Factors influencing cohabitation among young adults in MCK Kaaga circuit, Meru County, Kenya.
Murrira, Denis Muriungi
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Cohabitation is on the upward trend globally, especially among young adults. Methodist Church in Kenya, Kaaga circuit, Meru, has recorded a decline in church weddings in recent years with cohabitation being the main alternative. The purpose of this study was to analyze factors influencing cohabitation among young adults in MCK Kaaga Circuit. Specifically, the study sought to establish the influence of financial ability, family of origin, peer pressure, pre-marital pregnancy and pre-marital counseling on cohabitation among young adults. The study adopted the descriptive survey design. The study target population was 780 participants where a sample of 251 was realized using stratified random sampling and simple random sampling. The sample comprised 235 young adults, 11 youth counselors and 5 church ministers. A questionnaire was used to collect data from the participants while an interview schedule was administered to church ministers and youth counselors. A pilot test of research instruments was conducted in MCK Kinoru Circuit, targeting 25 young adults, 2 church ministers and 2 youth counselors. The data was analyzed through SPSS and presented in percentages, frequency tables and figures. The study established a strong and positive relationship between financial background and cohabitation among young adults (r=0.747, p<0.01); family of origin had a moderate positive influence on cohabitation (r=0.548, p<0.01); peer pressure had a moderate strong positive influence (r= 0.634, p<0.01); premarital pregnancy had a moderate positive influence on cohabitation, and premarital counseling had a weak negative influence on cohabitation (r=-.19, p=0.03). The study established that lack of financial ability specially to solemnize a wedding was the major cause of cohabitation among the young adults. Further, family context influenced young adults to cohabit when they decide to form family unions; the more peers of young adults were cohabiting the higher the likelihood of young adults cohabiting and vice versa. Premarital pregnancy was a key contributor to cohabitation as the welfare of the child had to be secured, and the church’s pre-marital counseling program had little influence in controlling cohabitation. The study recommended a sliding and deciding psycho-education approach to counseling, engagement of young adults in income generating projects. Furthermore, need for MCK Kaaga Circuit to ensure church weddings are affordable to young adults by carrying out mass weddings and counseling programs should be revised to include contemporary issues that contribute to cohabiting among young adults. The findings of this study will be of critical importance to young Christian adults, church ministers, youth counselors, young adult’s development experts and the academic fraternity, particularly experts in counseling and marriage issues.