I admit, though I probably shouldn’t, to spending one too many night lurking through YouTube. Sometimes for natural hair tutorials, style, philosophy or religious wisdom but other times for old classics that I once watched as a kid and younger adult. Recently I found a slew of old recorded Tyra talk shows. The last I watched was a show where Tyra had on guests that would explain their couple issues to a panel of judges and have the chance to outsource the ancient game of ‘Who’s right?’ to strangers. A cute concept certainly promised a few laughs and maybe a few lessons for my not yet married self. Couples argued about taking their toddler on vacation, how much money to spend on the baby, husbands feeling neglected, wives feeling overwhelmed, typical stuff and overall kept its promise of being some relatively innocent entertain.
There were three couples in all but only one of which I found myself not having any real opinion on their issues, they weren’t married. Live-in couples have always perplexed me. Of course as a Muslim it’s deemed morally irresponsible (wrong, in plain terms) but it also strikes me as plain odd. A few questions run through my mind: how do you trust someone enough to live with them but not marry them? Are they afraid of the commitment marriage holds? What do they deem as the difference between marriage and living with someone? And are there rules to this strange union?
A lot of millennials –if Internet comments are to be believed, no longer believe in the institution of marriage, we’re all getting married older, marking the union lower on our list of priorities and generally approaching the union with skepticism. For those with strong religious faith having a relationship outside of marriage is inapplicable so even if we choose to wait we will ultimately get married. For those who choose not to adhere so closely to the rules or don’t follow them at all alternative relationships like dating, boyfriend-girlfriend, partner, and live in partner may seem appealing. Many think in doing so they’re avoiding the mess of marriage and of course escaping the fear of divorce, the issue (among several) is that unlike marriage there aren’t clear-cut rules for these alternative arrangements.
The woman on the Tyra show complained her ‘man’ would sometimes come home at 3am his response –and of some of the other men, was that they weren’t married. He paid all the bills in the house and some on the show suggested she should help pay the rent. If they were married I’d easily think “well the man paying all the bills is a normal arrangement, sure some couples split the bills, but it’s not an oddity for the husband to be the breadwinner in fact that’s what a traditional American marriage looks like” and if they were just roommates I’d also have a clear reaction “Have her pay half the bills or get a new roommate you’re clearly being taken advantage of”. But they have a kind of weird in between relationship. It’d be apparent that staying out until the morning partying when you’re married is wrong –that’s not what married men are expected to do, but they’re not married. When people decide to get in to “alternative relationships” avoiding the long-standing union and traditions of marriage they don’t make life easier for themselves they make it harder. The investment of both parties remains unclear and so do the rules of the relationship.