By: Sthabiso Mdledle
Cohabitation is broadly defined as a situation where two people who are not married, consensually agree to live together and have a sexually intimate relationship.
Many reasons have been given for cohabitation; most couples who are in such relationships often claim it was unintended.
Zibeni Ndimande (31) claims that she was chased away from home by her parents after falling pregnant while she was still in high school.
“I had to leave my home and follow the father of my child to the city where he worked.
It was not my choice to cohabit. It was the only option available to me and I needed financial assistance from him,” said Ndimande.
On the other hand, some ladies have claimed to agree to cohabitation purely for economic reasons-when the guy is financial stable and the lady is not.
There are some ladies who feel secure when they have a male figure around them. It is called a fear of insecurity.
According to Vamisile Gwala, who was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of 15, living with someone is a better idea for security reasons.
“I desperately needed to be protected. I had to stay with a 26-year-old man who was willing to protect me from the monster who stayed at my father’s house. I fell in-love with my protector who had no intensions of making me a wife,” said Gwala.
Men have also been found to be pressurised into cohabiting. Most men claim the bridal price is far beyond their reach and because they ‘love’ their women, they would rather cohabit than lose them completely.
Sipho Ndaba (29), a male nurse at the Philani community clinic, said that his in-laws were requesting a high bridal price for his woman.
“It is not that I cannot try and raise the money, it’s just that the price is too high.
So I am comfortable with living with her even if we are not married. When I finally marry her, at least I will know her better,” said Ndaba.
Before the turn of the century, in most African cultures, it was unacceptable to have an unmarried couple living together.
According to Stephanie Rudwick of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, cohabitation without ilobolo payment is widely interpreted as similar to behaving disrespectfully towards the Zulu culture and tradition.
Issues pertaining to cohabitation or premarital sex often generate heated debate. Most religions are against cohabitation in all its form. The Christian religion for instance, holds to the beliefs spelled out in Hebrews 13:4, “marriage must be respected by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled”.