Now that I’m about to move in with Dan, my boyfriend who’s on safari for seven more days, and my folks aren’t exactly rushing out to get us a Crate and Barrel gift certificate, I’ve been making a mental list of all my friends who cohabitated with partners out of wedlock. I really hate the word “wedlock.” It sounds like the term for what happens in the summer when your door sweats and expands against its jamb and makes that horrible scraping noise.
I couldn’t come up with anyone who hasn’t lived together first. Seriously. Except for maybe Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley, who aren’t really my friends. Katherine spoke about waiting on Oprah. I mean, she spoke about waiting to live with Josh until after marriage, not about what it’s like to serve Oprah. Which is a whole other blog of worms.
Katherine was also quoted in January ’08’s Vanity Fair as saying “I … didn’t want to live together before we were married. I still have enough Mormon in me—not a lot, but enough—that I wanted to keep that a little bit sacred.”
She’s endearingly lackadaisical on the subject, assured in a honeyed way, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because even though they weren’t shacking up before marriage, or spending concentrated chunks of quasi-Mormon time together, Josh still occasionally took her home — at least according to the song “Hey Katie.” Which contains the following non sequitur lyric:
Just maybe (maybe)
You’ll let me take you home tonight
I’ve gotta have you by my side
To wake up with the sunrise
Its hard to drive when you’re putting on your makeup
Cant stay in the lines
If she can’t drive and apply makeup is she staying or going? Or is Josh driving? Is this morning mascara or late-night lipstick? So many questions. And I wonder if it will be easier or harder to schedule a naked photo shoot once they’re living together:
I don’t understand the opposition to shacking up before door-jam, er, wedlock. Shacking up has a hard-working, summer camp feel to it — you get to mend and repair as a team! I guess “shack” is traditionally derogatory because it implies poor construction and instability. But Dan’s lived alone in Iowa for the past two years and already survived a tornado AND a flood. He needs another set of hands to rake and drain. And we’re the kind of people who care more about books than faulty siding. I mean, I once slept outside in a cabana chair in a thunderstorm on a beach in Rostock.
Also, I have plenty of gay and lesbian friends living with partners who haven’t been afforded the opportunity to marry before picking out salt and pepper shakers. When does their shack become a home?
Megan likes to send me statistics for my blog. Here are some she found on DivorceMagazine.com, which luckily is an online publication only, so there’s never the awkwardness of receiving an issue in the mail with a “Mr and Mrs.” label.
8.1% of coupled households consist of unmarried heterosexual partners, according to The State of Our Unions 2005, a report issued by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. The same study said that only 63% of American children grow up with both biological parents — the lowest figure in the Western world.
I understand wanting to keep something sacred in the relationship. It’s wonderful to experience firsts with your partner — like, first bike ride, first fancy dinner, first time you made your UPS delivery man pose with the glib stuffed penguin you share. But the domestic can be sacred, too. I can’t wait till the first time I clog the shower with my hair and can’t deny it because it’s red. Or the first time I “accidentally” turn off Warcraft and erase Dan’s high Orc-slaughter score. The more I watch laughy Kathy, the more….nervous I think she looks. Sacred and scared are almost spelled the same.
In New Zealand, a shack is called a bach. Can’t I just bach up with my boyfriend? That sounds symphonic.
I’m interested in hearing from my readers. Are you living with a partner or choosing to wait? Is this a generational or regional thing?