Livin’ In Sin: Shacking Up Before Marriage

living-together-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 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 sex 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?

About The Author

Established in March 2012, JessicaSimien.com is a lifestyle and entertainment blog that has become your go-to source for breaking news, the latest in pop culture, celebrities, inspiration, fashion, beauty, sports, music and relationship talk. No matter what your interests are, there is something here for everyone! Because our site is updated daily, you can expect to read fresh content from our founder, Jessica Simien, as well as other talented contributors. In addition to news, we feature exclusive interviews, opinion pieces and occasionally host contests and giveaways.

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37 Comments

    1. Jessica

      Like I mentioned in the post, at first I did. But now that I’ve experienced it, I see that it isn’t all bad!

      Reply
  1. kayata

    I totally agree with you. I am currently living with my second child’s father now and a lot of it has to do with him living in bentonia ( 10 minutes away from yazoo city) and me staying in Jackson. We were wasting a lot of gas going back and forth seeing each other everyday and since he spends a lot of time in Jackson and I was pregnant, we decided it would be better to move in together. We have and are still learning a lot about each other but shacking is not all that bad. It does give you time to realize the reality of a commitment and whether or not if marriage is really for the both of you. I can say it definitely helps you become a responsible adult because of the bills and decisions that have to be made.

    Reply
  2. Kris

    I think it has become more of the “norm”. Actually me n my boyfriend been together for 5 years. And about 2 weeks into us dating, we moved in together….and has been living together EVERY SINCE. it’s a wonderful thing to have a”sleeping partner” for protection. Sure sex comes, but doesn’t it come still when you are living apart. Living together does help you figure out if you are ready for marriage or even if that person was a candidate for marriage. Even after 5 years we are undecided. But its ok. This experience has taught us that this is not a “fairy tale” nor is it the “nightmare” on elm street.

    Reply
  3. kayla washington

    love the blog…… no sin is greater than that next. These days majorty of people are living together before marriage anyway, also my opinion, how would you get to know the other person and how they live without living with them. you want to know what you getting into before you do take a huge step like that…..

    Reply
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  7. Odessa Fort

    The definition of “shacking up” is a male and a female living together doing what MARRIED couples do when they are clearly not married.I am a black Christian. And I too have heard this term shacking up before. I don’t believe in it, I don’t condone it, and I think it’s flat out wrong.The definition of roommates is two or more people cohabiting in the same space at the same time in different areas.I DO believe men and women can be roommates so long as they are NOT shacking up!I believe society has convinced people that it is socially acceptable to “sin.” Be it being gay, club hopping, getting wasted or shacking, it is all wrong. You do not necessarily have to live with a person just because your dating, get married, or undecided. That’s what marriage if for basically if you really think about it. In marriage you have to learn to take the good with the bad, be it they bite their toe nails before bed, pass gas when they sleep, or never put the seat down. Marriage is hard and if two people are not willing to look beyond someone else quirks, then why get married? There is nothing wrong with and girlfriend and boyfriend living together, all I’m saying is sleep in different beds. And if the feelings is just so strong you have to sleep in the same bed, then follow “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.” and just jump the broom. And whala! No sin!!!! :-)We all have to answer to somebody for the choices we make. “No sin is greater than another,” but don’t sin on purpose if you don’t have to right?

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      Thanks for your comment. As for me, I’m not going to marry someone JUST so I can have sex, that to me is the wrong reason to get married. And I don’t care what some people say, certain things you will not know unless you live with them and they can be more than just little kinks. They can be deal breakers.

      Reply
      1. Odessa Fort

        I agree you don’t have to marry someone to have sex. All I’m saying is if two people that are in a relationship gone live together just do it in the right way. Shacking is the problem, not the fact you want to live with your boyfriend or girlfriend. And true you don’t really know some people’s habits until you live with them but it not an excuse to sin. I see nothing wrong with two people in a relationship living together, it’s just the living as a married couple would that I think is wrong. But I am the only one entitled to my opinion, please don’t think I’m trying to call you wrong or a sinner. I just answered the question above as to what I thought the answer was.

        Reply
  8. Odessa Fort

    The definition of “shacking up” is a male and a female living together doing what MARRIED couples do when they are clearly not married.I am a black Christian. And I too have heard this term shacking up before. I don’t believe in it, I don’t condone it, and I think it’s flat out wrong.The definition of roommates is two or more people cohabiting in the same space at the same time in different areas.I DO believe men and women can be roommates so long as they are NOT shacking up!I believe society has convinced people that it is socially acceptable to “sin.” Be it being gay, club hopping, getting wasted or shacking, it is all wrong. You do not necessarily have to live with a person just because your dating, get married, or undecided. That’s what marriage if for basically if you really think about it. In marriage you have to learn to take the good with the bad, be it they bite their toe nails before bed, pass gas when they sleep, or never put the seat down. Marriage is hard and if two people are not willing to look beyond someone else quirks, then why get married? There is nothing wrong with and girlfriend and boyfriend living together, all I’m saying is sleep in different beds. And if the feelings is just so strong you have to sleep in the same bed, then follow “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.” and just jump the broom. And whala! No sin!!!! :-)We all have to answer to somebody for the choices we make. “No sin is greater than another,” but don’t sin on purpose if you don’t have to right?

