RESEARCH CENTRE: Older couples prefer to live apart

Friday February 24 2017

Older couples may prove the longevity of

Older couples may prove the longevity of marriage, but we often don’t know what sacrifices they have had to make to divorce-proof their marriages. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOAN THATIAH
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Older couples may prove the longevity of marriage, but we often don’t know what sacrifices they have had to make to divorce-proof their marriages. While it is becoming common to see couples separate or divorce after decades together, may other couples are finding a happy in-between: More of them are opting to Live Apart Together (LAT).

These LAT couples prefer to live apart while still fulfilling their emotional commitments to each other. According to a study whose results were published in the Journal of Family Issues in 2014, at least 1.9 million couples in Canada alone were living in this kind of arrangement. Many of these couples were previously married (to other people) and had likely had children.

In an additional study released early this month by the University of Missouri-Columbia, these couples are motivated by the desire to remain independent, maintain their own homes, sustain existing family boundaries, protect the relationship and remain financially independent. “What has long been understood about the late-in-life relationship is largely based on long-term marriage. However, there are now more divorced and widowed adults who are interested in forging new intimate relationships outside the confines of marriage,” said the study’s co-author, Dr Jacquelyn Benson, an assistant professor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

Interestingly, in the latest findings, couples who stated that they were living apart but still committed to each other found traditional expressions of love and terms such as ‘girlfriend or boyfriend’ that define such relationships awkward to use due to their advanced age. They also tended to view cohabitation as unnecessary.

In conducting this study, the researchers, have been interviewing adults who are at least 60 years old and above. Those interviewed are in committed relationships but live apart.