Open Question – Cohabitation: Helpful or Harmful?

cohabitationDo you think it’s best to live separately from your partner while not married, or do you think living together can help your relationship grow?

Cohabitation is becoming more and more common, but there are still mixed opinions about whether or not living with an unmarried partner is beneficial to a relationship. Some people believe that temporary cohabitation allows two people to intimately know each other before they take the bigger step of living together permanently. They think it serves as a reality check — after living together for a time, some couples decide they can’t live together for the long-term. Other couples are strengthened by their proximity.

On the other side, some think that cohabitation spoils relationships. If you’re already living together, why get married at all? Some research shows that cohabiting couples are more likely to break up or remain unmarried.

There is also the issue of timing: some couples decide to live together before they’re ready, before they know each other well enough and are ready to share a space.

What do you think of cohabiting? Do you live with your partner or have you lived with a partner in the past?

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110 thoughts on “Open Question – Cohabitation: Helpful or Harmful?

  1. Cohabitation is a great thing, and I recommend it. Well, it works for me, so it might not work for others, obviously, but I’m a proponent of cohabitation. You simply can’t know whether you can live with someone, even if you’re been together as a gf and bf for 5 years, even if you’re getting along perfectly and everything’s fantastic. You just can’t know whether you can live with this person- and it’s sure better to know what sooner than later, and definitely BEFORE you marry them.

    As for people cohabitating never getting married… Why is that a big deal? Ok, I do understand some people want to do it officially- I know I have. But it’s better to live in cohabitation unmarried, imo, than to marry someone you never lived with only to discover you simply can’t live with him.

    Ok, I admit, I am an extreme here. My husband and I started living together after knowing each other for about 2 weeks. Not something that would work for most people, I guess. But I’m a proponent of cohabitation.

  2. Well.. My husband and I did not move in together until like 3 years into our relationship. Turns out we work out pretty good even if he do leaves his stuff all around and I have to pick up after him sometimes and organizes his clothes, but I don’t mind.

    I do think people should give living together a try. But not at the cost of not getting married..

  3. I’ve never lived w/ a boyfriend and I don’t plan to until the ring is on the finger and the wedding plans are underway. Call me old-fashioned :)

    I just wouldn’t put myself in a situation like that where i’m not protected legally. Look at all the obstacles gay couples go through who live together go through because their marriages are not recognized by this country. I just couldn’t do it. There is far more incentive for the guy than the girl to cohabitate as well so of course they would be up for it.

    I see this all the time; the woman, who want to get married, plays house w/ her live-in boyfriend for YEARS and then for whatever reason he doesn’t want to be w/ her and the next time you here about him, is married within 1-2 years to another girl.

    You can learn about the guys living habits when you visit or spend the night while dating, but all of that can be done at the beginning of the marriage. Just my thoughts :) What about you Alee?

  4. No cohabitating happened here and for the most part, it wasn’t going to happen. He never suggested it, nor did I.

    We lived in adjacent states while dating and even he said, “I know you won’t be moving to live with me unless you have a ring on your finger.” I smiled and said, “You got that right!”

    The one way this could have happened though was the fact that I was applying for jobs in his town (we decided I would move) a few months before our wedding and if I had gotten the job with a start date before the wedding, I did plan to move in with him. But at the most, that would have meant about three months of living together.

    I don’t have any religious or moral objections to living together — I simply didn’t see the need to behave like a married couple when we weren’t a married couple. Or do the kinda-sorta married, but not totally married thing — we live together and share almost everything, but still have our finances separate, etc. Why bother? Either we’re all in or we’re not… no “trial” kind of stuff here. Couples have managed to marry and get adjusted to being a unit for centuries without cohabitating, so I certainly could do it as well.

    I agree with BWLivingWell about learning about the man’s habits through visiting and spending the night. Nothing has surprised me about my husband (and vice versa) in terms of our general habits… we paid attention to that stuff while dating and didn’t need to be living together to figure that out.

    If anyone does choose to cohabitate, I suggest they know exactly what the ultimate goal is for their relationship. Too many of these situations fall apart because one person (usually the woman, but not always) thought this was the next step on the path to marriage, while the other person simply saw it as a nice convenience to have a partner around all the time.

  5. I have never cohabited with a man (nor been married), but what I have seen with my friends is that folks opt for living together because it is seen as “more casual”. Casually living together with a lover is like casually storing dynamite in your garage! If you need it casual baby, it is real casual at your separate house …

  6. I kinda share the attitude of Bwlivingwell at least for myself. I make no judgements about Cohabitation for others because I personally know several couples that it worked out for and are now married. Im not them and I just dont trust it for myself. I can already see disaster if we break up and I have to find another place to live. I dont have to wait until wedding day but at least an engagement ring with a date set.

  7. I would never live with someone I would later wish to marry, because every single couple I have ever known — from childhood onward, that lived together prior to marriage is now divorced, and I don’t believe in coincidence.

    Plus, statistics backup my observances. The only time I actually trust statistics is when they backup what I observe for my self.

  8. Maybe it’s due to cultural differences? Cohabitation is fairly common where I live. (Sadly, it often involves his or her parents, too).

  9. I think it can work but the guy has to be more “evolved” than me. :) I lived with a woman for couple of years, it was going ok, then I started grad school full time. That meant going to campus during the day time.
    I was married to a different women within 2 years.
    You can probably guess what I will tell my daughter when/if that day comes.

  10. @mira it’s the norm here in the US too nowadays, just nothing that I want to do. These people that I know doing it aren’t getting married, which is my end goal, so I have no motivation to follow their lead.

    Just as I would never take on the baby mama role/title just because everyone else is doing it/okay with it (damn near 80% in black community), I’m not shacking up either just because they are fine with it. Doesn’t benefit me to do so.

  11. Mira, I do notice that Europeans in particular seem to have a completely different attitude about cohabitation than Americans do. I hear the cohabitation rate in Quebec is higher than the rest of Canada as well (probably the European influence).

    I think that regardless of an individual American’s thoughts/beliefs on religion, we seem to have this subconscious, internal feeling that marriage is THE ultimate commitment (even those of us trying to run away from it). So for most Americans who are cohabitating, the question of whether it will be taken to the highest level (marriage) is always going to be there to some extent — from family, friends, society and the couple themselves.

    In Europe I didn’t get that sense. Some people were just cohabitating indefinitely and that was the end. Some were going to get married whenever they felt like it, etc.

    (Of course, I think another big difference is the fact that marriage brings WAY more social, financial and legal benefits — and health insurance many times — for married couples in America, so there is an advantage to it that can put a question mark on long-term cohabitation. It’s like, so, uh, if you’re going to stay together anyway, why are you forgoing all the benefits you could get if you got married, just to prove a point?

  12. I’m not saying it’s not risky. It is. Cohabitation is risky, and so is marriage. I just couldn’t marry someone I never lived with. Just like I couldn’t marry someone I never had sex with. Or so many other things.

    I guess in my culture, especially in rural areas, cohabitation is seen as marriage, even if it’s not official. Because requires lots and lots and lots of money to prepare a wedding in my culture, many people just don’t do it. So whenever a couple starts living together, people see it as marriage (and under the law, unmarried couples that lived together for two and more years are equal to married ones, as far as I know).

    I do think cohabitation is a good way for two people to see if they can live together. As for the financial issues, it goes without saying that you share everything, married or not.

  13. There is no more common law marriage in cali. That means you can get pregnant from a guy who has over a mil, live with him for ten years taking care of the baby as well as any previous kids he has, separate and end up with the kid and only around 1k a month because he doesn’t need to work. You will get none of the assets.

  14. I remember reading something a long time ago about how couple’s who cohabitate are more likely to end up breaking up.

    I think it has something to do with the idea that if you’re still “dating” and you aren’t married, then you can still hit the eject button as soon as the relationship turns sour. There’s a completely different mindset when it comes to being “married.”

    But, yeah, I’ve done it before, and I can’t really say anything bad about it personally :)

  15. Well, I guess that’s the main difference, then. Plus, most of the women in my culture work (if they can find the job, that is). But we don’t really have “stay at home moms” and “working dads”. Both parents work and both provide for the family and their kids. (Women are still expected to do the house work, though, but we’re slowly changing that).

  16. what would happen if a woman lived with and had a baby with a man who didn’t have to work? is child support based on the couples assets or income?

