Why I’m not going to move in with my girlfriend.

There’s evidently something significant when a dating relationship hits the two year mark. As if circling it on their day-timer, questions begin flying from friend and family that must not have seemed appropriate before like  “When are you getting married?” and “Why don’t you move in together?”

The Queen and I recently hit this landmark and the queries have gotten so numerous that we’ve actually prepared a canned response to anyone who asks. Not surprising, what with over six million couples cohabiting in the US today, it’s the question about moving in that tends to be assumed the most. That naturally this is our next step in the relationship. There are a plethora of self-serving reasons why we could move in together, our financial positions would immediately improve, we’d have more time together eliminating the need to endure days without being in each others presence, and we’d have extra help with the kids. We have four children total (two each) ranging in ages of seven to fourteen. The oldest and youngest are boys leaving the girls in the middle with her daughter being a few years older than Sunshine. It doesn’t take a Vegas bookie to see the how the odds improve with two adults on the ticket.

Yet even considering the potential benefits, the Queen and I just can’t hop on that love train and that includes the handcar version of having sleepovers with the kids. While I could point to our religious beliefs or cite the evidence that shacking up prior to marriage has absolutely no bearing on the marriage’s success; our reasons for deciding not to live in sin have less to do with theology or statistics and more to do with the message we want to send our children.

Days of that draconian parenting method “do as I say not as I do” went the way of the home telephone. No longer can parents say one thing while their actions say something far different. My kids may listen to what I say, but they pay much more attention to what I do. In other words, that old adage “because I say so” doesn’t do squat for helping our children learn right from wrong. Instead I see it as an easy way out for parents who haven’t lived up to their own standards but are too embarrassed to admit it. [pullquote]The Queen and I just can’t hop on that living together love train and that includes the handcar version of having sleepovers with the kids[/pullquote]

We look at it like this, while we could sell one of our houses, improve our standard of living, and make life better for everyone (especially us), what does this say to our kids? That economic convenience is better than complete commitment and relationships are best consumed with a side of easy exit strategy? Or is it that mom and dad are too lame and old school and need to get with the times? Her son is a stones throw from college and both of our daughters are getting to the point where boys will be something other than strange worm-eating weirdoes. Before long their attentions will be directed in other areas where questions like “Can Bobby stay over tonight?” or “Cindy and I want to get an apartment together next semester?” become real possibilities. And I’m convinced it’s in these situations where our past actions are going to carry much more weight than anything that comes out of our mouth

Let’s assume we made the choice to live together or have sleepovers, the issue then becomes when they ask the same thing how can we tell them ‘no’ without looking like hypocrites? Or is that good parenting? To think they won’t remember what we did in a similar situation or worse believe that because we are mature adults we’re immune from explaining those actions is reckless and arrogant. And last I checked neither character trait earns much respect.

Yes it sucks and it’s a major sacrifice, we sometimes go for days without seeing each other and our financial situation isn’t made any easier doing it this way but we just don’t see how the benefits outweigh the potential risks. Because in the final analysis we want to try and be those parents whose actions speak louder than their words.

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31 responses to Why I’m not going to move in with my girlfriend.

  1. Tiffany1377

    As a newly single mom, I think about this kinda stuff all the time. I have a 3 year old and people tell me she’s too young to understand or realize some of this stuff. Maybe they are right, but she’s a smart cookie so even if she doesn’t really get it now, she will someday. And believe me, she will ask, and ask and ask. I don’t bring dates to my house….not at all. (granted, I’m only just now dating and not even NEAR being serious with anyone) For now, I leave her out of my dating life and I hope that one day when there is someone serious in my life, they will understand why I won’t be in to shacking up or sleepovers (at least at my place:))

  2. when i got divorced my ex went out of her way to get it put in our papers that neither of us could live with someone. I think it reads “neither person can stay overnight with someone they are not blood related to of the opposite sex while the minor child is in the house”. at the time of the divorce i didn’t even like women that much beyond sex so me shacking up with someone was absurd. the ironic part was my ex and i lived together for over ayear before we got married.

    when i met my current wife, we knew the “rules” and both being parents we realized that my ex, while putting that provision in the papers because she was a jealous shrew, did us a favor. neither my wife nor i are fans of shacking up.

    i think relationships, meaningful monogamous ones, are sacred. blurring moral lines cheapens the relationship, in my opinion. the first night my wife and i were married and thus stayed overnight together with kids in the house was special. old fashioned special, which I didn;t think existed.

