Marriage Lite: living apart together

A new trend among boomers is married people living separately.

Cassandra Sundaram

My parents will be “LAT-ing” (living apart together, as the trend is known) for the next 6 months, though not by choice (my dad is doing a temporary fellowship at a hospital in Madison). When my parents cracked jokes about the hip, new relationship trend their fellow baby-boomers are trying out, it got me thinking about this new commitment to uncommit.

With a divorce rate of 50 percent in the U.S. and climbing, it seems as though desperate times are calling for desperate measures. Even so, I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks this trend is odd. I can understand the benefit it may hold for couples who want to take divorce for a test drive or for the sake of their kids. But if you don’t want to get divorced, and you’re empty nesters, what’s the draw? It boggles my mind, but for whatever reason, our parents are saddling up and getting on board the LAT train.

A New York Times article first published in 2006, interviewed author Gail Sheehy, who offered an explanation for this relationship-limbo phenomenon happening in older couples: “As you age, you have more commitments and possessions in your life that you are attached to that the other person may not want to share.”

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m one of those people who still thinks marriage is a big deal. It’s a daunting decision to be with someone for the rest of your life and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly — but it’s a decision and sacrifice that can be rewarding as well. If you’re not going to take marriage seriously, don’t get married. No one will think less of you, especially in the environment we’re growing up in with healthy, committed relationships of all shapes, types and sexual orientations popping up all over the place.

Marriage is about sharing, and the idea that our parents are just now becoming unwilling to share all aspects of their lives with each other makes me wonder what they valued about marriage in the first place and what kinds of values we can expect to inherit from them as we develop serious relationships.

 

Cassandra Sundaram welcomes comments at [email protected]