Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Can we live together without getting married?



Can we live together without getting married?

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Can we live together without getting married?

To be pronounced husband and wife in the Khmer tradition means the bride and groom go through a marriage ceremony fully supported by both parents and known by relatives and friends. The traditional Khmer marriage still plays an important role in modern Cambodia.

The traditional way of life in Cambodian society does not allow a couple to live together before marriage. Doing so in secret is especially frowned upon.

Ly Bunthoeun, 24, had his wedding six months ago and said he and his wife had loved each other and struggled for 10 years to get married.

“Though there have been lots of obstacles, we never acted foolishly, especially never staying under same roof before marriage, because this act is considered wrong and would shame us and our family,” said Bunthoeun, a financial coordination officer in a private company.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Bunthoeun and his wife set a good moral example, but now there are young couples who decide to live together secretly before marriage. Why do they do this?

Piseth (not her real name) is living with his girlfriend in a rented room. He said they were in love for three years before deciding to move in together. Their parents have met and know about their love but aren’t aware that the couple lives together.

“We are afraid of being found out by our friends and parents, and we rarely allow guests at our house,” Piseth said. “We love and trust each other, that is why we dare live together. We are completely sure and our parents are 90 per cent sure about our future marriage. We hope to get married when we can afford it.”

Second-year university student Chan Phalkun said: “I think it is modern but not really appropriate. I do not support this.”

“Couples living together is like being husband and wife, but only marriage can properly make two people husband and wife. If they live together without getting married it affects our cultural way of life as well as their reputation.”

Ket Monyvathana, a senior student at the Institute of Foreign Language, said: “It is a right for the couple if they want to get married or not. They might have problems with finances or something that would not allow them to get married quite yet.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Choeung Yoeung, a 47-year-old mother of six, said: “I could not accept it if my children dared to do this.” She believes it is against Cambodian tradition and would ruin parents’ reputations.

H.E. Thai Naraksatya, secretary of state of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said: “For a couple to live together but not get married would affect parents since they always hope to see their children have a bright future.”

Khus Thida, an executive director of Silaka, believes living together without or before marriage is like playing with fire. Cambodian society is still a society that needs the involvement of parents and relatives, she said.

Ly Bunthoeun advised the younger generation that “no matter how modern and developed the country is, tradition still exists so we should not follow Western culture”.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa