Marriage is a cultural thing and nature doesn’t tell everyone to tie the knot, says actor Abhay Deol, who once preferred to settle down in a live-in relationship with former Miss Great Britain Priti Desai than getting married.
Abhay and Priti are no longer together but they are also unapologetic about it.
Though cohabitation is common in Western culture, it has now turned a budding trend back home as well after the apex court made live-in legal in its several verdicts on the issue.
So, it is not at all surprising that more couples from young population are going for it. They want to enter into marriage only after making sure that they can spend rest of the life with each other and live-in relationships fit the bill. Treated as a taboo in India until a few years go, this is now fast turning a national trend and Bhubaneswar is no exception.
However, a few recent suicidal deaths of youths in this city, said to be the outcome of failed live-in relationships, have once again sparked a debate whether the society, bound by religion and culture, is ready to accept this changing pattern of living.
Speaking on the issue, Namrata Chadha, a strong voice on women empowerment and gender inequality, says, “The origin of live-in or cohabitation is commonly believed to be a Western concept. However, it was there in our ancient society in a pragmatic way but in invisible numbers. It was also a taboo to discuss this openly. But globalisation and industrialisation have changed our societal structure. And most of the urban population is gradually adapting to this new phenomenon. I don’t have any objection if two adult individuals are choosing a live-in relationship in place of marriage. But I have a strong reservation for security of women in these kinds of arrangements because in most cases socially, economically, emotionally, mentally and physically women are worst sufferers.”
And post break up, a woman has to face uncountable hurdles in her social marital relationship in this conservative society,” adds Chadha.
Sharing an anecdote, the ex-member of State Women’s Commission Odisha narrates: “A young beautiful independent woman who worked for more than 14 years with an MNC was in a committed relationship for nearly eight years with an engineer. Together as partners, they bought a property in Patia, Bhubaneswar. But things turned ugly the moment this guy was selected for a scholarly research programme in IIT and had got an opportunity to move abroad. He simply walked out as if it meant nothing to him. It was a big blow not just to the girl but her family also. Eventually they accept the truth but she is yet to recover from the trauma as being together for these years can’t just be anything.”
She continued: “I could figure out that not only required psychological counseling but clinical screening as well because she couldn’t sleep at night and neither able to focus on work. Talking with her parents, I could understand their fix; it was a social stigma for them as the entire family was aware of them getting married in future.”
Though Chadha is not against cohabitation, she underlined a few concerns over its consequences.
She says, “Live-in relationship is an easy way out from temporary bonding and relationships without any burden or responsibilities which most of the urban youth prefer to be in. But in long run no respect and recognition is received from the society which silently kills their commitments. Besides, the children born out of these relationships have to face legal battle to prove their paternity rights. So, I wouldn’t suggest youths to go for this arrangement.”
Besides, youths are not mature enough to handle such relationships whereas marriage is always more reliable, trusted and a strong institution. Married couples live much healthier in life than in live-in relationship, she further adds.
“As far as my experience counts, because I handle cases of this sort, couples approach me for counseling; and astonishingly most of them are a failure, which it’s from both sides.
Constitutional rights can guarantee women to live with dignity and provide them legal remedies for any wrongdoing but the fact is that unwritten law of the land is always controlled by social status and their mind set has not yet changed especially male folks. In every relationship whether it is a live-in or marriage they treat women as their own property or commodity. This gender base gap and discrimination has to change, she concludes.
Motivational speaker and cognitive behavioural counsellor, RKS Mangesh Dash says, “It is said that ‘Ask the Purpose to the Person Who Lived the Life’. Live-in as a worthy relationship is a choice for some who do not see comparatively a better meaning in a marriage. Although many marriages are very successful still every marriage did not stand as an example of a healthy & joyful togetherness. Staying together is a bliss and when the togetherness out passes the feeling of love and the experience of disrespect, disregard, politicking, utilization, non-reciprocation and many similar phenomena becomes the fuel of the relationship, then partners start repenting about their decision or marrying.”
Ask a couple who are happily married, and they will vouch for Marriage as the ‘Best Option’ and ask a couple who are happy with live-in and they will stand by it as the ‘Best Option’. Probably the challenge of live-in today is the ecosystem, ideology of the generations and a fair ground. Also the fact that marriage has legal and societal responsibilities and duties it’s seen as safer form of relationship, he explains.
Speaking on the various shades of cohabitation, he continues: “Live-in relationships are a success till both are respectful towards the purpose of live-in together. It’s like every day you are in a relationship with freedom of choice to be in the relationship with easier frameworks. Like any other form of togetherness, live-in also has got its variables of success and unsuccessful both.
Whether it is marriage or a live-in relationship, Dash believes that rights of women and humanity need to be protected in every possible way.
What numbers have to say
- A survey found out that 80% of the millennials believe that the Indian society still considers live-in relationships a huge taboo while 47% find marriage better than living-in with their partner.
- In Mumbai, about 50% of couples in the 22-28 age group are in live-ins. But, 70% break up within 2 years.
- The Supreme Court of India recognized the live-in relationship as a valid marriage in which the Court gave legal validity to the 50-year live-in relationship of a couple.
- The Apex court said that an adult couple can be in a live-in relationship even when the man’s age is below 21 years, the legal age for marriage.
Celebs who went for live-in
Several celebrities are often found flaunting this tag everywhere. While some relationships materialise into marriage, others just fizzle out. Here is a look at a few of them.
Ranbir and Katrina
When the rumour started doing the rounds that Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif were dating and have moved in together, their fans were hoping for the wedding bells to ring soon. But to everyone’s shock, the couple ended their relationship of six-long-years and parted ways for the reasons best known to them. They are working together and have now moved on with their respective lives.
Virat and Anushka
Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma made everything clear about their relationship to the world during a match when Virat blew a flying kiss to Anushka after achieving a milestone. And if the reports are to be believed, the couple was in a live-in relationship before tying the knot.
John Abraham and Bipasha Basu
Bipasha and John were one of the few couples of the industry who went on record to accept that they were in a live-in relationship. After being in a live-in relationship for about 9 years, the couple decided to part their ways. Now they are happily married to their respective spouses.
SSR and Ankita
Sushant was in a live-in relationship with his ex-girlfriend Ankita.
While their fans were expecting them to walk down the aisle in 2016, Ankita and Sushant decided to call it quits after six beautiful years of their relationship.
Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao
Kiran Rao once said that she was not sure about marrying Aamir Khan until she moved in with him. That was when she realised that they had so much in common despite having their own ideologies. In an exclusive interview Aamir said, “Kiran had a certain positive effect on me. We lived together for a year and a half before getting married.”
Rajesh Khanna and Anita Advani
Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna was in a live-in relationship with Anita Advani. And it is only after his death in 2012, Anita came out in open about her alleged relationship with Rajesh Khanna and claimed to be in a live-in relationship with him. Anita revealed that Rajesh was not attached to his wife, Dimple Kapadia and their children Twinkle and Rinkie Khanna