Love Shack: Shacking Up

I know what you’re thinking: why is this girl beating a dead horse? She’s told us all we ever want to know of her views on shacking up; why can’t she assume we’ve taken it as read that she thinks shacking is bad? Well, today I’m not talking about what I think about it, but a new aspect that I hadn’t ever thought to include in my list of anti-cohabitation arsenal.

I believe in being sensitive to other people’s situations, even if I find fault with them based on my beliefs. Keeping in mind my own faults and shortcomings, I try to remain sensitive to other people’s feelings. However, while reading this post and talking with the Lincoln’s, I realized that I hadn’t even been aware of, let alone sensitive to, an unspoken hurt that can arise from shacking. I’ve just looked at shackers as being new age practical and cynical: either they were shacked up to consolidate costs, they don’t believe marriage is necessary, or to give marriage a “test run.” But there is another class of (predominately) female shackers.

One of the things that struck me when I interviewed the Lincoln’s was Mrs. Lincoln’s response to the question of shacking. She spoke about feeling embarrassment and shame for cohabitating. What really stuck out to me, was that she talked about not feeling good enough. To paraphase, she remonstrated “I’m good enough to sleep with and cook his dinner and live with but I’m not good enough to have his last name?” There are so many women I could think of upon reflection who moved in with men hoping this was the next step towards marriage, women who gave their all and took good care of men in the hopes they would be deemed good enough to marry. What sometimes ends up happening is that one or the other person gets comfortable with the arrangement and sees no need to change it.

If you decide to follow Christ after you have begun cohabitating, well, then you have an additional burden. Now you find yourself in a position where you are in love with someone and more than likely used to having a physical relationship with them that you now believe is not in accordance to God’s will. The trouble is, you’ve combined finances and posessions, possibly even blended families, and you don’t want to just abandon that, either. Now you have to decide whether to get married, continue as before or move out.

There are always two people in a relationship. One person can be feeling hurt, dissatisfied, guilty, or inadequate while the other person is perfectly happy with the arrangement. One person can agree to move in with another against their personal convictions because they think it will bring them closer to the relationship they desire, or become dissatified with the arrangement after having a spiritual conversion. This issue isn’t always as logical and black and white as I’ve thought it to be.

At least, that’s my two cents. Leave yours.

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