Shacking Up, Part II


There is a lot of information concerning cohabitation, and there isn’t a mutual consensus on whether or not the idea is beneficial or being a strain on a relationship. The data is mostly based upon opinion and biased research, and with the date of my moving quickly approaching, I really don’t have time to sit and sort out what information would apply to me. Instead of being encumbered with a vast amount of information, I decided to interview a friend of mine to get some information from a person whom I could relate to (while also enjoying some good food and company).

Last Friday, I met up with Niki McNeil at Alon’s Bakery & Market in Dunwoody, Georgia, and she is founder and CEO of SingleBubblePop Design Studio.  During our conversation, I got a chance to receive some honest, in-depth details of her five-year relationship with her boyfriend Armon, and how has cohabitation had an effect on her relationship. 

 In The Beginning: Niki and Armon’s relationship began a lot earlier prior to living together, and due to that, she attributed the longevity or the relationship to their lack of conflicts while living together, stating, “We never get angry with each other. We’ve been there and done that, so we keep things simple.”  She endorsed feeling as though they grew together before moving in, leaving little to no room for extreme surprises.  Although there are minimal problems with their cohabitation currently, Niki admitted it wasn’t always smooth sailing.  After leaving her home in North Carolina during 2009 with just a car filled with her belongings and one suit case, Niki moved in with Armon…and his older brother.  As you can imagine, the majority of the issues were due to lack of space.  After realizing they realized the living situation wasn’t going to be beneficial for long, Niki and Armon decided to move out and set up their home in a cozy apartment located in Dunwoody, Georgia (it’s in a really, REALLY nice area, I must say).

Relationship Status & Domestic Roles: OK, one of my major concerns was whether or not will cohabitation hurt or improve our relationship.  From Niki’s experience, she noted it didn’t hurt.  However, she acknowledged receiving moderate revelations in the amount of video games her boyfriend plays and his level of cleanliness. It was hilarious to hear of a story she recanted about how Armon once played a video game all night, and when she woke up the next morning, he was still playing the video game (hey, I’ve been there myself…and let’s just say, she handled the situation a lot better than me). The cleanliness reminds me of Joseph and I because I’m not a person who makes up the bed, launders weekly, or feels the need to have things organized, yet Joseph does. When Niki verbalized, “He likes to do the dishes right after we eat,” I said to myself, “That’s so like Joseph. If it was up to me, those dishes will stay in the sink until the next day.”  Niki stated she performs most of the cooking and cleaning; however, she acknowledged Armon is “super neat and clean.” Being from a military background, she attests Armon is somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to order and maintenance in the home. She also mentioned coming home one day, only to find her boyfriend dusting the furniture. I know MANY women who would love to have him come over, LOL!

Marriage: Niki and Armon have lived together, alone, over one year, and they’re not making any plans to get married anytime soon. Luckily, for them, their parents aren’t pressuring them or filling their heads up with negativity about cohabitation.  As Niki stated, “I don’t want to get married until I’m ready to have children, and seeing that’s not going to happen anytime soon, there is no need to get married.”  She also revealed receiving support from her friends and family, which I can imagine is very helpful since at times it can be hard to make imperative decisions such as cohabitation without the support.  When it comes to the idea of marriage, I’ve noticed this varies the mostly with different couples. I know of couples who have married quickly and some who don’t wish to ever get married. I think this is a personal opinion, and whatever works for you, go for it. Joseph and I have already talked about this when it comes to our relationship, so he knows what’s up and how I feel about it.

Spending Quality Time & Intimacy: Niki’s boyfriend is an IT consultant, and he travels to Texas Monday – Thursday, and due to his work schedule, Niki expressed enjoying the time they spend together Friday – Sunday, stating, “I devote that time to him because he is gone during the week, and I don’t want to be that type of girlfriend who isn’t appreciative of the fact that he comes home during the weekend to spend time with me.” Awww, how sweetJ. Even though their time is limited, she admits she manages to have a certain level of comfort…an increased level of comfort. Due to this increased level of comfort, she noted she isn’t as “girlie” as she used to be around him. Hey, I can imagine that will happen to me. Already, I walk around in my satin scarves when I’m lounging because I have to protect my hair (I’m vain about my hair). Yet, Niki asserted she doesn’t share too much with Armon, stating, “I don’t talk to him about everything, and you have to have other outlets.” Personally, I think this is something that is extremely vital in order to sustain a healthy relationship because there needs to remain that portion of the “unknown,” and you need to be able to get away sometimes to clear your mind (especially when I have those “I’m thoroughly pissed” moments). I’m glad that Niki mentioned that, and it’s always refreshing to see other women who aren’t stuck under their men (and vice versa). I think that’s so annoying. When asked if their cohabitation has helped or hindered their relationship, Niki maintained it has helped it, stating, “We’re able to be spontaneous and not having to plan things out due to spending a limited time together. I consider things like lying on the couch as being intimate, and we can do things like that whenever we want.”

