Livin’ In Sin: Shacking Up Before Marriage

If you are a young Black person in a relationship and at least one of your parents regularly (or occasionally) attends church, you’ve probably heard the term “shacking up” before. Some of my non-Black friends are familiar with the term, so maybe it’s not just a Black thing. But anyway! As always, my opinions come from my experience and you can trust me on this one because according to the title, I’m living in sin. *Raises hand* Hello, my name is Jessica and I’m a shacker. :-/ (Yes, I made that word up.)

My mom and his mom (maybe even him) will probably kill me once they read this post, but they’ll be OK. (Hey Y’all! LOL) I don’t want to be another blogger writing about what everyone else is writing about. I want to get down to business and talk about those things that occur in our everyday lives and not just in reality TV – specifically as it relates to relationships. The fact of the matter is, more and more couples are opting to live together before marriage and we need to take a look at this phenomenon in a deeper way by considering the reasons many do it and not passing judgement on those of us who do.

I grew up in church and while I was still attending the church I grew up in, the pastor focused heavily on the subject of shacking up. I’ve since moved and started attending a new church and I can’t remember ever hearing the pastor discuss this subject. It made me wonder if the term is still relevant or still as taboo as it was back then. After searching through the Bible for verses specifically addressing shacking up, I did not find any. However, I did find a verse that could be applied to the subject:

1 Corinthians 7:9 (NLT) – But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust.

I think people take the words of the Bible and make their own interpretations and shacking up is probably an old interpretation that has been passed down for generations and generations without very many challenges or oppositions. I am definitely not trying to challenge the Bible…I’m just saying. You know how people can make the words of the Bible fit their individual situations and beliefs.

When we decided to move in together, we had a number of reasons. The main being, we didn’t want to continue paying rent at two different apartments and we basically were always at one. Another reason was at that time we had been together for six years and felt like moving in was a natural next step.

Now here we are, one year later, and let me tell you…living together is not all it’s cracked up to be!

Actually experiencing living together has changed my perspective on it completely. Initially, we were a little hesitant because we didn’t want to disappoint our parents nor did we want to go against God. Then as and when our parents were, to our surprise, supportive – we realized we had to do what was best and realistic for us, so we just went ahead and did it.

I’ve learned a lot about him and he’s learned a lot about me. After seven years of dating, us living together made us realize that a relationship is more than just a title and going out on dates – it is hard work, sweat and sometimes, tears. We still have kinks we need to work out, but living together has helped us work through them. It’s not easy to walk away when you have to pack up everything and find somewhere else to live. It also makes you take marriage more seriously.

Before, when I thought of marriage I thought about hiring an event planner and who would be on our guest list. Now, when I hear marriage I think about being with that person everyday, enduring the tough times, raising a family, building our finances, and all the other responsibilities and challenges. We understand now that we have to be ready to put our selfishness aside and do whats best for us (not anyone else) as a couple. We’ve also learned about each others spending habits, cleaning habits, views on managing a household…you know, things that you could miss while just seeing each other every day or every other day.

I don’t want to encourage anyone to shack up unless they have been dating for at least a few years…that way you know its serious. Otherwise, you’ll be moving in with every man/woman you date. (That’s not a good look.) I also believe that if you’re discussing marriage then its crucial to learn all you can before you take that leap. I don’t believe in divorce and I only want to be married one time…so whatever I can learn before I say I do, I wanna learn! Of course you never stop learning, but you’ll have a better idea about that person and whether or not you can truly spend forever with them. I also recommend only RENTING the shared space and choosing a short-term lease agreement at that. Lets say it doesn’t work, you don’t want to end up like Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in The Break-Up.

Living together is not the same as marriage and you can’t go into it thinking that you will get married. If anything, look at it as a step in making the right and best decision about marriage to that person. Do I think living together makes you less likely to get married? Absolutely not. A person isn’t going to marry you until they are mentally ready regardless of if you’re living together or not. Whats more important is that you all go into the new situation on the same page with the same expectations. My final verdict is that I do not believe living together is a sin. People just say that because they know that if you’re living together, then you’re having premaritial bad word and they do not want to condone that. I think that’s where it all came from.

What do you think? Have you ever or are you currently living with a significant other?

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