I was a shack-up honey, not once, but twice. As the child of divorced parents, at the age of 18, I was chomping at the bit to go out on my own. My boyfriend and I played house for six months until he realized he'd rather live at home to be coddled by his mommy. My next shack up was at 21 and was based on the idea of "saving on rent," since we were practically living together anyway. After five years, we did marry and have been married for eleven years. It has not been easy.
We've faced infidelity and discussed divorce. While I hope we can survive the odds against us, I want my experience to help someone else considering shacking up. I never had a proposal - we married because I gave him an ultimatum! He didn't have to ask my dad for permission to marry me. I had done nothing honorable to be requested as a treasure that my dad had to give away. There was a ring, but he didn't buy it. It came from our joint finances. There was no bridal shower, and no registry for gifts, because our "home" was already established.
If I had it all to do over again, I would have valued myself more and acknowledged that any man worthy of me would have gone through the process of honoring me and treating me with the respect that I now have for myself. Please tell your listeners to think carefully before casually throwing that all away to shack up.