SELF HELP RESOURCE - Relationships / Couples


The aim of this article is to shed some light on the issues related to cohabitation or living in. It is aimed at enabling those who wish to live-in to make an informed choice. 

Living in or cohabitating means two people are staying together out of mutual consent with no legal bond. A person is free to walk out of the relationship as and when they feels like it is no longer working out for them- there are no court cases or alimony, and no one is questionable or accountable to the other. 

Till recently this concept was not common in our society, it was seen as immoral and degrading - not something people from good families did. The societal pressures and norms exacted a great deal of influence on people's lives and prevented such behaviour. 

Today, times are changing, the emphasis is on practicality. If the arrangement suits you, it is assumed that it is okay to go ahead. Popular role models like Kamal Hasan, Sushmita Sen, Vikram Bhatt have done it, and this enhances the acceptance levels of such a choice among the younger generations. 

A recent ruling by the Allahabad High Court stated that it is legal for a man and woman to live together without marriage. Reactions have come from many fronts and one can see the amount of acceptance this choice has. 

  People choose to live in together because of a variety of reasons: 

•Sometimes they do so out of convenience and economic viability, the fact that it is cheaper for two to live, travel, shop etc. They may also want to maximize the time they spend together. 

•Some couples are committed to getting married, but want to first see if they are compatible by practicing marriage. They see it as a trial period and believe it increases the chance for marriage. 

•Another reason why people choose to cohabit is when they view marriage as repressive and irrelevant. They fear or disbelieve in long-term commitments. For them cohabitating avoids the emotional effects of a divorce and the legal entanglements, it is easier to avoid the pain. 

•Times are changing and some people might want to conform to social pressure and some feel it is the 'in' thing to do.  

Sometimes people are intimately involved and feel any way it’s going to lead to marriage. They see it as a personal choice that is not hurting anyone. 

There can be various drawbacks of live-in relationships: 

It has been found that the majority of couples who cohabit break up. Very few end up in long-term relations or marriages. Also once married, chances of a divorce after living together are more than 50% - much higher than for couples that have not lived together prior to marriage. 

It has been seen that 'live in' relationships are more stressful and extra marital affairs are more common in both men and women who have cohabitated prior to marriage than those who have not. These relations have been seen to be more prone to violence, almost a double rate of assault than those for married couples. 

The relationship can be biased with women making greater financial contributions and also undertaking greater responsibility to maintain the households and the relation. 

Psychologists explain these findings with the fact that the majority of people cohabitating are testing each other for compatibility. As long as both people are happy they stay together or else they move out. Couples that live together before marriage get into the habit of following this agreement. They often decide to marry because the arrangement has worked out well. After marriage they feel they have passed the test and any further accommodation should be unnecessary. Due to less commitment levels the staying together is more stressful. The ambivalence about commitment leads to more conflicts. Break-ups from such relationships are equally traumatic because the emotional involvement was as great as a marriage. On the whole it appears that live in relationships appear to be more similar to dating relationships than to marriage. 

On the other hand couples who have not lived together before marriage begin their relationship assuming that they are in this thing for life. They make a deliberate effort to accommodate each other, they are trying to build compatibility, not test it. Marriage creates a commitment which provides an environment of security, trust, and stability for each partner and one in which they can nurture their children. Marriage is much more than a love partnership. It is a public event that involves legal and societal responsibilities. It brings together not just two people but also two families and two communities. It is not just for the here and now; the act of formal marriage implies an emphasis on the future. 

Still the choice of living in together is something that is growing considerably as an alternative to marriage. In parts of Norway nearly 70% of all couples under 35 years of age are cohabitants. In Sweden 30% of all couples sharing a house are unmarried. Today in England, 70% of single women choose to live with their partners before marriage. In Australia and the U.S. it is estimated that almost 60% of the couples live together before marriage. 

In India too in time it may become an accepted norm. It can be wonderful but it is important to look to what is to be done if it does not work out.  

Do keep the following things in mind and discuss and think through each one before you choose to have a live-in-relationship: 

•Remember that relationships take time and work to develop and maintain. Relationships are built upon knowing and enjoying each other on social, recreational, spiritual, intellectual, communicative as well as the sexual level. 

•You might often face parental and societal disapproval. You can think of ways to cope up with that. 

•Do plan about the future of the relationship. 

•See that role distribution and financial responsibilities are equally distributed. 

•Think and talk about ownership rights if you make major purchases together. 

Finally remember it is a personal decision so see how you're feeling about the rightness for you. If you're feeling ambivalent, then there may be some issues within the relationship that you need to deal with. Think through before you make the final move in. 


If you would like to discuss this further or need some help or support in this or any other area, our counsellors would be happy to help. 
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Latest Comments

370698 on 28 Feb 2017, 18:51 PM

Nice article... Sounds like a subset of John Gray's book.

vijaykumarkanugula on 08 Feb 2017, 08:21 AM

good piece of information.... men and women's role in life after marriage is rightly explained.... fantastic...

ManishaKulkarni on 06 Feb 2017, 16:48 PM

Good article... Mention of "Active listening skills" for men is really appreciated...!!!!

irah7791 on 25 Jan 2017, 14:26 PM

yeah...Very simple yet quite revealing as to why Men and Women behave the way they do. It's all in the genes then !! Nice piece of information everyone needs to know.

rrajprabhu on 18 Jan 2017, 16:16 PM

Good one @arifa: You can try this book I find it quite interesting: Men from mars women from Venus

Gouriksdad on 18 Jan 2017, 09:36 AM

Nice one. Wish it could have some conversations and analysis done from each Man and wife side. It is crystal clear that ladies want to share but muddy when they are asking for solution. And how can a Husband differentiate? "Sure it is" "I understand" "I feel it too" "don't worry" are magic words but always are not effective when your lady is "repeating" which is often! Saying "Hmm" "yeah Ok" or any other verbal cues aggravates the matter to an extent that you two don't even feel connected!!!

arifa on 27 Jul 2016, 12:59 PM

same is the situation with me but I m not getting how to cope-up with the situation still, he will always b silent and I cnt handle silence which makes me feel alone even in his presence... can anyone suggest me how to come out of this

karthikkr on 23 Dec 2015, 21:44 PM

really awesome...thank you

ybc123 on 22 Dec 2015, 13:40 PM

Thank you for sharing good knowledge

rakeshrai84 on 06 Nov 2015, 09:20 AM

good article.