Heart to Heart
Cohabitation: Does it deprive you of marital blessings?
Posted Thursday, April 3 2014 at 01:00
Ring or just fine? Today we live in an environment where more couples are choosing to live together and comfortably start families without formalising their union. Could it be that people are afraid of the expenses that come with weddings today or is marriage simply overrated? Olive Eyotaru talked to two people about this issue and they had interesting views to share.
What do you know about cohabitation?
Cohabitation is when two people decide to live together. It does not even have to be romantic; you can cohabit with a sister or friend.
I just feel that in religious countries, I stress this, cohabitation is a term used for people having sex and living together at the same time. It is supposed to be a bad thing and I don’t know why.
So, what is your general view on cohabitation?
I have no problem with it. I think that two adults have the right to decide how they are going to live their lives.
There is all this pressure to get married and all you are doing, in my opinion, is pandering to social whims, which I think is a very stupid thing to do, when you only have one life to lead.
So you can decide to get married and it was a big mistake and then divorce is a very tricky process. So sometimes I think it safer to cohabit.
Tradition has for long dictated on marriage. Don’t you think this is the norm to be followed?
People have their reasons for doing so but we can’t know because those are their reasons. It is not our business… [laughs]
I am very much anti-tradition. We live in a global world where you are lucky enough to break away from a part of your life where tradition is necessary to protect you.
There is no need for us to pander to tradition and we did not follow tradition.
Our lives are going to continue peacefully. I actually want to do research on this. I think it is a circle of stupidity.
In a society like Uganda, weddings are looked at as prestigious. What does a cohabiting couple that does not have money do?
That is a very good excuse. Weddings here are too expensive and you have to involve the whole clan, look a certain way and then integrate it with western tradition.
It is only one day for crying out loud! Why should you break the bank? People have money but cohabitation allows you to escape the burden to pay for a wedding, which is sneaky but clever.
We have seen churches that encourage cohabiting couples to get married. Ever heard of mass weddings?
I am an atheist but I support churches that do that because you are providing a service. There are people who want to get married but do not have money. If the church wants to provide, then by all means, let them. I am pro-people doing whatever they want.
There are schools of thought that believe that marriage provides a cushion legally, especially for children.
From a legal stand point, when it comes to asset sharing, children have more financial stability. But a piece of paper is never going to buy emotional stability. It is just a myth.
And do you think children who grow up in cohabitation settings end up that way?
Humanity is so complex. You cannot assume anything. Some people choose a path in their lives that is completely opposite from what their parents chose. I think that is a myth.
Some people think cohabitation encourages infidelity more than in marriage.
[Laughs sarcastically] That is a lie. There is no piece of paper in the world that is going to stop a person from straying. I don’t know who sold people that lie. You can’t believe that marriage is going to insure fidelity.
If that were the case, the figures that show that HIV is rife in married couples would not be true. I need to do a study on this because do people bury their heads in the sand like ostriches once they have a ring on their finger?
But married couples are said to be more responsible than those who are cohabiting.
That is nonsense. When you have a partner, whether you are married or not, your life is going to change. It is not just about you.
That argument only works if you are comparing individuals who are still single and those who are not. I am not going to live with a man and not have discussions on whether the fridge should be filled with food.
If you are single, your priorities are different. When people are married, it does not mean that they are more responsible. There is no law that can be applied to that. That argument for me is totally baseless.
So all in all?
There is too much moral policing in the world, which needs to be stopped. Ugandans are extremely hypocritical. People who go around saying marriage is good and cohabitation is wrong are lying to themselves.
It is more like an attack on sex before marriage. It is also an attack on adults who want to break away from traditional norms. I think people should mind their own business.
By Christine Katende
‘If you can’t afford a marriage, do not enter it; do not live with your so-called partner’
What is cohabitation?
In my terms, that word does not exist. I grew up in a staunch Christian family of a responsible father and mother who were married. So technically, I do not have a definition for cohabitation. However, from what I hear, I think it is when people live together and have children before getting married. Am I right? [Pauses]
So, what is your general view on cohabitation?
For one to have children outside marriage is not good. First and foremost, I am a staunch Christian and I believe in the marriage institution. What the Bible teaches us is that one has to first get married, and then have children.