Let’s Give It A Shot!

I used the following justifications:

  • It will be fun!
  • We’ll get to know how we fit together
  • Think of the money we’ll save
  • We spend so much time with each other anyway

and the most fake excuse:

  • Why bother with getting married?

The “it” is the relationship I had with my (notably ex-) girlfriend from many years ago. We decided that moving in together was an idea, an idea worth doing.

We shacked-up.

Not that we called it “shacking-up” then. The milder term was “living together” or even the platonic-sounding “sharing a place.” For parents, hers in particular, this was a softer blow. Does any father really want his daughter co-habiting without the commitment of marriage?

A few thoughts on shacking-up. Firstly, this:

“Asserting cohabitation is basically asserting that one is not ‘locked in’ to a commitment,” he says, whereas marriage sends a signal of dependability and predictability. “The take-home implication is that our brains are sensitive to signs that the people we depend on in our lives are predictable and reliable. And our brains will depend upon — will, in effect, outsource to — those we feel are most predictable and reliable for our emotion-regulation needs.+

In other words, marriage has an entirely different emotional basis than shacking-up. Living together is not a cipher for, nor a pre-cursor to marriage. They are different ways of coupling.

Secondly, I am willing to bet that the motives for people shacking-up are much less about creating a strong couple than secondary economic or sexual expedience. Saving money and access to each others’ bodies might sound like a good idea…but does any mature person truly see this as a basis for something long-term?

Thirdly, forming a couple is a process. Shacking-up appears to be a short-cut that speeds up the months or years that it takes to discover if this person is really a match. But beware: short-cuts can take you away from the experiences that allow us to see one another in various situations. Stress – without the pressure of co-habiting – is a good thing, if we both come out the other side with new and positive understanding of each other. Having our own places allows room for mistakes and recovery from the inevitable problems.

The daily grind of ill-founded domestic bliss has only one resolution if matters go awry.

+ Time article worth reading.

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