More Couples Living Apart But Staying Together

It sounds a bit like an idea Mr. Big would pitch to Carrie, but many couples who get together later in life are drafting their own rules for their relationship and a growing number are living apart and maintaining their financial independence. 

When a relationship evolves between equal partners, especially past the age when children are in the cards, it’s becoming more common for couples to “live apart together”.  The arrangement certainly isn’t for everyone, and maintaining two households is expensive and can create emotional distance if not handled carefully.  But for some people who have very different lifestyles or enjoy their solitude and want time for a career or personal pursuits, living separately can be a balanced solution. 

According to the United States Census Bureau, about 4 million married couples live apart.  In some cases living separately is not a choice; incarceration, work or one of the people living in a nursing home may be the reason for the separation.  But many more couples who have entered into a committed relationship choose to live apart or cohabit only on a part-time basis. 

Partners in a second marriage may also choose to keep separate homes when children, pets, aging parents or demands of work make merging households challenging.  Rather than disrupt so many lives, or put more stress on a relationship, living separately can make sense for some couples.  And today, more women are economically independent and although they enjoy being in a committed relationship, also value their time apart and their sense of self.   

According to a recent article in Psychology Today, more couples of all ages are living apart but studies have found that among older adults, non-cohabitation is a more lasting approach to a successful relationship.   Relationships that offer companionship and intimacy while maintaining autonomy can be a good fit for older adults who have lost a spouse or been through a divorce and prefer to have separate living spaces.  It is important, however, to get legal advice regarding finances and making medical decisions, should the need arise, if the couple is not married.  

Read more about the “couple-ish” trend in France by following this link to a recent study of non-cohabitating partnerships.