Marriage & Couplehood

The Miseducation of a Modern Day Shacker: 5 Facts Every Girlfriend Needs to Know About Living Together Before Marriage

More than two-thirds of married couples in the United States will live together before saying, “I Do.”  Many couples move in together as a rehearsal before the real adventures of marriage-hood.  Some want to save money for a wedding or pay down debt. And with this test drive, you would assume you are well prepared for signing that marriage license, exchanging vows and all the ups and downs of life as Mr. & Mrs.  The truth is that for most couples who transition from living together to newlyweds, the real work begins – shifting some of the mindset beliefs learned from a shacking up lifestyle. And as a reformed shacker (a.k.a. former live-in girlfriend), I have lived it firsthand.

Here are 5 facts that every girlfriend needs to know about living together before marriage:

1.  Playing house & marriage ain’t the same

Yes, a piece of paper should change things.  Shacking-up allows you to make independent decisions about your life, your money, your career, your family, your friends, etc.  You don’t have to consult, ask, involve or even tell your honey everything about any of these areas of your life.  However, when you get married, it’s a different story as you are expected to include your significant other in ALL your business.

2.  Know & love thyself FIRST before saying “I Do”

Most women wouldn’t admit that they don’t really love ourselves, right? And many don’t even know what self-love really means.  Self-love queen and author of Choosing Me Before We, Christine Arylo, defines self-love as “the unconditional respect and unconditional love that we have for ourselves that is so deep, so solid, so unwavering that you only choose situations and relationships, including the one with yourself, that reflects the same unconditional love and respect.”

Truly loving who you are before marriage will help you navigate successfully through the love symptoms that marriage brings (i.e. communication breakdowns, a sexless marriage, money problems, etc). When you love yourself unconditionally, then you can give your true, authentic self to another. Use your time as a live-in girlfriend to get to know yourself, grow your relationship with the person in the mirror and learn to really love the reflection looking back at you.

3.  The honeymoon starts after you move in together not after you exchange vows

The honeymoon phase of marriage is about getting to know each other on a different level while sharing a close intimate space.  It’s about discovering all the little daily rituals your man has that you didn’t know about and him seeing you in your “raw” form.  When you get a head start on playing house, you get a head start on the honeymoon and the realness of living with the opposite sex.

4.  Unlimited sex cease to exists after you move in together

One of the biggest myths is that couples who live together have unlimited sex.  FALSE.  There’s something about sharing the same space with your honey that makes sex a non-priority.  It could be that you know he wears the same shorts 3-4 days in a row or that he’s obsessed with reality television. Or maybe it’s psychological.  When you think in-house booty is always available then your mindset becomes, “If we do, we do.”

5. Shacking-up does not prevent or reduce your chances of divorce

The truth is that living together before marriage doesn’t decrease your chances of getting divorced.  Some studies say the divorce rate for reformed shackers is up to 48% higher

than non-shackers.  When a man and woman live together without the wedding formalities, they set up house while risking their future together. Girlfriend, take it from a Reformed Shacker, when you have unresolved relationship issues before you transition from live-in girlfriend to wifey, those issues will continue to show up in your marriage.

Use your time as fiancée or live-in girlfriend to embrace self-love, grow your faith and trust in God (yes God loves shackers too!) and to become the person you desire in your relationship.  It will change your life, increase your love quotient and expand your faith in love.  Yes, that piece of paper binds you together but most importantly; the covenant that you make in front of God is the crazy glue that bond you for a lifetime not marriage practice.

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  1. Mairo Akpose-Simpson
    September 29, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    Great article Jennifer. I’m sure readers were expecting something different based on the title. I appreciate the matter o factness of your information. I look forward to your next article.

  2. March 28, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Yea, Mairo is right. I think I was expecting something different as well and your tone/delivery is great!