Cohabiting In The 21st Century

Cohabiting
Article by Keagile Makgoba. Posted on May 23 2017 at 8:40 am

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.

cohabiting

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

Cohabiting

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?

Leave a comment on our Facebook Page or send us a tweet. Let’s chat!

11 Comments

  1. Lovely article. I’m currently staying with a couple who’s cohabiting. It’s quite interesting to see it from their side. I’m on the fence with this issue. I personally believe that cohabiting works for certain people. I get why people want to see how their potential partner is like before they get married. Kim Kardashian once said to Oprah that one of the reasons why she divorced Kris Humphries was that he was a different person now that he was all up in her space 24/7. I’m sure there a lot of people who feel just like her.

    Having said that I have Ofentse’s fear of if I do decide to kipita with someone & we break up, how many guys am I going to kipita with before I find the one? Another thing in as much as we are young, our parent’s generation still find it hard to understand about ‘a guy drinking the milk from the cow for free’ (I hate this saying but it was the only example I could think of)

    Before I became celibate I was for it, I mean why not see the person for who they are in your space all the time? At the end of the day marriage is a huge step & one has a right to want to see the person for what & who they are. Now that I’m celibate it’s a different story. Can’t exactly live with a partner & not do the forbidden dance. That’s tooo much temptation LOL!

    Now please don’t take what I’m about to say as gospel because in this thing called life, things happen. But now that I’m celibate I know now that taking sex out of the equation helps me see a person more clearly without being distracted by the sexual high. And that’s why I wouldn’t cohabit. I would know this person for what & who they are before I even get married to them. It’s easier (for me) to study a person’s habits & disciplines (of lack thereof) without sex in the picture. Things are just so crystal clear. Sorry for the long essay of a comment *hides face* LOL.

    • Andiswa yazi you just touched on something else. I am happy that you have taken the route of celibacy and getting to know the other person on a different level. I may need to chat to you for another article actually. Please drop me your number or email addy 🙂 You can tweet me as well @Keagi_M

    • I’ve got friends that are cohabiting and I see the pro’s and cons of it. Personally, I don’t want to cohabit with a partner until he’s married me traditionally. I know myself, and I know that at this point in my life, my own space means a lot to me. Also, the way I was raised has an effect on my decision

  2. I’ve stayed with a guy for a year and don’t have any regrets. We should all live the way we want to

    • Did you move back home after the break up or into your own space?

  3. I stayed with my man before getting married. It was something that we discussed and had a clear vision of when we doing the marriage thing. We decided to tell our parents about our plans and they were supportive. For me it worked because I knew him better and it was a point where I had to make decisions about what habits I can tolerate and which ones we need to work on.
    We got married and it was a smooth transition. Basically nothing much changed from cohabiting to being married.

    • wow Koki. I am glad it worked out for you and I guess living together really did help with the transition. It’s tempting and I am looking at Andiswa’s argument as well which has got me thinking too.

  4. This is an interesting read , thank you for sharing Keagi.

    My personal experience with cohabiting wasn’t the best though I don’t regret it. In my case , we did it in my space whilst he rented out his. My guy was very selfish because I was financially responsible for everything as though I was still living alone and this made me feel like his big sister taking care of her younger sibling.

    So , when I got fed up – I moved into a new place and told him that I was moving back home. It wasn’t all that bad – we had good times too but this is one thing I know for sure I’m never doing again.

  5. I lived with Bd for 5 years,the plan was to get married and live happily ever after,lol.It didnt work out,he wanted to continue with the marriage but i felt i would be trapped in that marriage and i am so grateful that i moved in with him and still had the option to move out when it didint work out.

    I am currently celibate,three years in the game and i am loving it,i have no plans of moving in with someone again,i always thought living with your partner was all fun and roses,we did have a great time,his family would visit,my family would visit,but living with someone,all their habits you start to see,i loved him but i could not be his mother and there were all those other things aswell,coming home late,drinking sprees,being selfish,waay too much.

  6. I personally feel like the biggest mistake we as women make is having a child with the person whilst cohabiting. A child can bring you closer as much as it can drive two people apart. I wouldn’t mind cohabiting but I cannot give him a child . He can’t have all the benefits a husband deserve. No! And when we eventually go our separate ways there wouldn’t be much drama and we can both move on peacefully.

    • I think the biggest mistake is thinking a baby will bring you closer or having a baby just for him or coz he wants one,i had the baby after 5 years of dating coz i was ready and i wanted a baby,whether he stuck around or not,i knew i could not use the baby to determine that.I had the baby for me and me alone,yes things didn’t work out but i dont regret having a child with him and i things are not complicated at all,coz my son is not a complication but a blessing.I didnt give him a child,i gave myself coz i was ready.

      Different strokes for different folks.


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Cohabiting

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.

cohabiting

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

Cohabiting

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?

Leave a comment on our Facebook Page or send us a tweet. Let’s chat!

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