  17. What does “didn’t have to work” mean? You mean, he had an income but didn’t have to work? He’d have to pay for the child support. I believe the father needs to pay for the child regardless of how much money the mother makes. However, the amount of money he has to pay depends on his income.

    And there’s where it becomes tricky. Because people can easily fake their income, so they end up paying very little or nothing. But it has nothing to do whether the father was married to the mother, or they lived together, or they had a drunken one night stand. He can fake his income, and get away with it. Many fathers do it, which is horrible. (Well, not most of them, there are those who care about their kids even if they don’t care about the mother anymore). But, there are sad examples of this kind, and no, it doesn’t depend on whether you were married to the guy or not. (Though in case of an one night stand, you need to prove the child is his, but he is obligated to take a DNA test if you ask from the court).

  18. not having to work means paid off house, cars.
    Enough income coming from investments to pay for food, electricity but low enough that courts only award about 800 child support plus a percentage of reported investment income, which usually doesn’t add up to much and can only be partially verified after taxes are filed.
    No way I will let my girl live with/ get pregnant in US without marriage!

  19. Well, like I said, it’s not an issue in my country. Anybody can fake his income, provided he has connections (and you don’t have to be rich to have one).

    But under the law, whether parents were married or not is irrelevant in these issues.

  20. >> whether parents were married or not is irrelevant in these issues.
    That is probably why living together it is a more popular option in Europe. Here it can make a big difference. Maybe there should be such a thing as a pre-nup for people about to live together here. They could call it a pre-cohab or something. :)

  21. Well, partially, yes. The law in my country is clear when it comes to these issues.

    However, since my country (in case you didn’t know) is 99.99999999999% about corruption and nepotism, what the law says is not as important if you have connections. (And many people do, since you don’t have to have a special power to have a connection: for example, if your neighbor works as an administrative assistant she can get you a stamp that says you don’t have any income, even if you’re rich- that’s all it takes!)

    So when I said it’s irrelevant whether you were married or not, I meant it in a bad way: as long as you have connections, you can get away from paying child support, even though the law says you must pay.

  22. I live with my fiance now but what worked for me doesn’t work for everyone. The only two men I ever lived with I married and am about to marry. Don’t ask why I never lived with anyone else b/c I had other boyfriends just didn’t want to live with them. When Matt and I moved in together, I wasn’t thinking marriage. I was divorced, was not thinking of doing marriage ever again. I had made up my mind. But living with him changed it. He was one that started to talk about marriage, which I found surprising that’s usually something men don’t do. Then after awhile I thought well I think I could see myself married again, I love him, I should do that just seemed natural. So the rest is history, he asked me to marry him and we’re getting married. This is not something I would recommend for everyone. It depends on your situation, it worked for me don’t work for everybody else. I must say my ex-husband I put pressure on to marry me, which was a fatal mistake for me. Matt I didn’t put pressure on at all, it just occurred organically.

  23. But I do believe that long term co-habituation in the U.S. has no practical benefits. If we did civil unions it may but b/c federal governments and most state governments give special benefits, rights to legitimately married ppl in practical in terms if you want to protect yourself, you’ll get married.

  24. Z and I live together (well, sort of), and I’m generally not a fan of cohabitation. When we got serious, I was like “no cohabitation” (but not for religious/moral reasons) and he was more like Mira, “It’s good to know what you’re getting into!”, so we compromised, and we will live together all the time in January (even though I live in our apartment already).

    For me it works because I would only live with someone I wanted to marry and that’s obviously a significant part of our future plans (wow, this is definitely TMI :-P), and for him it works because he gets to feel comfortable settling into “our ways”. (Z’s a big fan of routines and rituals.) Of course other future plans like grad school, jobs, etc. factor into that too.

    From what I’ve read/heard (perhaps in an earlier post on this blog?), the divorce rate for shackers is usually higher than non-shackers, but it’s equal to the general population if the couple moves in together with the intention to get married. That’s kind of “questionable” in and of itself to me–the divorce rate is so high in this country that I’m not sure if a few points here and there matter–a coin toss might be more accurate–but provided that’s the case I’d guess that studies on cohabitation are skewed by people ranging anywhere from “just met” to “engaged”. We automatically assume that shackers are in some form of serious relationship, so when it goes wrong it’s a pretty big deal, but then we’re not counting all of those super-casual situations, like people who move in because one person wants to get away from his/her housemate, or because a partner lost his/her job and needs to live somewhere rent free, etc. And of course the social scientist in me has to say correlation is not causation and all that. :-P

  25. Jasmin says: And of course the social scientist in me has to say correlation is not causation and all that

    I say: My engineer fiance says that all the time too.

  26. I think too that a lot depends on a person’s stage of life. When I’m thinking of the pros and cons of cohabitation, I’m usually thinking of how I would advise a never-married woman, presumably under age 40, who wants to marry eventually (and maybe have kids, maybe not). Even if marriage isn’t in on the immediate horizon, I’d hate for that woman who’s never been married and wants to do so to be stymied by a cohabitating experience that ends up stalling (or totally derailing) a natural progression toward marriage. I appreciate Tim’s honesty about his past experience… I’ve heard that story SO much and the poor woman who lived with said man for 4+ years thinking marriage was in the future has been very bothered when she finds herself no longer with that guy and he goes on to marry someone he’s only known for a year! You can get too comfortable cohabitating.

    BUT… if marriage is not the end goal (you know, for those folks who’ve been there, done that, don’t care if they do it again), then hey, all bets are off! My husband’s family is full of 40+ folks who married young, raised their kids to adulthood, got divorced and now are with new partners. Some have been with these new guys for 5+ years. No plans for marriage, they’re living together indefinitely and everyone’s happy. So in those cases, I’m like, whatever works best for them! The stakes just change when you’re done with the whole building a life together/raising a family thing.

  27. It sure looks like there are some cultural differences between my country and the way things are in North America. Here, cohabitation is just a stage in a relationship, and while some people don’t use it, it is sure better if they do (that’s how things are seen: you want to see if you can live with him or not). Not all cohabitation leads to marriage, but not all relationships do, so it’s not seen as something that can break marriage plans. Plus, since people who cohabitate are seen as “basically married” already, men don’t see it as something they’ll do when they DON’T want to marry you.

    Many people here officially marry only when the girl gets pregnant. If they never lived together before, it can be quite tricky, because you get a spouse and a baby in a short time, and it isn’t the best way to start a marriage. If they lived together before that, they just get married officially and there you go.

    Obviously, not ALL people do it. But there are many pregnant brides in my country. And no, it’s not seen as shameful, especially if you do it in the early stages of pregnancy. When I say it’s not seen as shameful, I mean, you get the wedding with 300 guests and all, and huge money is spent, just like on any other wedding (without the pregnant bride). In fact, since you (well, technically, your parents) need enormous amount of money to make a proper wedding, it is often held until it’s absolutely necessary to do it.

  28. @Bunny77 I would have never lived with Matt if I had a child not specifically b/c of me b/c of the child. Women w/ children have to be careful, kids get attached very easily even if they still have their parent in their life, they just do. I get what you’re saying about early stages of life and not co-habitating. Do I think it was a factor in the break up of my 1st marriage, yes and no. Yes in that I think I pressured him into marrying me, which I think he resented in the end. No in that we had a lot of other problems, him in particular that a marriage even under ‘right’ circumstances’ could have been sustained.

    @Mira, that’s interesting that in your country the baby thing is not looked on a negative. It is here although we don’t the ‘shotgun’ wedding thing like we used to. It may need to come back, many guys and girls just get pregnant and keep it pushing. In PNW there are many hispanic immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and when their kids get pregnant you know about 16, 17, 18 they’re really happy and the girl gets married and it’s a big celebration. Not for Americans, pregnant at that age we’re shaking our heads.

  29. @Mira and Eugenia… so I was being nerdy and watching some documentary on marriage in colonial America and they were saying that a significant number of colonial brides were pregnant on their wedding days and it wasn’t seen as a big deal as long as the couple went ahead and got married.

    And it wasn’t long ago in the United States that the whole pregnant bride thing was semi-common and wasn’t necessarily seen as terribly negative IF the couple married. If not, uh oh, then it was on…

    Believe it or not, I’m a semi-fan of shotgun weddings, only because I realize that historically, they’re pretty normal. Folks have sex, get pregnant and that’s their cue to stop playing around and “grow up” and get married and acting like adults.

