Before marriage: To cohabit or not to cohabit

Timothy and Tina met two years ago at their friend’s wedding. She melted his heart at first sight, one thing led to another and by the end of the day, the two started dating.

It all seemed like they met many years ago.

What started as friendship, blossomed into relationship in the shortest of time. After a few months, Tina started doing unusual things each time she visited. She started leaving some of her clothes, or bag or shoes at Timothy’s house.

In about three months, she had moved into her boyfriend’s house.

To cut it short, Tina is expecting Timothy’s baby and the two are set to walk down the aisle in December. While speaking to Tina, she notes that cohabiting has enabled her understand Timothy better.

The two quarrel and make up but most importantly of all, they have grown to be best friends which she says needs time to study the person you love so that by the time you say “I do”, you are sure he or she is the one.

“However, people shouldn’t be too comfortable while cohabiting. You are staying with someone’s daughter who cooks, washes, and does all the duties of a wife, therefore, don’t stay with her for so long before you meet her parents and exchange vows,” she notes.

For Timothy, staying together with his girlfriend has groomed him into a man that engages in house chores and not waiting for everything to be done for him.

He believes that marriage will be a continuation of what they already started, since they got to know about their spending habits, behaviors, weaknesses, and have tasted the institution of marriage. 

So far, he has no doubt that Tina is still the kind of woman he would want to wake up to, and grow old with.

Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people are not married but live together. Although this arrangement is commonplace in some societies, it is very rare in Rwanda.

Some studies in the past have suggested that couples who live together prior to marriage are more likely to divorce than couples who didn’t.

However, new research shows that this is no longer true. Although, living together won’t hurt your chances of having a successful marriage, it doesn’t help them either. It seems living together has no predictive effect on whether or not your marriage will last.

Racken Kobusingye is a businesswoman, who believes in cohabiting before marriage. To her, marriage is considered a different life from the life you have been living as an individual. So when you cohabit, you get to know the do’s and don’ts of each other. Talk about your dislikes, and what makes either spouse happy.

She notes that it is through cohabiting that a person gets to understand each other on another level, learn how to compromise and live with a new person and get to know if someone is actually ready to see this person for the rest of their life.

“Definitely I would first cohabit, for better learning of my boyfriend or fiancé and getting used to living with a partner”.

As you plan for your family, and then wedding, you ought to be together, not at a distance, failure to do so, stress kicks in,” says John Mary Musinguzi, a teacher.

Philos Rwamurangwa, a Kigali based entrepreneur doesn’t agree with the idea of staying together before marriage, elucidating that it is a risk because sometimes it results into having children yet most times there is no guarantee of a long term commitment.

He further adds that if you are a couple in courtship, there are some rules you should follow and set goals. Otherwise, staying together for so long might even lead to separation even before the wedding. Patience should be key while dating.

“There is time for everything, time to be single, time to date, and time to get married.  Let us not skip any stage in life.

That is why I wouldn’t advise any couple to stay together before exchanging vows. (The bible says in Ecclessiates 3:1 that, “Everything on earth has its own time and its own season),” says Pastor Emmanuel Muhirwa of Healing Center Church in Remera.

He calls upon Christians to read the word of God to be guided because there are many temptations in this world but those that stand firm with God’s word cannot get lost or get carried away by the things of the flesh.

Musinguzi explains that for a relationship to last, it is important to get people’s views about your relationship before it goes far. This helps to avoid the future “what ifs”. By the time you wed, no one should be wondering how it happened. It will help your marriage to last longer as you will be used to people’s thoughts, words and deeds since you shared the challenges before.

However, he adds that cohabitation should not last a life time. It should have a period of about may be one or two years before the wedding.

Prophet Marvin Trevor Aizire, a member of Phaneroo Ministries International however disagrees saying there is a price to sex outside or before marriage.

When God created marriage, there are things He made specifically for marriage because they are very sacred and sex is one of those things. Sex is very sacred and that is why it should be between a husband and a wife.

He enlightens that these days, many people seek the pleasure of sex without the responsibility and others confuse intimacy for pleasure, which is one of the main reasons as to why a number of people resort to cohabiting is to find pleasure before marriage, yet others confuse that pleasure for intimacy.

“Sex outside marriage is fornication, which the bible warns against, the book of 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body,” he says.

Rosette Imbabazi, a mother of two says people opt for cohabiting because when there is a break up, it is not hard to go separate ways, unlike marriage where you have to go through a tedious process that involves lawyers to get divorce.  

She however notes that avoiding marriage because of the prospect of divorce alone may be just the kind of negative thinking that can dent a relationship.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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