    I am proud that you feel the same way. it also teaches your children the respect you have for your significant other and them.

  3. 3girlknight

    Well, since you didn’t much, I’ll hit the religious note. I couldn’t help but think of the ‘sanctity of marriage’ when I read this. I believe marriage is ordained by God. Now…that’s kind of difficult to defend when my marriage fell apart, but I believe God intended marriage to be as close to a heavenly relationship that we can have with anyone on earth. Because of that, it’s not to be entered into lightly.

  4. The Queen and I (1969) – Movie…

    Note 6.4/10. The Queen and I is a Comedy TV Serie of 1969 made in USA. Here you can see online its cover, plot summary, cast, directors, trailers, awards and more….

  5. Because when it’s all said and done, we want to try and be those parents whose actions do speak louder than words.

    That is an admirable goal.

  6. Well, I am thrilled that both of you agree on this. This says volumes about your relationship and the type of parents you are.

    Good stuff!

  7. I’ve gotta disagree with you on this one Papa. Maybe it’s the difference between raising a boy and raising girls. In my opinion, a man and a woman can have an honorable, loving, and committed relationship without that piece of paper. That piece of paper which so many times benefits only the divorce attorneys.

    I’m trying to teach my son that life isn’t like you see in the movies. Life is full of disappointments and unfulfilled dreams. Life isn’t a feel good chick flick with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston walking down the aisle at the end. Life is messy sometimes…most of the time.

    The most important things that I can teach my son are the way to treat others how he would want to be treated, to get an education, and to respect himself. I don’t want him to think that his life won’t be fulfilling if he doesn’t get married.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way, I respect the hell out of you for standing behind your values. I just don’t value the institution of marriage much. I try to be an example to my son in so many ways. I try to be an example in how I treat everyone that I cross path with everyday, how I work hard for what I have, and how I take care of him.

    Just my two cents.

  8. Brett, first I love debate and disagreement. I hope this is always a forum for people to disagree with me. My concern is the loose interpretation that our society has placed on the idea of relationships anyway. Lets be honest, how many people do you know that move in together after dating for 6 months or less, most of the time it is out of self serving reasons either financial or emotional. There seems to be little consideration for the children in these situations. The queen and I have a relationship that most of our friends envy and I would put its strength up again any marriage, anywhere.

    With that being said however, I think we can diminish the importance when to move in and live together if we simply do so because of its convenience for us. Of course I could be totally wrong on all of this and my kids will shack up as soon as they are legally able. (then I’ll come back and delete the post…:-)

  9. I feel that if we can shoot for that, we’ll still come up short but will be a lot farther than if we didn’t.

  10. I don’t believe that God ended our marriage, the people involved did. I will tell you know that there were things that I could have done differently. I could have kept him at the center of it and I didn’t. This is part of the life lessons and I think that I’m better for it, no, I know I’m better for it.

  11. Lance, that’s a good way of putting it ” blurring moral lines cheapens the relationship”. I think that summarizes it succinctly. And it sends the wrong message to our kids on what a relationship is supposed to look like.

  12. Tiffany, thanks for reading!!! My kids were very young (younger than yours) when I got divorced. While I didn’t have a revolving door I did make some mistakes early on and have sleepovers. I am blessed that they don’t remember any of it. It’s a benefit of getting divorced so early. I think you’ve approached it the right way, she is young, but she is also perceptive. You may get away with it for now but none of us get away with it forever.

    You doing the appropriate thing! Great job mom!

  13. Anonymous

    Papa … I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t follow any institutional religion, am OK with living together before marriage and for myself, am quite ambivalent about marriage.

    That being said, I think you’re being naive in some ways here. Even if you don’t have sleepovers while the kids are in the house, my guess is that they know full well what you are doing when they’re gone. That’s behavior they could take into their own relationships. If you and the Queen did have sleepovers or moved in together, you would be modeling a committed relationship and everything that that entails. It’s not like your relationship with the Queen is a casual one.

    My concerns with moving in together would be the complicated family dynamics, how the four kids would get on with each other and with their respective step-parent. It seems to me that life is just plain simpler living apart and this for me would be the far bigger decision-factor.

    I agree that the decision shouldn’t be reduced to one based on practicalities or convenience. It is a commitment to each other (and the children) and should be recognized and honored as such.

