A growing number of Americans are embracing a marriage trend called “living apart together” (LAT) where spouses live in separate households but stay in a relationship with each other.
Couples choose this arrangement for a variety of reasons, but the New York Times claimed the trend was primarily driven by women seeking independence and personal space to have time for their own interests and self-fulfillment.
“The pandemic may have played a role in the increase, because gender disparities in marriage became more pronounced, especially for mothers,” the paper argued.
Nearly four million married Americans live alone, according to data from the Census Bureau. That number does not include couples does include married individuals who are forced to live apart due to being in the military. However, Americans seeking this arrangement have skyrocketed by more than 25% between 2000 and 2019, according to the same data.
“I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a farmer. I don’t know where I fit,” Connie Ordway, who’s been married to her husband Jeff for 18 years recalled before she got her own place.
The paper said Ordway hailed the arrangement as helping her “remember who I am by myself, remember what I like doing by myself. And that was a lovely gift.”
Other media outlets suggested LAT could be a healthy way for some married couples to live.
Brides Magazine praised the idea as “more romantic” than living together and “the secret to a long and happy (and healthy) marriage” for some couples. The Guardian columnist Emma Brockes suggested the situation could be a “win-win” for both spouses.
The acceptance of nontraditional and same-sex relationships also makes this unusual model “more socially acceptable,” according to the New York Times.
“For Ev’Yan Whitney, 35, and Jonathan Mead, 37, a queer couple, living apart helped challenge heteronormative scripts,” their report stated.
“It made caring for myself, and really putting my own pleasure and my needs first so much easier,” Mx. Whitney told the paper.
Another couple told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that doing everything together while married made them crave independence.
For eight months Sana and Adnan Akhand lived apart, after Sana admitted she missed the autonomy of single life but still wanted to stay married. Living apart gave them “the best of both worlds,” ABC said.
Two of the couples in these reports ended up moving back in together for various reasons.
Focus on the Family’s Vice President on Marriage issues Greg Smalley said he has seen some couples benefit from living apart; however, he had doubts it is a viable arrangement for most couples in the long-term.
Smalley saw the heart of the matter as understanding the underlying reason why one partner wants to live alone.
It seemed the motivating factor behind these arrangements was one person not feeling “well cared for,” which he called a “sad” reality.
Smalley stressed how important it was for each person to be able to take care of themselves in a marriage, or resentment can build.
“If I’m always exhausted and empty and worn out,” Smalley explained, then “anytime my wife needs something from me, it could feel like a threat and I begin to resent her and will push away and create distance from her,” he explained in a conversation with Fox News Digital. Smalley emphasized the importance of individuals filling their own cups so they can give to their spouses and families.
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