    People act like it’s so awful now that anyone would be pushed into a “shotgun” wedding, but as Eugenia said, is it really better for girls to get pregnant and folks still drag their feet and wait until they’re “ready” to marry later on? Or never marry at all and the woman is left alone to raise the baby?

  30. Eugenia,

    Oh, no, no, getting pregnant at 16, or even 18 is not seen as a good thing! But I meant on later, getting pregnant in your 20s. It’s not seen as a bad thing, as long as the guy agrees to marry you, and he usually does.

  31. Now, I don’t think getting married under these circumstances is a good thing. But it’s seen as ok in my culture. It’s just not for me. Like I said, want to see if I can live with the man first.

    And yes, getting pregnant but not marrying is seen as a bad thing, a very bad thing. It’s socially unacceptable and you’re seen as a whore. Especially if you’re teen. Now, in rural areas, getting pregnant at 17 or 18 is, maybe, not seen as that horrible, if the guy agrees to marry you. But in the cities, it’s extremely unacceptable. That’s why most of the pregnant teens get an abortion. The abortion rate in my country i very high.

    The saddest thing is, it’s high not only for teenagers but for other groups of women, particularly the married women! Most of the people can’t afford to have more than one or two kids, so married women get abortions.

  32. Mira, Im not sure what living with a guy really tells you. If you don’t have kids living together is easy , you have cut your rent in half so you can go out for dinner, vacation etc. that guy is very different from the guy you get when there are kids and money is tight.

  33. Well, obviously, it’s easier financially if there are no kids. That’s why I believe children should be planned.

    But I didn’t get this one:

    Im not sure what living with a guy really tells you.

    What do you mean?

    Living with a guy tells me if I can live with him. If we’re compatible to live together. Those things you can’t know if you’re simply dating, even letting him spend the night at your place or if you spend the night at his place. Not even if you spend your vacation together. Sometimes, people like each other but can’t live together. I don’t think it’s the best thing to find out that after the wedding.

    Plus, living together brings people closer. (Or not. But then it’s best to know sooner than later). Just like sex.

  34. To me it is kinda like the difference between going on vacation with a friend and starting a business with a friend. The vacation tells you almost nothing.

  35. What difference? The difference between dating someone and living with him? Or living with him and marriage?

    But if you’re already living with a person you’re going to marry, there’s no much change. If any. You need to get a new ID if you changed your last name. But that’s about all.

  36. @Bunny77 I taught a family law course this summer the history of marriage in the U.S. is something else. It definitely did not start out the way it today. Many of the things we do in marriage and how marriage is defined started around the 60s and 70s previous to that in the U.S. women were seen as chattel kind of like children. And I can understand the large occurrence of ‘shotgun’ wedding back in the day. There was no family planning so if ppl got together and I’m sure they did, the woman and child needed protecting. Back in my mom’s day, if a teenager had a baby some other family member would take it so the child could be raised with in a stable home with two parents instead of by a teenager. Much of the stuff we see today in the U.S. is b/c of the women’s movement and birth control.

    @Mira okay I see, it’s just great to know how things are seen around the world. Different perspectives. I think living together can you some things but being married is different than living together, different expectations. When I moved in with Matt he kind of starting playing husband so to speak. He does all the stuff a husband (in my eyes) would do, he pays all the bills, he pays the rent, I work part time and we’re just fine. Now he’ll be a husband, not just playing one. I don’t do the half stuff in relationships, for me the woman and man have a role and I’ve always been told start things the way you want them to end. He seems really proud that he’s capable of taking care of me. We’re kind of team, I must say my story is unique probably for most folks co-habiting but I think as we moved further into the relationship we were always honest about what our goal was for it. I think that helped, I don’t like games either.

  37. I’m glad to hear everything turned out great for you! Finding someone who’d love you and respect you and support you… It’s not easy.

    Now, as for the roles, I don’t buy into male vs female roles, really. I want to work and support my family; that’s how I raised and that’s how things are in my culture (both men and women work). Sadly, due to crazy economic situation in my country, this is not always possible. So many people can’t find a job, and sometimes parents support their married children and their grandchildren because they have pensions and younger people can’t find work!

    But generally speaking, I’m not into the traditional male/female roles.

  38. @Mira I think everyone has to do what works for them. This works for me, it’s how I saw things as a child although my mom did work. My dad took care of all the household stuff with the money he brought in and my with my mom’s pay we took vacations and she got stuff for us kids. I don’t like halfsies, yea if you need something and I got it’s yours but none of that what’s yours is yours and mine is mine, heck I want a partner not a roommate. I think this also comes from my ex-marriage which I’m not gonna go into. I work but due to my health (diabetes type 1) I’m unable to keep a full time job so it the part time works great for me. I’m glad he’s willing to be understanding about it, a lot of folks wouldn’t be one being my ex. But if I could work full time I would, I loved being a paralegal but teaching others to be a paralegal is great. I’m not really into traditional roles, I’m into teamwork, however that occurs for people. We don’t have any kids, aren’t having any kids so I need something to occupy my time and I’m not the junior leaguer type.

  39. >>What difference? The difference between dating someone and living with him? Or living with him and marriage?

    Huge generalization, everybody’s situation is different:
    -living with someone with no kids is like a vacation with your friend.
    -married and having kids (a lifetime commitment regardless of what happens to the couples relationship) is like starting a business with someone.

    @Alee
    So when are we going to hear your take? :)

  40. I’m not the junior leaguer type.

    Guess now’s not the time to announce my new volunteer affiliation for 2011, eh? LOL!!!

    (I know what you mean though! Tee hee… My other IR-married friend and I just joined up this year… we said we needed to give the League a little flava!)

  41. LOL it could probably use it. But for some reason I hate the ideas of clubs, been against the idea since I was a child wouldn’t even have a clubhouse LOLOLOL!

  42. Tim: “I lived with a woman for couple of years, it was going ok, then I started grad school full time. That meant going to campus during the day time.
    I was married to a different women within 2 years.
    You can probably guess what I will tell my daughter when/if that day comes.”

    Tim,
    Are you saying that when you went back to school you found someone more interesting than the woman you were living with?

    Did you know from the beginning that you did not want to marry your live-in lover?

    Did living together without marriage make you lose respect for her?

  43. I don’t agree with cohabiting before marriage. I have been there and done that and I see why it doesn’t work, now I’m waiting to get married before we live together. I have read that research shows an increased chance of a breakup before marriage even happens and higher divorce rate amongst those who co habitat before marriage. I know it doesn’t happen to everyone but I would like to decrease my chances as much as possible ;). Question that most people pose with these articles, is why would a man want to marry a woman if he has everything before marriage? Men get comfortable, you have the dangle the carrot, not give it to them before a real commitment happens (marriage)…just my thoughts :)

  44. Oh yeah…a very important thing I forgot to mention is marriage is way different than just living together. Marriage is a real commitment because by law you guys become one and depending on your beliefs you become one as well. When your just cohabiting that person can leave at any time and take what ever you guys thought you owned together without any consequences. Of course there is much more than just this, but I’m trying to keep it short :).

  45. It’s interesting how so many of the women here really, and truly believe that there is nothing protecting them if cohabitation goes wrong in a relationship! =(

    As I’ve explained to Jasmin (multiple times, but sometimes she merely pretends to listen to my monologues, haha) at least in California we have many laws that protect people who are cohabiting. If you have proof of residence, like mail delivered, or a driver’s license address, or rent checks, etc., even if the other person is the legal tenant and you’re just “living there” (what the law calls a sub-tenant), it is still illegal for them to take, toss, or in any way violate your property within the domicile. They also can’t kick you out without a 30-day notice so that you can find a new place. Or 60-days if you’ve lived there for more than a year.

    But assuming you’re both on the lease for the place you’ve got (like in my situation), then legally neither of you can do anything to the other person without suffering serious consequences. The laws protecting renters can be mighty strong, especially with all the governmental agencies that exist simply to deal with housing issues.

    Which is why I shake my head in confusion when some people say how scared they are about being done wrong if cohabitation doesn’t work out. Like, if the guy steals your stuff, or if he tries to kick you out, etc… in those cases call the cops immediately and begin taking your ex to court for breaking the law! Because there are — again, in California at least, but I’ve seen similar things for other states — protections already in place for common-law spouses, cohabiting couples, domestic partners, and other match-ups.

