On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 12, 2018
Update on Living Apart Together (LAT) relationships
Last year, I received an email that piqued my interest. It was about a March 20, 2017, article posted on www.nextavenue.org, titled, “Older Adults Embrace ‘Living Apart Together,’” by Sheena Rice.
From that article, I learned a new term that described a type of senior romantic relationship: LAT (an acronym for Living Apart Together). I checked Wikipedia’s description of a LAT “…couples who have an intimate relationship but live at separate addresses.”
In Ms. Rice’s article, she included comments from researchers from the University of Missouri. Rice said, “The researchers found that (LAT) couples were motivated by desires to stay independent, maintain their own homes, sustain existing family boundaries and remain financially independent.”
I wrote about LAT relationships in our June 23, 2017, newsletter, which included quotes from four of our Champs. All newsletters are posted to my Finding Love After 50 website.
The week after the newsletter was published, three more Champs commented on LAT relationships. Here are excerpts from their comments:
Kenny, “Just one single-over-50-year-old guy’s opinion: I have ONLY been married “twice.” That would be the “first” time and the “last” time. I feel at this stage of my life, 68, there is almost NO (like 1/10th of 1%) upside to co-habitate or remarry, especially with the multiple legal complications of either the cohabitation or marriage agreement and contract, and that includes even an expensive “can-always-be-challenged” legal prenuptial agreement.
“And NO, I am NOT some bitter cynical divorcee. Really, it’s just 2017, just common sense, and I will never justify ‘living together’ to lessen a few $$$ of living expenses.
“I have seen way too many move-in-together couples justify this, “Oh “dahhh-ling, look-at-all-the-money-we-will-save-living-together” arrangement, only to go up-in-smoke (and lots of flames), followed by one helluva mighty big honkin’ litigation full of money mess.
“But, I am currently in a committed relationship. We maintain separate residences and are agreeable to NOT mix our children and our finances.
“Yet, we care for each other (and luv each other to bits and plan to ‘go the distance’) and are totally there for each other. We travel together and all our children / family / friends recognize us as a couple.”
Phil, “I spent 21 years with my wife in a LAT. In the end, not good. We found we had nothing in common. So, we lived apart. But I could not elect the option of divorce, thinking we might reconcile. I was with my wife 24/7 in her dying days.
“In 20/20 hindsight, I would have done something else (about a divorce). With Sue now in my life in 2017, the past all seems like an ‘uncomfortable period.’”
Note from Tom: Phil and Sue, Jackson High School (Jackson, Michigan) classmates of mine, married in 2017. They had not seen each other in 50-plus years. Phil sadly passed away four months after the marriage.
Relationship counselor Christine Baumgartner, said, “I have a neighbor who has been in a LAT relationship for five years. Her partner lives four miles away. They usually see each other every day and spend most nights together at each other’s homes. They share their lives with each other and are both financially comfortable with this arrangement. I asked them why it worked for them.
“She said his house is full of electronics and stuff (which he isn’t going to change) and if she lived there full-time it would make her crazy. This is the only thing she doesn’t love about him and knows it would be a breaking point for both.
“She also said she loves having her own home that she can keep ‘just her way.’ He said he wants her to be happy when she’s with him and knows their LAT is the perfect way to achieve this.”
2018 update on LAT relationships
This week, the above mentioned, Sheena Rice, of the University of Missouri News Bureau, sent a follow-up press release quoting Jacquelyn Benson, assistant professor of human development and family science, who is an expert on LAT relationships.
Professor Benson raised this issue: In a LAT relationship, where committed couples live apart, what happens to the relationship and living arrangement when one of the members needs care giving or has other serious health issues? Does it change the living arrangement?
Professor Benson is doing a great service to unwed, committed senior couples, by stressing the importance of “having the talk” beforehand about what happens to the arrangement if someone gets seriously ill.
She interviewed people age 60+ who are in LAT relationships to shed light on her concern. In the press release, she was quoted, “Most of the individuals we interviewed had not been tested by the realities of caregiving within their current LAT partnerships.”
But she did say, “…couples also are willing to make changes in living arrangements to provide care giving support to one another.” That was very encouraging to hear.
Professor Benson added: “Discussions about end-of-life planning and caregiving can be sensitive to talk about; however, LAT couples should make it a priority to have these conversations both as a couple and with their families.”
Unwed senior couples–whether in a LAT or living together–instead of texting, should have face to face “the talk”
Ms. Benson admits more research is needed to gain understanding on this important topic. The press release added, “Benson is seeking older adults from around the country who are choosing to live apart (in a LAT relationship) or living together unmarried (cohabiting).”
If you would like to participate in her research (both partners must agree to participate), contact me and I tell you how to get in touch with her. Our group might be able to give her some valuable insights on this issue affecting older adult couples.
Clarification about last week’s article
Clarification on last week’s eNewsletter from Althea, the woman who is care giving the couple (both 81) in Yuba City, California. Althea emailed, “You did a good job and quoted me correctly except for the place where you wrote that the daughter had ‘hired me.’ I wasn’t hired, in the sense that it’s a job and I get paid…I don’t get any money.
“The ‘pay’ is I get room and board free in exchange for what I do to help them…be company for the wife, making meals, keeping the house as clean as I can (they have housekeepers who come every other week). And I supply a dog since they lost theirs. Animal love is very important.”
Thanks Althea for setting the record straight.