Being non-nuptial it excludes itself from marriage.
What then do we know about living together as a prolegomenon to theological work?
In section 1 there is an important caveat about what living together means.
A basic distinction must first be made between people who intend marriage and live together first, and people who live together with no intention of marriage.
Others are trying out their suitability for marriage - called (in the trade) the weeding hypothesis.
Only those cohabiting couples who find themselves to be well suited and more committed to marriage go on to marry.
The rest weed themselves out or are weeded out by the experience.
The second was a widespread separation of marriage from parenthood, which happened in the 80s and gathered pace in the 90s.
The unconditional love which in Christian marriage reflects Christs love for the Church (Eph.5.25) cannot be nourished in a context where it can be terminated if things dont work out.6.
Men, in particular, are likely to be less committed to the female partners they live with, and much less committed than women to any children of the partnership.
The re-visioning of the entry into marriage I propose depends on the recovery of the practice of betrothal both in the Bible and in Eastern and Western churches (section 3).
The combination of the social analysis of living together and the historical analysis of Christian marital tradition leads to proposals for liturgical innovation (section 4) and for developing theological and pastoral opportunities among pre-married people (section 5).
There are plenty of difficulties with trial-marriages, best exposed by asking what is being tried.