Cohabitation: harbinger or slayer of marriage in sub-Saharan Africa?
The increase in two unrelated persons of the opposite sex living together in an intimate union without marriage is changing the socio-cultural landscape of African family system. This paper is a review of literature from across Africa and other parts of the world on cohabitation which is seen as either a precursor to marriage, substitute for marriage, or alternative to singlehood. The arrangement is becoming a norm in urban and non-Muslim dominated areas of Africa as it allows people to share, live together, and test their compatible before marriage, but at the same time may bring significant harm to the cohabiters and detriments to their long-lasting marital relationship. Adequately enlightenment about the upsides and downsides of cohabitation is needed. Parents should regularly visits their children in the cities or/and universities; marriage ceremonies should be more affordable; protective legal framework for the benefit of cohabiters and their children should be introduced. This paper extends the literature on cohabitation and marriage in sub-Saharan Africa, by highlighting the prevalence, lingos, causes and consequences of cohabitation among Africans.
Keywords: cohabitation, marriage deinstitutionalization, Africa, family processes, living together, social change, intimate relationships