Why ‘Living Apart Together’ is Revolutionizing the Way Older Couples Structure Their Relationships
With divorce rates of adults over 50 years old skyrocketing in the last 25 years, many newly single divorcees are rethinking marriage and whether it’s the best fit for them. A new trend among older couples seems to be having a positive impact on relationships and long-term emotional health. Many middle-aged adults now focus on forging long-lasting, healthy relationships while simultaneously maintaining separate living spaces. The below article, published by the University of Missouri-Columbia, explains why cohabitation is taking a back seat in many modern relationships.
Since 1990, the divorce rate among adults 50 years and older has doubled. This trend, along with longer life expectancy, has resulted in many adults forming new partnerships later in life. A new phenomenon called ‘Living Apart Together’ (LAT)—an intimate relationship without a shared residence—is gaining popularity as an alternative form of commitment. Researchers at the University of Missouri say that while the trend is well understood in Europe, it is lesser known in the U.S. This means that challenges, such as how LAT partners can engage in family caregiving or decision-making, could affect family needs.
“What has long been understood about late-in-life relationships is largely based on long-term marriage,” said Jacquelyn Benson, assistant professor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “There are now more divorced and widowed adults who are interested in forging new intimate relationships outside the confines of marriage. Recent research demonstrates that there are other ways of establishing long-lasting, high-quality relationships without committing to marriage or living together. However, U.S. society has yet to recognize LAT as a legitimate choice. If more people—young and old, married or not—saw LAT as an option, it might save them from a lot of future heartache.”