Part Two: Living As Roommates: Contrasting Living as Roommates to Living As Husband and Wife

In this second blog in a series on living as roommates, Dr. Wall scoffs at the notion that living together is preparation for marriage and suggests instead it’s training each other to be roommates instead of husband and wife.

Husbands…be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect.

1 Peter 3:7

It is really sad that some people divorce when they were never really married. They may have been married in name, but they weren’t really living as husband and wife. What would have happened if they actually lived as husband and wife? Hey! They might even have liked each other and enjoyed their life together and thrived as a couple!

The quickest way to roommatedom is to live together before marriage. Sadly, we have a whole generation of youth who are living together before marriage, thinking that they can do so and not have any negative consequences at all. Most have the mistaken idea that if they live together before marriage, it will improve their chances of being happily married. This is like believing that if you shoot up with meth, you’ll be happy. Both are quick short cuts. Both will age you real quick. Both will put you on the fast-track to misery.

Cohabiting invites couples to develop bad habits for life. They say it takes people 6 weeks to develop a habit, whether good or bad. I don’t know how long it takes couples to develop bad habits, but it can’t be much longer than that. Maybe it is even less. Get out your stop watch: Your partner does one thing that is upsetting and you do one thing upsetting back ‘cuz you ain’t gonna take no crap and he or she does something hurtful back and you can’t believe it and you….and now we have a pattern and if we do that again a few times we have a life style.

What does cohabiting prior to marriage teach you?

It teaches you that:

-neither of you are worth waiting for

-you are not worth fighting for

-you are not worth sacrificing for

-or saving for

-you are not worth planning for, anticipating, dreaming, or hoping for

-you are both impatient. Impatience becomes a lifestyle. Now. Now. Now.

We want what we want when we want it. It reinforces selfishness in both parties.

You are literally roommates. Most are not even fiancés. “Hi, I’d like you to meet my…..ah….”

-Boyfriend or girlfriend would be insulting.

-Fiancé really isn’t true.  We’re already living together, so this is sort of a self-deception.

-Live-in is cheap (True, but …).

-Lover is scatological (But we could call a spade a spade).

-My kid’s father (It happens people. Do the math.).

-Potential fiancé?  Oh, man.  That hurts.

Even the very idea of living together is like a job interview. Instead of a romantic dinner and a very scared young man bending his knee in front of the waiter and humbling himself before this beautiful maiden, we have this:

“Hey. Why don’t you move in. We could save money on rent.”

What a bunch of piece of crap is that? No wonder beautiful brides turn into bridezilla’s.  I’d be ticked, too, to be treated like that. Instead of a marriage proposal, we have a roommate proposal! Well…..that’s exactly what you’ll get: A frickin’ roommate.

And then we have these people who cohabit because they are testing to see if each other is the ONE. Who wants to be tested first for a husband or wife position? That’s all it is? A position? What? We’re on probation? You’re kidding me, right? That’s what it’s become. If we survive the test. What test? If we live together as roommates with no obligation except splitting the rent and we’re bedding each other for nothing, how are we supposed to survive that intact? If we get along you’ll marry me? If we don’t fight you’ll think about it? How are we not supposed to fight when you want sex and you leave your stupid socks all over and you never brush your teeth? Why, in a million years would I ever marry you? Why would I marry you? All you do is complain and everything has to be your way. It’s insane.

And a wedding is going to change all this? Who are we trying to kid? What is going to be different? We still keep our money separate. You still keep your stupid socks on the floor. You still are too moody. You still want sex too much or not enough. We still fight or ignore each other. Old habits die hard. Spending $20,000 on a big party doesn’t equal change. We’ve got the same bad habits as we had when we were living together. The only difference is now we have a ton of resentments to overcome. Frickin’ this and frickin’ that.

Contrast living as husband and wife for the first time.

I knew my wife, Mary Sue, three years before we got married. First she was an acquaintance. Then she became a sister in Christ and a friend. We attended the same campus ministry and church together and all our friends were in common. We hung out as a group and had a ball. Then we became best friends. Then we became boy and girlfriend. Then we became engaged. Then we became bride and groom. Then we became husband and wife. Then we became lovers. And we’ve been husband and wife ever since. And lovers. Then we became parents. We’re still best friends. But I’ve never, ever, not even for a minute, considered her my roommate. We don’t share the rent or mortgage. It’s our house. Our kids. Our bills. Our money. Our housework. Our future. Our destiny. Our dreams. Our life.