    I’d say the answer to any fear of a situation is knowledge, which gives you power because then you know what to do, what’s available to you, what your options are, and how you can protect yourself if things go wrong.

    And, in my opinion, with this mindset, cohabitation becomes not just a good idea to help mature your relationship, but also a safe and practical one for your lives.

    That’s my two cents. Spend it how you will ; )

  46. Oh, hi everyone. :)

    BWLivingWell,

    I always think the guy you’re going to marry is going to have to have it together. You’re not taking any half-steppers!

    I’m really undecided on the whole matter. I can see both sides, so I’m just reading all the responses and learning about others’ views and experiences.

    Bunny,

    “Couples have managed to marry and get adjusted to being a unit for centuries without cohabitating, so I certainly could do it as well.”

    This is a really good point.

    Sherry,

    “…Casually living together with a lover is like casually storing dynamite in your garage! If you need it casual baby, it is real casual at your separate house …”

    LOL.

  47. Tim,

    “I lived with a woman for couple of years, it was going ok, then I started grad school full time. That meant going to campus during the day time.
    I was married to a different women within 2 years.”

    Well, that doesn’t sound very encouraging… :P

    Hi Clay, :)

    ‘ I think it has something to do with the idea that if you’re still “dating” and you aren’t married, then you can still hit the eject button as soon as the relationship turns sour. There’s a completely different mindset when it comes to being “married.” ‘

    That’s what I was thinking. Since it’s so much easier to end things when you’re not married, like BWLivingWell said, you might find yourself compromised. So if I were to live with someone, I would need to know them inside and out and we would have to set an “end date” for the cohabitation.

  48. Bunny,

    “Believe it or not, I’m a semi-fan of shotgun weddings”

    Oh… I believe it. Definitely.

    LOL.

    Tim,

    “@Alee
    So when are we going to hear your take? :)”

    Sorry, I was out of town and didn’t have stable internet access so while I could read some of the responses, I didn’t have time to respond. But I’m still weighing things out. It seems like cohabitation is very much not a “one size fits all” situation.

    I’d also be interesting in knowing the answers to the questions kitty asked!

  49. @Eugenia… you know, I never really liked clubs either unless they were professional organizations. The funny thing with the Junior League was that my friend — who identifies herself as a professional who keeps her hood side hidden — was encouraged by one of her co-workers, a genteel blue-blooded white woman, to join. So she got me to go along to the membership meeting and a few weeks later, BAM, we’re both Junior Leaguers! LOL

    @Alee, you know me too well. But really, I’m thinking of about five different couples I know who were living together, got pregnant, got “engaged”, had the baby and are still talking about how they plan to get married eventually. Well, what the heck are you waiting for? In some cases, the baby is 2 or 3 years old!!! If you were going to stay together after the pregnancy anyway, why NOT get married? It seems that the longer they put it off, the more excuses they can come up with to decide that “it’s not right” and just break up, versus going ahead and making the commitment a long time ago.

    I really think that’s what Tim and Clay are getting at. For a lot of people, that internal “switch” doesn’t happen until they are married, even if they’ve essentially been living that way. Eugenia’s guy is a good exception to that, but a lot of the men I’ve encountered either directly (or the ones that dumped my friends/relatives after years of living together) know there’s a difference between their interaction with their live-in girlfriends and their wives.

  50. Jasmin,

    “I would only live with someone I wanted to marry and that’s obviously a significant part of our future plans (wow, this is definitely TMI :-P )”

    No, it’s not! TMI doesn’t exist on this site, actually.

    In advance: I want to be a bridesmaid. Kay, thanks!

    ‘I’d guess that studies on cohabitation are skewed by people ranging anywhere from “just met” to “engaged”.’

    Another good point. I know people who decide to live together soon after meeting, and others that had been together for quite some time and already discussed marriage and are just getting their finances together for the wedding.

    Zek, wow, you’re alive! :P

    Thanks for letting us know about the legal status of cohabitation in California.

    I do know every state doesn’t recognize common law marriages, whether they took place in another state or not. I think California is usually a little more progressive than others… The state I live in is basically “Common law marriage? Huh?” — there is essentially no protection for anyone not legally married. Unless you have a legal contract stating clearly what is to happen in the case of break-up; even then it’s fuzzy. So the way I see it, if you’re going to do all of that, why not just get married?

  51. Nikisha,

    For some reason, I thought you lived with your boyfriend? Do you two only stay at each other’s places sometimes?

    Also, why didn’t cohabitation work for you? You don’t have to keep it short. :)

    Bunny,

    “In some cases, the baby is 2 or 3 years old!!! If you were going to stay together after the pregnancy anyway, why NOT get married?”

    I used to work a guy who recently finally married his girlfriend who lived with him for over 15 years! They even have a 10 year old daughter together. Everyone just assumed they had been married all along, but nope. They only decided to get married for the legal benefits.

  52. @Alee these are the states that recognize common law, Alabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, and Utah and most states will recognize your common law marriage if done correctly. Federal government may not, so it’s more than just state benefits, you also need federal, that’s the gist of federalism, states do some things and recognize some things that federal government doesn’t. And in a article I wrote on my old blog I explain in no uncertain terms why co-habitation doesn’t protect, the man, the woman, and many times the child. Teaching family law was interesting so no marriage and co-habitation are not even close to be the same but I know ppl want to say they are, but in many legal terms they are not. Marriage has over 1000 rights, duties, and protections, co-habitation doesn’t even have half of those.

    As for why someone would want to buy the cow when they can get the milk for free, who knows, that’s the guy’s choice. I have to say I think my situation is unique and an exception. Matt was actually a man that wanted to get married, he had been engaged previously and their relationship didn’t work out. At first I thought he was the serial monogamist but turns out I was wrong. Good thing but I don’t think there are a million guys out there like him, he’s a small percentage I’m just blessed we found each other b/c really I was the one that was not really feeling marriage not him.

  53. Alee,

    But even if your state doesn’t recognize Common Law marriage, that doesn’t stop them from having renter’s rights, housing laws, and such right? I know at the federal level there are more than a few designed to protect people from being wrongfully evicted by landlords, other tenants, and from having their property wantonly seized, sold, or thrown away.

    That’s just one facet of how people who are cohabiting are protected. So it doesn’t really seem a “contract” is necessary to protect yourself in the event of a break-up… All you need to do is know the law.

    P.S. Glad I could represent California so awesomely, haha =)

  54. P.P.S. Oh, I was always alive. I just prefer lurking unless I feel strongly enough and have enough time to comment adequately.

    But it’s so touching to know you care!!!! =P

  55. This is just an excerpt from my text book and I must say I’m no family law expert, I did insurance defense for ten years but when I read this it gave me pause for thought.

    Imagine having lived with a man for five years in a committed, monogamous relationship that you both intend to ‘last forever’. Imagine going to pick him up at an airport and being greeted by airline personnel who advise you that he experienced a heart attack midair and is being rushed to a hospital emergency room. You race to the hospital and the first question you are asked is ‘Are you a family member?’ And that is only the beginning of a series of painful events with devastating consequences. You cannot be admitted to see him in intensive care (even worse his family hates your guts and won’t allow you to see him). You cannot be advised of his condition due to federal privacy regulations, and you cannot consent to his medical treatment, although you know his wishes. You cannot write checks on his bank account to pay his obligations. If he dies, you have no say in the funeral and burial arrangements, and yet only you know what he would want. You cannot enter the home where you lived together, because when it was purchased by the two of you, if was put in his name only. You cannot access his safety deposit box, even though you have valuable personal property in it. You cannot inherit through him if he dies without a will, because you have no legally recognized interest in his estate. The two of you are, in effect, legal strangers. (Wilson, pp. 118-19)

    Now let me say ppl do make co-habitation agreements, that’s a part of the family law practice and do medical directives but really all of this that is stated in this paragraph I can get for paying $62 (in my county) for a marriage license and not the $175 to $250 an hour a lawyer will charge you for not half of those rights.
    I certainly love Matt, actually I adore him like no other but after reading this I could not deny I was happy to be married b/c we both get protected, just change the sex of the left behind mate from female to male and you see why men are protected too.

