Is live-in relationship a mere fad or fashion? Does it make us more ‘trendy’? Is it the product of deep identity crisis amongst the youth? Many say that these things might also be linked with the economic independence of women, while others condemn is as a narrow and parochial outlook. The deeper questions are has marriage failed as an institution and are many carrying the carcass of a wedding for the sake of the family, the typical Khandan ki izzat hangover that we see in films. The debate is deep rooted. The discourse on marriage has within it the counter-discourse too. Maya takes a hard look on this issue of live-in versus marriage debate.
What happens when someone loves falling in love but panics at the idea of getting married?
While watching light-hearted love stories also known as rom-coms, there are two probable reactions coming to mind. “What next?” And “Who cares?” The movie Shudh Desi Romance, masquerading as a modern-day parable on What Young India Wants, falls in the second category.
The girl and the guy at once fall for each other. The free willed girl suffers from no moral hitches and hides not that she’s had boyfriends that she smokes. The main characters here are so confused about life, sex and commitment. The ‘hero’, if at all one can call him that, is highly commitment-phobic and simply impervious to any kind of gravity in life.
Talking about live in relationships in India, I’m reminded of my all-time favourite movie Ijaazat. Maya loves Mahender beyond anything else in the world. Though living with him under the same roof and loving him passionately, she’s vulnerable to the idea of settling with him. She has this strange urge to explore things that she can’t just relish the idea of getting married and staying at one place for the rest of her life. She suffers from itchy feet and would appear and disappear with no sound reason whatsoever.
Mahender loves her much and would like to marry her but Maya is a 20th century girl who wouldn’t settle for anything, would however love to continue her relationship with him.
“Shadi jaise jaise purani hoti jati hai, vo sadne lagti hai,” she believes.
She keeps appearing, disappearing for no apparent reason whatsoever except that she suffers from insecurities and is reluctant to be bought into the institution called marriage which contrary enough is generally believed to provide that emotional security she needs the most.
Despite Mahender’s constant assurances Maya is reluctant to marry. We wonder what it is that keeps her from settling as his wife.
May be an unsuccessful marriage of her parents or some divorce in the family?
We need to check the validity or the otherwise of statements like: ‘Human beings are not monogamous.’
‘Marriage is a failed institution as per the 20th century Weltanschauung. It is flawed like democracy. Since we have no better alternatives, we are stuck with it.’
‘There are some people, who wish to give marriage a dry run.’
‘Live in relationships in India is a pause, a phase, not a lifestyle largely.’
The younger generation nowadays is the one feeding on WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, Wechat, and Twitter. Everything needs to be instant! Relationships observed through the same prism. A few pics, a few messages, a few dates and it’s all done! Convenience is the key.
Even relationships have become a subject to convenience. Girls are as independent in the changing scenario as guys are. They earn pots full. Freedom is their mantra. They love the idea so much so that even putting on ankles, marriage rings and mangalsutras is considered to be shackles usually a feminine heart is enticed by. They take these ornaments an enticing trap called marriage.
To escape from the exorbitant expenses of two apartments, two of everything they feel like, ‘Hey! Why not live in together?’
They would like to test their mutual compatibility on different levels.
It’s more or less like creating a framework of consumer based relationship.
As says Tim Keller, ‘ …you are a dispenser of sexual services and may be recreational goods and services, and may be of companion goods and services. And if i think your products are a real good deal for the price, which should not be high, then I will be very happy to stay with you. See, that’s my answer to the question, “What about cohabiting?” I actually think that having sex with someone you are not married to is no a preparation for having sex with someone you are married to. In fact, it teaches you all the wrong things, because when you are living with somebody, who could walk away any moment, you are still in promotion and marketing phase. You have to be.’
Sid, an engineering student in Mumbai, says, “I’m living in an apartment where there live three more boys. Their girlfriends are living in a flat in the next lane. The girls come over any time. They chill, chat, laugh, party and even cook together. They spend evenings out together watching late night movies, dining out or going to disco.”
“Do they enjoy the spring together or share some responsibilities as well?”
“Are they really serious about their love or whatever it is?” looks like I have inadvertently ruffled his feathers.
“They are pretty serious.”
“They do share responsibilities just like…very much like married couples do.” He beams with satisfaction.
“Weekends are the best times to hang out and have fun.”
“These are the times for relaxation and group outings.”
One of my friends Rajshree Kaul, living in Toronto, Ontario, opines, “There are many couples around in live in relationships but they refuse to communicate much. They are secretive and wouldn’t have a stranger ask them questions about their private lives.”
“What’s your opinion about it?” I proceed to ask.
“Have it the way you love it. It’s your life. Or I would say just listen to your inner voice. If the logic behind this kind of relationships is freedom, freedom to an extreme limit, the love is lost somewhere on the way. Hence things should be balanced.”
Divisha Choudhary, a third year student in Delhi University, when asked what she has to say about the matter on the carpet is initially not open to discussion. Pondering over the need to opine, she says, “Well, if you ask my personal views, I think live in relationships should be encouraged.”
“Because it can be the best way to know your partner, his likes and dislikes. They have a world of time with each other because they have no social obligations to fulfil. If they later on feel they aren’t compatible, they can separate with no guilt on either side.”
