Thursday, July 25, 2024

Live-in Relationship vs Marriage

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The recent ghastly murder of a woman by her live-in partner in Mumbai points how blatant westernization of Indian society is undermining our societal fabric

Live-in or co-habitation refers to couples whether hetero or homosexual couples living together under one roof without formalizing their alliance through marriage. India is an ancient civilization. It is one of the oldest in human history. As such India is an amalgamation of multiple faiths and cultures. In that context, Indic values take priority.

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Indic values in general and Asian values in particular prioritize living in joint families, respect for elders, parents and obeying their authority. It lays emphasis on caring for others rather than oneself. In contrast, the rise of capitalism in the economic sphere and liberalism in the political sphere in the west in the early 17th century contributed to development of individualism in the societal sphere.

Fast forward to the age of globalization, such individualistic ideas which prioritize self achievement, living in nuclear families, emphasis on privacy and non interference of the family in the internal affairs of individuals has been exported on a far greater scale around the world than was seen earlier.

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This is seen as a societal impact of globalization.

An Alien Concept

The murder in Mumbai preceded by the Aftab Poonawalla scandal highlights how this concept of live in is undermining the secular and strong fabric of Indian culture. Live in as an idea is completely alien to not just the Indic society but across Asia. This phenomenon has seen a meteoric rise as India’s economic prowess increased.

The rapacity of consumerism as a byproduct of globalization and a erosion of traditional family bonding has led to a spurt in such live in relationships.

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This figure shows higher levels of trust and satisfaction among married couples than co-habitation ones. Source- Pew Research center

Striking a Fine Balance

Having a relationship whether hetero or homosexual is as far as in the present Indian context is concerned is permissible and should be too. However, what is of concern here is that live in is not in sync with traditional and even modern Indian values. Live-in is seen as a perverted idea even in the most liberal of Indian and Asian families across the world.

Marriage in India is a sacred institution. In a romanticised notion, it is considered to be a union of not just two individuals but two families and is sacrosanct. However, the idea of live-in is obliterating that.

Privacy is to important for any individual or for that matter a couple to build up or introspect their relationship. However, live-in has perverted the notion of privacy as a luxury rather than a necessity.


Live-in was and will be an uncomfortable idea in the Indian socio-cultural milieu. It is time that across cultures, family bonding in Asia is strengthened so that the youth do not end up suffering alienation to their culture.


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