Shacking Up: Is Living Together Wrong, Necessary, or Both?

BY: - 9 Feb '10 | Relationships

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by Aja Dorsey Jackson

My husband and I lived together before we got married. It was not a test of our relationship as much as it was a practical financial decision for both of us. A few months after we got engaged, his roommate moved out. At the same time I had temporarily moved back home and as much as I love my mother, was more than ready to move back out. It made more sense at the time for us to move in together rather than to find separate places less than a year before the wedding.

I was raised to believe that co-habitation was wrong but I don’t regret my decision. For me, living together didn’t seem to take away from the marriage experience. Those first few months sharing the same space were admittedly rocky, but I think they would have been whether we were married or not. If anything, I think it put us a few months ahead of the game in knowing that I forget to turn off lights when I leave a room or that he seems to be allergic to dish detergent. As wrong as it may be to say, having those awkward, bumpy moments ahead of time made the first year of marriage seem like a bit of a breeze in comparison.

While living together worked out for us in the end, I probably wouldn’t recommend it. A friend of mine recently suggested that moving in together was necessary before you even begin talking about marriage. To him, you never really know someone until you live with him or her, so making a commitment without doing so was senseless. I disagree. I think that living with someone can be difficult period, and married or not, that person will probably do something at some point that will make you feel like moving out. The difference is that in marriage you are supposed to remain committed through these annoyances, which isn’t the case when you are just shacking up. While I have seen many cohabitating couples go on to marry and have happy relationships, I have seen just as many end up getting their feelings hurt after putting so much on the line just testing the waters.

Did you live with your spouse before you walked down the aisle? Is living together before marriage wrong or a good “test drive” for the real thing?

Aja Dorsey Jackson is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Baltimore, Maryland. Find out more about her at

About the author

Lamar Tyler wrote 2227 articles on this blog.

Lamar Tyler is co-creator He also is the co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing.


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44 WordPress comments on “Shacking Up: Is Living Together Wrong, Necessary, or Both?

  1. Lamar Post author

    From a study done by Rutgers University a few years back:

    Cohabitation (Shacking Up) is just like marriage, but without “the piece of paper.”

    Answer: FALSE

    Cohabitation typically does not bring the benefits—in physical health, wealth, and emotional wellbeing—that marriage does. In terms of these benefits cohabitants in the United States more closely resemble singles than married couples. This is due, in part, to the fact that cohabitants tend not to be as committed as married couples, and they are more oriented toward their own personal autonomy and less to the wellbeing of their partner.

  2. Lamar Post author

    We lived together briefly before being married because of circumstances regarding school starting and Ronnie coming from out of state. If someone did want to shack all I would say is don’t compare it to marriage. It is not the same as Aja eluded to, when you shack in the back of your mind you know you can roll at any moment. It’s not a test-run, it’s not a trial period it just clearly is not the same as the evidence shows above.

  3. Harriet

    Patrick and I lived together (along with two or three other adults who needed a place to stay) for about 5 months before we got married. I HATED it because we wanted to remain abstinent, and our living situation made that very difficult. It just is what it is. So I asked him to move out, which he did. After my experience living with him, I broke up with him, called the wedding off, then we made up, set another date, then I postponed THAT date. I couldn’t make up my mind, and I believe our living situation played a large role in my indecisiveness. We finally made it to the altar, still abstinent, and even more in love. But our living together–even for that short amount of time–almost ruined our relationship.

    Our situation further solidified in my mind that shacking up–whether you’re sharing the same bed or not–is not a good idea. I acknowledge that my spiritual beliefs play a large role in that perception, but the experience I’ve had truly solidified that belief.

  4. Mrs. Dickey

    I agree 100%. My husband and I moved in together 6 months before the wedding, but we had already been engaged another 8 months before then. Plus I would spend the night at his house so often before then, we kinda already got a taste of those nuances that we would have to deal with once we lived together forever. Our choice to move together before marriage was also for financial purposes and also because we thought it would be easier to already be in our home instead of worrying about moving everything in after we returned from our honeymoon.

    Good article. This is such a touchy topic for some.