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      Thanks for your comment. As for me, I’m not going to marry someone JUST so I can have sex, that to me is the wrong reason to get married. And I don’t care what some people say, certain things you will not know unless you live with them and they can be more than just little kinks. They can be deal breakers.

      Reply
      1. Odessa Fort

        I agree you don’t have to marry someone to have sex. All I’m saying is if two people that are in a relationship gone live together just do it in the right way. Shacking is the problem, not the fact you want to live with your boyfriend or girlfriend. And true you don’t really know some people’s habits until you live with them but it not an excuse to sin. I see nothing wrong with two people in a relationship living together, it’s just the living as a married couple would that I think is wrong. But I am the only one entitled to my opinion, please don’t think I’m trying to call you wrong or a sinner. I just answered the question above as to what I thought the answer was.

        Reply
  9. Odessa Fort

    The definition of “shacking up” is a male and a female living together doing what MARRIED couples do when they are clearly not married.I am a black Christian. And I too have heard this term shacking up before. I don’t believe in it, I don’t condone it, and I think it’s flat out wrong.The definition of roommates is two or more people cohabiting in the same space at the same time in different areas.I DO believe men and women can be roommates so long as they are NOT shacking up!I believe society has convinced people that it is socially acceptable to “sin.” Be it being gay, club hopping, getting wasted or shacking, it is all wrong. You do not necessarily have to live with a person just because your dating, get married, or undecided. That’s what marriage if for basically if you really think about it. In marriage you have to learn to take the good with the bad, be it they bite their toe nails before bed, pass gas when they sleep, or never put the seat down. Marriage is hard and if two people are not willing to look beyond someone else quirks, then why get married? There is nothing wrong with and girlfriend and boyfriend living together, all I’m saying is sleep in different beds. And if the feelings is just so strong you have to sleep in the same bed, then follow “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.” and just jump the broom. And whala! No sin!!!! :-)We all have to answer to somebody for the choices we make. “No sin is greater than another,” but don’t sin on purpose if you don’t have to right?

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      Thanks for your comment. As for me, I’m not going to marry someone JUST so I can have sex, that to me is the wrong reason to get married. And I don’t care what some people say, certain things you will not know unless you live with them and they can be more than just little kinks. They can be deal breakers.

      Reply
  10. Camillia

    I have been married for three years this August and we did not shack up or live together before marriage and I am glad that we didnt live together. I am glad because I love being married to my husband but I cannot honestly say I would be married to him now if we lived together. I think what older people is trying to say is that living together gets you complacent and lazy about being married. In the Bible, it does say that a man is suppose to leave his mother and father and cleave to His WIFE (Mark 10:7) not to his girlfriend. The Bible also states when a man find a wife he finds a good thing (Prov.18:22) not a girlfriend. The point that I am making is that GOD wants us to marry not just live together. If that was the case he would have Not said and made sex before marriage a sin and sex with someone else other than your spouse a sin. Yes no sin is greater than the other sin BUT there is a difference from occasionally sinning to living in sin.

    Reply
  11. Camillia

    I have been married for three years this August and we did not shack up or live together before marriage and I am glad that we didnt live together. I am glad because I love being married to my husband but I cannot honestly say I would be married to him now if we lived together. I think what older people is trying to say is that living together gets you complacent and lazy about being married. In the Bible, it does say that a man is suppose to leave his mother and father and cleave to His WIFE (Mark 10:7) not to his girlfriend. The Bible also states when a man find a wife he finds a good thing (Prov.18:22) not a girlfriend. The point that I am making is that GOD wants us to marry not just live together. If that was the case he would have Not said and made sex before marriage a sin and sex with someone else other than your spouse a sin. Yes no sin is greater than the other sin BUT there is a difference from occasionally sinning to living in sin.

    Reply
  12. TMR

    Wow I just happened to stumble across your blog and I love it! Anyhow, I have “shacked” up in the past and we lived together for five years. Though it will be a long time before I am ever interested in living with another person, I did learn and mature a great deal in those five years. I could relate to everything you stated in your post! Speaking for myself, I am happier living on my own and it really was the “shacking” up that made me realize that. For me, I felt as though we were living together for so long and it didn’t feel as though we were going to progress to the next level. We loved each other very much but in the end, realized we had different ideas about marriage, sad it took all those years to have that talk. I dated another guy who was insulted because I insisted on us not living together. I tried to explain to him why we shouldn’t and he just took it as if I didn’t want our relationship to progress. I decided not to date him again lol I can’t win :)

    Anyhow, thank you for the awesome post, brought up some happy memories.

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I’m glad you could relate, I’m CERTAIN that if this relationship doesn’t work out, I will not be living with my next mate.

