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Probably everyone reading this has rented at one time or another. Many of you are living in a rented house or apartment as you read this. Even the well-to-do probably rented a dorm room or apartment during their college years.

Those among us fortunate enough to own a home realize there is a difference between renting and owning your home.

A rental really belongs to no one. Nobody really cares for it enough to keep it up. It tends to look somewhat worn out compared to a house that belongs to someone.

A house that's yours has your name on it – both on legal papers down at the courthouse and on the mailbox at the road. You cut the grass, paint the walls, hang up pictures, and constantly make plans to improve it.

When people claim a place as their own, you hear them say things like “there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed,” or “I just love this old place!”

Love. I guess that's the difference. Nobody loves a rental, but when someone makes the commitment to claim a house as their own, they do it because they love the house in some small way, and the longer they live there, the deeper that love grows.

It's the same with a couple.

Nowadays, men and women tend to “rent” their relationship. They go on a date or meet in a bar, and the next thing you know, they sleep together. Once they've been intimate a few times, they usually decide to make it more convenient by living together.

Sometimes they have children, sometimes not, but there is no permanence to the relationship, no matter how long they're together.

Studies show that a couple that lives together before marriage has a 29 percent higher chance of divorce than a couple that didn't.

The chance of break-up for the unmarried couple living together is twice as high after 10 years than for a married couple.

We used to call it “shacking up” when an unmarried couple lived together. Even though they often refer to it as “engaged” these days, there is still a shadow over that couple that is not over a married couple.

A married man has a reason to go home at night. His family is waiting for him there. They are the reason he works, even on days when he'd rather not. He is “supporting his family,” as a man should. He is trusted enough by a woman that she will stay with him, and commit to staying with him for the rest of her life, giving up her own name to take his.

A married woman carries herself with a dignity not seen in a woman who merely lives with a man. She is claimed, like a beautiful home. She is wanted enough by a man that he will commit to spending the rest of his life with her. She feels secure enough to have children, and put the time and energy into raising them to be confident, wise adults.

Good things only come with commitment, with laying one's life down for the sake of that good thing.

If I move in a rental house, all I have to do is come up with enough cash and have a few good references. A renter lacking integrity might move out at the drop of a hat, leaving the place in disarray.

If I buy a house, I commit my money, my time and energy, and a good portion of my future to the gain of owning that home. It's something that requires a serious decision.

Time. Maturity. Deliberation. Commitment. That's what marriage requires. But it's well worth it.

Don't be a rental.