  5. busybodyk

    I think that living together is okay but not necessary. My husband and I moved in together about 2 months before we got married. We dated for almost 7 years before the big day so we KNEW each other. I knew how sloppy he was and he knew I liked the kitchen sink clear of dishes before I went to bed each night. If you don’t know someone well enough to marry them without living with them then you haven’t been paying attention. Pay attention and living together won’t be necessary. Like they say, before you get married keep both eyes wide open and after you get married close one.

  6. Aja

    @ Mrs. Dickey, I agree-I was spending most of my week at his house anyway before we moved in together so it wasn’t much of a stretch once I actually moved in. I think most of our problems came when it came to bills which was the biggest difference from before.

    @busybodyk I have always liked that quote. It is so true.

  7. Shayla

    My husband and I moved in together before we got married. In our case it definitely made sense from financial standpoint since he was my neighbor and lived right under me. We figured.. why on earth are we paying 2 rents, 2 BGE bills, 2 Cable bills, and 2 of everything else that comes along with a household. It also helped that we really enjoyed each others company and liked being around each other. This definitely made it easier when deciding to spend the rest of my life with him since I already knew his quirks and he knew mine. I remember telling my oldest brothers mom (who is extremely old fashion) that we were moving in together, I did worry a little what her thoughts were going to be considering my brother and his wife could not sleep in the same bed in her house even though they were married. I wondered what is she going to say, after letting my parents know, I called her, and while I was expecting the conservative response, I got, “well, that’s what ppl are doing now”. LOL.. I think that it is up to the individuals if you think that you need to like together prior to getting married. What works for some, does not always work for others.

  8. michele

    Me and my husband lived together before we got married, and we were engaged for three years before we actually walked down the aisle. I’m glad we made that choice because it allowed me the opportunity to really get to know him as a person, and as the man I would be spending the rest of my life with. I got to see all of his habits (good and bad) and he got to see mine (good and bad). I stayed at home until I got married, so it was a great tool for me to understand and experience what it meant to be a responsible adult….ie paying bills, contributing to the homestead, spending time together, etc…etc…it worked out for us. I wouldn’t suggest it for everyone because their situations may be and probably are different, as well as their views, opinions, morals, and values.

  9. Nikki M

    My husband and I lived together from the time we got engaged up to the marriage in order to save money for the wedding. We got married when I was 29 and he was 34, and we both had been accustomed to being on our own for quite some time. I found the experience to be a valuable preview into married life, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. We learned to work together, and we were both able to see what we were really getting into by choosing one another as partners for life. We did have some family members who tried to convince us of how wrong it was for us to live together before marriage, but that was a decision that we needed to confront together, as a couple. I don’t regret it at all; it solidified that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

  10. {JeLisa} @ Blogging Ever After

    This is such a hard one!

    I can only answer for myself and say that for my husband and I, it wasn’t an option. Mostly because we were waiting until after marriage to have sex, and living together would have made it really hard {we may be Christian, but we’re still human!}.

    2 of our 3 years together before marriage were spent in college with me living on campus, and there were times we’d be at each other’s place really late {studying}, and we’d spend the night. We always felt a little weird about it, but truth is it was really special to us and we loved it. But we never did live together until after our honeymoon.
    .-= {JeLisa} @ Blogging Ever After´s last blog ..Does it count as a date if your husband says you look like a bum? =-.

  11. Kimberly May

    My husband & I lived together for the 2 months prior to our wedding. It was a practical decision: I was just moving back to the US from Canada & was trying to sell my condo. Rather than move all of my belongings back to a temporary location, it just made sense to start the transition right away.

    Most of the commenters here have relayed stories similar to mine: they already knew they were going to marry, already had (or had presented) the ring and already had a date set. To me, that was the ONLY way I was going to be willing to cohabitate ever again.

    I did it once before and it made the old saying very clear to me: “Why buy the cow when the milk is free?”. My ex-boyfriend had every intention of marrying me……once he did the things that he wanted to do: including hang out with his boys all day & night, every single day, purchase a house (with ZERO input from me), etc. In my mind (without telling him) I gave him one year. PERIOD. And when that year came & I had no ring, I bounced. Never to be seen or heard from again!

