Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Playing House = Shacking Up!

According to the National Marriage Project, about 60% of young adults in America say they plan to live together before marriage. Most women ages 30 or younger said they’ve lived with a partner outside of marriage – known as cohabiting – at some point in their lives, according to a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People with more education and financial resources are more likely to view cohabiting as a “stepping stone” to marriage, while those with less education and fewer resources see cohabiting as an alternative to marriage, said Susan Brown, a professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

shackingupIn generations past, couples met, fell in love, got married and began building a life together. Times are a-changing.

“Never live together [before marriage] to ‘test it out.’ There are plenty of weekends that you can spend together to tell you if you should live together and to give you that feeling. You don’t need the full move-in, lock, stock and barrel and then give the milk away for free. Have you paid attention to Jessica Biel and JT? Hello!” ~ Patti Stanger of Millionaire Matchmaker

Is living together before marriage a good idea? I know… couples do it. I did it once and I would not do it again and – if asked – I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m not saying there aren’t people who move in together, get engaged soon after, get married and live happily ever after, but it seems a mutually good experience is not the common outcome for cohabitating couples.

Probably one of the worst lies couples tell themselves when shacking up is that it is to save money. Get a room mate and charge them rent. Save that money… then get married. For some couples, they think it makes sense to live together so they can determine if their relationship will last before making the commitment of marriage. However, by far the worst reason to move in with your main squeeze is to test out whether or not he/she is really marriage material. Saying, “We’re going to see if we’re compatible!” is a superficial thing to say.

There is no true commitment in living together. There is always a back door. “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll leave.” Really? Going into a relationship with the attitude that you can always leave if it doesn’t work out could end in disaster. When you are together, in a flash you can vanished from your partner’s life, leaving no trace. It gets more complicate when there are children involved. You home is a school. What are you teaching your children?

Some research suggests that children of cohabiting couples don’t fare as well in terms of their health and education than children of married couples. But increasingly, research shows that these disparities are due to unstable relationships and financial struggles that occur in among some cohabiters, rather than cohabiting per se, says Corinne Reczek, an assistant professor in the department of sociology at the University of Cincinnati.

It’s possible that if you feel the need to “test” the relationship, you may already know in your heart of hearts that it’s not meant to be. A “test drive” should be “dating” not cohabitating. Moving in with your partner is not the “next level.” You might think that with more couples road-testing their cohabitation compatibility that divorce rates would fall? Numerous researchers are finding that couples who live together have a higher rate of divorce than couples who don’t cohabit before marrying. And prior to the divorce, these couples have lower rates of marital satisfaction.

“If you’re still claiming to be test-driving your marriage years after moving in together then you’re kidding yourself. Someone in that relationship is being led like a clueless horse with a carrot dangling in front of it, biding their time until they realize it’s being wasted.” ~ Alissa Henry

You aren’t engaged… but are hoping it’s a step toward a proposal. Believe me living together before marriage does not always guarantee an engagement ring in the near future. In fact, it typically has the opposite effect. And those couples that do go on to get married have a higher divorce rate than those who didn’t live together before marriage. Living together often sends the message that marriage isn’t important to you.

It’s important to step back and objectively consider whether this person you are about to move in with is truly the best match for you, the situation is ripe for sliding into marriage by default, rather than getting married as an active, conscious choice that you’re genuinely thrilled about. And when he doesn’t propose… what then?

shackingup2Here, let me translate the term “shacking up” to you in “man-speak” ~ “I like you well enough, but not quite well enough to marry. Not yet. In fact, I’m not really sure how I feel about you. I do know that I like you well enough to have sex with and for you to wash my stained underwear and pay half the bills, but not quite well enough to fully commit to you in marriage.” ~ Katrina Fernandez

Cohabitation just makes things messier, more drawn out. Who stays and who moves out? Who keeps what furniture? Since you were splitting bills before, how is that going to be handled now? There are many things to be considered when there is a break-up.

When married you can always get a divorce. So, in truth, that’s another back door. However, couples who love each other and are committed to one another and want to stay together can always get relationship coaching. That is recommended.

Research suggests some young couples live apart – in lieu of living together – because they don’t want to sacrifice their independence, while those who are older have accumulated too many possessions to fit in one property. I know several couples who live apart and prefer it that way. This especially applies to those who have got together later in life, when each person is more likely to be set in their ways and less willing to adapt. When you don’t live together you can always kiss when you’re reunited and you have lots of stored up news. You don’t take each other for granted. You dress up for each other rather than slumming around in shorts and a t-shirt.

I cherish my independence. Independence is fun, especially when there’s a beloved waiting in the wings, and freedom makes you a more interesting person. Having separate lives brings fresh air into a relationship. Believe me, you will know whether to proceed by tying the knot. Be sure. It’s good for couples to learn how to handle arguments over things like finances and cleanliness around the house before getting married. You can do that without shacking up. Managing the money part of living together can be a challenge. Does he or she have major credit card debt? Better to know this before living together and certainly before marriage.

Regardless of what your belief about this matter is right now. it’s important to have a serious talk with your partner about moving in together. Make sure you’re both on the same page as to what the step means for your relationship.

So to wrap it up… “Women want weddings too much, men not enough. Women embrace the intimacy; men fear the responsibility. Maybe if we switched those two, women would understand why men sometimes agree to moving in as a way to put off what they think is inevitable, and men would understand why a woman would settle for a major step closer to a cherished event in her life.” ~ John DeVore

You can just as easily craft a convincing pro pre-marriage cohabitation argument. A couple of the articles below will present their side.

BONUS Article: 5 (Secular) Reasons Not to Live Together Before Marriage
Cohabitation – Divorce Link? I Don’t Think So ~ Another opinion. (Fair and balanced?) 😉
Should You Be Shacking Up?
Is He the One? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

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Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.

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