Living Together or Living Apart: Is Living Alone an Option


Choosing separate homes is generally seen as an eccentricity of the rich and famous and media types. Reported examples are:- Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton, Margaret Drabble and Michael Holroyd, Clive James and Prue Shaw and others.

Couples who regard themselves as in a committed relationship deliberately arrange separate accommodation for a variety of reasons, which could be the location of one of the properties is more suitable than the other for the children of the family (in the country or seaside or near their schools,) to proximity to one of the parties place of employment where they are a ‘high achiever’. It could also be that one of the parties does not have suitable accommodation or arrangements for the other. Often people have ‘cold feet’ about marriage or living together, (especially if they have had a previous bad experience or history of difficulties) and prefer to ‘bide their time’ until sharing a roof.

At a time when nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, it is encouraging to see people trying different ways of arranging their emotional and domestic lives. The Economic and Social Research Council regard the trend as important enough for it to have funded substantial research as to whether living apart together (“LAT”) can offer a way of sustaining intimate relationships in the 21st century. A good example of LAT is where the parties live in, say, a one bedroomed London flat but want to start a family. The couple sell the flat, enabling them to buy a bigger property in the country, whilst the husband rents a studio in London because of his work commitments. As a result their child can be educated in a school chosen by the parties near their new country home, and at weekends they come together to enjoy their family.

It has been said that such a living arrangement keeps ‘ the spark alive’ in a relationship and the wife does not feel pressured to work and can plan her life during the week, giving independence and ‘freshness’ to the relationship, in the knowledge her husband is continuing in the role he loves and finds lucrative. All, it seems, is well.

Parties having a LAT relationship have reported seeing honest communication as essential, not just before the arrangement starts, but during it, if need be. The lead researcher on ESRC above believes that increasingly LAT will be preferred, pointing to declining cultural pressure on people to marry and women’s increased economic and social independence as two leading main factors why we may see more and more of these arrangements.

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John Fegan is a freelance copywriter who writes for a variety of websites, including a number of family solicitors in the Manchester area.

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