“So, you see no drawback of it?”, I ask.
“The biggest drawback of live in relationships is of course the social stigma in our society. People haven’t still accepted this. Because there are no liabilities, both the partners are free to move out any day. Constant change of partners may be an implicit outcome too.”
“Do you find such couples committed?”
“Commitment is the backbone of any good relationship. In live-in relationship the commitment is only mutual as it has no social thumbnail attached to it. This keeps both the partners vulnerable indeed. The emotional security is completely missing.”
Shweta Bhatia, a TGT by profession, reads the general trends in youngsters of the day, “As the marriageable age is not 24 anymore. People don’t feel like getting married before 30. Rather it has been dragged to 34 for boys in the metros. So even if they love each other, they don’t want to marry. Live in is not planned you know. Bus ho jata hai. May be the couples suffers from low esteem as parents never approve such relationships. Like those in love used to meet stealing an eye, they nowadays love and live together stealing from the world. If they are able to marry, well and good otherwise both walk their separate ways. But the price they have to pay is big. Their value as morally upright guys and girls suffers a big fall. It’s a flat sharing zamana (trend) and living away from family for years of career building they learn to consider friends as family. At times it is same job, same office. Everything shared. Marriage doesn’t give the freedom to walk out of things don’t work well.”
Sushmita Gupta, from Muscat, Oman, is a multi-dimensional personality, who does classes with kids called Classart that aims at giving children a beautiful self-image. The tools are general
knowledge, art, scientific experiments, writing and speaking exercises and a lot more. She paints and holds exhibitions, solo and in group. She comperes programs. And of course write. And has been champion too at Times of Oman Quiz!
When asked how she takes live in relationships, being a mother to an eligible bachelor boy? She responds, “My son of twenty-two told me recently that he felt that before marrying a girl it is better to ‘live-in’ with her. It would let him know the ups and downs of a proposition like that. He assures me that he is also someone who would not go out with a girl unless he is serious about her. In these two sentences I wished to establish that he was not one opting for a live-in relationship out of frivolity.”
“As a mother, who has never believed in stamping her wish and would rather just express her thoughts, I did the same again. And my thoughts in a gist… I still am a big fan of the institution called marriage. I see no need for anyone to keep trying out compatibility by staying together. In my mind the only stumbling block is falling in love and after that making it work is something I shall do with immense love and patience and care and whatever else it takes. Something my guru said to me rings in my ears, "if you cannot row one boat, changing the boat will not also help”
Aparajita Malik, a student of Balaji Institute of Modern Management, Pune, gives her views about live in relationships. “Live in is something not practical. You cannot trust a person who is living with you that way because a life full of pleasure with no responsibility is surely something that can’t last
longer. Youngsters want to experience sex without any responsibility and marriage commitment. If couples in live fight with each other they can walk out easily from the relationship, while marriage is a bond that keeps them glued together no matter what. Look now a days girls are not that optimistic about marriage and children. They want to enjoy their life, have parties, drinks, and a relationship which gives them pleasure. They would not like to marry till they are day 27, 28 because till that time they can enjoy. There are so many restrictions after marriage. It’s possible that such guys and girls do wish to tie the wedlock eventually but in most of the cases they have already messed up so much that the idea seems bootless. There is a difference in loving each other and staying together,” she concludes with a beautiful smile.
A conclusion, to be open and above board, is not easy to be reached on vis-a- vis the matters, which are subject to personal speculation that must, therefore, differ from person to person.
A beautiful relationship thrives on mutual faith and understanding. This caring and sharing is the essence of marriage. It’s an assurance – “I’m not going anywhere no matter what happens because I love you.”
The hard part of testing human beings vis-a- vis their respective compatibility to each other is that there might be a huge amount of damage in the process involved.
The hard part is that when you start thinking of humans as cars testing sexually, emotionally, rationally, or in terms of capacity like going on a test drive to see if it works…we are actually not cars for God’s sake, we are humans!
Love is a thing so deep that you can't actually truly know its depth ever. It’s a word that defies to be defined. You can’t actually practice love when you always have the back door open. We don’t marry for the sake of comfort because when comfort happens, peace is usually gone.
There can be many issues between two partners, i.e. jobs, kids, tastes and many others. But how you cope up, how you sort them out patiently is what makes your marriage succeed. Living together before marriage is like, “Let’s reap all the benefits of marriage without taking responsibilities.”
Marriage trains you to say a ‘No’ to the temptations, build self-control, even if it’s in your body, your mind, a strong and wilful ‘Yes’!
To my mind, marriage is the most beautiful institution on earth. It gives you that deepest sense of joy that you have been looking for, all your life. Difficult times are bound to be there when you can see the nakedness of the other person, metaphorically speaking, the failures, the shortcomings, still your marriage gives you the guts to say, “Darling I still want you and I’m not going anywhere!”
Pix sourced by author.
Feature picture from Net.
Maya, happily married to writing, is a published author of three books- My favourite Mistake Ever, Just Zindagi and A Beautiful Mistake. She’s also co-authored I Am a Woman, a tribute to Kamala Das. She’s been a regular contributor at blogs and e- magazines like Womanatics, Bonbology, Learning and Creativity etc. A passionate lover of nature, she can commune with it for hours. Nature, in its various guises, enthrals her.