Shacking Up?

livin in sin needlepointWhen was the last time you heard that phrase? For me, hearing those words was like traveling back in a time machine, to circa 1970. That was when baby boomers began living in sin, or more popularly, shacking up.

Scandalous as it was at the time, it made perfect sense to us. You love someone, you’ve had sex at least once but more likely a few dozen times, well, dammit, you might as well move in together. It wasn’t about splitting the rent (for most of us….can’t speak for some cheapskates), it was about setting up house, being together all the time, enjoying each other’s company, living our lives together, etc. Holy smokes, were we surprised when the greatest generation looked down their noses at us and began whispering about how their kids were “shacking up.”

We thought it was more like taking a test drive. We were compatible in so many ways, but could we really live together? Was marriage in our future? One way to find out was to move in together, and we did learn a lot. It taught us about respect for one another’s space, shared decision making, and who was not so neat (i.e. which one was a total slob).

So it was with some surprise that I recently read that baby boomers are in the shacking up mode once again. Cohabitation, as the researchers like to call it, is on the rise, big time. The number of unmarried people over the age of 50 living together had doubled in the past 10 years. About one third of all baby boomers are unmarried today, and it looks like the couples feet in bedprospects are slim for them getting hitched again at this point in their lives.

In 2012, living together as opposed to marrying may have a lot to do with finances. Widows and widowers don’t have to give up their spouses’ Social Security benefits or take on each other’s debts. You can have your own bank account and there’s no legal bond that forces you to stay together. If you’ve already experienced one divorce, shacking up is a great way to avoid another.

As for the stigma of “living in sin,” whom are boomers going to offend? Their parents are gone (literally or just mentally) and their children are just fine with the concept. That leaves friends and acquaintances and they aren’t going to throw stones at someone doing what they might be doing someday.

It could be worse – we could be forced to live in shacks.


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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