Model Behaviors: The Cohabitation Quandary

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Toni Munoz-Hunt’s Model Behaviors continues today, with some straight talk on playing house. Have a question for Toni to tackle in the future? Visit our Contact Page and tell us all about it.


Dear Toni,

I’m having problems with my girlfriend. We’ve been together for two years, and she’s ready to get engaged. As for me, I still don’t know if she’s ‘the one.’ If it were up to me, we’d live together for a while first, before deciding whether or not to get married. I’ve seen too many guys get bulldozed into marriage, and then their wives turn out to be real lunatics. 

I had a great upbringing, and my mother did everything for us as kids. My wife will need to do the same. She’ll need to know her way around the kitchen, host parties for my clients, and most importantly, be capable of making a house feel like a home.  These things cannot be seen on dates – only while living together. 

I don’t have a problem putting a ring on it. I just need some time to make an informed decision. Don’t you think that’s reasonable? 




Dear SG,

I’m confused. Where’s the reasonable part? This ‘double-headed coin toss’ of a plan seems to benefit only one person – you! It’s a temporary commitment built on a handshake. Even car dealerships won’t let you test drive without first running your credit or getting proof of insurance.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Cohabitation is completely normal, and in many cases it can eventually prove to be helpful. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60 percent of couples today choose to live together before marriage. What you’re asking of your girlfriend, however, is to perform wife duties while remaining a girlfriend.

For women, this arrangement amounts to playing house when the goal is to become a wife. For men, it’s like leasing a Ferrari when you make less than $250K per year.  You’re only fooling yourself.

Heard the term Negative Nancy? Well, Nancy got caught up grooming a husband for the other woman he eventually married. She performed all the wife duties, though she never became the wife. Now bitter and perpetually disappointed, she hangs out at the office water cooler waiting to befriend the latest divorce or terminal diagnosis. The lesson? Women should not perform wife duties until they’re just that – a wife.


To clarify, wife duties include, but are not limited to, revamping his wardrobe, grooming his hair (face, neck, back, ear, and/or head), cooking, cleaning, decorating, hosting his business associates, giving him pedicures, picking up his dry cleaning, and loaning him money.

On the flipside, girlfriend duties may be performed if a girlfriend is so inclined. Girlfriend versions of similar tasks may include tearing out pages from magazines with helpful wardrobe suggestions, buying him a set of hair clippers, paying for dinner once in a while, joining him at business functions (some, not all), making him an appointment at the nail salon, and providing directions to the nearest ATM.


In conclusion, there are some great benefits to living together before marriage, such as Googling your significant other’s prescription medications. Past and present research, however, again conducted by the CDC, indicates that couples who aren’t engaged while cohabitating are less likely to stay married longer than 10 years. In fact, the majority of those couples never even make it down the aisle.

Marriage is ‘til death do us part. Living together is until I find a reason to leave.

So, if you’re serious about this, compose a real plan with a reasonable timeframe of your engagement. Do not dangle it like a carrot in front of your girlfriend. And if you just can’t be certain, save yourself the bother – and save her the wasted years.


Until Next Time,



Live Together Before Marriage?

Yes, With An Engagement Plan
Only After Engagement



Photo features real-life couple Chris and Nereyda. Photography by David Dobson; Hair and makeup by Joanna Hathcock; Styling by Kathryn Knox.



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