BY: Sarah Agyekum level 300
My morals and principles tell me that marriage is the only union that allows couples to live together and have sexual relations. However, it is becoming increasingly normal to find a teenager say, “I live with my boyfriend; I stay with my girlfriend.” This has gone to the extent of seeing colleague students’ cohabit on many campuses. A colleague of mine, Clinton Kyei stressed similar sentiments on his Facebook post recently. What then is cohabitation?
According to Schwellnus (1994), cohabitation denotes a situation in which two people live together in a family framework analogous to marriage without actually having gone through a ceremony of marriage.
Cohabitation is used to describe the relationship between unmarried couples who live together as husband and wife (Parry, 1981).
For some people, the need to know each other better, spend time together, understand the religious custom of partners, save money that would have been used to maintain two homes, test the viability of the relationship and easily walk off a bad relationship are among the notions that call for cohabitation.
The urge to become popular, receive affirmation, reduce the burden of catering for children, experimentation with sex and fashion seem to be the trend among cohabitants.
The unwanted pregnancies, shotgun weddings, poor fending, assault, fear of commitment and maltreatment that accompanies cohabitation cannot be underestimated. According to Olthuis (1976).
Statistics show that about 85% of these couples are assaulted by their lovers. 30% of homes end up being run by single parents (Ghana Statistical Service, 2008). These single parents have to fend for themselves. Those who are unable to cater for the children lead them to suffer resulting in social vices of all kinds.
In an interview with gijonlinenews, Mr. Kwabena Asante, a watch repairer at Kantamanto, Accra, said that, he would not encourage anyone to cohabit. To him, one must wait to be married before involving themselves in anything in resemblance to marriage.
However, a mature student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Priscilla Afenyi explained the essence to cohabit. In her view, cohabitation enables the couples to study and understand the behaviors of each other even before marriage. She explained the situation of a friend who cohabited for two years and is now happily married.
Cohabitation is normal to some people, and besides, there are positives and negatives in all aspects of life. The choice lies in the hands of the individual.
“I get frustrated when I see people experience emotional breakdown as a consequence of cohabitation. I am always tempted to say “if you had listened to the cautions of good friends and family members, all these could have been avoided.” The abuse and multiple sex partners of your man or woman can break you down. The other person would not mind inflicting pain on you because he is unaccountable to your family as in the case of married couples. The victim would have to endure the pain and trauma that comes with cohabiting,”
The youth, why rush to cohabit when others who will go all lengths to honor you through marriage are right beside you? The next generation is watching. Let us leave them something they can be proud to say is their heritage; but this is my candid opinion.