    I think that we as a society (and particularly as a people) have become so comfortable with the idea of cohabitation that the reasons our parents & their parents frowned upon it have been long forgotten. Additionally, marriage is not nearly as high a priority for some as it is others. Times have changed in these areas, and I say they’ve changed for the worst.

    If you feel that you want to spend your life with someone, is their “detergent allergy” a deal-breaker? Really? If you know that you are in a committed, monogomous, forever relationship, will that change if one person doesn’t pick up after themselves? Really? I think that the whole idea of “getting to know someone REALLY by living under the same roof” is a cop out. I call B.S.!

  12. Aja

    @ Kimberly, Agreed. I think there are a lot of practical reasons why living together has traditionally been frowned upon. I think the biggest thing is that you end up combining a whole lot of your life with someone else without really having any guarantees or protection if it goes wrong somehow. I felt much better about things having a ring and a wedding date, but even that doesn’t have too many real reassurances.

  13. MTM

    My husband and I lived together for years before we got married. At one point, neither of us really valued marriage like that. But at some point it became a priority, and that’s where I can see not living together until a date was set, because of the whole “free milk” thing. But in the end, we were, and still are, committed to each other and our family. I would tell my daughter it’s best to wait until you are engaged to live together.

    I disagree with this, however: “The difference is that in marriage you are supposed to remain committed through these annoyances, which isnt the case when you are just shacking up.” I think this is a highly individual thing. Sure, there are serial cohabitators who aren’t truly committed to each other. And I’m glad I never lived with anyone but my (then boyfriend, now) husband. But marriage, while sacred and beautiful, doesn’t come with any more guarantees than shacking up. While it is more difficult to legally dissolve a marriage than an unmarried cohabitating relationship, we live in a country where you can just divorce and walk away from a marriage with no fault (and let’s not forget that 50% of marriages end that way). So that piece of paper (or religious decree) itself doesn’t make a marriage more stable than a cohabitating relationship. What makes a marriage (or a cohabitation relationship) more or less stable is the commitment between two individuals to each other. Not to go off, but those are the kind of statements that make single people think that married people feel superior to them. You can’t judge everyone’s situations by the standards of your relationship.

  14. Aja

    “Not to go off, but those are the kind of statements that make single people think that married people feel superior to them. You cant judge everyones situations by the standards of your relationship.”

    I completely agree that there are married people who are not truly committed to one another, and people who live together that are. I made it a point to use the words “supposed to” because there are a lot of married people who don’t honor these commitments. However, I don’t believe that living together and being married are one in the same. I don’t necessarily understand how that is being judgemental or feeling superior, especially since my husband and I lived together for almost a year before we were married. It is a decision that every couple will make as individuals. Do I think that I am better than people who are living together, absolutely not. But I don’t think that living together is the same as being married.

  15. John Curtis

    Despite decades of judgment and criticism, there are a lot of advantages of Cohabitation. While marriage is touted as THE only way to truly have a successful, committed relationship, there are many distinct advantages to cohabitation that are often overlooked, a few of which are as follows:

    1) Time-bound – One BIG advantage of cohabitation is that it is NOT until death do you part. Instead, its more likely bound by the one-year lease you have on your apartment or some other form of limitation set up in your calendar. It can be beneficial to talk upfront about the relationships “life-span!” You should consider declaring a particular date 6 or 12 months out, and then sit down at that time to evaluate how well the relationship is going. If things have been good, perhaps you pick a longer time horizon until you do your next check up. If things have not gone well, youll more likely find it easier to end the relationship…. the lease is up and so is our time together.

    2) Maintain Individuality – One assumption of marriage, like the unity candle ceremony demonstrates during the wedding, is that two people become one. However, suppose youre not ready to take this bold step. Cohabitation allows you to work on building a relationship without necessarily giving up your individuality. A “separate but equal” approach can help reduce the anxiety that you might feel if you were to “lose yourself” in the relationship. No relationship gets better based on how much you give up to be in it. Living together is a low risk method to see IF you can live with someone, full-time and not diminish your individuality in the process.

