Quick question! Have you daydreamed of marriage as a kid? Well, I have, but let’s say that I’m not a kid anymore. Society nowadays is seeing quite a dramatic change in attitude when it comes to marriage. Why is this happening though? Is it because we have another option now?

Live-in relationships also called cohabitation is a living arrangement between two unmarried people who live together in a long term relationship that resembles marriage. These days many more couples are opting for live-in relationships. Here are a few reasons why-

Marriage is Becoming Desolate

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Is marriage going to survive? Source: connectusfund.org

The deinstitutionalization of marriage refers to the weakening of the social and legal norms that regulate peoples' behavior regarding marriage. The younger generation has very different expectations from their predecessors when it comes to partners. Many people don’t think marriage is a necessity to live your partner. People have more financial independence and mobility than ever before and would want to live on their terms. They are getting married later or in many cases never. Live-in relationships also become a testing ground for compatibility before jumping into marriage.

Changing Norms on Sexuality

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The concept of Sexuality has broadened.  Source: apa.org

Live-in relations just makes it easier for same-sex couples to live as they would want to. Many countries still don’t consider same-sex marriage as acceptable so live-in relationships are a suitable alternative for them. Moreover, female sexuality has been overly legalized and regulated in the past., in recent decades high rates of participation of women in the workforce, and the widespread availability of highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptives has led to women making individual choices over their reproduction. It has also decreased their reliance on male partners for financial stability. All these changes favored living arrangement alternatives to marriage. There is also a change in the focus of sexual relations with more focus being given to consent then marital status.

Precursor to Marriage

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Many cohabiting couples eventually marry. Source: thespruce.com

A general narrative that goes around is that live-in relationships are precursors to marriage. Most couples these days want to test out their compatibilities and thus start cohabitating. Marriage is a huge step and involves legalities. Thus to be on the safer side people usually live together as its almost like marriage.

Objections to Live-in Relationships

Although many people look forward to this as an option, thats not the case with everyone. I’m sure you’ve heard, many housing societies don’t allow live-in couples! But why do people look down on live-in relationships? The two main objections to live-in relationships come from religious views and their effects on children.

Many studies done on cohabiting households have found that children sometimes don’t fare so well. Hispanic and Caucasian children have been found to have lower performance at school, greater risk of expulsion and suspension than children from single-parent households. But whether this is because of cohabitating family structure or the general socioeconomic background in these societies is questionable. in general people tend to believe that children in cohabiting houses lack a “real” family environment. Some people may even go to say that they lack love and affection but honestly, these claims don’t sit well with me. Although there is perhaps a looser family structure, claiming that live-in partners don’t love their children as a married couple would do is too far fetched.

Moreover, prominent religions all around the world are against cohabitation. The roman catholic church and almost all protestant denominations consider cohabitation to be the sin of fornication. The only exception is the angelic church which welcomes cohabitating couples to encourage them into a Christian marriage. Similarly, same-sex relationships and premarital sex are Zina (unlawful intercourse) in Islam. Cohabitation is a crime in many Islamic countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Sudan, etc.

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What are the laws regulating such relationships? Source: legalbites.com

As mentioned earlier, live-in relationships are not considered legal in many countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. However, this is not the case all around the globe. Many European countries and the USA do consider it legal and this can be seen through the legal recognition of prenuptial agreements etc.

First things first, live-in relationships are legal in India. In many judgments, the apex court has stated that if a man and a woman live together it is a part of the right to life and not a criminal offense. Moreover, couples in live-in relationships and even had children they would be treated as a married couple and the same laws would be applicable.

Earlier the laws did not protect women in live-in relationships but now that has changed. Indian courts have widened the scope of maintenance laws under section 125 under the criminal procedure code. The domestic abuse laws have also broadened their scope and now apply to any relationship like marriage. LIve in relationships is thus covered by the existing laws. However, there is still ambiguity as to what a live-in relationship is legal.

Children born out are considered legitimate and are entitled to both self-brought and ancestral property. The maintenance of children born in a live-in can be sought under section 125. Couples in a live-in relationship, however, are not allowed to adopt children.

There are too many people passing judgment about live-in relations these days. some have a positive outlook and some don’t. I, however, feel that the structure of the relationship is a smaller factor when it comes to determining the success of a relationship. The bigger factor is the people in the relationship. If they feel happy with one another and want to grow old together, how does it matter whether they are in a live-in or they are married?




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