Three years ago she walked down the aisle, dressed in a long white dress with her face glowing under a veil and he, in a tuxedo.

Confetti was flying, and everyone was cheering and celebrating at the wedding. Now they are both contemplating living separately and may even divorce. No one thought this could happen.

It was a time of ululating when they tied the knot, needless to say that the two had become one flesh, but little had Tawanda Bhaureni (27) (not real name) known that his wife, Cynthia (26) had a secret she had not told him.

Marriage involves making one's life the definition of service in living for the other.

It entails setting aside childish shortcomings, avoidance of responsibility and foolish distractions and striving to emulate the perfect love.

It is sad to see any marriage run into trouble and break up.
But it is particularly a sad phenomenon that an increasing number of married young adults who have been born and raised especially in this age of a global village are having serious marital problems.

Throughout history, a woman's virginity has been her prized possession and all cultures across the world have placed a high value on it.

But it seems times are changing in rapid succession from one generation to another and for an increasing number of young men and women, sex is now top priority in their relationships.

And much to our older generation's chagrin, pre-marital sex is a definite reality of our times.

In more conservative African, Asian and Latin American societies, premarital sex is a vice, vehemently prohibited as such behaviour is either too sacred or too accursed for those unmarried to undertake.

Fornication is a more general term usually referring to any kind of sexual misconduct or sexual impurity outside the bounds of marriage.

In this case, Tawanda vents his anger and fury over the lies that he has been told by Cynthia. When the pair tied the knot, Cynthia had her face covered by a white veil, acknowledgement that she was a "virgin".

"I have insecurity in this marriage because I had trusted that she was telling me all in earnest. At times I just feel that if she tells me I am pregnant I won't be responsible because her lies gave room to that mistrust," said a composed Tawanda.

Premarital sex seems to be the number one cause of divorce as one would have sold their most "prized" strength to another.

Many young men and women have different views when it comes to such issues. While young men charge at their female counterparts for having sex before marriage, they forget that women also wish to be married to virgin men.

In most cases, it seems women tell the "small lies" in order to find a committed man, and men are not spared too.

Emily Paonga, a member of Christ Embassy said the Devil has made it fashionable for young people to fornicate.

"From a Christian point of view it is really bad. The devil has made it so fashionable to engage in sexual activities whilst one is not married. Just because everyone is doing it doesn't make it right," she said.

Women, however, seem to tolerate men who are not virgins.

"In Christianity there is forgiveness. If one did it without knowing Christ then they are forgiven when they've known Him. No sensible man would want to marry a lady whom they know has been playing around. However, the man should understand when the lady explains. Maybe the lady was cheated into doing it. Men can be deceiving at times and love sometimes blinds people.

"The society has trained us that it doesn't matter if the man is not a virgin, the lady just has to be. If the man is not, I will accept it," added Emily.

The government of Zimbabwe last year triggered an emotive debate after indicating that through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, it is working towards coming up with laws that allows children as young as 10 years old to access condoms, birth control pills and implants as a way to prevent teenage pregnancies.

According to statistics from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), by age 16, 17% of girls and 29% of boys would have had sexual intercourse.

As a result, 67% of all births to teenagers in 2012 occurred out of wedlock (compared with 30% in 2000), and from 2000 to 2012, gonorrhea increased by four times among 14 to 17-year-olds.

Most parents are of the view that the government's initiative will promote promiscuity.

"There is need for the government to engage churches in curbing the scourge of premarital sex. People, especially in towns, are no longer conservative. It seems in towns that might be a measure, but at the same time, it will encourage teen sex," said Thomas Sande, a father with two sons.

Nicole (22) revealed that she was sexually active at age 16 indicating that "virginity is no longer an issue".

"It is wrong in the first place to sleep around. However, when that happens you should just be frank enough with your partner before your wedding plans. Virginity is no longer a big issue.

"Remember virginity is not the only measure to base a happy marriage on, honesty and trust are far more important traits that both partners should possess. Sex draws people closer and there is no doubt that if someone is responsible, I will give them what makes me earn their trust, and that is sex," said Nicole.

Losing hymen is not only a result of one having sex. The presence of the hymen which ruptures (resulting in the bleeding) is not a sure sign of virginity wrote sexologist Dr Rajan Bhonsle.

"Some women are born without it (hymen), there are those for whom it is so elastic that it never ruptures while for some it is so fragile that a slightly intense activity may have rupture it without them even realising it. It is just not possible to assess whether a girl is a virgin or not by just examining her except if she's been through a pregnancy or if she admits to having sexual intercourse," wrote Dr Bhonsle.

With the current advances in medical technology, a plastic surgeon can quite easily reconstruct a layer of tissue to resemble the hymen, the procedure is called hymenoplasty.

Most sexologists concur that an intact hymen is not a sure sign of virginity. They say a woman's hymen can be ruptured by nonsexual activities like intense sports, dancing, sitting astride on two wheelers among other activities.

University of Zimbabwe English student Lazarus Moyo (26) disputed the "scientific excuses" by sexologists. He alleged that what sexologists say is just a way of encouraging young women to be promiscuous.

"I need to marry a virgin, if I do not get one I will just be a senior bachelor," said Lazarus without highlighting how he will ascertain a girl's virginity.

For American housewives, it is taboo to violate their diet than fornicating. This is so because sex is now being commercialised in some economies that it is the norm in their societies.

Parents should take charge and monitor what their children watch on television as soap operas are themed around issues of sex and scandals.

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