Where's the Ring? WE TV Takes the Stigma Out of Shacking Up

Pink curtains and closets full of empty beer cans just don't seem to mix.  Can slovenly men and obsessive-compulsive women ever get along? 

In the series She's Moving In, which premiered on the Women's Entertainment television channel on July 21, a team of interior decorators help young couples arrange living spaces both parties can live with.   

All very entertaining, but where's the marriage license? 

She's Moving In profiles cohabiting couples in their 20s.  The couples are “hip” and funny, and they do finally learn to live together, but it's a life where the traditional family has no place.   The idea of marriage, or even long-term commitment, never comes up.   

WE's Web site claims the company is trying to “empower” women to reach their “full potential.”   Is living together a goal young women should be shooting for? 

Cohabitation is a poor bet for most women.  According to Focus on the Family's Web site, living together is a precarious arrangement for anyone involved:  “Statistics indicate that 40 percent of couples who live together break up before they marry. Research also shows that living together is correlated with a greater likelihood of unhappiness and domestic violence, as well as lower levels of satisfaction in the relationship.”

A WE press release says “Moving in together can make or break a relationship, and combining your personal belongings always makes for a true battle of the sexes!”  The very premise of this show depends upon the unstable nature of cohabitation.  Either person could walk away at any time. 

As funny as it is to watch a “guy who won't give up his drumming set and his girlfriend who will not let go of her bright pink sheer curtains, there's also the depressing element of knowing their relationship might not make it.  Doesn't WE realize newly-married couples have to go through the same conflicts?

She's Moving In may have a droll twist, but the show turns what might have been a wry inquiry into gender differences into yet another media assault on the family. 

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant and David Niedrauer is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.