“We have been seeing each other for 6 years now and have been living together for 2 of those”, says Deepa an IT professional. Looks like the city of Chennai is breaking all norms and creating a new entity for itself. Gone are the days when it was looked upon as a conservative boring old fashioned city. Deepa went on to talk about how she had a detailed chat with her parents before moving in with her boyfriend. She explained to them how it matters to them, and they were as good as married, just legalities were missing. Apparently her parents did the usual go all the way throwing a fit drama session. But eventually, they met her partner and understood where they come from and are now on good terms with the couple.
Similarly, there are quite a few couples who are now taking the route of living- in as against getting married and setting up a home. It could be with the influx of IT and BPOs setting up shop in the city or just that the younger generation are more open minded and ready to experiment with life. In today’s corporate world, men and women spend a lot of time together at office or during commute and some even share apartments. All this makes it easy to build a relationship and take it to the next level. For a lot of couples, living in meant understanding one another better, learning the nuances of a relationship and to see if their relationship has a future or not.
When talking to Vidya a counselor we learnt that “many couples are eager to start a life together but are skeptical about how it will be or if there will be drastic changes, and so that is when they decide to try the living in concept. I encourage this as it saves a lot of money, energy and heart ache, if in case the relationship does not work out. And if it does, they invariably gear up to go down the aisle in no time”. Am glad people are far more sensible and practical about relationships these days, unlike earlier era when it was get married or be shunned. A marriage is all about lifetime commitment, till death do us apart, and so live-in arrangement works best for all the parties involved. Sometimes it takes the couple a year, sometimes longer to figure each other out. And it serves as a gestation period for their long-term commitment to each other.
Raghav, a freelance photographer has just rented out a place of his own few kilometers from his office and he will be moving in there with his girlfriend Swati. They have been seeing each other for 6 months and want to see where their relationship is headed. They do not want to rush and get married. He says “We have told each other if we can live with each other, we are sure we are meant to be together. We have also decided to split all expenses and costs, keep it as real as possible”
“India today is slowly opening up its doors for western ideas and lifestyles and one of the most crucial episodes amongst it is the concept of live in relationship. Live-in relationships are slowly growing amongst old people as well. There are pros and cons to this relationship particularly in the context of old people choosing to live in”, adds Vijaya, a civil lawer from Chennai.
Recent SC Judgment
The Supreme Court on 29th Novemeber 2013 said : “Live-in or marriage like relationship is neither a crime nor a sin though socially unacceptable in this country. Long-standing relationship as a concubine, though not a relationship in the nature of a marriage, of course, may at times, deserves protection because that woman might not be financially independent, but we are afraid that DV Act does not take care of such relationships which may perhaps call for an amendment of the definition of Section 2(f) of the DV Act, which is restrictive and Exhaustive.” The court as well asked Parliament to bring in proper amendments to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, or enact a suitable legislation so that women and children born out of live-in relationships are protected, though those types of relationship might not be a relationship in the nature of a marriage.
The fundamental right under article 21 of the constitution of India grants to all its citizen right to life and personal liberty which means that one is free to live the way one wants. Live-in-relationship may be immoral in the eye of the conservative Indian society but it is not illegal in the eye of law.
Taking a cue from Hollywood stars Brangelina and Bollywood couple Saifeena, an increasing number of people in the city, especially those working in the same office, are opting for live-in relationships.
Looks like the concept of marriage is evolving, making way for live- in relationships! If this is the way to go, go for it!
*Some names changed on request.