Is live-in-relationship accepted in our society?

Difference between live-in-relationship and marriage

Let’s begin with understanding the concept of live-in-relationship and marriage institution:

Live-in-relationship is a living arrangement, in which an unmarried couple lives together, in a long term relationship that resembles a marriage. Couples prefer to cohabit rather than marry for many reasons. They may like to test their compatibility before they commit to a legal union. This often involves a romantic or sexually intimate relationship on a long term or permanent basis.

Whereas, “Marriage” is a formal social union and a legal contract between two individuals. It unites their lives legally, economically and emotionally. Marriage gives legitimacy to sexual relations within the relationship. Married couples are able to give a safe and happy environment for children. Though, in the case of incompatibility divorce is also a resort.


Present status of marriage

According to me, the institution of marriage, based on patriarchal thought, provides a dismal picture. Instead of man-woman partnership, it is based on authority and control by man over woman. Most of the women are subjugated and have to carry the burden of domestic chores, care-work, etc. Generally, homes do not follow  democratic norms. Due to this women at home have to compromise most of the time.

Even, parenting of children in such marriages and families is, quite often, based on discrimination between sons and daughters. Thus, there is an urgent need to democratize the institution of marriage and to base it on the dignity of all being considered human beings. Domestic work and caregiving should be gender-neutral.


Females are finding their voice

The present status of females has also led to preference to live-in-relationship. Education for females has been playing a pivotal role in their lives. It has been a catalyst for their emancipation on many fronts of life. Females have their own identity, and they can stand on their own without the dependency of male partners. They are now courageous enough to change the social norms. They want to lead a life as full persons. Motherhood is glorious, but females now do not define themselves solely by motherhood. Sacrifice is not a virtue to be pursued by females alone.


Gender norms are changing

Marriage is, now, not considered an achievement by many females. Usually, girls are conditioned to aspire marriage. They grow up to be a woman preoccupied with marriage. Our society values a woman’s marital status and maternal roles more than anything else.

The scenario is changing now. Females crave for their happiness and desire to be creative and not be dependent on males. Males are not the providers. Relationships should be based on an equal footing to be equally happy for both the partners.


Legal status of live-in-relationship

There are no specific personal laws governing these relationships. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court is trying to bring a change and is trying to widen the legal prospect relevant to this concept of live-in-relationship.

  • Scope of maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is applicable to this relationship, too.
  • Children of the couple of live-in-relationship are declared to be legitimate and have a right even to the ancestral property. However, the laws do not allow the couple living together to adopt a child.
  • In India, the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 includes within its purview the live-in-relationship under which a woman having a “relationship in the nature of marriage” can go to court if abused.
  • Denial of hotel rooms to the unmarried couples is treated a violation of their fundamental rights.
  • The Supreme Court has even decriminalized homosexual cohabitation (377 and 497 IPC). Indian laws have also evolved on many fundamental issues within the society.

Indeed a big step forward, though some feminists, in the present period, are apprehensive that female partner of live-in-relationship will have to face sexual exploitation. Changes can be seen, few people are accepting the culture of live-in-relationship, while a majority still find it indecent.

I believe that the way forward to all this should be – Democratization of marriages as well as acceptance of the practice of live-in-relationships. Both marriage and live-in-relationship can co-exist in the society. People should have absolute freedom to choose between the two without any undue pressure from the “society”.


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