  14. Mandy, I’ve given your point much thought even before you mentioned it here. No doubts that her older son has an idea, but the younger ones feel that I sleep on the couch and to be frank I am fine with that. I look at it like this, while I may know that somebody goes to the bathroom I don’t need to seem them doing it. What behaviors they take into their relationships, at least in my view, will be based upon their own presumptions and they will not be able to say ” we saw you…” This may very well be naive, we’ll just have to wait and see.

    The family dynamics will be there when we decide to take the relationship to the next level. In our view, we just don’t think our kids are ready for that emotional upheaval, we’d rather wait till they get a bit more mature before we proceed. I think that the biggest rub would be with hers (and she would agree with that).

    Thanks as always for your support!

  15. “We look at it like this, while we could sell one of our houses, improve our standard of living and make life better for everyone (especially us), what does this say to our kids? That economic convenience is better than complete commitment and relationships are best consumed with a side of easy exit strategy?”

    “And it sends the wrong message to our kids on what a relationship is supposed to look like.”

    While I would never argue with someone over their religious beliefs, you didn’t mention religion and this is really not an argument. I’m going to have to disagree with what I quoted. Before I get into WHY, I 100% respect your and Queen’s decision and I think you’re both fabulous parents from what I’ve read. Also, the rest of what I’m going to write is NOT about your and Queen’s decision, this is about people with children making the decision to live together.

    If the only reason you and Queen moved in together was for economic reasons, then I’d understand the first quote. But what if a serious, committed couple, with children, wanted to move in together because they love, respect and cherish each other? What if they moved in together because they wanted to spend more time together and be a cohabiting unit?

    According to what you wrote, complete commitment can only be defined by being married? And while I’m sure some people may look at living together before marriage as an easy exit strategy, I’m sure not everyone does. I certainly don’t. If you teach your children those messages, that’s one thing. But I firmly believe that a couple with children can live together, in a happy, completely committed relationship and teach their children that people LOVE each other. In my opinion complete commitment does not equal marriage.

    As for the second quote, I’m very confused. Where’s the wrong message in showing your children a healthy, loving relationship? Again this all, I’m sure, goes back to your religious beliefs, which I will respect. But you didn’t mention them, which is why I’m writing this.

    I firmly believe that you can cohabitate with someone, without being married to them, and show your children what an excellent, healthy relationship looks like. As a matter of fact, I’m doing it right now. When I was married to my sons father, I showed him what an unhealthy relationship looks like, and that included the piece of paper that seems to make relationships “completely committed” in your book. I’m teaching my son to make smart decisions about the people he chooses to share his life with.

    I don’t look at living with someone before marriage as being a horrible thing, which is probably where our different views stem from. This doesn’t mean I think people should just go jumping into living with every person they date right away. I’m saying that if you’ve dating someone for a good while, you love and respect that person, and your relationship is healthy, I do not see how living together is sending your children any negative messages.

  16. April, thanks for your continuing the discussion and I completely respect your position and you make valid points.

    Here is my concern and I’d love to get your thoughts. What if your son wakes up at 18 years old and says “mom, I want to move in with my girlfriend”, I love her and we are committed. My question is how would you respond to that? For me I’d probably have to pick my jaw up off the floor and response hell’s no! (if he still wants my opinion).

    I don’t believe that a marriage license is worth the ink its written with in strengthening the bonds of marriage. That strength comes from two adults commitment to each other. My concern is that my children would never grasp or be able to understand that delicate detail. All they would ultimately see is that daddy and his gf lived together and now they want to.

    While the value of marriage seems to be fading with the sunset I still do believe in the institution and whatever I can do to help keep it from sinking low on the horizon I feel compelled to do.

    I completely respect the decision you and he have made and have no doubts that it will be a relationship that which will be the epitome of what a loving relationship should be other than the one that was legally bound.

    Thank you for your disagreements and feedback! I hope for your continued commentary.

  17. Thanks for your reply, CP. Sorry I’m late responding, just as I was late to this post. I saw it on the side bar and thought it looked like a good read. I was right!

    I would discourage my son, at 18, from moving in with his girlfriend. If he came back with, “Well you moved in with your boyfriend!” I would explain that I was a lot older and wiser than he was and my decision wasn’t made lightly. If he still wanted to do it, then so be it. It’s his life to live, make mistakes, and learn from them. I believe it’s my mistakes in the past that partly make me the person I am today. Had I not make them, I wouldn’t have learned from them.

