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Living Apart Together: Reasons Why This Relationship Is So Popular Among Old Couples

When two people feel attracted to each other, they indulge in activities that bring them closer and give them opportunities to spend more time with each other. For this, many couples get married or start cohabiting. But at some point of time, some couples may feel like ending their relationship due to the increasing differences between them. To avoid such situations, there are some couples who decide to 'live apart to stay together'. Confusing? Read about this in detail.

It was in the year 2006 that ABC News mentioned about a family under the title, 'The New American Family: Living Apart Together', in which a couple lived apart to stay close to each other. The couple named Marvin Frank and Laurie Winter were together for 9 years and have been spending the days quite happily.

They used to go for dinner, barbeque and sailing but they didn't live together. When asked the reason, Winter said, "I have my stuff. He has his stuff." "We can maintain our independence," she added.

According to the National Marriage Project carried out at Rutgers University, New Jersey, these relationships are called 'Living Apart Together' or 'LAT'. This type of relationship is quite popular in the United States.

Jacquelyn J. Benson and Marilyn Coleman of the University of Missouri found reasons that lead to couples 'living apart together'. The reasons were published by the Journal of Marriage and Family. The research was carried out on 25 non-cohabiting couples aged between 60 and above. Some of the reasons are as follows:

1. Relational Goals

The research found out that most of the participants "were not looking for the type of security afforded in marriage." People in LAT wanted to have an intimate companionship and a partner with whom things could be done. They looked for an emotional support.

2. Independent Lives

According to Laurie Winter, "Our relationship is all the same things as a married couple would have, but without being married." She says her relationship with Marvin Frank worked out because both of them valued and maintained their personal independence. After being apart for a few nights they feel their relationship is revitalized and has a new spark.
This shows, older couples want to have their own independence and, therefore, they love staying apart and meet whenever they feel like to kindle their romance.

3. Personal Goals

Different people have different life goals. People love to maintain their individuality, personal habits, roles, and hobbies irrespective of which relationship they are in. A participant of the National Marriage Project told, "I have my own life and my partner has his/hers." The participants were also willing to practice their choices which they did prior to their relationship. They wanted to have their personal space.

4. Age

Old couples, when having issues in their relationship, might feel uneasy to move into a new relationship. The reason for this could be the unwillingness to have relationships with adult kids after remarriage, or the fear of getting into a fight and losing the relationship once again. Therefore, the old couples feel living apart while being committed to their partners can be a good option and this will save their relationship from any further conflicts.

5. Partner Factors

Some participants of the National Marriage Project said that they lived separately because of the differences in choices, habits, preferences, and due to other reasons. One of the participants told, "Small problems become larger problems when you live together." Some of the women said they wanted to protect themselves from inequitable relationships having imbalanced household works and caregiving.

According to male participants, they would love to save their time and utilize it for their own leisure and preferences. So, if they (couple) continued to stay together, they might get annoyed by this behaviour of their partners and this would spoil their relationship.

Speaking about the LAT couples, Ann Pleshette Murphy, the parenting contributor at 'Good Morning America' said, "Their own possessions, financial arrangements, even morning-person versus night-owl differences are stumbling blocks, but when they maintain their own homes, these problems are alleviated."

6. Caregiver Burden

When two persons marry each other or start living together, they care for each other, they respect each other mutually, nurse each other in sickness and invest their time and money for each other when needed.

But people who opted for 'living apart together' relationship had a different intention. For example, they were willing to support each other in sickness and in crisis but only to some extent. As they wanted to have 'a self-preservation strategy to avoid the physical, financial, and sometimes emotional risks associated with being a spousal caregiver.'

One of the participants wanted to utilize her savings for her old-age rather than spending it on nursing for her partner in the upcoming future.

7. Unwillingness To Change

Ann Pleshette Murphy says "this type of relationship worked with couples having personal and financial independence." She further added, "It's great for older couples, established in their lives, who have their own commitments and routines and are loath to change them." Living apart together helps the couple to have a peaceful relationship after going through two or three failed marriages.

From the above reasons, it is obvious that LAT has limited commitment and people into such kind of a relationship have their own satisfaction and happiness. This makes it easy for a person to have and maintain a romantic relationship despite having failed marriages and relationships.

Story first published: Monday, August 5, 2019, 17:20 [IST]
Read more about: couples relationships marriage love