This article stemmed from a few conversations I’ve had with colleagues and friends throughout the years.
Several years ago, a young couple Daniel and I used to train told us those very words in regards to living together.
“Yeah, we figured we would test out living together to see if we can actually deal with each other in marriage.”
In another instance, a co-worker told me how he tested out if marriage with his future spouse would work by living with her for two years. He wanted to “vet” her out before he made a long-term decision about marriage.
I realize in this day and age, that this practice is the norm. However I’m putting my foot down.
Call me old-fashioned. Call me stuck up. Call me whatever you like.
No, You Can’t Test Drive Marriage
Your spouse isn’t the latest Bugatti model you decided to take for a spin off the car lot.
They aren’t the newest pair of Air Jordans you need to feel out to see if you “like them or not.”
They aren’t an impulse buy you later regretted because of the long-term maintenance and wear and tear on the product.
People are not products. You don’t have a “money back guarantee” that if you are unsatisfied with that person, you can return said person back for a full refund.
This is another human being, made in the image of God with whom you are so carelessly treating like another product to consume.
Can you imagine if we practiced this behavior towards our children? That’s ludicrous, right? You wouldn’t dream of abandoning your child despite their behavior or natural proclivities, but we have no problem testing out the people who would be your life mate to see if they measure up.
People are raising children to see this attitude as normal, and we wonder why there is so much dysfunction in the family unit. Children can only reproduce what they see, and if they observe you treating people like products, they will make that their own standard.
As a society we have lost the sacredness of marriage. That’s why testing out marriage via living together is mainstream. People laud it as the only way to make sure you don’t get the bad end of the stick.
All it does is expose our depravity. The fact that we would consider testing out relationships for marriage by shaming the marriage bed reveals our self-centeredness and me-centric attitude. Marriage isn’t about the other person for these people—it’s about what they hope to gain.
Human love is directed to the other person for his own sake, spiritual love loves him for Christ’s sake. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
People are not disposable. They aren’t just things you can fancy yourself with one day, and then get bored with the next.
Marriage has never, nor will ever be about finding the perfect mate you can tolerate for the next 40 to 50 years.
Marriage is about mutual submission to another human being under the headship of Jesus Christ for life, and not just when it suits you.
Marriage Is What Teaches Us About Unconditional Love
As we grow and spend more time with our spouses, we begin to understand them more deeply than any other person on this earth. We see the light side, and we also see the dark side of their nature. Aside from the Lord, you will never know more about another person than through marriage.
Marriage is life in the trenches. Not if, but when hardships come your bond is what holds you together through life’s trials. Tough times pierce our armor, and in those moments of suffering they need your strength and support, not abandonment.
Marriage is where we learn what it means to lay aside our preferences.
Our pet peeves.
Our preconceived notions about what a quality spouse looks like.
Marriage is going headfirst into a relationship with no strings attached. No conditions. No quality assurance. No performance evaluations.
We have devalued men and women by considering their potential ability the standard for marriage.
People are not expendable. Don’t you realize it breaks the Father’s heart to pieces when men and women toss aside people and relationships like yesterday’s garbage?
People are to be treasured. Valued. Honored. Respected.
Are there degrees of uncertainty in marriage? Of course. But no amount of driving on the highway will prepare you for who they will become in the next 5, 10, 20, or 30 years. You cannot predict who someone will become, and you cannot use that excuse as a reason to test-drive a spouse.
Marriage depends on Jesus Christ, not on the perceived operating conditions of your potential spouse.
I want to end with one of my favorite quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.