    3) Eliminate Illusions – Its been said the if “love is blind” then “marriage is an institution for the blind!” Its normal that in the early stages of a dating relationship, each partner is trying to put their best foot forward. One of the real shocks that can occur after marriage is to discover that the person you married is not who you thought. Cohabitation affords you the time for the illusions to disappear and the real person to emerge. When this happens in marriage and the image does not match the reality, it can send a shock wave through the marriage and creates a sense of being trapped in a deception. Instead, by living together, while you may be shocked by the reality of your partners hygiene habits, lack of anger management, passive-aggressive sniping, at least youre not trapped… see #1 above.

    4) Practice Equality – Successful relationships are about many things including creating a sense of equality. In days gone bye, it was not expected that the man and woman were equals. The man ruled and no one questioned it, despite what may have been disastrous consequences. Now, however, “power with” vs. “power over” is one key to making an intimate relationship work. During the dating phase of a relationship, its easy to maintain a “balance of power!” He picks a restaurant, she picks a movie and next time the roles shift. Once you move in together, you have the chance to see just how equal you are with your partner. The question of who controls the TV remote, who cleans the kitchen or who does laundry is quickly answered. The outcome is an important piece of information for you to know about your partner. If you are lucky, your partner values equality and if he or she does not, at least you learned it before walking down the aisle.

    While it has been said by many naysayers of cohabitation that you cannot “practice” commitment, I say bunk. Cohabitation has some real advantages over getting married, at least in the short term. The above are just a few.

  16. Lamar

    As a man what I’ll tell my daughters is this: If you “want to get married” don’t do it. It may have advantages for the short term but hopefully what they’ll be looking for is the long term.

    Sidenote: I think there is a distinct difference between living together as bf\gf and as an engaged couple with a date set. Two totally different scenarios.
    .-= Lamar´s last blog ..Roll Call Keeps Rolling – Close To 1000 Comments on =-.

  17. Tiffany

    My husband and I lived together two years before we even got engaged. That was mostly because at the time, my parents were going through a VERY rough patch in their marriage and I needed to get away from the drama. Living with him was supposed to be temporary, but I never left.

    I do not recommend couples living together before getting married. I have a friend who just got married. She and her husband seem to be having a great time in their post-wedding world. Buying a house, deciding who’s furniture they’ll keep and just starting their lives together… the “right” way. All that stuff I feel my husband and I missed out on because we jumped the gun WAY too early.
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Sorry Boo, I Don’t Support You =-.

  18. Brynn

    My husband and I lived together for 13 months before we got married. It was mostly for practical reasons, 1. we we’re at each other’s places every night anyway, 2. why pay two sets of bills, and the most important: 3. our work/school schedules took such drastic turns that we would only be able to see each other and converse at nighttime and neither of us felt like traveling after a long days work across town to each other’s places each night. When we moved in together we knew we we’re gonna get married but had not set a date yet mostly because of our school schedules and also we couldn’t afford a wedding but we had one thing that trumped even these things, a true commitment to one another.
    There were people who mumbled about our living arrangements, but I learned through that experience that “you gotta do you” period. There was no way that I could have known it would work out so well for us, but i did know that our relationship was an A & B conversation only, so I didn’t need a co-signing party (family, girlfriends, etc.) to tell me what was best for my relationship; and thankfully my husband didn’t either.
    My advice would be that this is an intensely personal decision and unfortunately it does not work out for a lot of people, but if you and your guys are serious about your commitment to one another and you guys do plan to get married…you gotta do you.

  19. Ebonie

    I lived with my ex- boyfriend for 4 years. I left him and moved out of the apartment we shared in October 09′. Looking back on the situation, I wish we would have never lived together unless we were married. I became a wife (cooking, cleaning, taking care of our daughter,working my 9 to 5) while he c0ntinued to kick it with his boys.

    I realized that I deserved better and if I am going to do everything a wife does, I will actually be a wife.