Money Talks:  Niki openly related another major adjustment were the finances.  When her and her boyfriend moved in together, his financial income was twice that of what she made, and at first they were splitting the cost of living 50/50. However, after realizing that wasn’t fair on her part, they agreed to split the cost of living 70/30 with her paying the latter.  Niki also stated, “We don’t get too involved in each other’s finances. We know each other’s spending style, so there is no need for us to share accounts and things like that.” She further emphasized its imperative to learn each other’s spending styles prior to getting married, stating, “You need to bring up the expectations now in order to plan for the future.”  As someone who isn’t as financial savvy as her boyfriend, I can attest to this. Joseph is very financially aware and great at managing, budgeting, and saving. I on the other hand…let’s just say, I’m trying…God knows I am, LOL! Although Niki maintained she is great at saving, she noted Armon is “better with his money.” To me, I think that’s mostly the case with men in general; they seem to spend a lot less than women, whereas women are instant shoppers.

Final Thoughts: As we wrapped up our conversation, Niki expressed a crucial piece of information that sealed the deal with my worries, and she did this by stating, “Don’t let outsiders influence your relationship. Although we live together, we live two independent lives, and we’re comfortable where we are with each other.”

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7 thoughts on “Shacking Up, Part II

  1. Living together—isn’t really being together at all—youre just BEDWARMERS and I hope u don’t start a family–because it all changes, especially the woman, and sometimes the man; they start to claim ‘ownership’–MARRIAGE IS SPIRITUAL!

    • I would have to disagree.

      Although you’re living together, you’re still in a relationship. The boundaries are different as compared to a marriage, and the definition isn’t the same, but it’s still a relationship. One of the reasons why I think it would be good is to become aware of various actions, traits, etc. that you wouldn’t normally be aware of.

      No, we’re NOT going to start a family…LOL! That’s not going to happen for a while. I’m not ready for that, and I don’t think Joseph is the type who is going to start “owning” me…or at least he better not!

      Yes. Marriage is spiritual, and I take it very seriously.

  2. I did that with my wife for about three years, and while in the beginning it was cramped (with my parents) and seriously cramped (with best friend until we got married), overall the experience is something I wouldn’t have a problem in doing again.

      • We definitely did learn a lot about each other during those early years (87-89) and it was a painful but necessary growing experience as we tested, stretched and found our common boundaries. And I had a chance to do over it again, I wouldn’t change a thing (yes, cliche, but the honest truth).

  3. I disagree with zipporah too. I am not a spiritual person but I am married. To me marriage is a formal, official recognition or social announcement of an existing commitment. That commitment between two people exists with or without the piece of paper. Marriage itself doesn’t suddenly zap a couple into a spiritual “zone” – they aready have the commitment or they wouldn’t formalise it. Spiritual people may choose to see marriage as spiritual, that is a personal choice.

    I’m with Niki. Don’t let others influence you. Mind you, I come from a country where we are generally pretty relaxed about the whole marriage thing. Many, many couples life together ebfore getting married. The only thing I would caution is this: if one of you do ultimately want to get married, you need to set some sort of time frame. You don’t want to find you start hearing your biological clock ticking like London’s Big Ben, only to find your partner really doesn’t want to get married and have children (as an extreme example). Then you have to start all over again. Having said that, the very SAME thing can happen to married couples! I don’t know how many couples I’ve heard of that don’t even talk about who wants children and who doesn’t until 5 or 6 years after they get married and find they are at odds on the topic. Or they agree with the other partner before marriage, hoping that the other will change over time. Rarely happens, so I am told.

    A piece of paper is not a guarantee!

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