A trend today, especially amongst youngsters is to opt for live in relationships. It might be as a substitute for marriage or as a step towards marriage. It has lost its shock value and has been legally recognized in many countries. There are still some puritans who are crying hoarse over this degeneration of value system and proclaiming the strength of marriage as the only right way of cohabiting.
A lot of couples who are seeing each other opt to live together with no expectations regarding marriage. But most couples agree to live in hoping to base their decision about whether or not to get married on the outcome of the live in relationship. It serves as a litmus test of their mutual compatibility quotient.
There are others who get into it for convenience: they are as it is spending most of their time in each others house. Some couples who have decided to get married live in for the engagement period either for economic reasons or to know each other better. Some get into it because they are commitment phobic and this is the closest they will get to being married. Often people who have gone through a troubled relationship or a traumatic divorce opt to live in the second time around.
Live in relationships have their own advantages as compared to marriage:
1. Economics: Most of the expenses get shared and yet each can maintain their own separate account and own money. One is not accountable for how and where they spend the money as is the case with marriage.
2. No Divorce or Legal Issues: it is easier to break away from the relationship without any legal, financial or emotional hassles.
3. Know the Other Person Better: Dating is all about putting your best foot forward. Living together enables you to know the real person that your partner is.
4. Companionship: It gives you the benefit of companionship without catering to the expectations, commitments and obligations attached to a marriage.
The downside is however that as people start living together, the expectations start cropping up, if not for both then often for one of the partners. These expectations are not very different from those of married couples. A difference in the level of expectations of each partner can cause a rift in the relationship.
Most of the people going in for a live-in relationship are those who are afraid of committing and who do not want the responsibilities that come with being committed. They want the security of a relationship as well as the freedom and independence that comes with being single. Expectations thus defy the very basis of live in relationships.
Ultimately the complaints and expectations in both relationships become the same. The difference, however, lies in their solution. In a marriage where there is greater level of commitment, children, shared accounts, joint property and so on there are greater consequences attached to breaking up. This forces couples to avoid rash decisions and work harder on saving the relationship.
In a live in relationship however, there are lower tolerance levels, less commitment and an easier way out. To have a relationship that works, one has to work at it. Live in relationships are also not all play, no work. As the couple reaches a certain level of intimacy they start taking the relationship for granted. They start assuming that they are regular partners and stop working on the rough edges leading to end of the relationship which in any case is very straightforward for no strings attached live in couples.
Also, at some point one feels the need for security and commitment. Sooner or later most of us need somebody on whom we can fall back. The security and surety that somebody will always be there for you can come only with commitment and with marriage. Ultimately, a lot of successful live in relationships walk down the aisle further proving that live in relationships can not replace marriage as an institution and are flimsy relationships lacking the emotional fulfillment provided by marriage.
Every relationship is meeting of two individuals who have to love each other, accept each other and learn to live happily with each other. That requires effort and this effort is the main differentiating factor between live in relationships and marriages.