  20. cmo

    Everyone’s comment has been of a “worldly” perspective. No one wants to be held accountable for their actions. All of the self-justifications (ie: financially sound, engaged, trial-run and so forth) are in no shape, form or fashion in line with what God says about it. Of course we are human so has humans we want to do what feels good at the moment or what makes sense to us ( live in the flesh). But at the end of the day, it is God’s word that matters and nobody seems to think that what He has to say isn’t important and for our own good. Times may have changed, but God is still the same yesterday, today and forever. I could throw in some scriptures as to back-up what I am saying, but if there are any ACTIVELY practicing Christians, then you should already know. If anyone gets defensive and I know that some will, go and read God’s word for yourself and then come back to comment.

  21. MTM

    @Aja I agree that marriage and cohabitation are not equivalent. What I think is judgemental is to deem that cohabitating couples are not “supposed” to be committed enough to each other to stick it out. While some may be cohabitating more casually than are some married couples, when you say “just” shacking up, you not only imply that marriage and cohabitation aren’t equivalent (which is true and fair), but that marriage is universally superior to cohabitation (which isn’t true, and can be seen as judgemental), dig?

    @cmo I realize that this is a heavily Christian-centered community and blog, but not everyone who reads or comments is Christian. As a non-Christian, what the Bible does or does not say about marriage/cohabitation has no bearing on my relationship. So what matters to us is the commitment we have to each other, not what a book says. Sorry to be harsh, but the Christian perspective is not the only one, and it seems like some Christians really believe that it is.

  22. MTM

    last point, I promise. Sorry! To clarify about how the phrase “just shacking up” implies inferiority… consider these two phrases about two nonequivalent words.

    Men can lift more weight than women, generally. She’s a woman. She can’t lift as much weight. (nonequivalent, nonjudgmental).

    Men can lift more weight than women, generally. She’s just a woman. She can’t lift as much weight. (nonequivalent, but being a man is conveyed as being superior to “just” being a woman).

    It’s late, and this is semantics. But I had to weigh in (over and over lol).

  23. Terrific

    Although I’ve never had this situation, my sister did. She got engaged in Dec. 2002 while she was living in Colorado. When she came back to MD in Sept. 2003, she moved in with our parents until the wedding, which was May 2004. Even though her fiance already had a house, she knew she just couldn’t move in with him before they were married. I asked her why she didn’t move in with him and she said “Because we’re not married”. One of my girlfriends just got married last year, even relocated to New Orleans where her fiance lived, and she did not move in with him, she got her own place, so they lived separately until they got married. They even pushed up the wedding date so that they could hurry up, marry, and live together.
    If I can help it, I plan not to live with my fiance/boyfriend until after marriage. We’ll see.

  24. Harriet


    I am a practicing Christian, and I’m not offended at all by your commentary. The truth is the truth. Making no excuses for my behavior, I did what I did, but God’s grace kept us abstinent until we got married. ONLY His grace! :o)

    Nevertheless, although my faith pretty much is the center of the actions I take, what MTM says must be taken into consideration when disussing a topic like this in an open forum:

    “This is a heavily Christian-centered community and blog, but not everyone who reads or comments is Christian. As a non-Christian, what the Bible does or does not say about marriage/cohabitation has no bearing on my relationship. So what matters to us is the commitment we have to each other, not what a book says.”

    As difficult as it is for me to look at this topic outside the lens of Christianity, realistically, there are other viewpoints. Those viewpoints may not work for me, but that doesn’t mean I antagonize them. Truthfully, if our goal as Christians is to make disciples (NOT church members), then we need to reflect something that’s going to make the Gospel palatable. Not reduce its standards, but make it appealing.

  25. cmo

    @ Harriet, my comment wasn’t to come off as judgemental as MTM stated, the point that I was trying to make is that if we as Christians are to be examples of how God wants us to live, ( and I by no means am perfect, no one is) but if we wee to hold the sanctity of marriage as God would have us to, then there must be standards or else the results are reflective of how marriage is viewed today.

    @ MTM, my intentions were not to come off as judgemental, but only stating the truth. I expected such a comment from a non-christian (s). You are entitled to your own truths as I am.

