Friday, April 16, 2010

Is Cohabiting a bitter or a better option?

The number of couples living together as married in Kenya is on the increase. Many couples prefer living together to legally get married.
“Why get married?” this is the legitimate question.

If couples needs can easily be met without legal social or religious commitment why then should the marriage institution be perpetuated.
Unfortunately most young adults are affected by the institution of marriage as their failure and divorce rate cast doubts on yet to get married couples.

Increasing number of children are brought up in broken homes seeing firsthand the tattered marriage institution raising skeptics on marital issues.

Not an easy road.
Today’s lifestyle has made the marriage institution to be greatly undermined. The general strain of competition at work, economic requirement and stress can easily be transferred to family life.

Quite absurd marriage requires investment of time which is hard to find. Luck of time means mental imbalance and break ups. Many couples’ hours are spent on jobs for economic security. Luck of time is a barrier in nourishing a relationship.

Marriage option has been pushed to the shelves due to factors like violence, drugs, alcoholism and luck of ethical and religious issues. It isn’t easy to find couples who don’t argue and harder to find couples who know how to argue without physically and psychologically ripping their spouses apart.

The hard road has made many couples to take an easy option of cohabiting. It’s easier to live together and obtain the same marital and family benefits as that of married couples. In cohabiting there is unlimited freedom as notes a university undergraduate.

“Our parents never know we are staying together, when we go home we are separated till long holidays are over!”

It can be argued that most cohabiting couples may opt to having children before marriage. Although it may seem convenient against in-laws it only illuminates that cohabiters still consider marriage as step forward in attaining a higher level of commitment and stability.

First cohabiting family have a demerit of lower level of commitment with expectations reduced to living together. This negatively translates to luck of effort to foster a greater stability in the family.

In this unstable union most couples will easily consider separation as an escape route when cracks start appearing in the family.

Even the society, friends, work mates and neighbors offer lower expectation on cohabiters unlike marriage couples who enjoy societal stability by pressure to stay together compared cohabiters who may be stigmatized.

Quite interestingly it’s easier to deal with crisis in marriage than when cohabiting. No matter how hard the crisis is like financial, sickness, drug and alcohol abuse the thought of marriage acts as great glue to stick together and find a solution. On other hand cohabiters may separate or escape when trouble starts.

May I not be misunderstood. I don’t support abusive marriages, wife battering and husbands unknowingly rearing children not biologically related to them. I don’t. The point here is married couples only contemplate splitting in very exceptional circumstances.

It is this reason that African culture insist on dowry payment! Incase husband and wife want to separate elders from both sides will sit together with advice given to solve the problem. Under this culture couples will split under limit situations like witchcraft.

Together inside, marriage outside.
With marriage option outside cohabiting couples always suffer legal disadvantages in case of break up or death. Legally verbal promises or agreement between the couples hold no water.

Legal hurdles come with the goods acquired together. In case where there is no will or last statement from the departed couple, the deceased partner will find it hard to retain goods from overzealous relatives and in laws.

Additionally, psychologically women have different expectations to men when cohabiting. Quite interestingly most women hope for marriage in future which is inverse to men’s outlook.

In her book The effect of union type on psychological well being and depression among cohabiters versus Married psychologist Susan Brown notes: “Comparison made between women who are in cohabiting relationship and those in a convectional marriage have demonstrated that the former suffer more from depression and find their relationship less satisfactory.”

Thus the longer the relationship without marriage the more depressed the woman cohabiter will be. The depression suffered will lead to lower degree of overall satisfaction emotionally or even sexually as compared to married couples.

Finally in cohabiting the most vulnerable are women and her children, if any, who are at a greater risk of suffering domestic violence both physically and psychologically.

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