  56. Alee,
    He lives in DC so I stay with him on the weekends or he comes to my place :). He doesn’t want to co habitat either until we are married, a lot of it has to do with our faith which I know everyone doesn’t follow so I respectfully say it works for some and doesn’t work for others :). Co habitation didn’t work for me because it was like we were playing house instead of really being committed, I would kick him out all the time because he was disrespectful. If I would have had the standards I have now of waiting until I got married then that ol’ ex would have got cut before we made it to the “move in” round and we both could have saved ourselves time and heartache. I also would like to add when your married there is a lot more invested and your not just “playing” a role. And while in CA. you might have better legal protection it doesn’t help for states and places that don’t. What happens if you buy a house together, then who gets it? Marriage forces two people to share everything, even if you think you still individually own things, legally you don’t. My boyfriend and I had the pleasure of speaking with a Divorce lawyer and a Financial expert a few weeks ago because we were filming something for his brother for Black Enterprise ( I would love to share the video with you Alee, when it comes out). And what an eye opener it was, so many people are misinformed about what happens when you get married and what happens if your not married. It takes a real commitment to legally share everything, and on a spiritual level my faith says marriage is the only true commitment and thats when you truly become one, so its all relative. :)

  57. Oh, and I love and agree with what Eugeniamb wrote just above my comment. Which proves most people are ill informed on what it means to be just living with someone vs. being married and living with them.

  58. @Nikisha you really aren’t getting any better protection in CA than anywhere else CA like my state Washington are community property states. When I was married, we could buy real property without the other knowing about it. So if as a married couple in the state of Washington you buy land or a house the spouse has to be part of the deal, now they can waive their rights if they want to but you can’t do it on the sly. And yes you do have to share in things legally, really that can happen whether your spouse hates you if you’re still married. A friend of mine’s dad just died about a year ago, he’d left his 2nd wife but hadn’t divorced her. My friend and her sibling weren’t all close to her if you know what I mean but her dad was getting back pay from the military for exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam war, a lot of money I’m sure if he had been alive he would have given some to his children but he died intestate, no will, and now all the money goes to the wife who he’d left years previous. And there is nothing anyone can do about it, now that’s a harsh reality but she’s the wife and when it comes to benefits under United States Probate Code if you have no will and a bunch of ppl don’t, it goes to your spouse.

  59. Zek,

    I was referring more to the couple itself rather than the couple vs. outside forces. When a cohabiting couple breaks up, neither really has a claim on the property they had together; it could be given to either one. There is also no financial support for either partner (child support is a different matter, of course). Except if there is a contract stating otherwise.

    “But it’s so touching to know you care!!!! =P”

    I do care. *nods* :)

  60. Eugenia,

    Thanks a lot for the excerpt. That’s the kind of situation some people really want to avoid.

    Nikisha,

    Oh, okay, so you two are “weekenders”. I think being a weekender is a good middle if you’re not fond of full cohabitation.

    “we were filming something for his brother for Black Enterprise ( I would love to share the video with you Alee, when it comes out).”

    Definitely do. I watch Our World with Black Enterprise sometimes (for Marc Lamont Hill :P ) and I’m familiar with the magazine.

    Oh yeah, I saw an article by Cipriana’s boyfriend’s brother on another site I visit. I was all “Hey, I know him!!” :)

  61. Alee, I guess you could say we were weekenders too. Kinda had to be when we lived four hours away. Then during semester breaks he might come up and stay the entire week or vice versa.

    It was a good “middle,” definitely.

  62. @Alee, yes that is the situation you want to avoid but I don’t think some ppl think that far ahead especially in long term co-habitation relationships and the fact that most ppl seem to think that common law marriage is recognized everywhere, there’s actually stuff you have to do to be considered common law and it can involve some paperwork. And lord forbid if you co-sign a loan.

  63. I can only speak for myself, but I must say nothing changed after the marriage for me. It was exactly the same, because we were already married, we just didn’t have a paper to prove it.

    The only thing that was different is that I got a last name that is easier to pronounce, which is one of the main reasons why I took my husband’s name.

    As for the finances, I expect people cohabitating to join their finances as soon as they start living together. No need to wait for official marriage for that.

  64. Kitty / Alee
    Are you saying that when you went back to school you found someone more interesting than the woman you were living with?

    Our world views / stage of life changed dramatically. She keep on doing the 9 to 5 while I was meeting all kinds of new people, most of them single. Plus college is a ‘try new things’ kind of place.

    Did you know from the beginning that you did not want to marry your live-in lover?
    No but I was always more ready for kids than marriage.

    Did living together without marriage make you lose respect for her?
    Not at all. I left her partly because I had a lot of respect for her. It is kinda like the friend zone thing. If you know someone is hopeful for something you cannot offer then you have to be considerate.

    I also think it can work for some people. I’m just saying I cannot recommend it.

  65. @Mira in the U.S. co-mingling money can be tricky and not a good idea for ppl who co-habitate in this country. That’s just b/c of the way the laws are set up. Matt co-signed a loan for his ex-fiance b/c he thought they were getting married when that didn’t work out. Well he’s stuck on her loan and she doesn’t have a good enough job to pay it fully, so he has to pay part of it b/c it effects his credit if she doesn’t pay. At least when you’re married and if you get a divorce you can assign debt back to the orignal debtor and get it out of your name but not if you live together. I wouldn’t co-mingle funds just living together, we’ve been living together our entire engagement w/ no co-mingled funds. It’s too iffy. Also if one of the ppl wants to file for bankruptcy protection here, it’s best you don’t co-mingle funds b/c if your partner makes a lot of money and you’ve co-mingled funds it will considered your money too. Which could for some ppl make you have to file Ch. 13 which is where you pay back part of the debt instead of Ch. 7 which is where the debt is wiped clear w/o paying it back. You may agree or disagree but this is the law at least here in the U.S.

  66. Eugenia,

    I believe what you described is not true in my country. Common law marriages are recognized and common law spouse is recognized as family, just like illegitimate children are recognized (though in case of kids, illegitimate are 100% equal with children born in marriage, while there are certain legal advantages for married people, but in all the major areas of law, common law spouses have rights and are considered family).

  67. Now, about the money, the situation is wild in my country. Not many laws are respected and it all depends on the connections you have (or don’t have). But that’s another issue.

  68. Alee,

    Well, both parties *can* claim whatever property they like, but if it comes to a head, then they have go to court to “prove” who owns what. However the expense is so prohibitive that most rational (and even irrational people, judging from the testimonies I’ve read) would rather just take their sh!t and go. Moreover, property that has an obvious ownership (like cars, computers, your clothes, etc.) typically do not get stolen without, again, serious repercussions under renter’s laws, tenant codes.

    So the protections are there for people’s stuff — certainly the expensive stuff. I will admit, however that small things like pictures, plates, dishes, etc., are more tricky and not really covered under the law, but can be proven through tracking of receipts, credit-card purchases, and other things of that nature. (Some people even take pictures of their stuff when they move into a new place with roommates in order to make sure they’re covered in case one of their roommates flips out at some point. This is actually very common in cities with a large room/apartment renting population like New York, San Francisco, and other cities.)

    Also, I’m not sure if we specified this but MOST cohabiting couples are dual-income. Meaning both people work, and so financial support is not really an issue since there’s not the drama of “well we agreed I’d be the breadwinner and you’d be the housekeeper” etc/whatever. On the other hand, couples who do decide to cohabitate and one person gives up their job are probably missing the idea of cohabitation. (Which is to slowly meld your lives together, not get married without really getting married.)

    So, not only is your stuff covered, but financially you’re protected because 1) you’re still working, 2) you saved a lot of money from that income splitting costs on the place, and 3) you’re protected from any other losses caused by the other party directly (through damage, neglect, etc.).

    Again, I can think of a lot of exceptions, or lack of planning that would cause some of these protections to be useless, but all of the serious things like loss of your place to live, loss or theft of your stuff, things of that nature are basic safety measures granted to everybody that shares their living space with other people. Not just cohabiting couples.

