Should You ‘Play House’ Before Walking Down The Aisle?

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 04/09/2014 | 11:00 AM EDT

This is the generation of cohabitation, where traditions are thrown out the window...but should you have your cake and eat it too?

In today’s dating climate it seems perfectly okay to cohabitate with your partner without putting a ring on it. In fact, there are more Americans today “shacking up” than ever before. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three out of every four women have lived with a partner without being married by the age of 30.

But while cohabiting with your mate has become the norm, is it a wise decision? Our experts on Centric’s “According to Him + Her” seem to think so. Rule 32 of this week’s episode says that you should “always play house before you buy the farm.”

While conventional wisdom says couples who cohabitate before marriage are more likely to get divorced, over the years some experts have suggested otherwise. There can be great benefits to “playing house.” Some look at it as a free test drive of what to expect if you were to make it official. You get a sense of how tidy your partner is, if they’re responsible and even more trivial things like if they snore or, for women, if he leaves the toilet seat up. Establishing that comfortability with one another can be an easy transition to a married life.

However, that’s not to say having your cake and eating it too always leads to matrimonial bliss. Just ask singer-actress Brandy Norwood. She and fiance Ryan Press moved in together and eventually separated a year after their engagement.


While the traditional path to marriage is often side-eyed and dismissed as a hackneyed point of view, it’s not necessarily a bad idea. Sometimes moving in together too soon before really getting to know your mate ruins the relationship before it begins to take form. Sometimes people want things instantaneously without actually working for it. It’s also important to keep in mind that you’ll never have a perfect experience sharing a space with another person. You’re bound to encounter some time of conflict, so the idea that you should move in to test the waters isn’t always a good one. Sometimes you need to establish the love in the union outside of the home. Get to know each other without the pressures of sharing an address and bathroom…because ultimately how you cohabitate is the least of your worries when it comes to what you really need out of a relationship.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to whether or not you should shack up with your partner. When you feel it’s the right time to make that big step, you should do so. However, always keep in mind that it may not play out the way you want it to.

(Photo: Cultura RM/Steven Lam/GettyImages)

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