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Faith & Spirituality Family or Marriage Finances & Money

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.

Admitting Defeat

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.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • No, you do have a conviction: your conviction is that people matter more than your creator, and money matters more than that. You said that.

    • @Ford, don’t put words in my mouth. It makes you sound like a comment troll. I never said I had a conviction that I believe in a creator, so your assumption is false right off the bat. If I believed in a creator, that would be a conviction to support the drivel you just produced in your comment (such as me valuing money more than my wife).

      Outside of the creator discussion, people matter more to me than money. That’s why I attempted to follow an unknown path to make our engagement and marriage right even if it meant spending hundreds a month to do so. It wasn’t working out and just causing more strain than gain in our relationship so we decided to move back together.

  • Clever Dude I agree, complete and utter drivel in Ford’s comment. I also lived in a very similar arrangement as you and I am happy to say that my husband and I are going on 17 happy years together meanwhile, all of our friends that didn’t live in “sin” before marraige are divorced. I walked down that isle happy and content that we both knew what was involved in all aspects of marraige whether it be people, money, or our creator. You and your wife are still together and that alone makes Ford’s comment sound more like the troll you mentioned.

  • Thanks for sharing that very personal part of your life. Sorry your first comment kicked you in the teeth. Ford is wrong. What catholics, christians or anyone else says is not important. I always imagine what would Jesus say to me if he was standing in front of me. He wouldn’t say what ford said that’s for sure. Any religious answer or comment must come from a heart of a God that has unlimited love for you.

    No sense regretting what happened in the past, if you learned from it then it was good it happened.

    Having anger towards the people who disrespected your wife is natural. The same thing just happened to me recently. I know how it feels. God just wants us to forgive not forget and deny our hurt feelings.

    Keep up the good work Dude.

  • Clever Dude, I think it was a good effort to try out seperate living arrangements. I was raised Catholic too and understand the pressure to conform. Perhaps the experiment went on a little too long. Personally, uncomfortable living situations drive me crazy. If I was your wife I would have been begging to call off the experiment after 1 week. You made the decision together so it wasn’t totally your fault. Oh, and I would totally still resent that friend that kicked your wife out, but we are supposed to forgive right?

  • Certainly a lot of emotions go along with that story. Religion & spiritual beliefs are certainly a personal decision, with no right or wrong answers, but a lot of questions for most people!

  • I’ve known some folks with extreme religious convictions. They often seem to enjoy being bossy through a thin veil of piety, than they seem like people who worship often and try to make the world a better place.

  • Sometimes religion can be confusing and Catholic laws can be a challenge. God was just testing you as a couple on what you would do and I’m sure He appreciated both your effort. At least in the end, you guys made it through and got married. But don’t regret what you did or what had happened. Remember all things happen for a reason. Life is a constant journey to discovering things good and bad. Thanks for sharing…

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