I AM a 30-year-old woman who comes from a very traditional home. I have introduced my man to my family and he comes and sees me whenever he pleases. Now the problem is that my man says he wants to take things to the next level but only next year. In the meanwhile, he says I should move in with him. I am not sure if this is what I want but when I weigh my options, should we get married, I would have stayed with him and know his habits – good and bad. I love him but can you advise me on when is it a good time to move in with a man. My family is against vat ’n sit but I am seriously tempted. Besides I am 30 and I can make decisions that affect me without thinking of my family. Isn’t it so? TEMPTED LOVER
YOU come across as though your mind is almost made up about what you want to do, but need that final push that will seal your decision. Well, here’s our final stamp of approval, indeed you are 30 and can make any decision about your life without even thinking about your parents. There! But think with us for a moment.
A SAFE HAVEN FOR YOU
Wouldn’t it be much better to be released from the safe nest of your parents with their full blessings? They not only raised you to be the fine woman you come across as being, but they provided a safe haven for you to thrive within a socially moralistic environment. While we could never encourage you to live for your parents, we can encourage you to heed their guidance. It’s full of wisdom. We imagine that they dream of a day they can officially hand you over to another family in marriage with pride, knowing that you honoured them by not doing things in reverse. You see, them being old-fashioned is not a bad idea at all, actually. It’s an asset to you.
WEIGH THE RISK
You’re contemplating moving in with your boyfriend, knowingly against your parents’ wishes. Even if they were not opposed to the idea, have you properly applied your mind to the risk you’re putting yourself into? Now, we hope for nothing but the best for you, should you decide to move in with him before the marriage he’s promising you. But have you ever thought that things might not actually work out between the two of you while living together? What is it, besides your boyfriend, that is pressuring you to be that vulnerable to him to the point that you are willing to open yourself up to so much potential hurt?
By the way, what kind of man would pressure you to dishonour your own parents’ wishes? If he really wants to take things to the next level, shouldn’t he start by formalising the process of lobola negotiations instead of pressuring you to move in with him? And for the record, you don’t need to have stayed with him before marriage to know his good and bad habits. In fact, statistically-speaking, couples that cohabit before marriage are much more likely to divorce after they get married than those who only moved in together after their wedding. Living together does not help you prepare for marriage nor does it help you avoid divorce. So, why do it, since living together clouds your judgement about whether or not you should spend the rest of your life together anyway. When choosing a life-long partner, you need to look at his good and the bad objectively. Objective thinking is impossible when you are physically and emotionally intimate.
Furthermore, in South Africa there is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’. Therefore, despite the amount of time you may be living together as an unmarried couple, it does not translate into a ‘default marriage’. There is, therefore, no duty of support between you and your boyfriend, and the laws that protect individuals in a marital relationship, do not protect individuals who are merely cohabiting. For example, if one of you were to unfortunately pass away while living together, without leaving a valid Will, the remaining partner has no right to inherit under the Interstate Succession Act. As a cohabitant, you also cannot rely on the provisions of the Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act to secure maintenance in the unfortunate eventuality of your death or your boyfriend. Furthermore, there is no obligation for either of you to maintain the other, and you have no enforceable right to claim maintenance.
REALITY MORE THAN EMOTION
In protecting yourself, you have to thoroughly apply your mind around whose property it is you will be moving into? What is the responsibility of the other in the servicing and maintenance of the property? What are both your earning capacity levels, and what are the shared responsibilities? What if one of you loses an income for some reason? We hope you will consider reality more than emotion in your decision. It must be a very sober one.