Posted: 23 July 2009 at 11:21pm
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Sneha - you got it partly right.
I honestly do not think any form of relationship live-in or marriage can be more free or secure than the other. In fact there is really no such thing as a truly 'free' relationship. When you care for someone in any way - there is automatically an understood sense of obligation and commitment. However, the level of trust, freedom, security and emotional aspects completely depends on the two people involved in the relationship - it has nothing to do with how the relationship maybe socially or technically defined.
When I say unconditional and free, it means that you love someone for what they are. You let them be free to be themselves and not mold them to be what you vision them to be. It is not as much about the relationship, as much as it is about the other person.
Some human beings cannot wait to fall in love. They desire that deep level of attachment and commitment. Having someone to be in love with and take that relationship to the next level completes them. Many others on the other hand are terrified of the feeling. The ability of another human being to have so much control on your life emotionally and socially is terrifying. There is a sense of vulnerability. It is a rite of passage accepting that vulnerability as one's greatest strength - some people take longer than others.
For some people marriage is of utmost importance emotionally and socially. They are unwilling to linger around and engage in something that does not have the sense of sanctity and integrity that marriage has. It is fair enough. Personally, I think unwillingness to marry for whatsoever reason does not make a person love any less. If I felt that the person is honest and genuine, I do not care what sort of relationship it is.
(Note: Some people do stick around in live-in or dating arrangements -
hoping that the person will change their mind. Sometimes this is worth
it, people do change. However, if you want to get married - you have to
be prepared that at some point you have to realize that you have to
move on - because the person is taking too long, perhaps will not
change and your life is slipping away.)
There is no extra sense of 'security' or 'freedom' in a live-in in a real sense. In my opinion a live-in or marriage is equally likely to succeed or fail depending on the person. It is equally possible to feel constricted or free in either, and it depends completely on the person. For me keeping someone free is is trying to limit the sense of constriction, no matter what sort of relationship.
However, for me I really do not care much about live-in or marriage. The most important aspect for me is who is the other person involved. However, I tend to think that live-in might be better.
Marriage for me is the most beautiful union between two people, a culmination of mind, body and soul. It is a covenant between two people and whatever they may believe in. When two people tell each other that they found the one and want to spend the rest of their lives with each other, through every bit of life's up and down - that is a marriage.
Marriage is not what the state or church or society says what it should be. Marriage is not a ritual or a contract or a covenant with society. It is not a license for sex, it is not a passport to a country, it is not a ticket to wealth, it is not a ladder up in society, it is not a tax break, it is not a series of benefits. And this is exactly why I vehemently and strongly dislike 'marriage' for what it has been reduced to in our society. 'Marriage' as it conventionally stands in society today is nothing but a ritual or a legal arrangement.
I'd rather not blindly follow and conform to this social and legal obligation that demeans what relationships really ought to be. If two people make that commitment as a described above with each other, and genuinely mean it -thats a marriage. Whether they choose to just live together or actually have an elaborate ritual or a quite legal signing is irrelevant.
Anyway, drifting on to another aspect.
There are various reasons why people choose live-in. One is the no strings attached casual relationship. This may or may not become something serious and longterm. While, I personally would not be able to live in one, if people want it - then go for it. You just have to be prepared for the worst though.
Sometimes it is to get to know each other. In todays world with busy schedules, living across town - people never have the time and ability to really date and get acquainted. That is why they jump the gun and live together. Its a risky move, but for some people it is a necesscary last ditch effort when they have no time to meet people in their hectic lives. Its either live-in or never meet anyone and be single - or let your parents hook you up (a convenience Asian families have)
Another is the trial-run. They really do like a person. They think they want to be with them forever. But they need to try it out to know for sure. This aspect receives a lot of flak. It is defended as testing a car and gets flak that humans are not cars.
However, this is a very practical aspect to a long term relationship. Sometimes the important thing when choosing someone to be with for the rest of your life, it is not about meeting the one whom you cannot live without - it is about meeting the one you can actually live with.
Dating someone, spending time with them for short periods. Dinner movies, talking etc may help you know a person. You may get used to them that you get anxious when they are not around. That does not mean you can actually live the rest of your life with them.
You often hear of best friends in school or college, becoming roommates and then actually absolutely hating each other. Many people pass on the advice 'your roommate may become your best friend, but don't make your best friend your roommate'. People often remain baffled at how hard they had it to get along. They say we had all the same interests, we slept over all the time in highschool, we went camping together - how could it end up being so bad.
The thing is in the courtship process people put on their best 'front'. It is even a more conscious than in friendship because you want the person to like you in a special way. They portray qualities they deem will impress and woo people, while hiding their weaknesses or irksome qualities. However, when you spend a good part of their day with someone, you drop your guard, get comfortable and show your true personalities.
Some people may tolerate bad habits like messiness, smoking in the house, playing TV too loudly, staying up too late, waking up to early, poor taste in furniture and decorating etc - after all when you love someone a silly thing like snoring is not something that should end a good relationship. But these things can add up and be frustrating.
Pets and family can be other dealbreakers. As a dog owner, the most terrifying thought is having someone say - your dog is loud, annoying, expensive and always growls at me - get rid of it. I have no qualms in saying, I would dump the human that very instant. But if someone has pets, kids or family that lives with or elderly/dsiabled relatives they take care of - the last thing you want is to get married and find out that your spouse has a problem with the ones you live with.
Finally the most important factor is finding out aspects of personality that just cross the border and you simply cannot live with. Aspects like bigotry, racism, misogyny are thing most people cannot live with. There could be other personality and incompatbility issues. You could discover that you are not as compatible as you thought you were.
In the old fashioned arranged marriage system, people were expected to adjust with all the difficulties and make it work. Of course many people stil believe in that principle. However, when you marry out of love, its better not to be naive and unrealistic about it. Sometimes no matter how uncondtional and free you try to be there are limitations on love. It is best to get these sorted out before marriage than after, because it will hurt way more later or lead to an unhappy life. Of course there are no guarantees in life. Sometimes faith counts and those who dare to make that leap of faith without a trial, good for them.
Even if you are not up for live-in, I highly reccomend people to take a long roadtrip/backpacking trip and share rooms while traveling. Long road trips or backpacking trips really make you aware if you can live with the person. Unfortunately, most Indian parents will die of shock at this suggestion.