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Management of Marital Intimacy in the Context of Intergenerational Cohabitation in Cameroon: the Case of Couples Living at Home with the Mother of One of their Partners

Félix Duclaux Habit Tankeu, Honoré Mimche

Research framework: This article takes a look at the home, understood here as the home of the couple who welcomes under their roof a parent from one of the spouses. This constitutes a limit to the process of individualization of the couple in their intimate life.

Objectives: The objective is to analyze how couples living in their own home with the mother of one of their spouses manage their intimacy, in so far as this cohabitation is likely to interfere with the marital relationship.

Methodology: We chose a qualitative analysis with semi-structured interviews conducted with 17 respondents aged between 28 and 49 years, living in a couple and cohabiting with the mother of one of the partners.

Results: Intergenerational cohabitation is an obstacle to individualization and leads to changes in the intimate behaviours of couples who welcome the mother of one of the spouses into their home. In the same way, her presence and her interference in the marital affairs lead the couples to adjust their behaviours in order to preserve their limited intimacy.

Conclusion: Intergenerational cohabitation constitutes, on the one hand, an obstacle to the individualization and intimacy of couples. On the other hand, the adjustments that the couples adopt, both in terms of behaviour and in the management of space, testify to the importance that they give to their marital individuality.

Contribution: This article, which is part of the intergenerational cohabitation problematic, allows us to document and elaborate our knowledge around this notion, through the specific case of Cameroonian couples.