that will likely end in divorce.

Breaking off an engagement should not be taken lightly.  It becomes increasingly complicated as wedding plans are made.  But if there are problems in a relationship before marriage, those problems will not be solved by getting married.  Instead those problems will only become amplified as a couple shares every aspect of their lives together.

Every effort should be made to reconcile problems in a relationship before breaking off an engagement.  If you are able resolve your issues you’ll learn valuable problem solving skills that will help you in your marriage.  Every relationship will have problems, so just because there is a disagreement in your relationship, it doesn’t mean that your future marriage is doomed.  But you should never ignore problems and just assume that they’ll go away.  They won’t.

No relationship is perfect but if things can’t be reconciled, the worst mistake that can be made is to drag those problems into a marriage.  Breaking off an engagement is a difficult thing to do but it will save a lot more heartache in the future.

Is it ok to Live Together First?

A growing trend is for people to live together before getting married.  This almost always implies that a couple is having sex before they are married.  There are good, moral reasons to wait to have sex.  But even ignoring the moral implications of sex before marriage, there are also practical reasons to not live together before marriage.

The reason often given for living together is that it is a trial to find out if the couple can live with one another.  The justification is that it is better to find out before they are married than have to go through a divorce.  While this would sound practical, evidence does not back up this theory.

Instead of having a lower divorce rate for couples who live together first, it is noticeably higher than average.  Different studies have found that couples who live together before marriage have a divorce rate between 70-80%.  Considering the average divorce rate is 50%, couples who live together first are 50% more likely than average to get divorced.

While there may be numerous reasons for this problem, two stand out.  First is that nothing changes with marriage.  The couple can file their taxes together and that is about it.  Everything else is the same.  The question becomes, “Why did they get married?”

The second reason is closely related to the first.  While living together, the couple did not act like a married couple.  They were simply trying things out, seeing if they would work.  If it turned out it didn’t then it proved it was a good idea to live together first and the relationship is broken off.  There is no reason to work through problems because the relationship is ultimately disposable.  The purpose of living together was to find problems, not try to solve them.

The same lax attitude that takes place while living together gets carried over into the marriage.  Because nothing has changed, the couple still acts the same as they did when they weren’t married.  When problems arise, they do not know how to handle them.  Because the relationship wasn’t as serious when they were living together, it isn’t serious as a married couple.  These couples are unable or unwilling to solve their problems and often end up going their separate ways.

Why Did God Create Marriage?

Genesis 2:18-24

18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Analysis

As God looks down on Adam, He notes that it is not good for him to be alone.  Then species after species of animal paraded past Adam and he named them.  As Adam saw all of the animals it dawned upon him that he was the only one of his kind.  All other creatures had a mate but there was none that was suitable for Adam.

One of the reasons God gave Eve to Adam – and thereby beginning marriage – was as a helper and companion.  God did not want man to live his life alone and so He created someone who was compatible for Adam.

Solomon writes about the benefits of having another person as a companion in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:

10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Another purpose of marriage is procreation.  Obviously marriage is not required in order to have children.  However it is God’s will that two people be married before having children.  For more on this, see the article “Why Should I Wait Until Marriage for Sex?”

We are told to be fruitful and multiply.  This applies in a physical sense but also in a spiritual sense.  Parents pass on their wisdom, morals, and faith to their children.  This is done most effectively within a close knit family.