No one is on trial.

No one is being tested.

No one is wondering if.

No one is insecure.

No one tells the other what to do. We work it out. We discuss it. We dialog about it. We pray about it. We think it over. What do you think? I don’t know. What about this? That’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of that. But what about that? Continually. Over time. We trust each other. We long for each other. We tease each other. We flirt with each other. We help each other. Without being asked. If we’re asked, we say, Okay. You need help? I’m your guy. Let’s do this together. Awesome. Disagreeing is rare, so when it happens, we take note. Cuz I trust her judgment. She trusts mine. We’ve got each other’s back.

Our wedding wasn’t a promotion from being on probation with each other. It was the real deal.

If you lived together before marriage, you are going to have a hard time moving from roommates to husband and wife. Many never make the transition and wonder why they don’t enjoy their marriage. If you want to actually live as husband and wife, you are going to need a little guidance.  Give us a call. We take roommates and turn them into husbands and wives: For the rest of your life.


This article is second in a series of blogs contrasting being a roommate with being husband and wife.  For the first in this series see:

Living As Roommates: Easy Ways to Destroy Your Marriage

Recent research suggests married people do better with children. In contrast to this, cohabiting couples do worse with children. Dr. Wall theorizes why this difference in:

Cohabiting and Children

For other topics in this blog on the downsides of cohabitation by Dr. Wall see: legal problems of cohabiting, how cohabiting hurts sexuality and creates mistrust, how cohabiting promotes impatience, how cohabitation encourages money problems, and the effect of absent fathers on creating a climate that encourages cohabitation.).


Dr. Bing Wall is a marriage therapist with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa.  To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.  For more information about Dr. Wall click here.

About Dr. Bing

Dr. Bing Wall began Heart to Heart Communication, L.C. (offices in Ames and Urbandale) in 1995 with the goal of applying a strength and mentoring approach to helping people in their relationships through education and therapy. Prior to completing his M.S. and Ph.D. at Iowa State University in the area of Family Studies, Human Development and Marriage and Family Therapy, he was a pastor for 15 years.

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4 Responses to Part Two: Living As Roommates: Contrasting Living as Roommates to Living As Husband and Wife

  1. Daniel P. Eberhardy October 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    In that line 40% of the way through your article, “Hi, I’d like you to meet my…ah…,” my own favorite idea for completing the introduction honestly (not necessarily tactfully) is to say “invader and victim,” or, in full, “uncommitted invader and victim”; in marriage, the invading victims are committed for life.

  2. Dr. Bing December 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Let’s not be cruel. Maybe you are right, but a lot of people who cohabit do so because they are really hurting and they think cohabiting will prevent them from hurting more. Unfortunately, it’s just the opposite. Then there are others that cohabit only to victimize or to be a victim. I supposed most are in between somewhere.

  3. Name withheld January 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    My husband and I have been married (on paper only) for 45 years. Were more like house mates if there is such a thing.
    We have a ranch house that has two different entrances and exits. He lives his life down stairs and I up stairs. We never interact in any way!
    This all started the day after we were married, he informed me that sex with me was disgusting, messy, smelly, had no meaning, horrible thing to do to another body, was way to much work for so little. Also that he will never be doing it to me again. Thats when he picked up his stuff and moved to the basement. Life for me has been a night mare, I try to stay away from the house as much as I can.Were not gay or have anything on the side. I refuse to have anything to do with men, I hate them all. I’ve had him followed many times and nothing. I do have my anti-depressant drugs and my doctors.In my mid 60s and hopefully my life will be over soon. Its not worth much anymore

  4. Dr. Bing January 8, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    YIKES! What a difficult situation. I wouldn’t say you have a marriage. Maybe one in name. Marriage isn’t supposed to be a noose around your neck. It takes two people to make it work. And if one is living as if we aren’t married and there’s no turning back, then divorce might be a gift to release you from this bondage. I certainly advocate for patience (love is patient), but 45 years is plenty long enough. You’ve gotten the point. He doesn’t want to be with you. Okay. Now it’s time for you to go on with your life. In this case proximity (upstairs and downstairs) prevents you from moving on. It sounds like you need both a divorce and a move.

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