Living together is no cakewalk but is certainly an introduction to a whole new kind of life. From parents to college roommates to then a live-in relationship, your habits and lifestyle have to change accordingly. With compromise, understanding and lots of love, living together can work out wonderfully.
At 24 years of age, my girlfriend and I decided to live together. She was from Eastern Europe and I, from Dadar, Mumbai. We met in London where we were both studying. After knowing each other for about three years, we started dating. By the end of our fourth and final year, we decided that we will move to the USA to get a job in a hotel and live together.
We took this decision because we wanted to be sure that we could live together and marry each other in the future. We loved each other, but for a marriage to work only love does not suffice, especially when your spouse is from a completely different cultural background. So, I was sure living with my partner would make both of us more comfortable with each other.
Living Together With My Partner
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While all my close friends were aware of my decision to live in with her, I could not gather the courage to tell my parents and family, so I kept them in the dark. We stayed together for one year in Tulsa, USA. While we discussed our future together and got more serious, my parents were busy getting me signed up on matrimonial sites.
I felt that my family will never understand my relationship with her because my parents, in particular, are very traditional. Being in a live-in relationship with a foreigner would go down well with them, let alone be accepted.
The first six months of living together were awesome
The first six months of living together in the same house were great. Our relationship had everything that a newly married couple would have. It felt like new relationship anxiety was kicking in but in a good way. We were both away from our families and there was never any societal pressure. We could do anything that we wanted and be anyone we wanted to be.
The relationship only had the two of us in it and no one else. Making our own rules was the best part. On some days, it felt like we were in a happy movie. But we were both on work visas which were going to expire soon. While we had many contingent plans, none of us had the courage to actually act upon them. I would have to go back to India and one of us would have to shift countries for the other.
Related Reading: 10 things couples in live-in relationships will relate to
Will she ever be able to accept my parents?
As soon as I visualized her in Mumbai, I realized that she will not be able to fit into the family. Living together is one thing but living in a joint Indian family is another. I live in a joint family and everyone thinks as ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. For her, it was too difficult as she was extremely individualistic and independent.
Whenever my parents would call me, she would ask me to start distancing myself from them. This was already making things complicated. Would I have to choose between the people who raised me and the woman I love? Did she want me and not my parents? I wanted to marry her but I also wished she could be accepting of my conservative family.
Baby, I want new white shoes!
We had an office party one evening. She wanted to wear a white gown, and in the morning, she realized she did not have white shoes to match it. For the record, she had so many pairs of shoes that she could easily start her own store.
But for a party that would last for just about two hours, she wanted me to buy her brand new expensive white shoes to go with her dress. I asked, “Why don’t you pick another dress?”
“What?!” she yelled and I knew that this conversation needed to be ended right away. So, I gave in. This really got me thinking about marriage and money problems that we could have in the future.
In this case, living together was costing me financially and taking a toll on my energy too. Giving in to these whims was never part of the plan. But what can you do? When you love someone, you have to accept them wholeheartedly even if it agitates you sometimes. I wondered, if we got married, all my savings would be lost on shoes that she would probably only wear once and then toss away.
Related Reading: Challenges of being in a live-in relationship in India
You can’t have junk because I am on a diet
That’s right! She decided to lose weight and hence wanted to go on a diet. The supportive boyfriend I was, I said good for her! I wanted to be there for her through everything she put her mind to. However, I did not know that this habit would somehow seep into my lifestyle too.
I was not in the mood to lose any weight, nor was it needed. She would not allow me to eat my favorite things like ice-cream, pizza and cheese just because she was on a diet and she would get tempted to eat it if I did. She tossed it all out of the fridge. I wondered if we got married will I ever be able to do what I wanted?
As the date of our visa expiry started approaching, I started to think if we were really meant to be with each other. Her habits, her dominating nature and her self-centered attitude were too much to deal with, especially when I knew that I’d be always be living in a joint family.
Living together with her gave me a preview of what my life would be – a man sandwiched between family and wife. So I took a decision to move on. Living together was a hell of an experience but marrying her would not have been practical. Marriage is a much more serious affair. While we did love each other, we were not ready for the next step as a couple.
I am sure, however, that not all live-in relationships have to end as mine did. A lot of times living together shows couples a prelude to what marriage can be like. It excites some and scares others. Either way, the practice is helpful in understanding where you stand and individually what you require in life.
(As told to Ajinkya Sontakke)
Living Together – Pros And Cons
|Unlimited freedom: Yes, this is the best part. You can design your life and your routine in a way that suits you and your partner.
|Adjusting to a new lifestyle: While you are certainly free to do what you want, living together still does bring the merger of two different people and lifestyles. This will call for good organization skills and understanding.
|Introduction to adulthood: Let us be honest. Adulthood only really begins when you move out of your parents house and start paying your own bills. Living together can help you work out finances and learn a lot about keeping a house intact.
|Making compromises: Living together as a couple is all about making compromises. Your partner may not like your choice of wall hangings or even the type of milk you drink. You will have to consider changing some things and so will they.
|Understanding your partner more closely: A live-in relationship teaches you a lot of things about your partner that you may have never learned otherwise. From their quirks to habits, everything becomes visible to you now.
|Societal pressure: Live-in relationships are becoming accepted but are still not a norm. Not everyone is okay with the idea of it and many may still raise their eyebrows at you. Get ready for all the unnecessary societal judgment coming your way.