    But I believe that kids will grow up to do what they want to do either way. My little sister, 20 y/o, grew up with her mom and dad married to each other. She’s leaving today to move to Oklahoma with her boyfriend of 8 months. My parents aren’t happy about it, nor is that something she learned from them. But she’s doing it regardless.

    What if your daughter is 18 and says she wants to move in with her boyfriend and you say to her, “Why? Queen and I do not live together. It’s not something you do before marriage.” And she replies, “I don’t want to go days without seeing my boyfriend like you and Queen do. That’s ridiculous and I don’t know how you guys manage to be together like that” What do you say then? (of course this is all hypothetical and I don’t wish this on you or anyone)

    You know your kids better than anyone, so if you feel that they wouldn’t understand or would be negatively impacted by you and Queen moving in together, then I believe you. That wasn’t touched on in your initial post much, so I hadn’t considered that. And again, my response isn’t about the decision you’ve made, it’s more about your opinion on the subject all together.

    I really do get what you’re saying, and I honestly respect your opinion. Which is why I guess we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. 😉

  18. You make a good point. Yes, kids will often do things that we don’t expect and didn’t teach them to do…in those cases I’m going to blame it all on their mother…:-)

  19. I completely understand what you’re talking about, and I don’t disagree with everything, however, I have to say that I agree with the loving, committed relationship thing, with the spending time together thing.  My now-wife, then-girlfriend moved in together indeed for half economic reasons, half because we couldn’t get enough of each other, and it worked fine.

    As far as I understand from your post and commentary below, your issue is how can you tell your kid it’s not OK to move in together, as you said, at 18, because s/he is in a “loving, committed relationship” and/or it makes perfect economic sense?

    The economics of it all are the trump card for kids.  My parents never would have tolerated my moving in with someone else if I were still living off of their money.  I wouldn’t have, either.  By the time I moved in with my girlfriend, I was 22, could support myself entirely, and didn’t NEED to wait for my parents’ approval.

    As I said, that’s the trump card.  I think one of the biggest responsibilities of raising a child is to ensure that they become as financially independent as possible as early as possible.

    I know people who didn’t get a job until they were 30 years old and I think the moral implications of that, looking at their specific lifestyle, their sense of self-worth, and just the fact that so many people saw them as moochers, play a much more significant role than whether or not my kid sees me as a hypocrite.

    Which means that if my kid comes to me when he’s 18 and says he wants to move in with somebody, then I’m all for it.  AS LONG AS he’s paying for it.  That’s what draws the line in any decision for me between what a kid can do and what an adult can do.  You bear the responsibility in real terms and you’re going to learn from any mistakes you might make.  If your parents are responsible for it, then you won’t.

  20. Good for you guys! We’ve been together over two years..engaged for several months and still don’t live together and won’t until marriage. Even if that means being engaged for ten years! We are very slow movers and are concentrating on raising children instead of what is finanically better, which trust me..to move in would be so much easier finanically and make more sense. We also don’t do sleepovers, in fact, still spend quality time as single parents on the weekends we have them. It’s so important and you can’t get that time back with your children. Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to see others feel the same way about committment and making an example for their children.  People need to learn to slow down and enjoy the ride…the journey is where the sparks are!!

  21. Heather G

    I stumbled into your blog, and found this an interesting discussion. My fiance and I have been somewhat living together for a couple of months now. I say somewhat because in reality, I haven’t moved into his place – I still have my own place and haven’t moved my belongings in here or anything – but, I’ve been staying overnight at his place more than I’m at my own. And this is mostly because it’s an hour and a half drive back and forth between our places, and with his work schedule, he barely has time to get home, eat dinner, tidy up, and go to bed, let alone drive an hour and a half to see me (including Saturdays.) And it seems insane for me to drive three hours a night to have dinner with him for an hour or two. So I’ve just sorta camped out here. (Not to mention that on Sundays he often has custody of his daughter.)

    That said, we are sexually abstinent and will be until marriage. And I’ve been wrestling with that – I never expected to find myself “living with” a guy before marriage. It seems like I am doing something innappropriate, but am I, really? The Bible doesn’t really spell out where the lines are specifically on intimacy before marriage, but I’m sure I’m in a grey zone here. On the other hand, we’re being sexually abstinent. So how grey is this zone?

    I’m not sure I’m in the right. I’m just sharing my story.

