To Shack or Not to Shack – That is the Question!

Dear Tamara:

My fiancé has asked me to move in with him. We have been together for three years and engaged for almost a year now. We have not yet set a wedding date because we each have another year of school left and we both want to wait until we graduate college before getting married. In a way it makes perfect sense that we move in together. Economically we would save money by combining our resources, which could help us save for the wedding and our life together. And it would also save us time and gas since I am always over at his place or he is at mine. It really is almost like we live together anyway. The problem is, my parents are completely against it. Even though they love my fiancé like a son, they don’t think it looks right for us to “shack up” as my father so eloquently puts it! They are concerned that we will ruin our relationship by living together first.

I totally disagree with them. My fiancé and I have a great relationship. If we didn’t we wouldn’t even consider getting married. And unlike my parents, who are very old fashion, I do not care what people have to say about my personal life choices. I really don’t see the big deal, especially since my fiancé’s mother and stepfather are completely cool with the idea, and we are planning to get married anyway.

Ready to Move In


Dear Ready to Move:

Before you make any decisions to move forward, I think you need to have a serious “sit-down” conversation with your parents and listen to their viewpoint and concerns. Whether you think they are old-fashioned or not, they are your parents and may have insight, wisdom, and concerns that you do not have or cannot see at this point in your life. Furthermore, you are still a college student, and most likely still a financial dependent. In my book, this means that your parents are still very much involved in the decision-making process when it comes to your welfare, well being, and life choices.

I also understand that many people use “shacking up” as a way to test the relationship and practice being married. I too used that as an excuse when I moved in with my boyfriend during college. The truth was neither of us was in a position to “practice being married.” It proved too difficult to concentrate on being a student and finishing school and trying to live a life we were not ready or properly prepared for. And unlike many “shacking” situations that remain intact for years and years and years without an actual ceremony ever taking place, my situation ended very quickly with NO CHANCE of a wedding ever taking place! Get my drift? So while sometimes a trial period can be a good indicator of how the marriage will be, I am with your parents, it can destroy the relationship completely! In my case, I think “shaking up” gave us a rough start that might not have been so rough if we had been in different places in our lives and really ready to start a life together.

Believe me when I say, there is a great difference between spending time with someone and then going home to your own space and place and living with someone on a full-time basis. There is a level of commitment, responsibility, and compromise that go along with sharing a household. And while you and your fiancé are planning to get married, you are not married yet.  So before you make any decisions, please talk with your parents and take their concerns into consideration.



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