Relationships go through fazes; be it friendships, family as well as romantic relationships. Over the years, the ways in which we treat our relationships and go about experiencing them has also changed. For a South African, living in a country that has 11 official languages as well as a vast number of cultures, one is guaranteed to have an experience that is totally different to that of the next person.
When it comes to romantic relationships, the basic “steps” that have always been followed are: Courtship, start a relationship, get married and have children. That has been the fairy-tale vision and desire for most people, right? It’s what we were all raised to believe is the correct and only way to live. Culturally and religiously, a man and a woman living together before getting married is a BIG NO NO!
What I find most interesting about these ideas of families is how most of the current family structures in SA do not necessarily represent or support the idea that these are the best steps to follow; for one, a lot of families in South Africa, that may have started out in marriage followed by having children, have somewhat ended in divorce or separation. The divorce rate in South Africa has seen a huge increase while there has been a decrease in the number of people choosing to get married. But the latter has not necessarily stopped people from starting their own families together without getting married, right?
Other burning questions for me are: how many of these couples who have chosen to live together and live happily ever after are doing it without the knowledge and approval of their families? Does this nullify what they have or trying to achieve together? As much as everything remains about the couple, in the end, you are bringing two families together.
More than “I love you’s” and “Regular great Sex”, the living together thing is quite a big step if you ask me? What questions do you and your partner start asking each other before taking the big step? After how many months/years of dating do you decide to move in together? What happens should you break up? I still stay at home so to get a better understanding, I figured I would chat to people who have taken that step.
Nana & Morena
I had a chat with Nana & Morena. The bubbly pair started out by “Kicking it” during SA’s festive season, Dizzt tyd. But unlike many “Kicking it” situations one may come across, this one became pretty solid as the pair decided to make it official on the 26th of March 2016. P.S – Nana jumped into Morena’s Twitter DM by the way *wink wink*.
Them living together seems to have been a part of their “destiny”, considering how it happened. She had an agreement to move in with a friend, which fell through. This is when bhut’bae came to the rescue and decided to move in with her. For him, this was the perfect decision he could make.
“I didn’t want to live alone and the place she’d already found was convenient for me – but more than anything, it felt right to move in with my partner and cut out the unnecessary admin of having to visit each other.” – Morena
Society has embedded the idea that a man is expected to take care of his partner? He is known as the provider. I think we all aware that adulting can be tricky enough on your own and not everyone has it all figured it early on in their building stages. How this couple tackles it, is by going 50/50 on everything. Or at least trying to go 50/50 where finances are concerned. As for the house chores though, Nana is happy to take on most of the activities and Morena helps out where he can. They do not seem to put pressure on each other, by living up to society’s expectations except their own and I like that.
Something I found interesting though was that Nana’s family was content with the couple living together but Morena could not say the same about his family. He does acknowledge that his culture and his family’s strong beliefs in following tradition has played a role in them not knowing that they live together. It will remain this way until they can finally say “I do”, which is in their life plans.
Even though this may be the case, they do maintain that getting a marriage certificate should not limit them from living their best lives as a couple. The best way they know how.
“I see a solid future but more than ever Morena and I want to build together; attain our goals & achieve our dreams. Be happy. For us, marriage is more than a piece of paper – it’s a lifetime commitment and you don’t ever want to just settle. If it’s not crazy love then I wouldn’t want it. Right now, I am glad I have found it.” – Nana
Sasha- Lee & Bae
Sasha-Lee & bae met at work and started dating in 2014. Being a part of the coloured community, they do not necessarily have the same challenges that Morena & Nana may have with parents knowing of them living together purely because they do not practice the tradition of “lobola”. But they do admit that Bae’s father was quite hesitant about the idea until they sat him down and explained what journey they intend taking by preparing for marriage this way.
Having been together for 2 years and both wanting to move out, this was the best financial decision for them which also helped them take their relationship to the next level of “seriousness”.
For them joking around about what personalities and habits that they each have would possibly annoy the other was what the led the couple to deciding to move in together. More than making financial sense, the couple felt it made more sense to get to know each other better before going down aisle.
“We decided to move in together, before marriage, to get to know each other better. We feel married. They say the first year of marriage is the toughest and we assume this is because people haven’t experienced each other while living together. It is a very different dynamic. We wanted to get this “first year of marriage” over, before being married. We felt that if the relationship did not survive the move, at least we wouldn’t have the headache of getting a divorce.” The couple said.
Sasha & Bae have also clubbed their finances together and work through them as a couple along with their house chores. More than finances and chores though, they have gone a step further and added each other to one another’s wills and policies because for them, at this point, marriage is merely making their commitment to one another official before God and the law.
From the other side
Ofentse Mogoshane from Soweto says:
“I personally wouldn’t live with a guy before we get married. This is mostly because of how I was raised and I believe in doing things the “right” way, so to speak. Also, if most girls lived with every guy they were in love with or thought they were in love with, how many guys would they have lived with?
I also don’t believe the “testing if we can live together before we commit” is a viable reason either. It’s hard living with someone you never lived with before no matter how much you love them and it’s easy to quit if there is no ultimate commitment. Marriage forces one to stay and make it work (the traditional marriage I aspire to have). I cannot see why I have to have and give the privileges of married life before I’m married. Maybe I’m just old school but that’s just me.”
Chica, did you move in with your partner and are now married? Or are you strictly against moving in with your partner till marriage?
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