  26. cmo

    I will no longer comment about this particular issue as everyone will do and think as they please. I feel strongly about my beliefs and I’m sure others feel just as strong about their own beliefs.

  27. Harriet


    Sis, I certainly didn’t mean for my comment to be taken in an antagonistic way. I gather from your comment that you didn’t take it as such, but if it seemed that way in black and white, please accept my apologies. I was simply explaining that on a site like this, all (well…most) viewpoints are brought to the table, and although there is rarely a consensus on them, at least they’re put out there for consumption and thought.

    If you want to see a story where my Christian values and viewpoints were vilified on one end, and cheered on another, check this one out:

    Poor Tara has been cursed out for stuff from counting her blessings to saluting the strength of single motherhood. LOL

    So my comment definitely wasn’t to shut you down. Your viewpoint is more than welcome! But I just wanted to forewarn you that there are some who feel–like you said–just as strongly as you do, but their viewpoint are not centered around the Bible and Jesus Christ. Just prepare yourself for that in this forum. :o)

    Be blessed!

  28. T. Rogers

    My wife and I did not move in together until after we got married. There was definitely a religious element to it. But for me there was also some philosophical element to it as well. I just did not believe in sharing that much of myself and becoming that intimate with another person if I was not sure we were heading toward marriage. When you move in with someone you become accountable to them on a much deeper level. You have to answer for your whereabouts. You have to cooperate on cleaning, etc. You have to explain your habits deal with any fallout. I refused to anything of the sort with a woman I was not married to.

    That goes to another reason I was against moving in before marriage. Most of the people I knew who did had very ambiguous relationship agreements. I have never understood why any woman would share a space with a man, cook and clean for that man, give her body to that man on a regular, answer to that man on her whereabouts all without the long term commitment of marriage. It still blows my mind.

    I agree with Lamar 100%. When my daughter gets older I will make sure to let her know the real deal. If she wants a husband she better hold back something during the courting process to make marriage worthwhile.

    Lastly, this is a general sentiment of mine. I totally agree with people who have specific situations where it simply makes sense, namely the ones who are already engaged.

  29. MTM

    @cmo if you are still reading — I didn’t mean to imply that I thought you were being judgmental, only to remind you that not everyone lives by the “God’s word” that you subscribe to. I hope I didn’t offend you.

  30. saraileads

    My husband and I waited until after the wedding to move in with one another. I think it was a mixture of conviction and not wanting to sleep with one another before our wedding. I think that cohabitation is a good reason why many black marriages never happen. You give all the benefits of marriage without being married, and then you wonder why he doesn’t want to make that commitment. Here are some facts to consider:

    •Living together is considered to be more stressful than being married.

    •Just over 50% of first cohabiting couples ever get married.

    •In the United States and in the UK, couples who live together are at a greater risk for divorce than non-cohabiting couples.

    •Couples who lived together before marriage tend to divorce early in their marriage. If their marriage last seven years, then their risk for divorce is the same as couples who didn’t cohabit before marriage.

  31. PYT

    My husband and I lived together for a year and a half before we got married this fall. We have been together since high school and have always considered marriage our goal and destination. My husband even lived with my family during breaks from college. (Think David from Roseanne!) My family and I are devoted Christians, meaning that we do unto others as we would have them do to us, love everyone, freely extend charity to those in need, and refrain from judging and disparaging others, but we are not prudish by any means. While I applaud those who reserve sex until after marriage, I never planned to do that. When I laid eyes on my husband, I knew he was the only one for me, and saw no need to put off for later what we both desired then.

    When my husband finished college, I was in graduate school in another state. He flew out to help me move to an apartment and never left! We always knew that getting engaged and married would be our next step after college, so I did not consider living together as a trial run or some sort of test. We just really enjoyed being together. We got engaged about six months later, and got married last fall.

    As far as I am concerned, it was all for the good of our relationship. Now, truth be told, if it were as socially acceptable today as it was in my Grandparents’ time, I would have gladly married my husband when we met, at 16. However, today’s social mores encourage people to finish college and somewhat settle in before marriage, which is fine, but we shouldn’t expect love to wait.

