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The secrets of live-in relationships!

Merril Diniz | March 30, 2005

New research at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, claims married men and women derive satisfaction from their spouse's happiness unlike those people who live together without marriage.

RelationshipsNick Powdthavee, who carried out the study, looked into the lives of 9,704 married individuals and found a married person is significantly happier in life if his/ her partner is leading a cheerful life.

He found no sign of such an effect on couples who are cohabiting.

The research reveals the institution of marriage induces the habit of sharing among spouses who not only share their material belongings; they also try to be part of every aspect of each other's life through smooth and rough times.

The findings of the research that examined the level of satisfaction among married people in the British Household Panel Survey (1996-2000 and 2002) show there is a positive and significant effect of the spouse's life satisfaction on the individual's own life satisfaction.

The research also took into account people enjoying live-in relations. Surprisingly, there was no trace of such satisfaction here.

The concept of risk sharing between individuals in a non-marital relationship was found to be almost negligible.

In India, live-in couples are still comparatively rare even in the metros.

"The level of commitment in a live-in relationship tends to be less (though there may be exceptions)," says Samindara Sawant, clinical psychologist, Disha Counselling Clinic, Mumbai, "because when you are married, your family is also involved. Besides this, those who live-in also often prefer not to have children. It is also easier to dissolve a live-in relationship than a marriage because of the [lack of] legal implications."

According to Sawant, the trend of live-in relationships has not really caught on in India, especially in the middle and upper middle classes, where marriage is still very much the norm.

But live-in relationships do occur among the upper class as an alternative lifestyle.

Are you planning to move in with your partner?

Make sure you weigh the pros and cons before taking such a step.

Psychiatrist and therapist Dr Nirmala Rao has some earnest advice to offer young couples who are contemplating such a move.

i. First and foremost, both partners must be committed to the relationship; they should not view it as a matter of convenience.

ii. The couple must be emotionally mature and geared to deal with opposition from family, colleagues, neighbours, etc. Somewhere along the line, opposition from some party or the another is inevitable.

iii. It is very important for both partners to respect each other's space within the relationship and not take each other for granted.

iv. Nurturing an understanding attitude is a must for both partners to have a fruitful partnership.

v. It is very tempting for partners to start making demands on each other. Keep a check on this.  

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

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