Living apart together is the definition for couples who choose to live apart in separate homes while staying in their committed relationship. Also known by the acronym LATS, living apart and maintaining two separate households offers companionship and commitment without some of the pitfalls of cohabitation.
When couples get together in mid life, odds are pretty darn good they’ve established homes before. At this stage in your life would it be a better option to set up two separate households to avoid the complications of merging?
Grown children may come and go and romance gets a little tricky when you’re trying to introduce the past to the present. Let’s be honest. Mid life partnerships can bring out the baggage of exes and the unmet expectations of a lifetime.
Would Living Apart Together be the Perfect Solution?
The LATS phenomena came to my attention from reading about Prue Leith of The Great British Baking Show. Prue says the secret to a happy marriage is separate houses. Married for the second time at 76, she and her husband John Playfair lived a village apart before meeting and tying the knot. Instead of inheriting all her husbands clobber and stuff when she prefers to be neat and tidy, Prue made the decision to stay living in their separate homes. I can only assume they’re both happy with the arrangement.
Would your kids and friends think you’d made a big mistake not living together with your honey pie? Well chances are one of your friends or friend’s friends is already in a LAT relationship.
The LAT trend is slowly growing in countries like Britain (where it accounts for 10% of relationships), Canada, US and Europe. Non-parents are much more likely to adopt a living apart arrangement than parents but hopefully your children have already flown the coop at this stage of your life.
There’s even another version in acronym land; LLAT or Living Apart Together in Later Life. LLAT specifically refers to those of us in mid life. Now that our focus on quality of life and intimacy is more important than children and work, we’re more likely to embrace a slightly unconventional way to get those needs met.
Let’s face it, living apart can be especially attractive to women who’d like to keep their independence (thanks very much) and not revisit the role of chief cook and bottle washer!
What are the Benefits of Being in a LAT?
The LAT movement is an example of unconventional and even experimental ways of living with a partner that are no longer seen as out of the norm. Why not have the benefit of a committed partner without worrying about someone else’s dishes in the sink? Sounds kind of ideal doesn’t it?
Living apart allows space to keep your YOU life separate from your WE life.
If your adult children are still in the picture, it may take less stress and adjustment if you stay in the family home and your sweetie has theirs. No more turf battles.
Even if you’ve flown the nest and started a new life in a new home, living apart maintains your independence. If you’ve been through a nasty or painful divorce, it makes sense to keep your own pad where you have autonomy. Second or third marriages have a higher rate of divorce making a LAT choice even more attractive.
Let’s face it, romance is easier to maintain and sustain when you’re not faced with the lifelong habits of your beloved. From dirty dishes in the sink to who does the laundry, some aspects of living together aren’t conducive to romance are they? Prue had the right idea.
We won’t even talk about sharing a bathroom. Separate bathrooms are a must!
Another benefit is anticipation. When you don’t live under the same roof, you have to make plans to see each other. Kind of like dating but with someone you’ve already agreed to be committed to. Sounds like a win win. Avoid the ennui of long time cohabitation AND keep a relationship fresh and exciting? That’s a powerful benefit too.
What About the Drawbacks to Living Apart Together?
A major fly in the ointment to this arrangement would be if both partners aren’t fully on board. If one partner prefers to shack up, cohabit or marry and the other likes things just the way they are, you’ve got tension.
If both partners aren’t equally committed to the relationship then living separately may give rise to trust issues. You have to know your partner is as committed as you are. When you’re not face to face each and every day you need trust for this to work.
With two separate homes, the additional expense of living apart may be a drawback for some couples who like the idea of sharing and saving into retirement.
As you age, having a loved one close by can be a real comfort especially if health issues arise.
Is Living Apart Just for Hollywood?
Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have maintained separate homes throughout their 26 year relationship (they’ve never married.) Julia Roberts and Danny Moder have two separate homes across the road from each other. David and Victoria Beckham reportedly live in their own separate wings.
Clearly it’s not only celebrity couples who live apart. But having a very public lifestyle and enormous wealth certainly makes finding your own space within a relationship even more desirable.
Non celebrity couples may also benefit from maintaining their own identities and a home (or wing) of your own is a start.
Living apart and living together both bring different challenges. Both require trust, commitment and self confidence to work well.
Would Living Apart Together Work for You?
Ask yourself if you’re ready to be more independent and self-sufficient. Can you see yourself happily planning a day on your own or do you prefer company? Are you an introvert who does well with less social interaction or do you like a partner to chat with over your morning coffee?
Knowing yourself and your needs is key to deciding if this type of living arrangement will work for you.
Communication is the most important element to making any relationship work but it’s even more essential if you don’t see each every day. Without the face to face, we may not pick up on those cues that tell us how our partner is feeling. Misunderstandings may bloom when the opportunity to squelch them isn’t in front of us.
Living apart can honor both partners needs and desires if done with open communication and trust. It may also lead to living separate lives if not practiced with honesty and awareness. Unfortunately when we’re apart too much we can end up like a lot of the celebrity couples who end up leading unconnected lives. Brad and Angelina, Tim and Helena, the list goes on.
Living apart doesn’t mean being unconnected or uncommitted, but I believe it would take a couple very committed to making it work don’t you?