Living together before marriage has become popular in the recent years though is still largely frowned upon. The trend has been in the limelight lately, thanks to Bollywood couples, though in Western countries cohabitation is pretty common. But if you’d ask people around, cohabitation or living together before marriage is still a taboo, and people have strong beliefs on the subject. Let’s just see what good and bad can living together without having to say ‘to do’ really means.
What Does It Mean To Live Together?
Living together means essentially the same thing as is implied – a couple living together without the tag of being married. Many young adults in today’s fast paced world prefer to share a home and expenses, and have a sexual relationship with each other, just like in a marriage, but without the legal and religious ceremonies that a marriage encompasses. Couples in a live-in relationship or cohabitation agreement live just like a husband and a wife, for a variety of reasons from testing their compatibility to taking stock of their financial stability.
What Are The Benefits Of Living Together Before Marriage?
Though the idea is subjective, but living together before marriage does offer a couple a chance to ‘test run’ their commitment levels before they actually tie the knot. There is a host of advantages of living together before marriage, if done for the right reasons. Let’s take you through:
1. Financially viable
A couple that is dating and is already spending a lot of time together can move-in and save loads of money. You could save rent on two apartments, and share other expenses . Plus, every time you seek each other’s company, you need not pay huge bills at cafe’s and bars! And the money could be saved for future use – like a dream honeymoon, or a car.
2. Know each other
What do you do when you go on a date? Put your best foot forward, right? But when you are living together, you get to know the other person much closely – and that involves all the good and the bad. Living together before marriage gives a couple the chance to know how well they can bear the bad, and how much they like the good in each other.
3. Sharing responsibilities
Dating is pretty much a fun thing, but marriage brings with it a plethora of responsibilities. Living together before marriage just prepares you for it. Not only chores get shared, but a couple also learns to work together as a team despite hectic schedules and yet enjoy the fun part or ‘dating’!
4. Test your relationship
Living together before marriage offers a couple to test their relationship and commitment levels. Many couples call it quits because they are unable to handle the stress that sharing a home brings – and love is the first thing to fly out of the window in times of distress.
5. It’s exciting
Sharing a home with someone whom you wish to spend the rest of your life with can be pretty much exciting and bring a lot of happiness to a couple. Watch late night movies, cook each other meals, have friends over, share a cozy, lazy holiday and loads of other things when you are comfortable with each other. And all that, before you are married!
6. Keeps you free, while being committed
Sounds great, doesn’t it? When you live together before exchanging the rings, you actually get to live your live as you wish without bothering about families and other social obligations. You are committed, yet as free-willed as when you are single.
If you are sure about your relationship, moving in together can actually help you prepare yourself for the host of surprises that a marriage brings about – just that they aren’t surprises anymore. You will be able to focus your attention on other things, than wondering how will you share a room and a home with someone. It essentially means one less thing to stress about, and one can concentrate more on the wedding – which itself is stressful enough.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Living Together Before Marriage?
Some studies have shown that the rate of divorces in couples who have had live-in relationships are higher and so living together before marriage should be totally avoided. As a coin always has two sides, let’s look at the cons of live-in relationships:
- Religious reservations: In India, and many Eastern countries, marriage is a sacred union, and is upheld in all contexts. Even the Bible holds that one’s body should be given to the spouse only in a permanent marriage, and discourages per-marital sex. Strong religious opinions and beliefs bar the concept of living together before marriage in its totality.
- High rates of divorce: Studies have it that people who get married after living together ultimately call it quits after getting married. A whopping 33 percent higher rate of divorce was found in couples who lived together before marriage. This negates the argument that living together before marriage enable couples to know each other well. (Source)
- Legal shortcomings: Though legalized in the country, yet there is a lot of fight and judicial drama surrounding the rights of live-in partners, specially women. Many times, allegations of rape, financial frauds, domestic violence etc. have been reported in live in relationships. The concept triggers social, economic and religious imbalances in a society
- Misuse of the concept: A man may be in a live-in relationship just to enjoy ‘free sex’ or a woman may simply want to enjoy the ‘financial benefits’. Many young people misuse the concept of living together before marriage by indulging in fraud, forgery and sexual abuses, questioning the viability of such a relationship.
- Financial and emotional insecurities: A marriage is a long term commitment, and no one runs after a bad night. However, when living together before marriage, running away or abandoning a relationship is fairly easy, with no one to question. Many people go through emotional upheavals after a series of failed live-in relationships.
- Makes the marriage boring: A marriage brings about excitement and thrill. However, when you are living with someone since a long time, marriage just seems to add another dimension to the relationship, without bringing anything new. One misses the zing and the punch that newly married couples thrive on.
Is Live-In Relationship Legal In India?
The honorable Supreme Court of India passed a historic verdict stating that couples living in live-in-relationships will be presumed legally married. This has been done with a view to decrease the social stigma attached to couples who move-in together without getting married. “The Domestic Violence Act 2005” in India after long included live-in relationships within its purview. As per this, a women living with a man “a relationship in the nature of marriage” could approach court if abused by man. The economic abuse is also covered in this where in women gets protection from financial abuse too. Supreme Court of India has stated that if a woman and a man “lived like husband and wife” for a considerable long period of time and had children, the judiciary presumes that the couple were married. (Source)
However, it could be tough to claim any benefits from insurances, joint accounts, visa’s etc. if a couple is not legally married. A live-in relationship is also not recognized under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. Children born to parents who are not married but live together are not illegitimate, and can claim rights to parental property, though they may not inherit the ancestral property. However, the rights and protection can be a long fight.
So Is It A Good Idea To Live Together Before Marriage?
The answer is rooted in each of us. Whether it is a good idea or an absolute folly to live together without getting married largely depends on our beliefs, ideals, lifestyle choices and commitment levels. Trying the waters before actually jumping in is a good idea for many people, while for some it devours the whole sanctity of a wedlock. If you are sure of each other, living together could be a boon, and God forbid if living together doesn’t work out, you can walk out without suffering the trauma of divorce. A little bit, for everyone. And do not drive yourself crazy thinking living together before marriage would definitely make you file for divorce – every marriage, every relationship has a 50% chance of being successful or being a failure. And relationships, they are forever changing, with no one size fitting all.
Living together before marriage should not be an excuse to use a body for sexual pleasure and then move on to the next person. It should not be done to purposely exploit one person sexually or financially, yet remaining free to reject that person out of convenience. However, if both partners are committed and in agreement of making a relationship work, all odds cease to exist.