I have been pondering the best approach to this post for some time when I came across this video on Coach Sandaru Hettiarachchi’s YouTube channel. In her video, she kind of justifies the trend of unwedded couples “Living Together” or “Cohabitation” culturally and sexually, citing how our ancestors used to cohabit before the concept of marriage was introduced. Back then living together without being legally married was less risky because marriage life was much less complicated than now. Maybe it’s because the British foresaw the future that they introduced the law of marriage. I decided to publish this blog post because the problem with living together is much more than a cultural or sexual taboo.
The lack of Legal Protection & Support
When a couple is not legally married the commitment is either less or lacking altogether which increases the risk of desertion. While marriage doesn’t guarantee mutual commitment the risk of desertion is much lesser compared to living together. In a marriage even if the man decides to desert the woman she can file for divorce and receive compensation (alimony and child support). Although in Sri Lanka this is easier said than done, you are not entirely hopeless. If you are living together, on the other hand, you haven’t got any hope at all.
The same is true in the event of your partner’s death. If you are not married it doesn’t matter for how long you have been together you are not considered by the law to be the widow of the deceased. His immediate family is entitled to any property, savings, and any pensions he enjoyed with you while he was alive. I am not a lawyer myself, but these facts are basics you ought to know. If you are a woman especially. With that, I want to move on to the next problem of living together.
Living together and raising Children
This is yet another issue stemming from desertion. If your partner decides to walk away, you will be left to take care of the children on your own. One might say women are strong and there are many single mothers out there courageously taking care of their children. True but I am not talking about financial needs here. I am talking about emotional needs. Did you know that most anti-social individuals are the product of broken homes with single parents? Consider the undermentioned numbers.
According to statistics, 63% of youth suicides, 85% of children that exhibit behaviour disorders,
80% of rapists, 71% of teenage school dropouts, 75% of all youth in drug abuse centres, 70% of juveniles in state institutions, 85% of youths in prison, and 70% of pregnant teens are from single-parented families. Remember, a mother cannot provide the same emotional support as a father and a father cannot provide the same emotional support as a mother. Marriage is not 100% foolproof but it’s less likely to produce broken children in society.
Financial Issues not worth the Trouble
Few cohabiting couples inquire about the financial issues in living together because they have so many other things on their minds that financial issues get pushed to the back seat. Nevertheless, an unwedded couple living together has more financial risks than a wedded couple. We are living in a time where money is the most significant factor in the breakdown of relationships, including marriages. Then how much more is the financial risk you entertain when you are an unwedded couple living together?
Consider the scenario of applying for a bank loan above your individual financial capacity simply because your partner promised to help you pay it back. What if he or she after some time breaks up with you and moves out? You will be left with the financial burden of a lifetime maybe. Furthermore, you will be required to financially assist the unmarried partner with no expectation of recouping the funds. This can happen if your unmarried spouse becomes disabled or develops a persistent illness that makes it difficult to work or run a business.
There are many other problems associated with living together apart from what I have mentioned above. Jessica a character in the “Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare said, “Love is blind” – It’s worrisome that the Sri Lankan youth blindly believe that marriage is outdated and living together, or cohabitation is the normal, acceptable practice. They are failing to see the undesirable consequences of such arrangements. Just because we have done it in the past doesn’t make it right in the present.
If it, was so we can justify one woman being the wife to two or more men because our ancestors practised “එකගෙයි කෑම” (fraternal polyandry). People often justify living together citing it’s an acceptable practice in the developed countries of the first world. However, according to Pew Research in the US, a substantial number of young people still say it’s desirable for society if people get married. Makes you stop and rethink your standing on the issue as a Sri Lankan, isn’t it?
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