Being in a serious relationship with someone presupposes the possibility of a marriage somewhere down the line and the whole concept of the relationship is an exercise in testing compatibility and commonality.
In going on dates, having conversations and doing all the imaginable relationship things together, partners try to find a common ground on so many things, issues on which there has to be a merger of views and ideals if their eventual marriage is to succeed and go all the way.
While dating and occasionally/regularly meeting up is the obvious and seemingly more-acceptable way to go about the pre-marriage journey, one other method is cohabitation; which in essence means to live together under the same roof for a period before the seal of marriage is stamped on the relationship.
Cohabitation is more of a simulation of day-to-day married life, the test-running of partner’s patience and temperament and actual forbearance of each other.
It actually sounds like a great idea when you consider that cohabitation gives you a firsthand experience of your partner’s living habits and not just the refined, packaged bits they bring to the fore when you go on dates and hang out with each other.
But as great as this logically sounds, cohabitation has strong oppositions.
A moral frown on cohabitation before marriage
The Nigerian society, majorly for the mish mash of morals and religious beliefs, largely frowns on couples who live together before marrying. So it is not unusual to see members of society, especially the old, pious and religious condemning cohabitation with as little as critical headshakes, and sometimes as much as vicious tirades promising hell and perdition.
Religion’s grip on all facets of our society is undeniable, and all major religions being practiced around here do not allow for cohabitation before marriage for the obvious reason of preventing premarital sex.
Morally as well, premarital sex is not supposed to be a thing, so society still holds up the ideal if couples are not supposed to be having sex, why are they living together?
Society’s cohabitation realities
As with many other things, what actually reflects in the society is not exactly the ideal situation. So, regardless of these moral and religious standards held up against cohabitation before marriage, it seems many people still consider cohabitation a better way to judge a partner’s suitability for marriage than the traditional courting from close quarters [or from a distance as the case may be] and hoping for the best in marriage.
“Many people in relationships are having sex already, whether or not they live together, why then can’t they cohabit if it will help them learn of each other better, instead of entering into marriage blind to each other’s hidden characters?” asks Tola, 23.
Pat, a 25-year-old graduate in Benin City concedes that cohabitation could sometimes breed contempt in some relationships, but its advantages outweigh its disadvantages to such extent that she would personally love to cohabit before marrying.
“I just believe it contributes largely to the knowing process. It prepares you for what you’re up for,” she says.
NT a media personnel in Lagos also agrees with cohabitation before marriage. For her, it is such an important thing that if she does not live with a partner for between “6 months” to “one year,” she is not agreeing to any marriage with such partner.
Mrs. Bimbo, a Lagos resident who has been married for four years agrees that sometimes staying together could have disadvantages such as the lady feeling used after living with the guy for months only to be deemed unsuitable despite all the ‘wifely duties’ she may have performed in the course of the cohabitation.
She also, however, agrees that from a logical point of view, the advantages of cohabitation are more than its disadvantages.
Added to the ones already listed above, the young wife says other advantages of cohabitation are that “you get to know each other’s sexual appetite and then fill in when necessary or you run if you can’t match up,” and that “once the guys family knows you are cohabiting and say nothing, that could be a way of approving you automatically as the wife.”
So what do you think? Is it wise for partners to live together before marriage? Let us know by voting in the poll below.
McShayn’s Love Thread is a weekly column that aims at explaining modern relationship practices, and tries to demystify relationship myths while proffering useful advice for stronger relationships and modern marriages. You can read other articles here.