    As for living together, while not for every couple, I don’t see it as any more morally objectionable than having children prior to marriage. (My husband and I don’t have any children yet.) Truly, I don’t know any woman who has a child with a man who would PREFER that she and the father of her child maintain separate households, and if they do, it is usually because he does not want to be with her, not because she is withholding the benefits of marriage from him until he ponies up with that engagement ring!


    My mom was always been really strict about not living together before you get married. My husband and I had the extreme of that situation though. He lived in L.A. and I lived in NY! When we got engaged he moved in with me into my brownstone in Brooklyn, NY. We had already set a wedding date, however, so that didn’t bother our parents much. but BOY those 9 months before the wedding were a SERIOUS transition. Looking back on it, I might have lived together a little while longer, because the pressure of putting together a wedding AND living with someone for the first time almost drove me to drink heavily! LOL!

    – savvy

  33. Candi

    I believe that every situation is different. I live with my Fiance now and love it. Would I recommend it for everyone no. I’ve done it before without a marriage date and simply as bf/gf and it was disastrous. Knowing we are getting married and working towards it put a completely different angle on it.

    Bills get paid finances are discussed and we pray harder together than we did as singles. Although we would love to be married now and live right in our Christian beliefs we know we are working towards it and everyday we’re getting closer to it. Both of our families are supportive and can’t wait for the wedding day.

    I’ve seen great examples of cohabitation and marriages that are stronger than those who went the “right way” about it and I’ve seen some horrid examples. It all depends on the people. I don’t look down on those that do and respect those that don’t.
    .-= Candi´s last blog ..Mother Sends Daughters Out In Cold Wearing Only Paper Bags =-.

  34. Cohabitator

    Cohabitation is cohabitation and marriage is marriage. I don’t suggest living together as a prelude to getting married or a stepping stone to getting married. Cohabitation is its own experience and should be treated as such. Living together does not imply a lesser commitment. Nor does it mean that one can simply “leave”. We live together and we are accountable to each other, we are accountable to one anothers family, we share bank accounts, insurance etc. It would be easier to divorce a spouse because at least the rules for assest divsion in a divorce are pretty clear cut. In our situation there is no “getting the milk for free” on either of our parts.

    Most of our neighbors and people we come accross see us as being married. Our families think of us as a unit.

    Why aren’t we married? We did not want to get married until we both had cleared up our debt. In that regard, I feel that we have shown our commitment to each other. In that we are committed to building a life with each other, but also protecting each other. Neither one of us wants to bring debt to our marriage. In that regard we are no different from a married couple who says “we can’t afford to do X”.

  35. Candis

    What a great topic! I agree with a lot of points made during previous comments.

    My husband and I lived together for 8 years before marrying 6 months ago. We have 2 boys, one together, and his son has lived with us for most of that time. With that said…

    It annoys me that married people think that people that live together are not commited. I do agree that marriage is a bond honored by God. But all the while we lived together we were still committed to each other and our family. A lot of people have the misconception that cohabitators are soley interested in the abilty to walk away. And that’s just not the case.

    We got married when it became important to us… period. We have had lots of outside pressure to marry. But early on, it never really mattered to me. It didn’t and still does not make me feel any more committed than I did before. We got married so that our union would be pleasing to God and set an example for our children about the sanctity of marriage. He is still the man that I want to spend the rest of my life with, just as he was during the years we lived together. The bigger issue for me was that I didn’t want to raise men that were ambivalent toward marriage. I didn’t want to contribute to that epidemic in our community.

    OK… I’ll get off my soapbox!!! LOL

    But my answer is no, I don’t think living together is necessary. It just depends on the people involved.

  36. chosen one

    It’s wrong to live together “before” marriage. In the bible says not to play with the devil.. dont give it an inch. Sleeping with someone before marriage condemns your soul. So why would you put yourself in this high temptation situation?? To set yourself up for failure. I heard too many stories of people that not necessarily lived together but sleep together before marriage. Their relationships were doomed or received too many problems (like a curse). No wonder, – these are one of the consequences of disbodience to GOD. And your inviting the devil to dwell in your life. Especially when your not equally yoked too !! Unlike persons that WAIT on God’s time to bring their “chosen One” for them. And obey his word. He truly blesses it!

