Rita’s grandpa and grandma wheezed the other day when for the hundredth time, they brought up the topic of her marriage and she said she want to live-in with someone first, weigh the relationship and then consider of getting hooked. Not only her grandparents were shell-shocked, they began to look at her with a different eye. “You are not some celebrity to get on such a weird idea. Follow the tradition and settle down, like the rest of us,” they keep saying to Rita.
Many live-in relationships have been successful and long term commitment is important for it. They have become trendy, but not everyone thinks it is a decent idea. Though this gives you an opportunity to find out whether a couple would set together in case they decide to get married later, the issue seems to have its own pros and cons. While a few opine it is an ideal situation, others say it barely works.
It is comparatively easy for men to think about this concept, but for women – yes, even in this day and age, it is still a taboo. Probably your family might disown you if you say you are into one. “Stars would go to great lengths to hide their marital status for fear of losing fan following. With the public opinion changing, celebs are now getting more open about living together. You have Saif Ali Khan and Bebo for instance,” smiles Rita, a college-goer.
“Youngsters have started experimenting with their lives; and they have no clue — how that would affect the rest of the family members. Though we can talk on and on for the sake of argument, there are a lot of practical difficulties involved in it,” says Lalitha Krishnamurthy, a sixty-seven-year-old, retired bank employee.
Part everything 50:50 – rent, electricity bill, cable, food and everything. It can’t get better than that. It is really cool to say you are living with your companion. People consider it hip and progressive. It is more like two close friends living together, without the social responsibilities of a marriage. “You can’t detach yourself from the society and you’re a part of it. We may say we don’t care about the society. But it is easy to talk than doing,” says Viswesh, a newly wedded man.
“Relationships eventually boil down to compatibility. If you’re not compatible, it will never work,” says Meera, who’s living together with her mate. She says, “Renting apartments are biggest task as none of the house owners are willing to give in space if we reveal the issue out,” she quips.
Well, given that you find such a guy/lady, do set forth to test your relationship by living together! Go in for the likeminded people; so you’re on the safer side always.
“It’s only when you live with a person you tend to know the real him or her. Living with your partner allows you to see him or her without any masks or pretence. The real side comes out. And for your sake, hope it is good,” tells Bhanu, a homemaker. (Name changed)
Freedom, convenience, lesser restrictions and noninterference in one’s personal/professional front makes people to opt in for living together. “Personal satisfaction is high and also it is easy to break with no legal hassles,” says Vineeta, software professional. She cites it is simple to enter into relationship without any formalities or unlike customary traditional rites.
Talking on the negatives, Dr Saradha Rajen, a psychologist turned-marriage counsellor says, “Society never approves of living together as there is no family support. Also we’ll have to think of the children that are born out of live-in relationships. They face a lot of problems in school admissions and other formalities.” She also stresses that the whole issue has not been legally recognised. “You may face official problems and property disputes due to the non-acceptance of relationship by existing legally wedded wife, especially in bigamous relationship,” she informs.
Good or bad?
Live-in relationship is not very different than marriage and will contain bickering and arguments, leading to eventual separation. “Since there is no ‘real’ commitment, infidelity rates may be high. Your partner might cheat on you without guilt. It is socially frowned upon still, at least in India. It will mean losing all your support system, including family and friends, too, possibly. Social stigma that is attached with a live-in is to be considered too. If your relationship doesn’t work, you might find it hard to get married,” elaborates Dr Saradha.
A study says people who live together don’t generally end up marrying each other and even if they do, the divorce rates are higher in such a scenario. Even if you do get married, people might still say, especially for the girl that she lived with a man before her marriage.
If you’re eventually planning to get married, living-in is sort of a dress rehearsal for it. You can gauge each other’s commitment towards having a future together. You would have sex regularly, which means there will not be any first-night surprises if and when you decide to get hitched. If you find you’re not cut out for each other, you can amicably separate.
It’s all about the money, honey!
When two adult people want to live together what is the offence? Does it amount to an offence? Supreme Court has opined that a man and woman living together without marriage cannot be construed as an offence. The apex court said there was no law which prohibits live-in relationship or pre-marital sex. The apex court made the observation while reserving its judgment on a special leave petition filed by noted south Indian actor Khushboo seeking to quash 22 criminal cases filed against her after she allegedly endorsed pre-marital sex in interviews to various magazines in 2005.
“Live-in-relationship is the arrangement in which a man and a woman live together without getting married. This is being taken as an alternative to marriage especially in the metropolitan cities. Currently the law is unclear about the status of such relationship though a few rights have been granted to prevent gross misuse of the relationship by the partners,” says Shanthi Girish, Senior lecturer, Sociology Department, Government Arts College.
Married in haste, repenting at leisure
The above line by William Congreve truly defines the mentality of the live in couples. The hectic lives of the metros don’t leave time for nurturing a family in its true sense. Now a day’s people are becoming more and more individualistic and career oriented. They spend less time at home and more time in offices. With more and more women going out for work, the nurturer of the family is not giving enough time for family and children. So actually why is there the need to go into marital bonding and forsake one’s liberty? Everyone likes a life free of tensions and responsibility. After working for night shifts who want to get up early the next day to prepare children’s breakfast and make them ready for the school?
Moreover, the divorce laws are too cumbersome in India. If one has to get a divorce then it takes years to finally get it done and trauma suffered by the partners during these years is too much. This is also one of the biggest reasons for live in relations. “There are too many legalities involved with the institution of marriage which one can easily escape in the case of live in relationships. It’s a much popular analogy of live in relationship that it’s like “taking a car for a test drive” as the couple can easily walk in and walk out of the relationship without any legal bondage. It’s better to know the person beforehand than marrying in haste and getting oneself in a legal mess,” explains Shanthi.
Live-in relationship is where; people may live together for a number of reasons. These may include wanting to test compatibility or to establish financial security before marrying. It may also be because they are unable to legally marry. Other reasons include living with someone before marriage in an effort to avoid divorce and avoiding responsibilities of partner and kids! Even after having family planning!
Well, you always run a risk of getting bored of each other, but that can happen in a marriage, too. Think before you jump in. It’s a beautiful thing if it works out, and not so much if it doesn’t. Much like marriage! Decide whether you want to follow conventions, or break them.
Interesting facts on live-in relationships
• The number of unmarried couples living together soared 12-fold from 430,000 in 1960 to 5.4 million in 2005.
• More than eight out of ten couples who live together will break up either before the wedding or afterwards in divorce.
• About 45 percent of those who begin cohabiting do not marry. Another 5-10 percent continues living together and do not marry.
• Couples who do marry after living together are 50% more likely to divorce than those who did not.
• Only 12 percent of couples who have begun their relationship with cohabitation end up with a marriage lasting 10 years or more.
• A Penn State study reports that even a month’s cohabitation decreases the quality of the couple’s relationship. ?
This article is reproduced from Women Exclusive - WE for tomorrow’s women August 2012 issue with prior permission.