Traditionally, when a man and woman decided to live together, it was the woman who moved into the man’s house.
But today it is common for a man to move in with his girlfriend.
Gloria Nakajubi explores whether this arrangement is acceptable in our patriarchal society
Recently, a friend of mine who had been staying with his elder sister in one of the upscale suburbs in the city, told me he was looking for a house. I got concerned knowing how much he was attached to his apartment.
On inquiring why he wanted to leave, he told me that his sister’s boyfriend had decided to move in. “I have to find somewhere else to go because I am not comfortable,” he said.
With many working women now able to rent houses or even own homes, they are reluctant to leave their comfort zones, opting to invite their boyfriends to live with them, and the guys seem to have no qualms about it.
Is there a problem?
Pastor Wilson Bugembe, a gospel artiste and leader of Light the World Church, Nansana, thinks moving into a girl’s house is not a bad idea as long as it is based on true love.
“Things have changed. You may find a girl you truly love, but she has more money than you, so do you decide to leave her because she is richer?” he asks.
Bugembe says he knows of a couple who have been successful in their marriage, yet the woman has more money. In this marriage, the lady makes sure she passes on the money to the man and he appears like the one providing for the family.
Henry Innocent Kiyaga aka Dr Hilderman, another local artiste, has a similar view. He says it would not be much of a problem if he fell in love and decided to move in with his girlfriend.
“It might not be because she has a more comfortable house, but because you truly love her,”Hilderman says.
“If the woman can move into a man’s house, why can’t a man do the same? Would you, for example, rather rent a house when your wife already owns one, just because you want to fulfil tradition?” Hilderman asks.
Patrick Kajuma, a manager at Car and General Enterprises, argues that once a man decides to pay the bills, especially rent, he becomes the owner of the house, regardless of who was in it first.
Stephen Lule, the principal office supervisor at the Ministry of Education and Sports, says it depends on the status of the relationship.
“I do not think I would have a problem with my son choosing to move in with his wife. But this is only on condition that the two are legally married and not just cohabiting,” he says.
Lule explains that although this is not acceptable traditionally, if there is no other option, then a man moving into a woman’s house should not be a big issue.
Patrick Muinda, the assistant commissioner in charge of communication at the education ministry, shares Lule’s opinion.
Muinda quotes the Bible, saying it is not stated anywhere that the woman should move into a man’s house, but rather a man should leave his parents’ house and be joined with his wife for them to become one (Genesis 2:24).
“The decision of where to stay after marriage solely depends on the couple. And because they have become one, they can as well share everything,” he says.
Some women also say they have no problem with a guy moving into their house, but for some, there are terms and conditions. “If my house is bigger and we both know we are committed to the relationship, I do not see anything wrong with it.
But in case of rent, he has to be ready to clear the bills,” says Rachael Ntono, a procurement officer.
It Is not rIght
However, Stella Mukyala, a communications officer, has no kind words for men who choose to move into their fiancée’s houses.
“For Christ’s sake, this is Uganda and here it is men who are supposed to be providers. If you do not wantto be disrespected, never think about sleeping over at a girl’s place,” Mukyala says.
For Jolly Nsubuga, an accountant, moving in is a way of telling a woman that you have surrendered to her and you are ready to be taken care of. “But if the man moves in and takes over the responsibilities of the home, then there is no problem,” she says.
Patrick Sumata, a banker, also says moving into a girl’s house is the worst thing that could ever happen to a man. “I believe in being the man of the house, but you can never become one if you know that the house you are living in belongs to, or is rented by the woman. This eventually takes away who you really are,” he says.
He adds that it is the worst kind of irresponsibility and an indicator that the man may not be able to provide for his family.
Some men also argue that however deeply in love one is, the man will always feel insecure under such an arrangement and usually women will throw men out of their houses at the slightest mistake.
A lot of women also confide that they easily act on emotions and, therefore, remind all the time that the house does not belong to you. No man would want to go through that every day.
To Grace Ssewanyana, a secretary, such men are not ‘real men’. To her, if a man ever proposes to move into her house, that would be the end of the relationship.
David Kavuma, a counselling psychologist at Mildmay Uganda, says culturally, for many African settings, a man living in a woman’s house may not be easily acceptable.
He explains that although relationships and the way they are run is determined by two people, the rest of society, especially the families of both parties, cannot be fully closed out.
“Like the saying goes, ‘no one is an island’. The two need other people in their lives, especially the blessings of the parents. So if the parents do not agree with such an arrangement, they will not bless it,” he explains.
Kavuma says the biggest percentage of men who would move into women’s houses do it for selfish interests, especially economic gains.
And in most cases these turn out to be very disastrous when the real motive of the arrangement becomes clear. The psychologist also argues that such kind of decisions highly depend on one’s socialisation, culture and sometimes peer pressure.
For instance, if someone has grown up seeing a particular trend in relationships, they are likely to adopt it.
But at the end of the day, it is about what is comfortable for the couple.
Beatrice Nandawula, the director of Makerere Youth Guidance and Counselling Centre, says: “The biggest issue is if you are not engaged, and not married, is what you are doing right? Let us say you hope to end up married, anyway, do you know this person you are moving in with?
Once you understand your partner, then choices of where to live are made as a couple, and the issue of who owns what ceases to matter.”
Does one become less of a man if he decides to move in with his girlfriend?
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