In our fortnightly column 'Great Sexpectations' the Woman Alive panel answer your questions on sex, faith and intimacy. Drop us a confidential email on and ask us anything. Here, we tackle; what to do if you're living with your partner before getting married and you feel uncomfortable about it.



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What I do feel a level of discomfort about is being a Christian, and living with my partner without being married to him. We are a committed couple and have been together for 13 and a half years. We act as if we are married, and he is a kind, caring, loyal and considerate man and has a love of nature. We have talked about marriage, but as I am myself divorced, and he has seen many marriages fail, including his own sister’s marriage twice, he is not keen to take this step and feels that it doesn’t prove devotion and commitment to each other. This is a genuine reason for us not tying the knot, and on a personal level, I don’t mind this. We are middle aged, so starting a family is not an issue.

I have prayed about this, and asked the Lord to forgive me, and to bless our relationship. I feel in my heart that He listens and don’t get the overwhelming feeling that He doesn’t approve of our relationship, although it has the "living in sin" stigma attached to it. Before I met my partner, I prayed that I would meet a decent, genuine and caring man to spend my life with, and he came into my life soon after. I feel that my prayer was answered. God will always come first in my life, He is everything to me. My partner is a pretty special man and I am happy with him. I would love to be able to have our relationship religiously blessed in some other way, if that were possible. Do you have any advice please?


Dear reader, thank you so much for writing in, and I see what a difficult situation you are in. How wonderful you have found such a good man, who you are happy with. As you have lived together for over 13 years, in the eyes of the law, you are common-law partners, however, your question is about whether you are "living in sin" in the eyes of God. I have a question; is your partner a Christian? If he is, then I suggest you ask him again to marry you. It sounds like it is fear stopping him making the commitment, and we know that as believers, we do not need to walk in fear.

If he is still unable, then perhaps Christian counselling could help him talk through his fears. You say he is a special man, and I have no doubt he is, but at the moment, he is having all the benefits of marriage, without the commitment. If he says he is committed, he needs to be brave and back up his words with action. Marriage is about covenant. Covenant is an important theme throughout the Bible. It is a sacred agreement between God and his children. God sets specific conditions, and he promises to bless us as we obey these conditions.

It sounds like it is fear stopping him making the commitment, and we know that as believers, we do not need to walk in fear.

The marriage covenant says you are bringing your relationship under God, for both his blessing and his protection. If God asks us to do something, it means it is the best for us – marriage is a very good thing. I know you have both seen pain in marriage, and I am sorry you have been through a divorce, but there is still hope for marriage.

If your partner is not a Christian, it will be harder for you to convince him of the biblical importance of covenant. I can’t tell you what to do. You have to come to the decision yourself, as if your partner will not marry you, will you leave him? The sacrifice is very high. God is faithful to those who are faithful to him. Whatever we sacrifice, it can never be bigger than the huge sacrifice he made for us on the cross. Following Jesus is a narrow path, but it leads to eternal life with him. Could you consider putting your relationship on the alter, to put Jesus first?

Whatever we sacrifice, it can never be bigger than the huge sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross.

God is good and if he is stirring you, it is because he is calling you higher. If your partner is not a Christian, your obedience could be the very thing that brings him to God. If he is a Christian, it will perhaps encourage him to take a step of faith and ask you to be his bride. Our prayers are with you, in this world to have a partner to walk through the highs and lows of life is a wonderful thing, but it is not more important than obedience to what God is asking of us.

I am reminded of the words from the hymn O the wonderful Cross: "Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live." As we lay our lives before him, we allow the fullness of his blessing and presence into our lives. Once he has our everything, nothing can hold us back, and we can find we truly live. It does not mean it will be easy, there is inevitable pain and loneliness, but he is worthy of it all, and will be with us through it all. So, dear reader, bless you, may you find strength to obey what God is asking of you.

Our Great Sexpectations column is written by a number of different contributors who make up the Woman Alive panel. If you need support with your relationship please seek help from someone you trust or contact Premier Lifeline for support. 

Premier Lifeline is a national, confidential helpline offering a listening ear, emotional and spiritual support from a Christian perspective. Premier Lifeline is open from 9am to midnight all year. If you would like someone to talk to and pray for you, call Premier Lifeline on 0300 111 0101.