Shacking up – A Do or Don’t?

By  |  1 Comment

When you’re in love, all you can do is think about being with that other person. You’re like Bim and Bam, and the only time you’re apart is when you’re working, sleeping, or using the toilet, and even that your friends and family aren’t too sure about. So it sort of makes sense to live together, right?

Screeeeech. Here come the road bumps. From the annoying habits once found charming, to the dirty dishes and the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde behaviours, you have to admit it’s a big step. Mr Lover Lover or Miss Chunkaloonks may turn out to be your roommate from hell, or the crazy bat who burnt all your clothes. As I always say, to each his own (or her own).

For some people, it’s easier to be married, while others want to carry the relationship, and living together, for a test drive before deciding that their significant other is in fact ‘a keeper’. Statistics from the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, show that 51% of Americans who cohabitate end up getting married within three years. So, if you’re looking to shack up with the hope that it will bring you an engagement ring, it’s a hit or miss situation.


“People get divorced faster than a zorced out Subaru, but it’s easier to pack up and leave a shacked up affair.”


I personally think that although it is good to live with the person in the onset, marriage is more of a commitment, and you know from the beginning that it is for life. Yes, nowadays, people get divorced faster than a zorced out Subaru, but it’s easier to pack up and leave a shacked up affair.

Many times, people move in together, hoping that the relationship will move onto the next stage, marriage. However, sometimes it doesn’t work out like that because one party is perfectly happy with the current arrangement.     The woman may be praying for a ring, but the guy may be saying: “Dahlin we already livin’ together… what’s the difference?” You know… the whole “Why buy the cow when yuh getting d milk for free?” That’s a trap many people fall into.

That’s why, although you’re not looking to place pressure on the relationship, it’s important to discuss your expectations on where the relationship is heading before making the decision to move in together. How do you want things to unfold? Understand the reasons for moving in together. Do you expect to see the person even more now? Some people live together and end up seeing even less of each other, as one person begins to resent the idea of having less freedom or feels as if his or her personal space is being encroached upon.


“You would think that most guys would be more in favour of shacking up…”


If you know you want the fairytale wedding with the church and band and whole fandangle, maybe it’s best to hold out for the full package. You would think that most guys would be more in favour of shacking up, but, interestingly, just over half of the guys I spoke to (ages 25-38) would rather get married than shack up. Even if they do cohabitate, it will be short-lived as the intention is to get married. Gary, an IT specialist, says that if he really cares about the person he would rather “do the right thing” and take her to the altar.

Some of the guys I spoke to said that it’s difficult just jumping into marriage without first getting accustomed to that person’s habits and idiosyncrasies. While dating you may not know certain things about the person until you have to live with them day and night, and they test your tolerance levels. Some people shack up due to circumstances. Like Kester, 26 who has been living with his “wifey” for the past seven years after getting pregnant with their first child.

There are persons who decide marriage is better for them, however, and won’t shack up because they want to experience the novelty of life as man and wife, or simply believe it’s the respectable thing to do. While some people choose not to cohabitate for reasons such as these, others just won’t do it because they don’t want to share their personal space.


“Once you allow people into your personal space, it usually doesn’t strengthen the bond, it tends to separate it.”


Popular US rapper Bun B, who’s been with his wife for the past 12 years, doesn’t recommend shacking up at all. In a recent interview with Parlour Magazine, he said:

“They’re probably already having sex and the only thing separating them is their personal space. If they’re not ready to commit fully, then it can only hamper the situation. Once you allow people into your personal space, it usually doesn’t strengthen the bond, it tends to separate it and if they haven’t already become engaged or really ready to move to that next level anyway, moving in together is a minor technicality… It’s always good to keep as much personal space from someone as possible until you’re ready to share everything.”

When you’re living with someone, there’s another person to think about. Going to the grocery? Don’t go home with a bag of your favourite snacks only. If your significant other is lactose intolerant, don’t only buy the creamiest pack of Dairy Dairy, and forget to pick up something they can also use. You’ve got to think of someone else too.


“It’s not always as simple as, well I’ll pay half the bill and that’s it.”


Which brings me to finances. When you’re shacked up, technically you aren’t married, but ask any established common-law wife or husband, and they’ll tell you you’ll have to get accustomed to sharing your income. It’s not always as simple as, well I’ll pay half the bill and that’s it. When you’re living with someone, expectations increase about what they’re entitled to. If they get sick, you might have to pay the doctor bill. If you were saving up for that new car or vacation, you might have to forgo that because now you’re in a joint, financial arrangement.

So, while on paper, it may seem as simple as splitting bills in two, or accepting responsibility for certain bills, you’ve also got to plan for other expenses. Moving in with someone is a big step, especially if you haven’t been living on your own before.

In our culture, young adults are able to live with their parents, as long as they are contributing to the home and supporting themselves, and unlike Americans or Europeans, our parents typically expect us to stay with them until someone ‘puts a ring on it’.  In T&T, your parents may balk at the idea of you moving in with someone. They’ll give you prayers about ‘living in sin’, and wasting your money on new expenses you didn’t have while at home, or they take it personal, and feel as if you’re abandoning them.

Ultimately, you have to do what is right for you. Shacking up has its pros and cons, but its success is really determined by the strength of your relationship. The relationship honeymoon is over at this stage, because now, the person is almost always in your space. You both learn things about yourself and your partner, and it’s up to you to work together until a balance is achieved. What’s a nightmare for you might work beautifully for someone else, so always know the reasons for moving in together. Know your partner, and know where you want to go in your relationship.


Carolyn K. Correia is a Communications and Human Resource professional by day but a writer screaming to get out the rest of the time. She also realizes that life is short, too short to write a bio. Follow her at


by Carolyn Correia and Karel Mc Intosh.


Carolyn K. Correia is a Human Resource and Communications professional with over five years' experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literatures in English and Communications from The University of the West Indies and a Masters in Mass Communications from the University of Leicester. Her first love is writing, however, and she is currently working on two books. Follow her at

1 Comment

  1. sexyjo

    September 14, 2010 at 7:52 am

    here is trini or d wider caribbean,most of us fall in the bracket of the exteded family(mother,father,bros and sis,cousin etc)something that we have grown to tolerate but dont have to deal with it all the time cause our relatives are what they are. yes our parent would really freak bout the idea of ‘shacking up’ campared to other regions round the globe. but the common law thing is like a fashion here in trini. we hav grown to accept it, so for some people doing it hey ‘why not’. to shack up the level of maturity understanding and communication all depends on both parties. consideration is a hell of ah ting. if u dont always consider before doing things you wont went u shack up. we live a free life when with our parents cause mom will still do the cleaning up after, cooking laundry etc. like the old people say marriage is not a bed of roses. you should expect to be prick by the thorns. its a committemnt that one really has to be discipline in one self cause its no longer ‘I’. people think of shackin up as the get away from siblings or that command over yuh head. but if you can really live with the person then stand stong, live tall. or jus GET MARRIED. same applies to both only difference is that if u shack up u can always terminate on your own terms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *