Cohabitation is called kuchaya mapoto in Shona… which I translated literally to get the title for my post. Cohabitation has become normalised in the media, with it being a seemingly necessary step to the relationship, before or replacing marriage. Very soon we’ll hear of move-in proposals and the like, and the industry will make loads of money.
I read this interesting post on the benefits and drawbacks of cohabitation. I suggest you read it, it is so thorough. Because the disadvantages are so well known, I decided to come up with advantages of cohabiting.
- No Roora or Huge Wedding
I heard an interesting talk by Emmanuel Makandiwa, speaking about this issue somewhat. He said when a couple starts living together, the family panics, and asks the man to come and pay roora, even if it’s 50 bucks, just so they can get to know the man living with their daughter. On the other hand, when he comes and speaks of his intentions, they give him a hard time, and make him pay loads of money.
The marriage scene is rough in Zimbabwe nowadays. A man may buy his future wife an engagement ring, then will pay roora (if you have difficult in-laws, you’ll have to come up with cash somehow), then plan a wedding while paying off balances, then have to shoulder responsibilities of his own family as well as both sides of the family. Some end up cohabiting so as not to go through such a process.
- Less Rent to Pay
Imagine being a couple, both living by yourselves and paying rent. What a hassle! How better it is to save the rent and use it for something else, while living together. There won’t be two of everything to buy: two TVs, two fridges, two stoves, and that money can be saved for other projects you have as a couple.
The economy is unkind nowadays, and it is an advantage to a couple to use their money for more important things like rent and so forth. Some stay at their partner’s house for days and weeks on end, it’s just wiser to move in and use the other rent money for other things.
- You Treat Each Other as Partners
I’m fascinated by how a couple is open with each other, and will tell each other anything, the good and the bad… until they get married. Then somehow everything has changed. Ladies will be asking their friends and fellow ladies, “How do I tell my husband that…”. It makes you wonder, what changed between being his girlfriend and being his wife? What is it about marriage that kills the communication to the point that they’re afraid to speak to each other about what they were free about before?
In our parents’ generation, an African marriage seemed to be more of an advantage to the man and a disadvantage to the woman. Even when people describe African marriages, they use the words “endure” “suffer” “shingirira” “qinisela” “stay”, when they speak of the wives. Our generation is having none of that, and it’s probably why they’re not keen on marriage just to have their voice stifled, and it being called submission. A study showed (it was American, it might not apply to Zimbabwe) that cohabitation gives a couple less defined gender roles, so more helping out with chores, which makes the workload less in the house, especially for women.
- No Messy Divorce if It Doesn’t Work Out
If a marriage doesn’t work out, one will file a divorce, both will lawyer up, divide assets and the like. It is time consuming, costly, and causes unnecessary pain because one has trouble moving on while waiting for everything to be finalised. On the other hand, when you are cohabiting, when you want to break up, you just pack your things and go.
Couples in Zimbabwe are cohabiting more and more, and there must be some advantages to it for it to be happening more. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time… your Quarter Wife.