  69. @Mira, It may not be that’s why I specified the U.S. and not other places. But here common law is only recognized in nine state jurisdictions, most you have to do somethings for it to be recognized as common law. It’s a lot more complicated than ppl think but the thing is most ppl think you have to be together for a certain amount of time for it to be common law and in just in the state of New Hampshire do you have to do that. Now children are a different story under the law children out of wedlock have the same rights as children born to married parents. It used to be long long ago that if you were illegitimate child in this country you were a ward of the state, i.e. the child had no legal bond to mother or father but those days are gone. But children being recognized whether parents are married or not is not the issue they are by law, it just changes if you’re married or not married. Common law are still considered family, if the family wants it that way, girlfriend can be considered family if they want that way but legally you may not have all the rights of a wife legitimately married.

  70. Alee,
    Oh yeah, I saw an article by Cipriana’s boyfriend’s brother on another site I visit. I was all “Hey, I know him!!” :)

    Are you talking about my boyfriends brother Paul C. Brunson, he is a life coach and matchmaker that writes for Essence? Just wondering if you got confused because I usually share his Essence article on our site :)

  71. @Mira well laws can some variation from state to state here. But really co-habitation has no real protection under the law unless you have a co-habitation agreement, your state or city laws give you a small measure of protection, you live in a place where common law is legitimate. Money law can be complicated, that’s just about bankruptcy and some credit stuff. But I’ve heard of women living with men for many years and not being married and when he dies oh she is bad straits b/c maybe he left her out of the will. Even if you dislike me as a wife and we stay together and you leave me out of the will, probate (that’s the court where your will is deemed legit or not) will not let you disinherit your wife.

  72. Back to the question, is cohabitation a bad idea. I think it could be if you don’t know what you’re doing and especially if you don’t know your legal rights which unfortunately most ppl don’t. I’m astounded as I teach how many of my students in ‘shack up’ relationships with kid or kids don’t know their legal rights. Because of the work I did, I know mine and know how to protect mine. But some don’t know these laws in the U.S. even exist. My worst case scenario is the one above but there are other bad ones if you don’t realize it. I had a neighbor who was older over retirement age, living with her partner who was older. Seems a lot of older folks are foregoing marriage and just living together. Some of them who have not divorced their spouse, I am shocked at the number of older ppl I know who live separate from a spouse and are not divorced. But her gentlemen and she had been together 30 years and he had not divorced his wife. They weren’t rich in fact they were struggling and he died. Now you can get part of your spouse’s Social Security check in this country if they are on SS, but she wasn’t able to and she was needed it to be able to live but his wife that he hadn’t divorced was going to receive it. 30 years of being with someone, taking care of them even while ill and at the end, you’re not eligible for a little help and all his estate if he had any would go to the legitimately married spouse.

  73. I don’t know. I guess the situation is quite different in the US than here when it comes to law. Plus, historically, common law marriages were norm here not that long time ago. (Ok, about 100 years ago, but that’s not that long time ago).

    As for the money, my culture has a different approach to it. Splitting finances and splitting bills is considered rude, even for friends, let alone romantic partners. For example, it’s considered bad if you go to a restaurant with a friend and you (or him) doesn’t pay whole bill. With romantic relationship, it is assumed the money is joined.

  74. @Mira it probably is quite different. Well I don’t split anything with Matt we’re getting married I’m not his roommate, I’m his lifetime partner about to be wife. So there will be no splitting that part I can behind.
    But somethings in a co-habiting relationship you have to do legally just to protect yourself, not really by choice always but if you want to be protected legally you’ll do it. Because you never know what ppl are going to do, you just don’t it. And if the law doesn’t protect you, you may be on your own when it comes to those things and have to learn hard lessons. This country is set up on the rule of law, it’s not always pretty or fair or even smart but it is what it is.

  75. Alee,

    Start saving for your plane ticket now…kidding! :-)

    Right now Z and I are weekenders, which is nice because this is my first year teaching (today was only the third day of school–eek!) and he’s so busy with work and school that I think it’s easier for us to buckle down when we aren’t “distracted” by each other. ;-)

  76. Jasmin,

    Haha, weekenders ; )

    I think we’ll still be busy even after I move in full-time. If only because work will keep us out all day, and still have to juggle our responsibilities so we can maximize our time together.

    But we’ll see =)

  77. Tim, thanks for the response.

    I am still confused, but not by your answers, maybe just by the way men behave.

    I have never lived with a man, and I never will unless we are married.

    It seems that most of the time the woman is more emotionally invested in a live-in relationship than the man. I knew a man who lived with a woman for eight years and was married to another woman less than one year after he left his live-in lover. I don’t understand that at all. He said that he did not love her enough to marry her and that living together ruined the relationship. Yet he stayed with her for 8 years! He kept her out of circulation for 8 years knowing that he did not want to marry her. And he admits that during that time he never explicitly told her that he would never marry her. He was just enjoying her company until he found someone that he did want to marry.

    There is a difference between a wife and a sex partner and I think live-in lovers are just sex partners to most men. Studies have shown that most people who live together eventually get married, but not to each other (this is info I got from sociology class so i don’t have a link).

    If a man ever suggested to me that we live together without marriage, I would interpret that to mean that he does not see me as wife material.

    Most men won’t buy the cow if they can get the milk for free and they won’t buy a cow after they have gotten free milk from it. So although there are exceptions, like in Eugenia’s case, i think it is better to hold out for marriage or find someone who wants to marry before living together.

  78. Nikisha,

    “Are you talking about my boyfriends brother Paul C. Brunson, he is a life coach and matchmaker that writes for Essence? Just wondering if you got confused because I usually share his Essence article on our site :)”

    Yes, Paul Brunson.

    I thought he was Cipriana’s boyfriend’s brother? I was pretty sure she mentioned that a few times… I’m so confused. I’d still like to see some (more) of his stuff, though. :)

    @Eugenia and Mira,

    Yes, from what you all have said so far, I can see cohabitation is completely different in Europe vs. the U.S. I could have figured so, but in Britain where cohabitation is more common than in the U.S., there still aren’t as many rights for cohabiting couples in comparison to married couples.

  79. kitty,
    8 years! I feel bad for her.

    If a man ever suggested to me that we live together without marriage, I would interpret that to mean that he does not see me as wife material.

    I’m not sure that is what it means. The thing is we often underestimate how much our partner needs uncertainty. The one that gets me is how women find a man less attractive if he has rated her above average in looks.

    http://healthland.time.com/2011/02/10/facebook-and-love-why-women-are-attracted-to-guys-who-play-hard-to-get/

    I do know one couple in their forties that lived together for a year and a half then got married. The guy wanted to marry all along and finally convinced the woman.

  80. I don’t know. Like I said, living together before marriage is seen as common sense here. It’s not always practiced, but because of different reasons: maybe she gets pregnant before cohabitation, or, more common, the couple can’t afford to start cohabiting (most of the people here live with their parents well into their 20s, and early 30s, and many can’t afford to find a separate place even when they marry and get kids).

    But these issues aside, cohabitation is seen as a next step in a relationship, and a sign that the couple is serious about their relationship. Of course not all cohabitation works, but let’s just say you have more chance of getting a man to marry you (if it’s your goal) if he wants to live with you; if he doesn’t want to live with you, even if you two happen to have money to afford it, it’s a huge red flag.

    My best friend was in a relationship with her bf for 11 years (since they were 18). He refused, over and over again, to start living with her even when they were able to afford it. Needless to say, it wasn’t the path to marriage, quite the contrary, since the guy has HUGE commitment issues.

  81. Alee,
    Yeah you got confused, its ok :). Those were all articles I posted. Paul is my soon to be brother in law so I call him my brother and he calls me his sister :). I usually have the pleasure of helping out with projects since my boyfriend directs all his videos and does a lot of the behind scenes technical work :). He has a book coming out that Penguin is publishing, and lots of videos and shows he is doing. Great stuff, I will let you know for sure!

  82. @Alee and Mira, co-habiting can be sometimes be complex legally b/c marriage is something that is promoted by government. You get all kinds of benefits for being married. And yes unlike your country Mira, living someone doesn’t mean you’re relationship is about to go to the next level, marriage. If it did I think a lot less ppl would live together. Personally, I think they should do civil unions here but that’s just a personal opinion. This has been a fun and interesting conversation.

  83. Eugenia,

    You’re right that marriage is promoted here… by everyone, I’d say. Like Bunny said earlier, people see it as the pinnacle of relationship progression. Even if you’re not religious, you’re still expected to get married (well, gender is another issue).

    Mira,

    Here, cohabitation might be a sign your relationship may be moving to the next level. But I wouldn’t assume that, sometimes you may get stuck at that level.

