By Janine White: Culture Columnist
Fifty years ago, the concept of marriage meant a lifelong commitment, where traditional gender roles were the norm, and couples stayed together through thick and thin until ‘death did they part’. With the rapid changes in society, the days of two people working together to maintain the home have been and gone.
Marriage and family traditions have started to come second or third to careers and personal interests. Is this a bad thing? When the idea of marriage was invented in 1100 C.E. reaching the age of 30 was a significant accomplishment so even then marriages were only expected to last 10 to 15 of these. As health and science have advanced a typical person can expect to reach 80.
That becomes a potential of 60 years in a marriage that was designed to last a tenth of that time. It is not simply life expectancy that has increased, expectations and commitments have too. The average week is now comprised of work commitments, evening activities, keeping fit, and professional development, leaving little time for the relationship itself.
A work-life balance has become non-existent and pulling yourself away from advancing technology has hampered what was once quality time while 24/7 emails, texts, and games are constantly keeping the user entertained with their addictive technologies. Many individuals are finding that coming home to their partner every night is no longer a top priority, meeting their next deadline, attending a networking social, or using those long-awaited lives on their games takes precedence.
Considering that research suggests that spending quality time together is vital for a thriving relationship, there is no time for couples to engage in meaningful interactions, or improve their communication, understanding, and connection. Rediscovering the spark that routine may have dulled and finding new excitement in each other’s company is almost impossible.
Society, however, is not yet ready to give up on the idea of marriage and commitment and an alternative has emerged that may allow that quality time to become focused again and keep increasing divorce statistics at bay: Living Apart Together (LAT).
This form of relationship challenges the traditional notion of cohabitation, offering a solution for couples seeking a fulfilling and long-lasting partnership while maintaining their individuality. The central idea is to prioritize personal growth and independence, rather than focusing solely on being physically together. Being apart is the time when the routine, the work, and the mundane take place. When together the effort is made to connect and make the most of the quality time, everything else is on hold.
Critics argue that this lifestyle choice may have negative consequences for society. They express concerns about the potential impact on family cohesion and community values. Those in favor disagree and feel that it is a preferable alternative to contributing to the growing divorce statistics. By consciously choosing to live apart while maintaining a committed and meaningful relationship, couples can avoid the bitterness and negativity that often accompany divorce proceedings. As many have said, when you get divorced, you find out to whom you were really married.
Each to their own?
It is not a one-size-fits-all solution however and requires a strong foundation of trust and security in the relationship. For individuals who struggle with insecurities or have difficulty trusting their partner, it could be a recipe for disaster.
It demands a unique level of commitment and maturity from both partners to nurture the relationship from a distance.
It takes a brave person to break away from traditional norms and embrace individuality and personal growth within a committed partnership while being judged by conformist supporters.
While it may not be suitable for everyone, for some couples, this form of relationship offers a way to prioritize their personal aspirations without compromising the strength of their bond.
Cover Artwork by Liam White
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