Parents of adolescents living in metropolitans are terrified of the fact that their youth may pack their bags one fine day and start living with their girl friend or boy friend the moment they start a job and money to support them-selves. For the youth today freedom is more important than anything else. Most parents’ get nightmares as to what they will say to their neighbours and how will they explain it to their relatives. But the youth are not listening anymore as the trend catches on. A study after analyzing the relationships, made it evident that live-in couples are still largely from professions like entertainment, advertising, modelling and media. Five years ago the trend was still not rampant says a clinical psychologist, from Mumbai. He also found that the trend of live-in relationships has not really caught on in India, especially in the middle and upper middle classes, where marriage is still very much the norm.
Parents fear the trend not without reason. For we all know that since there are no legal or moral bindings each party is free to walk out or terminate it any moment. And it may be equally true that they may get into another live-in as quickly as they have got out of another. This has the possibility of leading to multiple relationships and the fear of sexually transmitted diseases besides the decline in character and morality which horrifies the middle class. The middle class parents are the most affected, almost emotionally traumatised with the news of such truth and their inability to handle the situation. With people becoming more aware of the laws and with the growing assertiveness to exercise their rights parents are left as hapless victims.
According to a survey by The Journal of Marriage and the Family, live in relationships are weak commitments. That is precisely what many who opt for live-in might just want- no commitment or weak commitment and the freedom to move out as soon as they would like. We know in India the family courts are piled with divorce cases and they are not granted easily. In spite of the provision of divorce the judges would prefer families adjust to each other and also the favour tilts towards the women. If a woman does not want the divorce she can keep the case hanging indefinitely. Men are wary now of marrying. Social geographer Soma Das says that people who opt for live-in relationships do so because they do not believe in marriage. That is another identifiable problem. Children grown up in dysfunctional families where they may have had emotionally unsettled lives are also likely to lose their faith in marriage. They have not experienced anything good about the marriage institution and can become averse to it. Children of separated or divorced parents who have been dragged to the courts for custody rights or for making statements for and against parents have had harrowing experiences. They have not learned the art of making adjustments or the art of tolerance. They are quick tempered and ill-tempered and quick in reactions.
Similarly an Internet entrepreneur and blogger has observed being against such relationships – living-in would be equivalent of lowering standards and settling for less than what one deserves. For most, living together is not an end, it’s just a fun thing to do – perhaps a rebellion here and now. Some may feel that living-in might help you get a better idea about your partner before marriage. This is also a practical way of looking at marriage- we try it out if it works for us we will get married. Ashis Nandy, fellow with the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi is of the opinion that if relationships are becoming more cross-cultural, they are also more contractual now, probably leading to more clear-cut expectations from each other. That is definitely clearer today than it was earlier- traditionally men had clear expectations from the girl and she was only asked to mould herself and adjust to the environment. But today’s woman has a mind and expectation of her own. She is quite clear what she wants and one of it is her ambition of her career and she would like the man in her life to make all the adjustments to help her grow in her profession too, like she would do. So she may not want to make compromises there. If she finds the man up to her expectation she might consider marriage.
Whatever may be the reasons for the live-in trend, in the long run marriage will continue to stay as the most important institution for individuals seeking long term commitment and families, which will provide stability and happiness in personal life.