    Nikisha,

    Does Cipriana call Paul her brother too? I think that’s why I got confused.

    He’s handsome, so if your boyfriend looks like his brother, I approve. ;)

  84. I understand. I just had no idea about the cultural differences. I guess part of me is still surprised to learn Americans are quite conservative in some aspects (I try not to buy into stereotypes, but I guess I fail sometimes- Americans are seen as “loose” in my culture, so any sign of being conservative – especially if they’re more conservative than people in my culture – surprises me). My mistake.

    Now, you mentioned religion. Is marriage seen as a religious thing in the US? Because here, you don’t need to marry in church; in fact, to be legally married under the law, you must be married by a government official. Church marriage is optional, though most of the people do it today.

    But if you marry only in church and not by a government official, you are not legally married; you are cohabiting. Like I said, these unions (living together) are seen as more or less equal to marriages, but to be married officially, church marriage is not enough.

  85. Tim:”I’m not sure that is what it means. The thing is we often underestimate how much our partner needs uncertainty.”

    Tim,
    I know there are exceptions to the rule. But I have seen too many black women left behind after living with men. Remember that women have a biological clock. So spending lots of time in a dead end relationship does not hurt men, it hurts women. Women mourn and men replace.

    The woman I mentioned, she was 38 when the guy left her. She started living with him when she was 30 and before that they dated for two years. So he kept her out of circulation for 10 years, not 8. She is now 55 years old. I don’t know if at 38 she went on to marry and have children, but the guy did.

    Right now I know one woman who has been living with a man for over 18 years. They have five children. She wants marriage. She is now afraid to leave him because the five children are all under 18 and she needs the financial support. In addition, he is a good father and she wants her children to have a father. She will most likely not get marriage at this point; If she leaves now, he will just find someone else. Before her he lived with a woman for 7 years and before that he lived with a woman for 10 years. He has never married any woman, not even the ones he lived with.

    I think that living together is a bad idea for most BW, just like having children out of wedlock.

    The fact that you will advise your daughter to not live with a man before marriage says a lot. If a man really wants to marry a woman, he will simply propose marriage. They can always get to know each other well by spending lots of time in each others space.

    As for needing uncertainty, I don’t play games and I don’t want someone who does.

  86. Alee,
    No…lol, Cipriana doesn’t call him her brother, she has never met him, you just got mixed up with the author of the post, it happens… no worries :). And yes the Brunson family has a handsome gene going on *wink, wink*.

  87. >> I don’t play games and I don’t want someone who does.

    I hope you get a chance to read the article I linked to. Those women were not playing games.

  88. Tim,

    I read the article. And frankly, while I don’t doubt the results (let’s assume the research has scientific value, though with a sample of 47 women, I doubt it), I think it’s too vague. What I’m saying is, it all depends on your personality. I know many women who get interested in a guy only after he shows some kind of an interest into them. It happens fairly often, too.

    It’s true they often claim (for both genders) that “playing hard to get” makes people interested in you. It seems anecdotal evidence supports this view to some degree, but I must say I find it quite confusing. I am the exact opposite, and I’m not the only one: playing hard to get annoys me and I don’t like when people do it.

    Now, I am not sure how relevant this is for the subject of cohabitation.

  89. @Mira church marriage is still very big here, you have to ordained to perform weddings or a judge or magistrate. So for some ppl it’s religious, some ppl it ‘s not. I will be getting married in a church. Now you have to go to your local government’s administration to get the marriage license but as long as the person is somehow ‘ordained’ to perform a marriage, anyone can perform one but after you’re married if you don’t send the gov. documents back to your local gov. office and have it registered with the gov. you’re not legitimately married.

    I like to call Americans puritanical hedonist, we’re presenting one image in public and just buck wild behind closed doors LOL.

    @Kitty wow 18 years, what a waste. I personally think if you’re woman who has marriage on her mind if the guy isn’t talking about it or you aren’t moving toward it (and you know if you or aren’t) within 1 to 2 years maybe 3 but that’s pushing it, I’d get the heck out of dodge he has no intention of marrying you. I understand exactly what you say about women needing to consider their biological clock, you have to it just makes sense. I never wanted children so that was never consideration for me but if you don’t, you don’t have time to waste with knuckleheads who don’t have no plans and are just sitting there with you waiting for the next best thing to come along. The weird part is I’ve seen a few ppl in co-habitation relationships for 10 yrs or more with the kids and everything then finally they get married then a few years later they’re divorced. I think many times b/c after he marriage expectations change.

  90. Posted this in the wrong thread… reposting…

    @Kitty,

    I can speak of so many women — including some in my family — who have gone through the cohabitation cycle. They are now late 40s/early 50s, never married and most never had children. They are all black.

    I know women of other races who’ve had cohabitating relationships not work out as well, but their relationships didn’t seem to go any longer than 5 years and those women were usually younger. So if they moved in with a guy at 25 and broke up with him at 30, at least they didn’t “age out” of their childbearing years!

    This is getting a little off topic, but I think that too many women are not taught that they need to take control of their relational lives. It seems many of us believe that relationships just happen or we get lucky and meet the right guy who wants to marry us at a certain point and there’s nothing else we can do. WRONG! At some point, those women you know and the ones in my family needed to make the decision that if this man wasn’t going to marry them, they were going to leave. I know that’s harder for the ones with kids, but the ones without kids needed to GO probably around the 3-year mark!

    What Tim said didn’t surprise me at all because I’ve heard it from a lot of guys and even been on the other side of it (as the potential new woman they wanted to pursue after spending years with someone else who wanted to marry him). A man is not going to upset the status quo of living comfortably with a girlfriend for many years until HE decides he’s ready to move on… he’s likely not going to just tell the woman that he doesn’t want to marry her and then upset his comfortable situation.

    (Or actually, he probably has told the woman this, but she’s still holding out hope, thinking that because he’s still hanging around, there’s still a chance.)

    This is why I say a woman just needs to know what she wants and how long she’s willing to wait for it, and commit herself to moving on if the person she’s with isn’t on the same page. Otherwise, expecting him to end things out of the goodness of his own heart is going to be a foolish move on her part.

  91. @Bunny77, many men are notorious for trying to leave the door open with a relationship. I say shut that door and keep it pushing girl. And I’ll say it again co-habitation for long periods of time has really no practical legal benefits for the man, woman or the kids.

  92. >>Now, I am not sure how relevant this is for the subject of cohabitation.
    Because when you live with a man you are giving him an unwrapped christmas present. Meanwhile he is working/ going to school with wrapped christmas presents. It is not a playing a game to retain a bit of uncertainty. “Maybe she is going to marry someone else if I don’t ask her”

    -sorry still at work, can’t write more clearly

  93. Because when you live with a man you are giving him an unwrapped christmas present.

    WTF? You mean, men don’t cheat after they marry? They don’t leave their spouses for other women? Just like it doesn’t prevent STDs, marriage doesn’t prevent cheating.

    I don’t want to start my marriage with a mystery of what this person is like; I want to know beforehand whether I can live with this person and his bad habits and his bad moods. And I assume he wants that, too.

    Why else would he live with me, in a common law marriage? It’s like we’re married already. (Well, at least the way we do here: joined finances and all).

  94. @Eugenia and Bunny77,
    This living together thing is tricky for black women and they need to take control of the situation. Too many of them are waiting for God to turn the man into a husband, that is why they stay longer in these relationships than non-black women. They just assume that one day their loyalty will be rewarded with marriage.

    And it does not matter the race of the man. Black men and white men will lead a woman on for years. In the case of the man who lived with the woman for eight years, he is white and she is black. The woman who has been living with a man for over 18 years she is black and the man is black. She is forty years old now. She has her children, but she wants marriage. Good luck to her in finding a quality man at forty years old and with 5 dependent children. I think her self esteem is too low for her to leave the relationship.

    And three years is too long to spend with a man, unless the woman is under 25. Three years is a large fraction of a woman’ s safest reproductive years. Keep in mind that after the live-in relationship ends, she will have to start dating again, and who knows how long it will take to find the right person. And if she is in emotional pain from being left behind, then that may take awhile to get over.

    Men and women are different. I have seen too many BW left behind after living with men so I will never do it. A man either wants to get married or he does not. That is why many of these men are married within a very short time of leaving their live-in lovers.