  22. Papa – Author

    Heather, thanks for stumbling. Hope you’ll come back again. From a biblical perspective there is little specifically about sex prior to marriage. However the spirit of the scripture points to this referring to it as sexual immorality.

    This post centered specifically around the affect it would have on my kids and sending them the wrong message. I commend you and your boyfriend for your stance regarding your abstinence.

    From an individual perspective there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong you must do what you and him feel is right for both of you. The most important thing to remember however is for him to respect your decision and vice-a-versa and neither of you pressure the other into something that you’re not ready for.

    All the best.

  23. noitall

    So you are f#&ing your queen and you pretend not to be? Why not just be who you are? Your children will have sex too. There isn’t anything wrong with loving the person you are with and not being married. Talking to your kids about respect and love and compassion are much better then pretending to be this all moral man. Marriage is BS love and commitment are natural.

    Showing your kids who you really are is what they want. Stop shaming a relationships. Marriage isn’t the only goal for lovers or families. Seems like you are just putting off committing and hiding behind what about the kids?

  24. Papa – Author

    Noitall, lets unpack that thought for a minute “Why not be who you are?”

    Do you apply that principle to all areas of your life? Lets say that you like to watch porn, do you hide that from your 9 year old daughter or do you sit her down right next to you? Lets say that you like to smoke weed, take ecstasy, or lets even get more mainstream and say you smoke? Are you going to “be yourself” in those cases as well and live by your argument that they are going to eventually do it anyway?

    And as far as WE are concerned, let me first stay you contradicted yourself in less than two full paragraphs. First you claim that marriage is BS then say that I’m putting of committing by hiding behind my kids. IF marriage is BS, as you say, what commitment am I putting off? Now, if you read around here a little bit my commitment to the queen is unquestionable.

    I, unlike the majority of society, look at the bigger picture instead of looking at just my emotions and immediate microcosm. WHy do you think there is a 70% divorce rate for 2nd marriages? Easy, people get ‘caught up’ and don’t want to put off the commitment. Never giving any thought as to the impact it will have on those around them.

    And as far as marriage is concerned, come back tomorrow. Given your take I think you’ll appreciate it what I’m about to post.

  25. Dina

    Wow, this made me think. Thank you for your perspective. Do you think that you’ll marry the Queen some day? If so, what about her will make you take that plunge?

  26. OMG. i would never live w/ a man or get married again. i love being single. woudn’t you feel like a hypocrite reciting the whole, “till death do us part” bit?? and besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

    are the kids really fooled by the 2 of you having different addresses? even my 8 year old picked up on why her dad was “getting ready” for a date. it might be a good idea to discuss with your kids, the expectation that sex be in a committed relationship. (especially w/ the 14 year old). if you pretend it isn’t happening, that sets kind of a precedent……

  27. Karla S.

    Wow! I also stumbled on this post and am so glad I did. My boyfriend and I have the same dynamic at work that you share with the Queen. 4 kids, 2 each, his are 6 (boy) and 9 (girl), mine are 11 (girl) and 14 (boy). I have been struggling with the “next” step for a month or so. He’s been divorced for 2 years, I’ve been divorced for 7 years. I have never found someone I meld with more than my boyfriend. We are coming up on 1 year together. We have a bit of a different take on our situation–we do spend “family” time together at least twice a month. Our transition into a unit means we have slowly learned how to be a couple, slowly transitioned into a “step” parent role with time and patience, and now we are considering movng in as the next transition. I have loved the pacing of our relationship. We are teaching our children what a healthy, kind, considerate, fun.. oh and challenging (good and bad) relationship looks like. We love and respect each other and are committed to each other. All the other stuff aside-I want my children to see that we think very carefully before making ANY decision. That is an important life lesson. I’m not sure if I want to get married, but I want to spend my life with this man and his wonderful children. It will be tough, it will be wonderful—it will be crazy–but hey, isn’t that life???

  28. Papa – Author

    Karla, thanks for spending some time with us. We are almost in the same situation children wise. We have decided not to get married, which I will be writing about, because of the impact it would have more on my younger kids that hers. Because we have so much free time together getting married that this point would really be selfish self interest and would suffice to only make things more challenging for my kids. We have talked, and agreed, that when my children move into middle school we will likely move the relationship to the marriage phase. They will be mature enough to acclimate and understand the changes that will undoubtedly come as a result.

    Thanks for your reading and leaving a note. Don’t be a stranger.

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