Live In Relationships – A Debate

As someone who questions everything all the time, I have watched a lot of videos of many spiritual gurus, read their books, heard them speak and this includes Ramdev, Sri Sri, my namesake from Brahmakumaris and of late, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. It is not an endeavor but my natural disposition to take from these, what resonates with me, rather than to idolize the person himself.

When I came upon this video by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, I was forced to reminiscence about the time when I discussed live-in relationships with my father. This was at a time when marriage was a frequent topic of discussion. However, it was also at a time when teenage hormones were buzzing and the idealistic concept of love was blooming in my heart. My belief was (and is) that a live-in relationship is the purest form of relationship. This was one discussion where I do not remember much about what my father said, perhaps because he feared the ire of my mother, who felt that such thoughts should not be encouraged.

Before I go into why I feel that live-in relationships (and of course I mean relationships between two sexually active partners and in contrast with a marital live-in relationship), watch the video below. I feel I do much more justice to explaining my point of view when in debate or healthy argument, than in a standalone statement.

I am going to take some of the statements made here and give my personal take on those:

Marriage is also a live-in relationship

This one I agree with completely. Yes, marriage is a live-in relationship unless the couple is separated. And so is the relationship of a mother and child when they are staying together as are other relationships like mother-in-law and daughter-in-law when they stay in the same house or two siblings too. All these are live-in relationships. The only thing that differentiates the other relationships from marriage is that in marriage, the government and the legal system are involved!

Why do we involve the society, the legal system and the government in this whole affair? Is there a sibling certificate to establish that two people are siblings? Are we somewhere not saying that we know that a sexual relationship is likely to be difficult to sustain and therefore let’s legalize it before it starts?

Marriage helps in guarding against impulsive behaviors

When two people get married, it is a social affair too. The marriage is not really taking place between two people, but between two families or two extended clans. Therefore, when ugly situations arise in a marital relationship, there are the cousins, parents, siblings and other people who come to the rescue in trying to solve the issue or in other words, put pressure on the husband or wife to ignore the issue and continue the relationship. If a relationship between two people needs to support and convincing power of other people to be sustained, should it really be sustained?

It is also mentioned in the video that when you walk out in a huff after an ugly encounter, there is no coming back. That is so not true! Just as you can rush off to your mother’s house after a bad fight and come back later in a marriage, you can do the same in a live-in relationship. The only difference is that in the latter case, you don’t come back because someone gave you 10 points (some of them really mundane and ‘practical’) why you should stay with the guy or girl. You came back because you realized on your own that you do not want to stop living in with your partner over a spat that you had.

Living in relationships are essentially relationships with no commitment

This is the one thing that really got me to write the post. A live-in relationship is not one without commitments. There is a commitment that has been made and there is an explicit or implicit understanding between two people that they want to live together. This commitment is made without the coercive attempts of family, friends, the legal system or the government. It is based on a personal desire to spend a large part of your time with one person. A live-in relationship is not a one-night stand where you meet someone, have sex and leave the next morning. A live-in relationship is not a relationship with no commitment, it is a relationship with no bondage!

Live-in relationships provide no security

And marriage does? A marriage which is abusive remains intact for many years because there is no easy way of getting out of it. A marriage where there is no love continues because you have no real reason to give your family members about why you want to leave. Even the legal system does not grant a divorce easily if one person files for divorce because there is no love.

So yes, if you want to call marriage a forced security between two people, you may say so. And what security are we assuring? Security that you will not be questioned by society or security that you will have someone to have sex with every night? There can obviously be no security that the system can provide that there will be love.

With this security there is also a huge possibility that it can be taken for granted. A spouse needs to be given the bare essential attention and love that is necessary to not tip the scales. So stay away from issues that can tip the scales and all will be well. For example, these days physical abuse, infidelity, alcoholism and some extreme cases have become acceptable reasons for filing for a divorce. The important thing to note is that this was not the case a few years from now.

Security also is not something that an external entity can provide. Have you not seen men or women who are extremely jealous if their partners even speak to the opposite sex? Are they secure? Insecurity does not stem from the actions of another person. It stems from your own lack of confidence. Someone who has that personality will be insecure even in a contracted marriage with a prenup. And those have the confidence will be secure in ‘anytime walk-out live-in relationships too.

Live-in relationships are calculations about who is bringing in what

Live-in relationships are not calculated relationships where you are calculating what the other person is bringing to the table. In fact, each brings what they can and when you feel that it is not working out for you, you can decide to leave. There is no definition of how a live-in relationship should be.

A marriage, on the other hand, becomes a calculation over time, especially when there is no love or respect. You then start thinking of logical and practical reasons to stay together. You convince yourself that the marriage is in your best interest. You think of the change you will have to go through, the house you will have to keep yourself, the money you will miss and a whole load of other stuff.

Additionally, a marriage is a relationship that is ‘defined’. In every society there are said and unsaid rules about what a husband is ‘supposed’ to do and what a wife is expected to do. A husband should provide for the family. A wife should cook healthy meals. And this is much like almost every other ‘defined’ relation we have. Siblings are supposed to support each other. Parents should have the same behavior towards each of their children. (Really? – do we have to operate within defined boundaries of relationships or can we please be individuals who create real and natural bonds with other people?)

Very much like a friend, a live-in relationship has no or minimal definitions. These definitions, if at all, are created by the two people getting into a relationship. Those boundaries are not defined by other people, society or government. And that is why two people can decide how they want to come together!

PS: The only exception to the rule that I make with regards to this is when two people have a child. Once that decision is made, the pair owes it to the new life to stay together (albeit in a positive environment and not a toxic one). Sometimes the legal system has to be used to force them to do so to ensure that there is enough practical help for the child to grow up. Unfortunately, the legal system cannot enforce the ‘love’ that this new life needs!


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