    If a man is not sure about marriage, that is fine but I will move on. He will not live with me and use my body and time until he decides to marry me or move on to another woman. Eugenia’s situation is rare and I am glad it worked out for her.

    Tim,
    I read the article, but i can’t relate to it. i am not interested in men who ignore me.

  95. @Kitty you’re correct my situation is a rarity indeed, I would not recommend this for women especially younger ones and when I say young I mean around 25 to 35 yrs when women are really thinking about marrying someone. I had been married previously so that in the beginning that kind of skewered my view on marriage b/c that one had ended badly and not b/c we lived together, it was plethora of reasons which is too long to go into. I did a bunch of stuff different this time, stuff I probably should have done my before my 1st marriage, we probably wouldn’t have gotten married. But I learned a lot from it and none of those lessons have gone to waste. But like you I don’t like playing games within the first couple of months, we just got it all out there and were honest about goals of the relationship, that helped. When Matt and I met I was 37 yrs old and he was 34 yrs old, I’m too old to eff around with ppl, I don’t have that kind of luxury. No need for me to waste my precious time with someone who isn’t going in the direction I’m going, no need for them either. I also say if you want to be married find marriage-minded men, they are really as rare as ppl like to pretend.

  96. @Mira I see where you’re coming from I think b/c of the way your culture is set up, co-habitation doesn’t have the negative effects or even connotations it may have in the U.S. It’s just a different mindset, that seems to make it workable there. Culture and cultural norms are what creates the difference. And yes married men and women cheat all the time. We have 50% divorce rate in this country.

  97. Indeed. I am not even sure if it’s law per se. I think it’s more about the mindset. Getting married and raising the kids is seen as extremely important in my culture. However, cohabitation is not seen as bad and it neatly falls under the whole “getting married and raising the kids”. For example, my brother officially married his wife a week before she gave birth to their daughter (they’ve been living together before she got pregnant), and mainly because there’s a more complicated procedure for registering a child if parents aren’t married. (That, and my sister in law suddenly realized she didn’t want her child to be born outside the marriage).

    Frankly, there are other problems in my culture, for example, wanting to live together/marry but not being able to afford your own place, etc.

  98. I just realized something.

    While living together is seen as ok and “basically a marriage”, when a girl gets pregnant, it is assumed that the couple will officially marry. So while it’s seen as ok for a couple to live together (and to even be considered a husband and a wife), it is considered bad for a child to be born outside the official marriage.

    That’s why many couples wait till the woman is pregnant to get married. It’s not a shotgun wedding, but a planned, “we’ll get married when you get pregnant” wedding.

    Not all brides are pregnant, of course. But nobody sees as particularly shocking/outrageous if she is, especially the couple was living together before the marriage. If the couple wasn’t living together, a pregnant bride is seen as a somewhat bad thing. Well, not bad, but most of the people would think: “it’s the only reason they’re getting married”. But if they lived together before it, people see it as a normal thing.

  99. Not all brides are pregnant, of course. But nobody sees as particularly shocking/outrageous if she is, especially the couple was living together before the marriage. If the couple wasn’t living together, a pregnant bride is seen as a somewhat bad thing. Well, not bad, but most of the people would think: “it’s the only reason they’re getting married”. But if they lived together before it, people see it as a normal thing.

    Now that is different, but here if the girl is pregnant whether you’re living together or not, ppl would normally think you’re getting married b/c she’s having a baby and it’s not exactly seen as a positive thing. My first marriage was in Vegas and I remember when I were standing at the Cook County Administration bldg there was long line of folks getting marriage license and a good number of those weddings were with young pregnant women who looked ready to have the baby.

  100. Nikisha,

    Ahhh, I’m losing my mind, it seems. Thanks for clarifying.

    Mira,

    “I am the exact opposite, and I’m not the only one: playing hard to get annoys me and I don’t like when people do it.”

    Cosign that…

  101. There are a lot responses preceeding me, so if this is a repeat of something said before, I’m sorry. I’m in the process of divorcing a man with Aspergers disorder which wasn’t diagnosed until after we had been married a few years and miserable.

    I didn’t want him to move in with me before we were married, because I didn’t see value for myself in doing that without a tangible commitment from him. I was serious and I needed a serious partner at that time in my life. (I want an enjoyable life, but I wanted a safe, secure base to hang my freak flag from.)

    He wasn’t perfect, but his specific oddness dovetailed with the things that men stereotypically do. He was always welcoming to family and friends (me with his and him with mine), there were no “Lifetime” movie signals of evil, and nothing was very out of the ordinary in his speech patterns or demeanor, he was just shy until he warmed up to people. After a few years of marriage, when I read a newspaper article and finally figured out what was wrong, his psychologist said it was logical that our troubles would begin right away, because he would have trouble living with someone else who would stop him from completely controlling his personal living space. Individuals with Aspergers can’t retain understanding about compromise, even if they “get it” in the moment. For him every compromise with me, no matter how small a concession I bargained for, was a complete defeat. Each “defeat” added to his depression and belief that I was cruel. His Aspergers behavior issues would’ve been impossible to ignore if we had lived together, because they feel like emotional and verbal abuse.

    I would say to anyone contemplating cohabitation or marriage: whatever you do, keep your eyes open for any behavior that feels wrong in your gut, whether you understand it or not. Your gut always tries to protect you. And if you try therapy, make sure you choose a therapist who has credentials to recognize autism spectrum disorders. If they don’t have that knowledge, they’ll think you’re the difficult one, and suggest exercises or “fixes” that support your partner’s abuse. I think Patricia Evan’s book, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” may have inadvertently been written about relationships between neurotypical women and men with Aspergers, because there was no psychological understanding of this dynamic when she did her research. Virtually all of her information fit my marriage except for her reasoning as to why. I too, thought he must have been horribly abused as a child. Aspergers behavior can seem like that.

    Now, when I think about future relationships, I wonder what else don’t I know about. I’m sorry this was so long. I hope it adds to the discussion.

  102. I have not had the chance to read any other comments. But, i can only speak for myself in saying No Thanks… Even if I were to get divorced or become widowed, I’d want my own space. Not living with anyone EVER again. My kids come first and introducing another man into their lives would be confusing to them. Ultimately, everyone has to do what’s right for them and their situation.

  103. I’ve lived with a boyfriend before and it turned out well during that time. I know the trend nowadays is to live together than get married. I just attended a friends wedding where he and his wife lived together for a few years first before they got married. It worked for them but I don’t know how much that would work for anyone else. I think its really up to the couple and where they are int heir life. I think one should vet a man carefully before deciding to live with him so you don’t end up being a permanent common law wife with no hope for an actual wedding. I think in the case of my friend they vetted each other well first and found compatability on a number of levels which made the engagement a locial step. The jury is still out as to whether I will do the same for myself in terms of cohabitating but I do know that I plan to vet him very well.

  104. “I am the exact opposite, and I’m not the only one: playing hard to get annoys me and I don’t like when people do it.”

    I see that I linked to an article that was well written but had a cheap hook; that men should play hard to get. What was interesting to me about that article was the psychological study and the discussion on uncertainty. I have no idea if men should play hard to get or not. It probably depends on the people involved and the situation.

    @sparksinshadow
    thanks for the post, it definitely added to my thoughts on the discussion.

  105. As I read this post, one of your questions appears to concern the merits of cohabitation as opposed to marriage. I’m sorry if I misunderstood that, but my answer concerned the way that cohabitation would have been much better for me than marriage, because it would have made it easier to emotionally extricate myself from my situation. If you feel that my comment doesn’t address that question, I understand if you delete it.

    I think it’s great that you’re writing about so many important issues. The info is too late for me, but I’ll visit your Aspergers post before I move on with my day. Thanks.

  106. sparkinshadow,

    Now I can see how your comment would fit in both threads. Well, thanks for adding your views, they were insightful.

    madamesiamese,

    Having children turns cohabitation into a whole new ball game…

    Welcome xxbronzegoddessxx :)

    “I know the trend nowadays is to live together than get married.”

    It is, I was just reading about this (unrelated to this thread). There is an increasing trend of unmarried couples to live at each other’s places for a few days at a time — they live at the guy’s place Mon. and Tues., then live at the girl’s place Wed. and Thurs. The rest of the time they live alone. And yes, this a permanent plan and not a temporary thing!

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