Cohabition? Your Answer please.

"The holidays are around the corner. A nice vacation would be good and the Air Asia tickets are on promotion. Plus, we have not celebrated our one-year anniversary yet,..." Mel thought to herself. She excitedly scrolled down the Air Asia website, ticking the right columns to estimate the costs of her and Choon Keat's (her boyfriend) flight ticket during the November school holidays.

CK and Mel have been going steady since Form Five. Having done well in their SPM examinations, both parents have been sold over by the idea that their 'potential other halves' were not distractions, but a contribution towards their intellectual pursuits, and thus future in life. Both come from good Christian backgrounds and served regularly on Sundays at their churches.

So it wasn't difficult convincing both parents that they will be safe in Redang for the four-day three-night stay. After all, the couple had vowed to stay in separate rooms and maintain a good behaviour in public. Since their daily devotional times (quiet times meditating on the bible) were pretty steady, it was hardly possible for their parents to believe that anything could go wrong.

Of course, there were the one or two aunties, who played devil's advocate to Mel's mom.
"Eh, you not scared ah, letting your daughter go for holiday with a guy? Guys can never be trusted.... my husband ah...," or statements like, "Nowadays children not like before, stay out so late... dunno what they do... I think you better say no lah otherwise ah... chaaamm.." were easily laid aside when she assured these concerned relatives that she and her husband know the boy and trust him with their daughter. "He very kwai one... that day he bought tong sui for whole family... ". All legitimate concerns were subsequently dismantled as Mel's mom spoke more of CK's pleasant character.

The tickets were purchased online. As Mel was printing her flight details, thoughts of 'what ifs' ran through her mind.
Hmm.. what if the hotels are out of rooms but one, should we share? what if he attempts to kiss me, should I resist and remind him about my stand.. Nah, CK won't do that! But how nice huh, if we had the whole beach to ourselves...

The flight to Redang was faster than expected. The couple alighted the plane, breathed the salted Redang air and inhaled a whiff of freedom as they walked towards the check out counter. They felt like real adults, with no one scrutinising their every move, playful behaviour and decisions. They could do anything without having to wait for a final say by 'older people'.

Bombarded by cab drivers who offered rides to their hotel, they flexed their decision-making muscle and got to their hotel at a good price. Once again, their sense of freedom got reinforced.

At the hotel lobby, CK took the lead by making the rooming arrangements. They leaned over the counter to a gentleman clad in a green batik blazer who greeted and addressed them as sir and miss.
"Our room prices are RM80 per night per room. You will be entitled to two free buffet breakfasts. Just present your voucher at the reception between 8 and 10 am."

"RM80 per night?" CK repeated, without sounding too shocked, fearing he may look unadult-like. "Ok, can we get back to you shortly?". Mel and CK proceeded to the lounge area to confer and re-evaluate their skin-tight budgets.

"Eighty per night. That means each of us pays RM240 for just lodging and breakfast? Then how about the snorkling and water-skiing? Sure not enough for that." The adult-like couple took about 15 minutes to decide.

"Okay, now what about taking one room?" proposed CK.

"Err... I don't think its a ..."

"I will sleep on the floor. You can have the bed. You can have both beds!" CK tried to convince Mel. Their budget constraints and priorities for the fun activities made sharing the room a feasible idea.

"Hmm.. okay. I think it will be ok. Let's just be wise lar. Fine, we'll take one room." Mel felt a slight uneasiness but eventually became compelled to act as responsible adults.

By now, Mel's mom had qualms about the trip. Did we do the right thing by letting girl go with CK?. The conversations with her relatives replayed several times. All she could do now was shoot quick prayer to God for the children's safety and morality.

The day passed quickly. After a tiring evening of snorkling and a romantic seafood dinner. CK and Mel resigned to their hotel room to just vege.They combined both single beds to create a larger space to play UNO and some card games. After several variations of 'HeartAttack','Chor TaiTee' and 'Blackjack' they decided to call it a night. CK tucked Mel into bed and gave her a peck on the forehead. He made some space on to the floor-- his makeshift bed for the next three nights - and the lights went out.

But Mel couldn't sleep. She felt bad for letting him sleep in discomfort on their anniversary trip. She invited CK to share the bed. They vowed again. This time to stay on both ends of the combined beds. At least, they can both sleep in comfort.

Mel started talking about the next day's plan. They chatted. And chatted. And chatted some more. Soon, the couple drew physically closer. Eventually, CK slipped his arm beneath Mel's head. Their conversation topics became more personal. Ocassionally references were made to God, Jesus and the Bible. They felt a mild sense of security knowing that God had not been totally blotted out of their communication despite the tricky decision to share the room earlier that day. The hours passed and they grew emotionally and physically close. Both discovered a sense of union by being physically intimate.

A mix of feelings ran through their biblically-constructed hearts.
Are we doing the right thing? Ambivalence about being free and responsible adults, as well as a pricking conscience about their level of intimacy were easily doused by the realisation that perhaps, they were meant to be for each other forever.

They fell asleep. Their tiredness overtook them before anything else could transpire. The next few nights followed a similar pattern. But the couple became a little more daring to go a little further. Not too far, but far enough. It was a memorable anniversary. Mel and CK tasted their first kiss.


That one trip became a springboard to many other trips. Because nothing happened in the first trip, they felt validated to do another trip the next holidays. And in each trip, new things happened. Eventually, a web of emotional entanglement wrapped them up.

Cohabitation, as the dictionaries put it, refers to living together prior to getting married. Somehow, we naively forget that the smaller events like going for holidays as a couple are representations of the whole 'living together' issue. To many, living together is not an issue to begin with. So the decision to go for holidays is essentially a no-brainer.

It does feel nice sharing the room and intimacy with someone you love. But by zooming back a little, you can see a build to something more devastating over time. The problem of living together without being married makes the relationship devoid of commitment. The couple can do anything and everything sexually and emotionally without being attached for life. Backing out or separating from each other is easy because nothing is binding. When the relationship hits a break wall, you have options to deal with it.

It is a moral issue for a variety of reasons. Firstly, our values are compromised. Values such as trust, loyalty and patience will be tested. Once feelings and the initial excitement of relating to each other in a relationship fades, we can get bored and be tempted to move on from each other. Since nothing is binding, people get hurt in the process.

Secondly, living together wthout to marriage reduces our sense of self-respect. By desiring to live having good character enables us to feel and be respectable. When our values are compromised, we lose our self-respect. When we get entangled by the lurking temptations of sexual intimacy, we give away more than we should. Since neither is married, we are still potientally someone else's spouse. And if the relationship doesn't work out into marriage, we are hurt, cheated and wallow in regret.

Thirdly, in a social structure that values marriage, we devalue the sanctity of marriage in society. Where religious and social leaders are advocating developing healthy relationships and families, we attempt to do the opposite and reinforce the lack of commitment and good values. We model a wrong set of practises that will be passed down to future generations.

The reasons here are not exhaustive. There are more. Does this article aim to judge? Not at all. It aims to probe and engage readers to think things through. Hopefully some awareness can be shared online. If you do feel judged reading this, perhaps you need to evaluate your own stand on this matter and related matters. I have had my own share of hiccups in the arena of relationships, when tempted with a similar situation, I would probably give in. But now that I'm not in that situation, I can think clearly and write.

So what do you think?


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