Marriage is like a “one and a half way traffic street”. It is not irreversible, so can not be called “one way”, but the other way round, i.e.. getting out of marriage, is only half a way, as you are never able to fully get back to the state where you were before marriage, and this ‘half a way’ is also full of hurdles, complexities, pain and costs, both monetary and emotional.
It is because the stakes are so high, that it is really stupid to jump into such a commitment without first understanding the other person, and your own compatibility with him or her.
On one extreme, there are cultures where matches are arranged by the parents and families; where adults get married to each other for life, sometimes even without having spoken a word to the other, and it is also true that in such cultures, divorces are nearly non-existent. But then, in such cultures, the society is entwined around family, and the individual existence is only a corollary to it. A marriage then, is a marriage between families and not individuals, and come what may, every individual in such societies must ensure that the sacred ties are never given up. That kind of a world does not exist everywhere, and gradually is becoming extinct, as individual freedom takes precedence over any and every other thing, including family.
When two independent individuals are required to get into a relationship with many bonds – legal, social and emotional – to share nearly the whole of their existence, then it makes little sense to take such a step casually. Any intelligent person, while making a commitment even half that important would like to be absolutely certain about the credentials of the other party as well as get an idea as to whether such a partnership would work. Unlike business and professional partnerships, the viability of personal relationships can not be understood without trying it personally. Unless you give yourself a chance to be close to the other person, you will never know what is in store for you. In today’s hectic pace of life, even long term acquaintances mean nothing, as from a distance, the total amount of time you can spent together will only be a very small fraction of what you might have to spent together, once you take the bait.
Thus the only sensible alternative may be to just give it a try before actually committing yourself for the rest of your life. This may have sound atrocious in the days where a great premium was placed on virginity, but in this age, it just about as irrelevant as your surname!
Some people take living-in as an antithesis to the concept of fully. I for one would beg to disagree. Live-in relationships will not hurt the family. It will make it much more stable and meaningful. What we need today, for the sake of children, are stable families. So it is better that all experimentation of founding a life partner takes place in the phase before you actually get married. Live-in relationships may be actually be the panacea for our failing family life.
It is not that the live-in relationships are without any hazards or side effects. Actually, the very perception of the relationship not being permanent may lead to its demise as partners may not feel committed enough to endure it. My take on this is that in such a case, it is better to separate during a temporary trial rather than let all your dreams be trampled by the realization that you have made a big blunder. On the positive side of the story, the temporary nature of a relationship may induce both parties to continue to work for its survival, if they really value it and are ready to sacrifice part of themselves to preserve it. When you get that, you know you are in with someone whom you can trust for life. A live-in relationship lets you know that before you tie the nuptial knot.