I’ll start today with a story, one told by a friend. There’s this mental health group where people talk about the essential aspects of life and the things to watch out for, and it’s from here, the topic of cohabitation came up. This started like a piece of advice that a law student brought up and urged everyone to ensure they don’t become a victim of it as there are dire circumstances to the above. This was further backed by a story where two parties cohabited for 20+ years, resulting in children’s birth and further developments. They got there because the lady felt that although the man was not in a position to legalise the cohabitation by wedding her officially, he had shown that he had her best interests at heart.

No sooner had all this happened than the man got another woman he married legally, had children, and settled with. You see, it’s normal for people to disappoint others, at least from the experiences the majority have had, but this was the most significant blow that ever happened to the lady. She was chased out of the home with her children that the man denied being his own. And here she was back to zero, struggling and raising her children. Depression is a struggle we don’t choose, and here she was, so depressed that she lost her life and left her young ones to strive alone.

This is one of the few stories shared; it would take you months to get a hold of a bunch of them. This is a subject we never talk about in our communities. Not like we don’t know what’s happening, we can’t be the few talking about it.

In Uganda, in as much as people have come out to ask lawmakers to legalize cohabitation, the struggle has been futile. It’s that one type of thing you get into, and the law will not protect you. I say this based on all the Family law I’ve studied.

Being in lockdown has had cohabitation issues rise and resulting in pregnancy. This is caused by people’s not working and are instead just living. You know the saying, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop? Well, most pregnancies have been as a result of this.

One may argue that cohabitation is not that bad after all. I don’t have the right to condemn anyone, and I’m just here to remind us of the essential things.

If you decide to go and cohabit with a man because he has shown a slight interest in you and looks like he is serious, remember that this is something you cannot run away from. If he chooses to get another woman, marry her, and start a new life at any time in your stay, there’s nothing you can do. You can’t claim you’re the first woman he loved because there is no document to confirm that.

Also, if a man claims he loves you so much and is willing to take you in, I hope he can prove this by legalizing his intentions. You see, the thing is that without legalizing his intentions, you might be as good as nothing. Some people have come out to say that this makes us money-minded people, but the thing is, it is essential to know where we stand. We’re not, after all, wrong to want intentions legalized.

Cohabitation arises for so many reasons. Some people have argued that they don’t have the money to make all those formal procedures. Introductions and weddings have become so costly that they seem impossible for an ordinary man. The thing about this is that we can choose to understand what we have and how far we can stretch, or we can choose to strain ourselves on budgets we can’t afford. A wedding doesn’t have to be huge for it to be a wedding. Covid has taught us the truth about this matter. Nothing can stop a wedding or introduction as long as the crucial parties are present.

A reminder to us all that we can choose what we want and how we want our lives to be. Sometimes the society we live in and the peer pressure that comes from our peers play a big role in our decisions. Occasionally, we overcome them, and we fall into their traps on other days.

I hope we understand that as much as people may claim they love us and wish to spend the rest of their lives with us, they should make everything formal. The truth about humans is that they change. Sometimes luck is on our side, so we don’t see that other side of their life, and other times, we’re not that lucky so doom fall on us. I hope we make our intentions clear and be intentional in every aspect of life.

To our parents and guardians who think that we’re too grown, we should be living at home, I hope they understand at what cost we’re living, and if after 20 years down the road, they’ll be glad about the decision they made.

Remember that those who think we’re essential to them must be willing to make the sacrifices.