Sharing the Lease: The Knock-off Marriage

Her:  Giirrllllll, he said we should move in together
Me: Oh really?
Her: Yep.
Me: Oh okay.  When ya’ll plan on getting married?
Her: I dunno, girl.
Me: Has he brought it up?
Her: Nah, not really.  But I think I will have a dinner party to celebrate.
Me: To celebrate what?
Her: Him moving in.
Me: …
Her: Hello??
Me: Yea, I am just looking for the best way to say that sounds ridiculous.
As the conversation progressed, she finally admitted that what she really wanted was an engagement party but living together seemed like a good step towards that although he has never mentioned marriage.  She said she didn’t want to scare him away by bringing it up.  She said, honestly, she could use the savings by him moving in because he said he would split the cost of the bills and he is always over there anyway. I said mmhmm in between and gave the standard “if you’re happy, then I’m happy for you” friend spill.  She knows me well enough not to believe it and asked how I really felt about it.
I lived with a man before, and while all relationships are different, it is something that I made a personal choice not to do again.  These are the reasons why:
1)        All of the Work, None of the Title: When you live with a man that you are not married to, as a woman you automatically feel that the audition for wife has begun.  So you take on the role that a wife- the cooking, the cleaning, the loving, the nurturing- without the title or benefits.   And while as a girlfriend, you may do all of the things, it is nothing like the full time duties when living with a man.  It is like working for free, while when you are not living together it is more like you are volunteering.  You can make your own schedule and leave whenever.  However, by living together you figuratively and literally rob yourself of benefits that come with the term spouse.  There are no medical and dental options or tax breaks for heterosexual live-in girlfriends like there are for wives.  Maybe working for free is too harsh, maybe it is more similar to be underpaid and overworked because hopefully this man provides some benefit to you other going half on the rent.  If that is all he is doing, you can get a roommate.  She didn’t like that part.
2)        You Lose the Go-Home Ability: I know right now, you claim you can’t get enough of each other and talk to each other 20 times a day and see each other day and can’t be more than 5 feet from each other every single but eventually that will get old.  You will grow tired of each other.  By living together you lose that option to allow time for your relationship to breathe, so it can grow until you are both ready for the commitment of marriage.  And what if he cheats…again??  “He will have no reason to cheat if we live together,” she says.  I sigh deeply and respond, “but what if he does?  Are you going to let him stay with you after he cheats?”  Probably, because you are overly invested in a relationship prematurely.  It is much easier to keep it moving to someone worth your time when you are not tied down in a shared lease with a man.
3)        If and When You Break Up You Don’t Get $750 Million Anything: I’m not saying it is not going to last forever, I am just saying what if it doesn’t.  The statistics are not in your favor.  You are fully emotionally invested,  and now financially invested.  So if you break up, you deal with it like you would a divorce, yet you get absolutely nothing to make you feel better about wasting your time it easier to pick up the pieces and move forward.   You don’t think he is aware of this?  He can get all of the benefits of marriage without spiritual, legal, and financial commitment? Hmph.
So while I absolutely feel you need to spend lots and lots and lots of time to truly know each other before you get married, shacking it up is no longer a feasible option for me.   About the best I can do is give him a little space in a drawer and keep his favorite drink stocked.   That is about as much as I can commit before I get his full and legal commitment.

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