My Reasons For Living Alone

When I was 14 years old, a friend of mine and I made unofficial pacts with ourselves that we wouldn't ever move in with a significant other unless we were at least engaged. I projected out a lot of things about my future at 14 that either haven't come true or I know won't. For obvious reasons I'm a lot different at (almost) 25 than I was at 14, but this has been one of the things that has continued to hold true.

I think at 14 the impetus for my friend and I had heavy roots in our Christian beliefs. We had been told that it was un-Christian for two people in a relationship who weren't married to live together. I don't dispute this. I actually recently did some relatively thorough research in the Bible and while there is no verse that says anything about two people in a relationship not living together, there are enough verses that the case can be made that you just shouldn't.

My reasoning, however, has changed a little bit. It's not rooted in my religious beliefs but rather in my practical ones.

On an episode of "Love & Hip Hop" Chrissy and Emily talk about Em's relationship with the rapper Fabolous. During Chrissy's diary portion that interjects, she shares that she got emotional talking to Emily about her situation because it reminded her (Chrissy) so much of her own with rapper Jim Jones. It was well-documented last season that Chrissy was tired of just being Jim's girlfriend and wanted to be his wife.

I think it's actually fairly obvious that for Jim, Chrissy is it. She's the one he wants to grow old with. It also seems, however, that for him, marriage isn't a necessary step towards that happening and I can't say that I don't see why myself. Why would you bother spending the money or the time to get married when in many states it doesn't take very long to be considered common law husband and wife AND if your relationship is trucking along just fine?

I'm certainly not anti-marriage and in fact my non-anti-marriage status is exactly the practical belief I'm referencing as the basis for my personal decision. Studies show that most couples who live together either don't get married or if they do, end in divorce more frequently than those who waited until after they were engaged or already married to live together.

I surely do not judge those who choose to live with their significant others either as a "trial run" or just because they want to. The friend alongside whom I made this pact actually now lives with her boyfriend and while I don't doubt they've discussed marriage, I haven't heard her talk much about a possible engagement and I have to ask myself if I don't see how that makes sense. In my mind I just can't come up with enough reasons to rock a boat that appears to be working just fine. For those who don't know or can't fathom the seriousness that marriage places upon a relationship it may seem like an unnecessary step; for those of us who can, it may seem like a dauntingly unnecessary step once we've gotten comfortable with just sharing the same space with our partner.

Because I'm marriage-minded and hope that it is in my future I do want to give my relationship every opportunity to be successful and if one way I can do that is by avoiding co-habitation, then by all means, let's git 'r done. Not to mention I'm of the opinion that moving in sends the wrong signals. What is there to work towards if everything about a marriage you get without the seriously deep (not to mention, legal) commitment of a ring and a ceremony? We place more weight - at least in this hetero-normed society and in heterosexual relationships - on a wife than we do a girlfriend. I think about my recently deceased uncle: his ex-wife had more weight in his life than his current girlfriend and I've seen the same thing played out in other situations. There is something very loving and respectful about wanting someone to take a step further and be your wife, no longer your girlfriend.

The other thing I think I fear is being "tricked" into changing my mind about marriage. I hear people in long-term committed, but not married or engaged - relationships say they're happy but I often wonder if it's true. Sometimes when we know what's going on and we can tell that things won't change, we adapt ourselves to the situation so we don't have to deal with the mental anguish it causes. In other words, I'm living with my boyfriend and after 3 years it becomes clear to my marriage-minded sensibilities that Billy Bob has not nan intention of proposing and I recognize that I can end this 3+ yr relationship over that or I can get with the program and see things his way. I'm almost wanting to throw up typing that but this really happens to people all the time and I really don't want it to happen to me. I don't want to forget that marriage is something I want just because it's easier to do that than to fight for it (which may not entail actual fighting as much as making different decisions).

So I'm holding on to my plan to avoid co-habitation until there's a sign of impending long-term commitment either via a ring or a marriage certificate. That's my personal decision and I think it will serve me well; I know folks who have made different decisions and for them it also has seemed to turn out well. I'm happy for them but I'll stick to this path until it seems to be headed the wrong way.

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