  37. Gwen

    My fiance and I live together. It works great. We officially moved in together when we moved to Michigan so I could take on a new position. I didn’t want to move here alone and he didn’t want to be back home in Cleveland without me. It was pretty much a done deal as soon as I was offered the job – we both already knew we would be moving together to Michigan without either of us saying anything. And the idea of living separately in a new state made no sense to us. Although I am well over 25 (and fully grown!) my parents were livid. They instantly stopped liking him (although they were calling him their “son” before we made this announcement). My sister flipped out and stopped talking to me (as if my moving in with someone affected her life in any way).

    So far it’s been about 6 months we’ve been shacking up. We weren’t engaged when we moved in together…that happened about 3 months after we moved in. About 2 weeks ago, my family started coming around and accepting our living situation (probably b/c they’ve realized that all the hooping and hollering in the world isn’t going to change anything and we’re still going to be “shacking up”). My mom is back to calling him her “son” and apologized to us for they way she’d been acting.

    I wasn’t raised to live with a man. And honestly, I have fended off a few boyfriends who suggested we live together. That was so not my style. But this one was different. I love living with my fiance. I love it even more that he wasn’t content to just live together and be common law, he actually decided to make it official, and it didn’t take long.
    .-= Gwen´s last blog ..Why Mean People Are Nice For Business =-.

  38. Terrie Lynn

    I always felt like you never really know a person until you live with them. Sometimes you even learn more about yourself when you live with someone else. Do you think living together before you get married could be a plus if the two of you really love each other and are not just living together to combine incomes?

  39. Pingback: Eric Nathan Fitzpatrick

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How Did I Know He Was “The One?”

BY: - 10 Feb '10 | Relationships

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by Harriet Hairston

As you all know, I work around a lot of college students. The most common question I get asked is, “How did you know your husband was ‘the one?'”

Every time I answer the question, I find myself falling deeper and deeper in love with this man I’ve dedicated a great part of my life to. He is charming, respectful, chivalrous, bold, and madly in love with the Lord. He’ll never even THINK of hitting a woman, he loves me just the way I am, and hates when I belittle myself, he’s an awesome father, and a great writer.

I could go on and on about why I love him, but knowing he was “The One” was more nebulous for me. I wasn’t the kind of sister to walk around with a long list of unrealistic expectations. That just wasn’t my thing. I felt like I could go with the flow of a relationship and if it progressed past my commitment to remain abstinent until marriage, then that person would prove to be a great candidate for me.

Here are some methods I used when making the choice for my mate:

  • Determine what your non-negotiables are, and make sure they’re realistic. For example, a real relationship with the Lord was a non-negotiable for me. Other non-negotiables can include credit scores (which are subject to change), respect for their mothers (because if he can’t respect his own mama, how much more would he disrespect you?), etc.
  • Are you physically attracted to him? I love the Lord, and I believe He gave me my sexual desires for the purpose of marriage. That said, it would be unrealistic for me to marry someone that I wasn’t remotely attracted to.
  • Does he get along with your family (or at least make an attempt to)? All in all, I saw myself in the future with this man, having his children and growing in the same direction with him. It’s been a wild ride, and I look forward to the longevity of our lives together.

So, BMWK…how did YOU know your spouse was “The One?” What kind of criteria did you look for?

God bless!

~ Harriet

Harriet Hairston is a woman who slips and slides in and out of labels (military officer, human resource manager, minister, mentor, spoken word artist and teacher). The only ones that have stuck so far are “wife” and “mother” (the most important in her estimation). The rest have taught her well that only what she does for Christ will last. She joyously writes for the site Black and Married with Kids and her own blog entitled “Can She SAY That?!?” There is one more permanent label she holds: “author.” Her first book, “Who Are You?” discusses how to introduce yourself to your identity in Jesus Christ. It will be available through in early March 2010.

About the author

Lamar Tyler wrote 2227 articles on this blog.

Lamar Tyler is co-creator He also is the co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing.


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