When the marriage certificate is not a priority

In a committed relationship, the couple can decide together on the rules of the relationship and accept them and be loyal to each other.

Some couples in society do not see what difference a wedding would make to the security and stability of their relationship. They prefer to live in an exclusive relationship without bothering to seal the deal with a marriage certificate.

Oprah and her partner have been together for 32 years, but never married

Commenting on whether it is alright to live together for a life-time without ever getting married, a Blantyre-based man who did not want to be named, observed that it is the couple’s business how they want to go about it.

“Some people never get married, but are more committed and supportive towards each other than most married couples. If both parties are happy with the arrangement, then that is alright. But, on the other hand, there are certain protections which being married provides, because being married and being a life partner are not the same in the eyes of the law,” he said.

Living together is not a new practice in Malawi, according to Marriage Education and Research Network (Mern) executive director Daniel Chibwana.

He argued that most people are actually not really living as husband and wife although tradition recognises them as such, because of the amount of time they have been together and the children they have.

“When two people of the opposite sex, who are not married, stay together; share the same bed and have sexual intercourse the same way married people do, it is called cohabitation. Some people use the term ‘elopement’, where the two secretly decide to start staying together without the blessing of their relatives. This kind of practice is common between couples that are on separation, who often take this action to shun away from public shame,” he pointed out.

He considers such kind of living as a sign of immorality. “Living like that is like taking advantage of one another for personal gratification. In this regard, your true self is destroyed one day at a time. Furthermore, when you cohabit, society loses trust in you for your immorality. It degrades oneself to a level that is less than God’s intended,” he explained.

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