      Reply
  13. TMR

    Wow I just happened to stumble across your blog and I love it! Anyhow, I have “shacked” up in the past and we lived together for five years. Though it will be a long time before I am ever interested in living with another person, I did learn and mature a great deal in those five years. I could relate to everything you stated in your post! Speaking for myself, I am happier living on my own and it really was the “shacking” up that made me realize that. For me, I felt as though we were living together for so long and it didn’t feel as though we were going to progress to the next level. We loved each other very much but in the end, realized we had different ideas about marriage, sad it took all those years to have that talk. I dated another guy who was insulted because I insisted on us not living together. I tried to explain to him why we shouldn’t and he just took it as if I didn’t want our relationship to progress. I decided not to date him again lol I can’t win :)

    Anyhow, thank you for the awesome post, brought up some happy memories.

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I’m glad you could relate, I’m CERTAIN that if this relationship doesn’t work out, I will not be living with my next mate.

      Reply
  14. TMR

    Wow I just happened to stumble across your blog and I love it! Anyhow, I have “shacked” up in the past and we lived together for five years. Though it will be a long time before I am ever interested in living with another person, I did learn and mature a great deal in those five years. I could relate to everything you stated in your post! Speaking for myself, I am happier living on my own and it really was the “shacking” up that made me realize that. For me, I felt as though we were living together for so long and it didn’t feel as though we were going to progress to the next level. We loved each other very much but in the end, realized we had different ideas about marriage, sad it took all those years to have that talk. I dated another guy who was insulted because I insisted on us not living together. I tried to explain to him why we shouldn’t and he just took it as if I didn’t want our relationship to progress. I decided not to date him again lol I can’t win :)

    Anyhow, thank you for the awesome post, brought up some happy memories.

    Reply
    1. Jessica

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I’m glad you could relate, I’m CERTAIN that if this relationship doesn’t work out, I will not be living with my next mate.

      Reply
  15. Ty Gray

    I think that we are taught that it is biblically wrong to live together before marriage, but the real wrong is having sex before marriage. My fiance and I have lived together for 3 years now and everytime we make love I have guilt, I just kept feeling that this is not what God wants. Back in june we got engaged and I can’t wait to be with my husband having the full relationship of making love in God’s will for husband and wife, without the guilt. It seemed to make sense, spending less money by not paying two rents, just being together, but God does not want us to put ourselves right into temptation. Ladies don’t get comfortable in this situation, if you can live with him and play house for all these years dont you deserve to be his wife? As the old saying goes, why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free…

    Reply
  16. Eric

    I know that I’m a couple years late but I came across this post while doing my own spiritual investigation into “shacking up.” Before I make my comment, I’d love to know if your opinion has changed since you first wrote this blog but that’s just out of curiosity.

    In theory, I agree that in a vacuum living with someone that you are dating is not a sin but I don’t think I agree with your justification for living that way. Things that you say are true in that you have an opportunity to see your potential mate in a way you wouldn’t while living separately but imo that’s not reason enough to do it. As you briefly mention, it’s impossible to see them in every possible situation before making the decision to marry them so where does your Faith kick in? When do you trust that if God has set this person aside for you then even though it might not be easy, you know it will work? Do you have sex, have a family, get laid off from work, deal with infidelity and any other potential stressful situation prior to marriage just to see if you two can handle it?

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is too often we as believers try to have control over as much as we can when God himself asks for us to give it over to Him. In my understanding of your blog, it seems as if you’re encouraging the same thing and I believe that’s ungodly. Likewise, if any situation you’re in creates an environment of temptation (in this case for sex in particular) then I can’t imagine God being in support of that situation. And if He doesn’t support it, He’s against it and we should consider that enough to avoid that situation altogether.

    Thank you for your perspective as I’m truly trying to search for God’s stance on this matter. I truly value your insight and hope that my opinion does not offend you but ignites spiritual dialogue.

    Blessings

    Reply
    1. Jessica Simien

      Yes, my opinion has changed since I wrote this.

      I still don’t believe that living together is a sin. However, I would not do it again unless I was engaged to be married and actively preparing for marriage. I don’t encourage anyone to do anything other than what they believe for themselves to be right and everything written above is strictly my opinion. How someone interprets it is not my responsibility, there’s nothing I can do about that. In terms of your comment about temptation, temptation is all around us. That’s where self-control comes in so I’m not sure how God can’t support a situation when temptation is involved when temptation happens everyday at all levels and in all types of situations and environments. We can give things to God but it’s not always realistic to just sit and wait for a change to automatically happen. I believe we have to constantly take action based on how we are led to take that action…if that makes sense.

      Reply
  17. Carlos

    When growing a closer relationship with God he will show you things and explain things to you in the bible We know God will not tempt us with evil (sin) so knowing this if you have a relationship with God he will give you a understanding of his word. I personally don’t think shacking is ok because shacking can leave you into a sinful live. This time and age it’s probably hard to live like that and not commit sin. When dating you try and figure out your spouse and ask God to give you an understanding

    Reply

What do you think?