This Is My Family: “I Chose a Live‑In Relationship”
In This Is My Family, we explore alternative family structures and the institution of marriage in India.
I’m 28, my partner’s 30, and we’re both journalists who lived in different cities before we decided to live-in. We made this decision not because we don’t believe in the idea of marriage, but because we thought this move would only help us and our relationship on many levels.
Before we moved in together, I worked the day shift as a reporter, while he was an editor working through most of the night. We’d met through work and when we got to know each other’s names, we realized we belonged to different faiths but that didn’t stop us from talking or getting to know each other more.
We agreed to be in a relationship knowing our families would never approve of it, but it was time we took our own decisions.
For a year, we met once a month over weekends, but realized that that wasn’t enough and it wouldn’t have led to anything more. He started looking for jobs in my city and I did the same. Ultimately, I was getting better offers and we made the decision: I was going to be moving and we’d live together.
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The decision was a result of many thoughts—we really wanted to give us a shot and for me, living with him was to see if we could blend our cultures together and co-exist peacefully.
‘The talk’ at home wasn’t easy. There were so many layers to this problem: a) It was an inter-faith relationship, b) My parents thought I was sacrificing a lot by moving, c) How could I even have thought of living with someone without being married to him?
There was a lot to fight about, every day. And I wasn’t doing it alone. He lived alone and away from his parents for work but ultimately, he had to also fight to let someone else stay with him without being married to them. We were so tired of spending money on resorts and hotels and seeing each other more was becoming increasingly important.
One day, I booked my tickets and told my parents that I had to leave since I had confirmed my job offer. They had no option but to say yes, and I did feel bad that I was making them feel so helpless.
Against both our parents’ consent, we’ve been living together for the past two years and honestly, it’s been great but it’s had its ups and downs. We’ve realized we’re perfectly capable of running a house, we’re not good at finances but we’re making a slow progress there. It’s been a lovely experience to celebrate different festivals, having friends over.
Our parents visit us but they don’t stay with us just because we’re not married. They know we’re happy but they can’t accept the fact that not only are we living-in but it’s because of having lived-in that they can’t deny our relationship or our desire to get married.
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For us, living-in has been a bag full of mixed feelings, but overall, very positive. There are times when we argue and are left with no personal space to let off some steam but it has also given us the chance to show affection to each other. There are times when we need to remind ourselves to respect each other’s privacy, time and space. It is exhausting, there’s a lot of pressure, economic challenges but it’s fulfilling. It was important for us to see all of this before deciding to get married. The experience has only reinforced my faith in us and I’m sure he feels the same way.
Her mother on her decision to live-in
When she first told me about it, I was definitely very upset. I still am. Both, about her dating someone from another faith but mostly because of her living-in with him.
While I’m proud that she’s independent and has been capable of taking her own decision, it upsets me because it’s too much for me to handle. I know my daughter’s happy but I don’t know if I’m fully happy and supportive of her decision.
Our relatives don’t say anything but I always feel like I’m being scrutinized by them. When I go visit her, I want to live with her but it doesn’t feel right. The thought of her living with a boy who she’s not married to makes me uncomfortable and very uneasy because there’s always one lingering question—what if they don’t end up getting married?
I’m worried that our younger daughter will get influenced by what her sister’s done but I try to be neutral about it. Logically and practically speaking, this is the way to go—to see if two people from different faiths can get along under one roof and then decide to take the next step but my heart and mind don’t agree. Will marriage solve the problem? Maybe. But getting there and getting both families to agree is another journey we’re not ready for right now.
These interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity. As told to Anubhuti Matta.